WDTPRS – Thursday after Ash Wednesday – “Prayer over the People” (2002MR)

The Latin 2002 Missale Romanum restored the ancient custom of the Oratio super populum at the end of Mass.  It had been stripped out of the Novus Ordo by the liturgical engineers.  When the new, corrected translation goes into effect, you may hear these prayers each day during Lent.

Happily there are no lame-duck ICEL versions to fight with.

Oratio super populum (2002MR):
Qui populo tuo, omnipotens Deus,
notas fecisti vias vitae aeternae,
per eas ad te, lumen indeficiens,
nos facias, quaesumus, pervenire

The phrase lumen indeficiens is what catches your eye and ear right way.  Light unfailing.  This is from Scripture, Ecclesiasticus 24:6: ego in caelis feci ut oriretur lumen indeficiens et sicut nebula texi omnem terram.  Latin Fathers such as Cyprian of Carthage, Maximus of Turin, and Augustine of Hippo worked with this phrase.

It winds up in old prayers, for example in the Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis and Gellonensis.  In later it part of a blessing for a lamp, candle or lantern, right after a fascinating blessing for soap.

Almighty God, who made the paths
of eternal life known to Your people,
grant us, we implore, to come by them
to You, the unfailing light

Almighty God,
who have made known to your people
the ways of eternal life,
lead them by that path, we pray,
to you, the unfading light

The image you have from this prayer is that God is the light which illuminates our way through this obstacle strewn paths of this world lest we lose our footing and, not just stumble and recover, but fall into the abyss where there is no light at all.

Through out the history of salvation, God has shown man the way to come to him.  We knew many things by interior lights before the fall.  After that, God has given commandments and symbolic actions which foreshadow clearer realities that would come in their due time.  In the fullness of time the one who is Light from Light came into the light of this world to dispel the darkness of our own making.  He is not only Light from Light, eternally, but, in time, He is the Way.

At the end of Mass you are sent into the daylight to continue to carry out your vocation.  You need the light that God offers you in the teachings of the Church to guide your footsteps.

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4 Responses to WDTPRS – Thursday after Ash Wednesday – “Prayer over the People” (2002MR)

  1. SimonDodd says:

    Reading the two translations, I was momentarily struck by a moment of horror: The literal translation is much better; oh no! The critics may have something on this one, the corrected translation version just doesn’t scan right. Then I remembered that these are texts to be spoken, and read it out loud. It works fine. (But I still think the literal translation is better.)

  2. SimonDodd says:

    I think it’s “have” which throws the eye when reading it. I’m sure there’s a detailed, nuanced, perhaps complex theological reason why it was chosen over “has,” but the effect is to create an SVA problem (which of course disappears when the text is read aloud: HAv and HAz are close enough in sound that they blur.

    [has = 3rd person]

  3. Frank H says:

    If the Prayers Over The People can be added back in to the Missal (after the Novus Ordo snippers did away with them), is there reason to hope that in a future revision we might re-claim things like the older Offertory Prayers, or prayers at the foot of the altar?

  4. Joshua08 says:

    Any comments on the choice of text for these prayers? The Oratio super populum in the old rite toda is

    Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: ut, dignis flagellationibus castigates, in tua miseratione respiret. Per Domnium…

    It seems to me that throughout the prayers of Lent, in the new rite, there has been a great reduction of references to fasting, mortification, the scourges due to our sins, etc. I was hoping this restoration would bring some of that back