WDTPRS Monday 4th Week of Lent – Oratio super populum

The 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum restored the Lenten “Prayer over the people”.  I haven’t given them much play this Lent so far, even though this is the first year that they are used in English because of the new, corrected ICEL translation.  I could look at them more frequently if people are interested.

If you go to daily Mass in the Novus Ordo in English, are your priests using this prayer?   I don’t believe it is an option.

The prayer today, however, has a Latin problem.

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

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 CORRECTED ICEL (2011):
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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15 Responses to WDTPRS Monday 4th Week of Lent – Oratio super populum

  1. acardnal says:

    Hmm . . . My copy of the of MR, 3rd edition has this prayer as the Prayer Over the People (used after the Prayer After Communion) for 12 March. AND the rubric in Red says “for optional use”:
    “May your right hand, we ask, O Lord
    protect this people that makes entreaty to you:
    graciously purify them and give them instruction,
    that, finding solace in this life,
    they may reach the good things to come.
    through Christ our Lord.”

    My parish priest has been saying the Prayer Over the People at every daily and Sunday Mass this Lent.

    Looking ahead, I think you inadvertently quoted the Prayer from the Fourth Week of Lent, Fr. Z.

  2. weneleh says:

    I am happy to say that our younger priest is using the Prayer over the people at the weekday Masses. It’s lovely! The pastor? Well, no.

  3. Will D. says:

    During the week, my missal (the MTF Daily Missal) has a rubric that says “for optional use” for the prayer over the people, it does not say that on Sundays during Lent.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    It is optional, and I have only heard it once so far this Lent, though I do not attend daily Mass EVERY day.

  5. acardnal says:

    @Will D.: You are correct. After further review, my MTF Daily Missal says the same thing. . . .”for optional use” in weekday Masses and no rubric for the Sunday Mass so it must be mandatory then.

  6. Nora says:

    We concluded that the prayer over the people was optional on weekdays and required on Sundays after debating the rubrics a bit. Our priest chants the presidential prayers at all masses; given the amount of work in pointing all the new translation material and practicing it, the daily mass prayer over the people will have to wait till next year.
    I am loving reading them, though. One thing that I continue to notice with the new translation is how much more dignity the laity has in the corrected version. We are not mini-shadows of the priest, but a calling in our own right, with our own roles.

  7. Will D. says:

    I’ve noticed both at my parish and in the televised Mass from EWTN that the actual rite for the prayer over the people is getting overlooked. In my missal it says

    The deacon, or in his absence, the Priest himself, says the invitation: “Bow down for the blessing.” Then the priest, with hands outstretched over the people, says the prayer, with all responding: “Amen.”
    After the prayer, the Priest always adds: “And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you for ever.” R: “Amen.”

    In practice, the prayer is said immediately after the prayer after Communion, and before the greeting and dismissal. The invitation is omitted, and the blessing is in the usual form (“May almighty God bless you…”) rather than the form listed in the rubrics. I’d like to discuss this with Father, but I don’t want to step on his toes.

  8. Will D. says:

    I’ve noticed both at my parish and in the televised Mass from EWTN that the actual rite for the prayer over the people is getting overlooked. In my missal it says:

    The deacon, or in his absence, the Priest himself, says the invitation: “Bow down for the blessing.” Then the priest, with hands outstretched over the people, says the prayer, with all responding: “Amen.”
    After the prayer, the Priest always adds: “And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, ? and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you for ever.” R: “Amen.”

    In practice, the prayer is said immediately after the prayer after Communion, and before the greeting and dismissal. The invitation is omitted, and the blessing is in the usual form (“May almighty God bless you…”) rather than the form listed in the rubrics. I’d like to discuss this with Father, but I don’t want to step on his toes.

  9. Will D. says:

    Oops, that “?” in my quotation should be a Maltese Cross. It showed up when I previewed it, but not when I published the comment.

  10. acardnal says:

    Don’t confuse the “Prayer Over the People” with the “Prayer After Communion” or the “Final Blessing” . The “Prayer Over the People” only began appearing in the Roman Missal since Lent started this year. As stated above, the Red rubric in my MTF Missal states that it is optional during weekday Masses and mandatory on Sundays.

  11. Whereas in the EF during Lent, the Prayer over the People is there (and hence mandatory) immediately following the Postcommunion on weekdays, but missing on Sundays.

  12. Mike says:

    Our chaplain is saying these prayers. I like them. One, a few weeks ago, stuck with me. Here’s a paraphrase: If evil has no dominion over your people, Lord, then no trial can harm them.

    Nice.

  13. TNCath says:

    Quite honestly, I don’t care for the “oratio super populum.” I find them anti-climactic and wordy and would happily do without them.

  14. SonofMonica says:

    Father, I can’t tell from your post whether you mean this prayer is optional or not, but… I, for one, never want to hear my priest waxing poetic about “bodily delights.” *shudder*… [What does the prayer really say?]

  15. Sub-sub-porter says:

    I don’t think there is a problem with the Latin in this prayer.

    We may read:
    Plebem tuam, Domine, quaesumus,
    interius exteriusque restaura,
    ut quam corporeis non vis delectationibus impedire,
    spiritali facias vigere proposito.

    as:
    Plebem tuam, Domine, quaesumus,
    interius exteriusque restaura,
    ut quam corporeis non vis delectationibus impedire,
    [ut] spiritali facias
    [plebem tuam~quam] vigere proposito.

    In English:
    Restore Your people, we pray, O Lord,
    interiorly and exteriorly,
    while You do not desire to impede them [Your people] by bodily delights,
    [so that] You make [them] to be strong by spiritual design.

    This translation is clunky. It is important to remember, however, that ut must pertain to both the third and fourth lines of the prayer. It applies to third because it is located there and that phrase is cut off from the next by a comma, but it applies also to the fourth because it puts the verb facio into the subjunctive. There is no reason, besides the influence of ut, that would cause facio to become subjunctive. Ut besides indicating “in order to,” when combined with the subjunctive, also means “as, when, while.”

    A less clunky translation might be:
    Restore Your people, O Lord, we pray,
    inwardly and outwardly,
    so that, while You do not desire to entangle Your people with bodily delights,
    You make them thrive according to Your spiritual design.

    I think Father’s instinct for “inwardly and outwardly” is a smart one, and his choice of the words “entangle” and “thrive” build the helpful image of a garden, so I use these words in the above translation too. I think that part of the idea of this prayer is that God offers us bodily delights, but does not desire to entangle us with them, just as He does not desire to lead us into temptation. When we say “lead us not into temptation,” it is confusing because we cannot fathom how God could lead us into temptation. In the same way, when we say “You do not desire to entangle [us~Your people] with bodily delights,” we cannot fathom how God could entangle us.

    I hope this isn’t too off.