The Post Communion prayer for today’s Mass in the Ordinary Form caught my eye because of it’s interesting beginning.
Exuberet, quaesumus, Domine,
mentibus nostris paschalis gratia sacramenti,
ut, quos viam fecisti perpetuae salutis intrare,
donis tuis dignos efficias.
This prayer was pasted together from components of two prayers in the Gelasian Sacramentary, both during the Octave of Easter. The first part is from a prayer for Saturday in the Octave: Exuberet, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris paschalis gratia sacramenti, ut donis suis ipsi nos <dignos> efficiat. The second is from the Sunday following Easter (here, orthography touched up again): Maiestatem tuam, Domine, supplices exoramus, ut quos viam fecisti perpetuae salutis intrare, nullis permittas errorum laqueis implicare.
What a different sense you get about the concerns people had back in the day! It is interesting to see, in these prayers – out of which the Concilium’s experts snipped bits – what was not chosen, what was left behind. The pasting snippers left out the bit from the second prayer about us asking that we not be tangled in the snares of errors. Instead, we get to pray about gifts! Hurry! We are always happy happy happy!
What is it about liturgists of that era, anyway? It seems as if they are always trying to force-feed us ice-cream cones. But I digress.
I like that verb exubero, which here is being used transitively. It means, in the first (non-transitive) sense, “to come forth in abundance, to grow luxuriantly; to be abundant, to abound in” and then in the second (transitive) sense “to make full or abundant”.
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
May the grace of this paschal Sacrament
abound in our minds, we pray, O Lord,
and make those you have set on the way of eternal salvation
worthy of your gifts.
From the Latin, not so much the English, I have the exuberant image of our souls bursting upwards, growing wildly like children seem to, or else as flowers blasting skyward out of the earthy tomb in which seeds slept, swelling and blooming and opening out like spring tulips under the risen, warming radiance of Christ, the “sun of justice”.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are saying, “Isn’t your imagination just a little too exuberant? Earth? Seeds? Flowers? Growing children? C’mon! Are your allergy meds getting to you?”
Calm down, dear scoffers.
Exubero is a compound of ex- (from, out of) and uber. Uber means, on the one hand, the breasts or udders of mammals and, on the other, the fertile abundance of fields. Many of our ancient prayers have strong agricultural imagery, since much of Roman religion was tied to the land and seasons.
If we remember that in the ancient and, yes, exuberant Church of North Africa, the newly baptized were called infantes, and that Augustine their bishop was teaching them during the octave all sorts of things about the sacred mysteries which they had not been permitted to learn before baptism, you can imagine their own minds, the minds of these infantes, opening up like blossoms, shooting up like children getting the right stuff, good food for the soul.