A great new feature of the 2002 Missale Romanum in Latin is that for Lent the "Prayer over the people" or Oratio super populum has been revived as an option.
Priests can use this prayer NOW at the end of Mass, but still only in the Latin.
Let’s have a look at today’s:
ORATIO SUPER POPULUM (2002MR):
Da, quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo
salutem mentis et corporis,
ut, bonis operibus inhaerendo,
tua semper mereatur protectione defendi.
This seems to have been a Prayer over the people in a number of ancient sacramentaries including the Liber sacramentorum Gellonensis, for this very day, Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent, Station, San Vitale.
Yesterday we also heard about protectio in the Prayer over the people.
SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION:
Grant, we implore, O Lord, to Your people
health of mind and body,
so that, by sticking to good works,
it (we) may always merit to be defended by Your protection.
We are not angels. We are both soul and body. We are not merely souls riding in meat machines.
We are our bodies and we are our souls together.
When they separate, we die.
But so mighty is the bond of body and soul that they will be reunited in the resurrection to experience, together, whatever fate we will have merited by our judgment: eternal bliss in the presence of God… eternal torment in His exclusion.
I always think of the magnificent rendering of the resurrection by Luca Signorelli in Orvieto, wherein perfect 33 year olds are drawing themselves up out of a white featureless plain of prime matter, soul informing matter once more.
In this vale of tears we need to see to both body and soul.
Because we are both body and soul, we dispose ourselves to receive Communion with our body (by fasting) and penance (absolution).
By Christ’s twofold command of love of God and neighbor (who have bodies) we must attend, for example, to works of mercy, spiritual and corporal.
Good works are the other side of the coin of faith that wins us entrance to heaven.
We do not "work" our way into heaven, as the less than enlightened protestant might claim.
We believe that our works are necessary, but that they are not merely ours. They are truly ours, but not merely ours.
Christ begins all good initiatives in us. He places our work before us. He makes our hands strong enough for it. He helps bring good work to completion. In our good works, He is at work. His hands cover our hands as we work, guiding them, strengthening them
So we ask for the protection, "covering" protectio, of God’s grace not just from the world, the flesh and the devil, but also in this sense: to keep from us whatever will prevent us from doing His will for us in our particular vocations and to guide us surely in right actions.