We must have a quick glance at the translations for the Collect in the Ordinary Form’s observance of the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
LATIN TEXT (2002MR):
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris,
supplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi,
et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus.
When the English is shorter than the Latin you know immediately that something is very wrong indeed.
This prayer was the Collect for the Second Sunday after Epiphany in the 1962MR. We should look at some words before getting at what the prayer really says. The unrivaled Lewis & Short Dictionary says that simul et connects two or more co-ordinate terms or facts and represents them as simultaneous and is the equivalent of simul etiam meaning “and at the same time, and also”. The deponent verb moderor means “to manage, regulate, rule, guide, govern, direct”. The word moderator is what we use in Latin for people like the state governor or the president of the United States: governing officials. A gubernator was the steersman or pilot of a sailing ship.
When we pray in Latin we often ask God to pay attention in some way, usually by “hearing” us. Exaudio signifies “listen to” in the sense of “harken, perceive clearly.” The imperative exaudi is more urgent than a simple audi (the imperative from audio, not the car). I like “harken.” Different words are used for this in Latin and though they mean subtly different things, they are all pretty much the same thing. A good example is the beginning of one of the Litanies in Latin: Christe audi nos… Christe exaudi nos… which is often translated as “Christ hear us… Christ graciously hear us.”
Clementer is an adverb from clemens, means among other things, “mild in respect to the faults and failures of others, i.e. forbearing, indulgent, compassionate, merciful.” We have seen this many times in the last years. In the religious language of the ancient Romans a supplicatio was a public prayer or supplication, a solemn religious ceremony in consequence of certain public events, good or ill.
So, what we have here is a phrase something like, “in an indulgent manner graciously pay close attention to the humble petitions of your people, bent down in prayer.”
Tempus means many things but primarily, “time in general, or a season of time; the state of the times, position, state, condition; circumstances.” It can also be “the appointed time, the right season, an opportunity (Greek kairos)”. In the plural tempora gives us the word for the “temples” of the sides of your head. The word “temporal” ultimately derives from tempus and it often indicates worldly or earthly things, material things, as opposed to sacred, eternal or spiritual.
LAME-DUCK ICEL VERSION:
Father of heaven and earth,
hear our prayers, and show us the way
to peace in the world.
WDTPRS LITERAL RENDERING:
Almighty eternal God,
who at the same time does govern things heavenly and earthly,
mercifully hark to the supplications of Your people,
and grant Your peace in our temporal affairs.
2008 CORRECTED ICEL VERSION:
Almighty everlasting God,
who order all things both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
That was what Rome got from ICEL and the bishops. This is how Rome changed it.
2010 REVISED CORRECTED VERSION:
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people,
and bestow your peace on our times.
We beg God as omnipotent disposer of all things for peace in our temporal affairs now, not just later in heaven. And we want not just any peace man can cobble together, but rather the peace which comes from Him.
During Holy Mass (before the entirely optional “sign of peace”) the priest repeats Christ’s words in John 14:27: “Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Christ said He was going to give it to us. We believe Him.
There is a great difference between the peace the world can offer and the peace that God offers.
This world of temporal goods (and ills) is passing and fragile, always susceptible to loss. The goods of heaven are lasting, enduring, solid and dependable. We must never fall into the sin of putting any created thing or person in the place which only eternal God may properly have.
No finite and passing thing can provide lasting joy or eternal peace. Any created thing can be lost through theft, wear and time.
The vicissitudes of this passing world roar over us like an inexorable wave and can sweep away any material thing to which we have clung, perhaps even in idolatry. Our wealth, our family, our health, our appearance and our reputation can be taken in the blink of an eye.
God alone endures.
God knew each one of us outside of time, before the creation of both the visible and invisible universe. He called us into existence at a precise moment in His eternal plan. We have something to do in God’s plan. He gives us work to fulfill and the talents and graces to fulfill it. We must cooperate with Him, making His plan for us our own so that He can then make us strong enough to carry it out.
God knows our needs and in turn we confidently come to Him in prayer asking humbly in our trials during this earthly journey for peace only He can give, the peace which alone can make sense of what we experience in life. Our sins lost this peace for us but it has been restored through the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice which we renewal and remember with each Holy Mass. We ask God to bless us in this new year of salvation. We beseech Him to give aid to all who suffer.
With bended knee and foreheads to the ground, bodies and wills both bent in supplication, we beg His patient indulgence and His peace.