WDTPRS: 4th Sunday after Easter (1962MR), values, and the smoke of Satan

This is the 4th Sunday after Easter according to the older, traditional Roman calendar.

Today’s Collect survived the slash and hack editors of the Novus Ordo.  Find it for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time as well as Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter.  That is… of Easter.  In the post-Conciliar calendar Sundays are reckoned “of Easter”. In the pre-Conciliar calendar they are “after Easter”.  In the newer calendar Easter Sunday itself is included in the reckoning of Sundays of the Easter season.  In the older calendar Sundays are counted from the first Sunday after Easter.  So, in the new calendar today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter and in the older it is the Fourth Sunday after Easter. 

However, today’s Collect is in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary for the Third Sunday after the close of Easter!  Our more distant ancestors counted Easter Sunday, the days of the Octave, and “Low” Sunday in albis as being one single liturgical idea, one day, as if the clock stopped for that whole Octave.  Thus, what is the Fifth Sunday of  Easter (2002MR) and the Fourth Sunday after Easter (1962MR) is also the Third Sunday after the close of Easter (GelSacr). Is it clear now?

- (1962MR):
Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis:
da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis;
ut inter mundanas varietates
ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

The Novus Ordo version adds commas “ …ut, inter mundanas varietates,…”  All those long eeee sounds produced by the Latin letter “i” are marvelous to hear and sing. Note the nice parallels in the construction: id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis as well as ibi…sint corda with ubi…sunt gaudia.  In the first line the genitives unius…voluntatis are elegantly split by the verb efficis.  A genius wrote this prayer.  Let’s find out what it really says.

The densely packed leaves of your own copy of the thick Lewis & Short Dictionary show that varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy”; “vicissitude” hits it square and sounds wonderful to boot.  The adjective mundanus, a, um, “of or belonging to the world”, must be teased out in a paraphrase.  Efficio (formed from facio) means, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form”.   Voluntas means basically “will” but it can also mean things like “freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination” and even “disposition towards a thing or person”.

O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.

Let us revisit that id…quod construction. We could simply say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but to me that seems vague and generic.  Of course, we must love everything God commands, but the feeling I get from that id…quod is very concrete.  We love and desire God’s will in the concrete situation, this concrete task.  A challenge of living as a good Christian in “the world” is to love God in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.  We must love him in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars or creeps in general.  We must love him in this act of fasting, not in fasting in general.  This basket of laundry, this paperwork, this lame-duck ICEL translation…. Didn’t I say it was a challenge?  God’s will must not be reduced to something abstract, as if it is merely a “heavenly” or “ideal” reality. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

What did the Anglican Church do with this back in the day? 

1662 Book of Common Prayer (Fifth Sunday in Lent):
O almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men:
Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest,
and desire that which thou dost promise,
that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.

You have to love that!  I often wonder why the original incarnation of ICEL didn’t use the Book of Common Prayer as a model.  But… right… first the redactors of the Novus Ordo cut certain unpleasantries, such as guilt and sin, out of the Latin original and then the people working for ICEL cut out all the rest of the meaningful concepts.

When you slaughter a critter, first you bang it on the head, then you tear its guts out, and afterwards hang upside down to drain out all its blood.  So what did the pre-reformed ICEL do to this prayer?  What will people hear at Holy Mass with the Novus Ordo on Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter?

LAME-DUCK ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
help us to seek the values
that will bring us lasting joy
   in this changing world.
In our desire for what you promise
make us one in mind and heart.

This version makes me want to scream

Note the theological catch-all word “help”, a technical term in lame-duck ICELese and rather Pelagian.  Does “help us” underscore our total reliance on God?  He does a bit more than “help”.  What did ICEL did to God’s “commands”?  Presto-chango they are now “values”.  And did no one in ICEL or in Rome, where blame for this translation disaster must also be ascribed, see a theological problem with “lasting joy in this changing world”?  The Latin says the world is “fickle” (mundanas varietates).  We cannot have “lasting” joy in this world.  It can be attained only in the life to come. 
More about the slippery word “values”.  We should make a distinction between values and virtues.  To my mind, values have an ever shifting subjective starting point while virtues are rooted in something objective.  In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values: “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”  Rem acu tetigisti!   In this post-Christian, post-modern world the term “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.  I suspect this is at work in the lame-duck ICEL prayer with its “help us” and the excision of God’s commands and promises.   

We should be on guard about that word “values”, in this time of growing conflict between what the Church embraces and worldly relativism.  Can “values” be rescued, used properly? Perhaps. John Paul II used it in Evangelium vitae, but in a concrete way.

Benedict XVI is constantly presenting us with the threats we face from both religious and secular relativism, the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, caving in to “the world”, that which shifts constantly, is subjective.

Holy Scripture also warns us about “the world” which has its Prince.  The Enemy still dominates this world until Christ the King will come again.   St. Paul wrote to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (12:2 – RSV).  Christ put His Apostles on guard about “the world”: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). 

When what “the world” has to give is given preeminence over what God has to give through His Church, we wind up in the crisis Pope Paul VI described on the ninth anniversary of his coronation (29 June 1972):

“…da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio… through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God”.  

Today’s Collect, in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is a spiritual safeguard in the vicissitudes of this world.



WDTPRS: 4th Sunday after Easter (1962MR), values, and the smoke of Satan
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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15 Responses to WDTPRS: 4th Sunday after Easter (1962MR), values, and the smoke of Satan

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for the reflections, Fr. Z.

    I went to a NO Mass for my son’s confirmation last night. After last week’s Pontifical Mass, it was whiplash city. Neck still sore.

    “Benedict XVI is constantly presenting us with the threats we face from both religious and secular relativism, the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, caving in to “the world”, that which shifts constantly, is subjective.”

    What do you do when the whole world seems bonkers? The Bishop, the pastor, the priests, the deacons, the lay cantors with the roto-toms?

    Prayer. Fasting. What else?

  2. yatzer says:

    When the clunky versions of the Catholic NO first came out, I was an Episcopalian and wondered why they didn’t just use the Anglican Book of Common prayer. Then the Episcopal Church began using the same strangled stuff. When I realized the Episcopal Church wasn’t just another form of Catholicism, and I really wanted to be CATHOLIC, it made swimming the Tiber that much easier. Banal English to banal English. I have been hoping to worship God in reverent English ever since, but I suppose you could say it did serve one good purpose in my case at one point.

  3. sawdustmick says:

    Father, thank you for the above. Your explanation is easy to understand for someone who is not as well educated as he should be, and is also quite poetic.

    In my Parish, only the NO is celebrated. Fortunately, our Parish Priest says the Black and does the Red, he is orthodox in that regard AND in his preaching. As he said in discussion a while back “You can’t bugger around with the Liturgy”

  4. wanda says:

    Welcome home, Yatzer! We wait in joyful hope together for the new translations, due in 2011.

  5. Cath says:

    The difference in the literal translation and the ICEL version just amazes me. What were they thinking? Thanks for this. I have learned and continue to learn so much from this blog.

  6. Elly says:

    Father, thank you for these translations. I used to skip these posts because they seemed too long and complicated but now I’m reading them and learning a lot. Thank you!

  7. Tom in NY says:

    I hope Rev. Moderator doesn’t scream; a better translation approaches. In this instance, ICEL doesn’t translate what’s in the Latin, and nearly adds what isn’t there.

    “Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque quae nunc sunt in honore uocabula” Q. H. Flaccus, Ars poetica vv. lxx et lxxi

    In vocabulis honoris sapientia RP Moderatoris maneat.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  8. “Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque quae nunc sunt in honore uocabula”


    And the faster the lame-duck ICEL version falls away the better off we will be!

  9. una ecclesia says:

    Having never gone to a mass before the ICEL translation was approved, I must say I feel robbed from such beautiful prayers. Its almost like they thought we were way too stupid to understand the Mass, so they had to make it cozy and sappy without stirring our minds at all to consider God’s awesomeness. I find that insulting to us lay people. How was it ever even approved in the first place?

    Thanks for your commentaries, Fr. Z. I do hope that the new translation will be much more faithful to the Latin.

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    Father Z,

    Thank you for the cite to the 1662 BCP. Comparing the Latin side by side with the English is helpful to understand how Cranmer and his committee made a valiant attempt not only to preserve the meaning, but also the rhythm and structure of the original.


    Welcome to the Tiber Swim Club! (Yes, I have the T-shirt).

    If the ECUSA had not traded out Cranmer’s accurate and beautiful translation for the hideous ’79 BCP, it would have been far more difficult for us to take the plunge.

    I personally think it was a conspiracy, because the language is TOO similar for it to have been arrived at independently.

    Perhaps we ought to breathe a prayer for the repose of Thomas Cranmer’s soul? Terrible times he lived in, I pray I am never forced to make such a choice.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    “Yet there are things in human garments which will tell you that Horace was a flaneur – a man about town. Avoid such beings.”

    – King in Stalky & Co.

  12. AnAmericanMother,

    I frequently enjoy your comments!

    While Cranmer’s theology was way off (I’m being polite!) his command of the English language rivals Shakespeare (in my opinion!) I grew up in a traditional Episcopal “high-church” setting and can still sing some of the Psalm tunes to the chants I learned as a young child. Likewise with Healey Willan’s “Mass in Honor of Mary Madelene”.

    I still enjoy reading the Psalms from the “Book of Divine Worship”, esp. the traditional Psalms (Coverdale translation).

    I trained at Nashotah House and can state that one problem many of my conservative Episcopal classmates had with Rome was not theological in nature, but rather in the banality of the music and the sloppy liturgy.


  13. quovadis7 says:

    Fr. Z,

    Great post! I was incredibly edifying.

    Your conclusion was a little confusing though – at the end of your post, you said:

    “Today’s Collect, in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is a spiritual safeguard in the vicissitudes of this world.”

    The confusion? In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, this prayer is not on the same day as in the Extraordinary form of the Mass – in the Ordinary Form, as you said earlier in your post, it is on the Monday of the 5th Week of Easter.

    So, why did Msgr. Bugnini and his fellow demolitioners on the Concilium (sorry, I can’t subscribe anymore that they were genuine reformers) relegate this wonderful prayer to merely a weekday Mass???

    If this prayer is such a “spiritual safeguard for the vicissitudes of this world” (I wholeheartedly agree with you that it is!), shouldn’t it have been kept on Sunday, so that the vast majority of the faithful can hear and pray it (assuming that they know what “praying the Mass” really means)???

    I’ve concluded that the ICEL translation mess is merely the tip of the iceberg of all the things that went awry with the Liturgical reforms after Vatican II; the English translations were, no doubt, the most glaring of the miscues however.

    There is one thing, though, which isn’t much talked about with regard to the “pedestrian” and “banal” language of the 1973 ICEL translation – namely, that many/most of the liturgical “experts” of that era WANTED to secularize the Liturgy. And the “banal” ICEL translation fitted perfectly into that agenda….

    I just started reading James Hitchcock’s book “Recovery of the Sacred – Reforming the Reformed Liturgy”, and on pg. 35 he presents a typical liturgical “expert’s” view from that era:

    “A Spanish priest-liturgist welcomed secularization as a means of countering the ‘magic’ and ‘arrogance’ or traditional worship. There is, he thought, ‘enormous gain for the purity of the liturgy’ in attacks from skeptics and secularists, because liturgy will no longer be able to distract man from the world and ‘will have something to say for men of today.’ “

    “magic” vs. mystery
    “arrogance” vs. reverence
    “distraction from the world” vs. being renewed in God’s holy temple

    I just about keep falling out of my chair as I read this eye-opening book. As you say, Fr. Z, we have to rebuild the Church brick-by-brick, simply because of the unbelievably widespread destruction that secularization has wielded upon Her over the past 40+ years.

    Dietrich von Hildebrand in his book “The Devastated Vineyard” prophetically saw all this happening way back in 1977. Sadly, almost no one took him seriously, including Pope Paul VI….

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

  14. quovadis7 says:

    Sorry folks – I had an error at the end of my post above.

    Dr. DvH’s prophetic book was written in 1973; he died in 1977.

    He pleaded with Pope Paul VI in June 1965 of the impending disaster, but to no avail….

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

  15. AnAmericanMother says:


    Thank you! Coming in sideways as it were, we do have a slightly different (not to say skewed) perspective on a lot of things. But fortunately we have found a wonderful parish — very reverent, very orthodox, and with first class music that would not shame an Anglican cathedral.

    We are very, VERY glad to be here, and wonder now why it took us so long. Inertia, I suppose, since I was a sixth-generation Anglican (ggg grandfather was baptized at St. Giles Cripplegate, where Milton is buried and Cromwell was married). And my dear husband began life as a Methodist, so it was a longer journey for him.

    No question that Cranmer’s theology was more than suspect, and it got worse as he went on. But certainly we could salvage his prose, with suitable alterations!

    Nashotah House has always had a very high reputation – in more ways than one. :-D