In the Extraordinary Form edition of the Missale Romanum there are texts for a Votive Mass ad petendam pluviam… to ask for rain.
Deus, in quo vivimus, movemur, et sumus:
pluviam nobis tribue congruentem:
ut, praesentibus subsidiis sufficienter adiuti,
sempiterna fiducialius appetamus.
This prayer is pretty old. It is found in the 8th century Liber sacramentorum Gellonensis. Catholics have prayed it for a long time. It remains, though somewhat isolated, in the 2002 Missale Romanum.
Congruo is an important word here. It is a combination of the preposition cum (with) and *-gruo which has the same sense as convenio. We have our English words “congruent” and “convenient” from these Latin words. Both the Latin words have the sense of “coming together”. By logical extension they come to mean “fit, appropriate, suitable, congruous, proper.” Think of the archaic English word “meet”, as in the way the “dignum et iustum” of the Preface was translated: “it is meet and just”. Something which is congruens is proper in respects to all its elements. It is at the right time, place, and in the right measure. All the right factors come together and meet so that what you have is meet. There are lots of phrases you can think of which express this idea. You may know someone who has gotten it all together, for example.
WDTPRS SUPER LITERAL VERSION:
O God, in whom we live, move, and exist,
grant us the right amount of rain,
so that, aided sufficiently in present temporal helps,
we may more confidently strive for eternal things.
That subsidium is a military term, the auxiliary or reserve troops stationed in the rear in case of need. But it means any kind of help or assistance as well. In classical Latin it can be applied to food, however, as in frumentaria subsidia. The subsidia in this liturgical context has lost the greater part of the military connotation. I rendered it as “temporal helps” in order to contrast with the sempiterna that follows in the next line. But I hear that military tone, as will anyone who knows Latin. Subsidia jumps to the ear like an urgent trumpet calling for aid. We are, after all, members of the Church Militant.
Not all your hand missals will have these votive texts. Here is the translation from the
St. Andrew Daily Missal (1958):
O God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
grant us seasonable rain,
so that our temporal needs, being sufficiently supplied,
we may with greater confidence seek things eternal.
From the very first line we express our absolute dependance on God, even for our very existence.
The prayer would have been far more immediate to people in another time and place, people who don’t have well-stocked grocery stores where things from South American magically appear during winter. Living closer to the land, closer to subsistence, many factors had to come together during the changes of the seasons so that people could eat now and store up their needed reserves for the fallow times and famine times.
How important is rain?
Ask the Sudanese.
Note in our prayer that we do not ask for lavish things or superabundance. We ask for enough. The right amount of material things so that we can keep our minds on eternal things. People who very focused on helping the poor might sometimes be dissidents or even heretics in regard to doctrine, but they have a good instinct: when we are so hungry or afraid that we cannot think of anything else, we can be distracted from heavenly aims. Sometimes we have to feed the body so that we can be freed enough to focus on God. Great merit, however, is in keeping our focus on God even in the midst of our great troubles. We do this by grace, especially, but also elbow grease. Times of trial are just that: trials, tests, times of purification during which we sinners are being corrected and we are asked to love God more.
WDTPRS suggests to the Catholic bishops and priests in Texas to call for and hold processions, honest-to-goodness old-fashioned processions, to pray for rain.
Get out in the streets. Get out in the fields and farming community roads with your banners and incense and songs and prayers and beg Almighty God for the right amount of rain. Then let God’s will be done. I will also pray for rain for Texas.
In the old Rituale Romanum there is a section concerning the Seven Penitential Psalms and the Litany of Saints. In the Litany, invocations can be inserted for various needs, including for rain. As a matter of fact, in a commonly distributed old book, the Altar Prayers, the prayers for rain were the first to be listed. This section indicates the changes to be inserted into the Litany of Saints when praying for rain. and it gives three collects, including that which we saw, above. The other two are:
O Almighty God, we beseech Thee,
that we who in our trouble put our trust in Thy mercy
may be strengthened by Thy defense against all adversity.
Grant us wholesome rain, O Lord, we beseech Thee,
and graciously pour forth showers from heaven on the parched face of the earth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.