WDTPRS 23 December Collect (2002MR)

Here is the first prayer for the Mass of 23 December, the last full day of Advent before the Vigil of Christmas.

COLLECT:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
nativitatem Filii tui secundum carnem
propinquare cernentes,
quaesumus, ut nobis indignis famulis tuis
misericordiam praestet Verbum,
quod ex Virgine Maria dignatum est caro fieri,
et habitare in nobis.

This is an ancient prayer from Rotulus 24 published with the Veronese Sacramentary.

A LITERAL VERSION:
Almighty everlasting God,
as we are discerning that the Nativity of Your Son according to the flesh
approaches,
we beseech You, that the Word grant mercy to us Your unworthy servants
for it deigned to be made flesh from the Virgin Mary
and dwell amongst us.

That use of dignatum est isn’t very common, and so it should spark interest right away.  In looking around for how this has been used by ancient writers, I found an interesting passage in a letter of Fulgentius of Ruspe (ep. 7.18):

Deus ergo factus est Christus ut Christus esset deus homoque perfectus, quia verbum dignatum est caro fieri, ut caro posset verbi, hoc est dei, nomine nuncupari. … God therefore became Christ so that Christ might be the perfect God and man, for the Word deigned to become flesh, so that flesh could be proclaimed by the name of the Word, that is God’s.

Nuncupo, as your own copy of the Lewis & Short Dictionary will tell you, is not merely “to call by name, to call, name”,, but also “to name publicly before witnesses as one’s heir” and “to announce publicly, proclaim formally”.  The naming is critically important here.  The Word becoming flesh resounds.  It is God’s manifest claim of paternity over humanity, an indestructible bond.

What catches my attention in the Collect is the interplay between the form of indignus with dignatum est.

We are unworthy (nos indigni) but it was deemed a worthy thing (dignatum est) that the Word should become flesh (Verbum caro fieri).

REVISED VERSION:
Almighty everlasting God,
as we see how near is your Son’s birth
according to the flesh,
we your unworthy servants pray
that mercy may flow to us from your Word,
who chose to become flesh of the Virgin Mary
and to dwell among us,
Jesus Christ our Lord
.

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2 Responses to WDTPRS 23 December Collect (2002MR)

  1. Henry Edwards says:

    ANOTHER REVISED VERSION
    Almighty ever-living God,
    as we see how the Nativity of your Son
    according to the flesh draws near,
    we pray that to us, your unworthy servants,
    mercy may flow from your Word,
    who chose to become flesh of the Virgin Mary
    and establish among us his dwelling,
    Jesus Christ our Lord.

    More slavishly literal? “You decide.”

    CURRENT LAME DUCK VERSION
    Father,
    we contemplate the birth of your Son.
    He was born of the Virgin Mary
    and came to live among us.
    May we receive forgiveness and mercy
    through our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Some at a progressive site are arguing strenuously that both 2008 and 2010 are so atrociously unproclaimable and meaningless to contemporary Catholics that we should stay with 1973.

  2. JMody says:

    Since I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for grades 6-12, I have no clue whatever about the finer points of Latin grammar and vocabulary and similar usages, etc.* I DO notice how similar it is to the chant based on St. Paul’s letter to the Phillipians,Ch 2. Christus factus est pro nobis
    [7] sed semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens in similitudinem hominum factus et habitu inventus ut homo
    [8] humiliavit semet ipsum factus oboediens usque ad mortem mortem autem crucis
    [9] propter quod et Deus illum exaltavit et donavit illi nomen super omne nomen
    [10] ut in nomine Iesu omne genu flectat caelestium et terrestrium et infernorum
    [11] et omnis lingua confiteatur quia Dominus Iesus Christus in gloria est Dei Patris

    AND, this also makes me want to ask again, at what point does the ICEL’s translation cross the line from incompetence to willful negligence?

    *However, I am trying to dabble, and I force my children to learn Latin now that it is offered …