WDTPRS Monday 4th Week of Lent – Oratio super populum

The 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum restored the Lenten “Prayer over the people”.

The prayer today has a problem.

ORATIO SUPER POPULUM:
Plebem tuam, Domine, quaesumus,
interius exteriusque restaura,
ut quam corporeis non vis delectationibus impedire,
[sic - SIRENS! ALARM BELLS! FLAGS!]
spiritali facias vigere proposito.

The Veronese Sacramentary has this prayer for the month of September for the anniversary of the consecration of the bishop.  It is also listed as a prayer for Thursday of the 4th week of Lent for Vespers in the Fulda and the Prayer over the people for Saturday of the 4th week in some manuscripts.  It was longer, however: continuing… et sic rebus foveas transituris ut tribuas potius inhaerere perpetuis….

Propositum, from propono, can be “a plan, intention, design, resolution, purpose”, and even first premise of an argument, and sometimes the main point of an argument.  But there is yet another, less common, understanding: “a way, manner, or course of life”.

Impedire… hmmm… infinitive.  Really?

Impedio is ” to entangle, ensnare, to shackle, hamper, hinder, hold fast”.  The root idea is that feet “pedes” are impeded.  It doesn’t seem reasonable that God would ever desire to impede His own people, so we need to understand that impedio in a different way.

“But Father! But Father!”, you are doubtlessly shouting by now.  “What would you say if you change one letter?  Could that be the passive infinitive impediri?  That would make more sense!”

It would make a great deal more sense to have a passive infinitive, impediri.

And indeed that it precisely what it is in the Liber Sacramentorum Engloismensis.  In the Gellonensis it is impedire but the Gellonensis also has “vegitare“.   This is a mess.  The Engolismensis is doubtlessly correct.  Haudquaquam dubitandum’st.

I conclude that the version appearing in the 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum is wrong.  I don’t have a corrected Latin edition, but we do have the new ICEL version for an indirect confirmation.

SUPER SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION:
Restore Your people, O Lord, we beg,
inwardly and outwardly,
so that that (people) which You do not desire to be entangled in corporeal delectations,
You may cause to thrive by a spiritual course of life
.

NEW ICEL TRANSLATION:
Renew your people within and without, O Lord,
and, since it is your will
that they be unhindered by bodily delights,
give them, we pray,
perseverance in their spiritual intent
.

That idea of “entangle feet” and “course of life” suggest forward movement thwarted.

Another understanding of impedio concerns being entangled in an amorous way.  This can give a deeper sense to the delectationes down the line.  If you allow your heart and mind to dwell on some created thing, something other than God, you get entangled in a kind of adultery.  The biblical image of fornication is used for God’s people (plebs) when they were unfaithful to Him.  Entangled feet indeed.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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