Today’s Collect is the Post-communion of the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March) in the 1962MR. Most of you who recite the Angelus know this prayer. This is also the prayer said traditionally after the Alma Redemptoris Mater, sung following Compline during Advent, and after Christmas through 2 Fewrabruary.
COLLECT – LATIN TEXT (2002MR):
Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde,
ut qui, Angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
The last part, per passionem eius et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur has a wonderful flow to it with its alliteration and snappy cadence, followed as it is by the rhythmically gear changing conclusion, Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum….
Collects are often little masterpieces. They deserve great care in rendering them into a liturgically smooth, yet accurate version. WDTPRS versions are purposely rather “slavish” so you can see the raw text. They aren’t liturgically proper renderings.
That Angelo nuntiante is an ablative absolute, hard to render in English without using a paraphrase. The participle nuntiante is in the present tense, or better, in a tense “contemporary” with the time of the verb cognovimus having a past tense. Thus, in the very moment the Angel was heralding the good news, we (collectively in the shepherds) knew about how God the Son Eternal took our whole human nature perfectly into an indestructible bond with His divinity.
WDTPRS SLAVISH LITERAL RENDERING:
We beg You, O Lord,
pour Your grace into our minds/hearts,
so that we who came to know the incarnation of Christ Your Son
in the moment the Angel was heralding the news,
may be guided through His Passion and Cross
to the glory of the resurrection.
We never have to brush dust from our frequently exploited Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary. Therein we find that cognosco is, generally, “to become thoroughly acquainted with (by the senses or mentally), to learn by inquiring…”, but in the perfect tenses (cognovimus) it is “to know” in all periods of Latin. The verb infundo basically is “to pour in, upon, or into” but in the construction (which we see today – infundere alicui aliquid) “to pour out for, to administer to, present to, lay before”. Simply, it can mean, “communicate, impart”. The verb perduco “to lead or bring through”, is “guide a person or thing to a certain goal, to a certain period”. Interestingly, both infundo and perduco can have the overtone of to anoint, or smear with something.
LAME-DUCK ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
fill our hearts with your love, [I'm not making this up.]
and as you revealed to us by an angel
the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death
to the glory of his resurrection
for he lives and reigns…
A TRADITIONAL VERSION:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, (through the same Christ our Lord).
REVISION A & B:
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of the resurrection.
Good Advent shepherds rushed to the Coming of the Lord, to see the Word made flesh lying in the wooden manger. “Seeing is believing”, they say, but believing makes us want to see! “Crede ut intellegas! Believe that you may understand!” is a common theme for St. Augustine (e.g., s. 43,4.7; 118,1; Io. eu. tr. 29,6).
Today many people automatically oppose faith against reason, authority versus intellect, as if they were mutually exclusive. Recently some atheists bought a billboard promoting reason instead of faith. “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON!” On this topic, Tolkien once responded to the still-skeptical C.S. Lewis, that – of course – it’s a myth: “It’s the myth that’s true“. Faith and authority are indispensable for a deeper rational, intellectual apprehension of anything.
In all the deeper questions of human existence, we need the illumination from grace, we must believe and receive. Faith is the foundation of our hope which leads to love and communion with God, as Augustine might say (trin. 8,6).
The Angel heralded with authority. The shepherds believed. They rushed to Bethlehem. They saw the Infant. They understood the message. Then they worshipped the Word made flesh Who opened for them a new life.
How often do we hear about something or learn a new thing and then rush to know more, to have personal experience, to see? This is a paradigm for our life of faith.
There is an interlocking cycle of hearing a proclamation (such as the Gospel at Mass, a homily, or a teaching of the Church) or observing the living testimony of a holy person’s life, and by this experience coming to know and then love the content of that proclamation or living testimony.
The content is the Man God Jesus Christ.
By knowing Him we come all the better to love Christ and in loving Him we desire better to know Him. An act of faith, acceptance of the authority of the content of what we receive, opens unto previously unknown territory, a vast depth otherwise closed to us.
For the non-believer, on the other hand, a miracle is simply something inexplicable having nothing of the supernatural. For a non-believer being nice or hard working can never ascend to true virtue or holiness. For him, the content of the Faith itself (both Jesus as well as what we learn and assent to) appears to be pleasant or interesting, but in the end remains naïve or foolish.
As we rush into Advent’s final days, that first candle we lit on our wreaths is now quite depleted.
From 17 December to Christmas Eve solemn days envelop us and the haunting “O Antiphons” of vespers – one after another – cloak us in our longing:
“O come! O come!.. to teach us… redeem us… deliver us… ransom us… free us… enlighten us… save us… save us….”
We are wrapped within our penitential holyday cheer because our celebration of the Lord in His First Coming is near to hand, but we do not forget that His Second Coming will bring our final judgment.