WDTPRS: 3rd Sunday of Easter – your beehive

This Sunday’s Collect, it seems to me, reflects a conscious attempt on the part of Holy Church to remind us of the Easter Vigil.  The prayer has antecedents in both the Veronese and Gelasian sacramentaries, though it is not in pre-Conciliar editions of the Missale Romanum.

Semper exsultet populus tuus, Deus, renovata animae iuventute, ut, qui nunc laetatur in adoptionis se gloriam restitutum, resurrectionis diem spe certae gratulationis exspectet.

Vocabulary similar to our Collect is found in the works of St Ambrose (+397), such as his Exposition of Psalm 118 and his De mysteriis, a post-Easter explanation of the sacred, liturgical mysteries to the newly baptized.  For example, “… adulescens vel certe renovatus aquilae iuventute per baptismatis sacramenta…” (ex. Ps. cxviii, 18, 26).

Adoptio is, of course, “adoption” in the sense of “to take as one’s child.”  We find the phrase “adoptionem filiorum Dei … adoption of the sons of God” in the Latin Vulgate (cf Romans 8:23, Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5).

The words exsultet and adoptio bring our mind’s ear and eye to the Vigil of Easter, the deacon’s great moment to shine as he sings the Praeconium Paschale or Exsultet before the Paschal candle as the people hold their candles.  The Vigil is when many new Christians are by baptism made the Father’s sons and daughters through a spiritual adoption.

The Exsultet was composed perhaps as early as the fifth century. Parts may go back to St Ambrose.  In this great proclamation there are many images of light and darkness.  One image concerns the fiery light of candles: beeswax nourishes the divided and yet undiminished flame.  Pope Benedict in his sermon for the Easter Vigil of 2010 remarked that

“the cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.”

Another meaning of adoptio in classical Latin is the “admission of a bee into a new hive.”

What a marvelous way to think of sincere and observant Catholic Christians!  May all our works and words reflect the cooperation of God’s grace and love of neighbor.  May we be bright like kindled candles, honey sweet.

Some of you may be thinking, “But Father! But Father! This is over the top.  You’ve gone too far this time in making those connections.”

Have I?  Of course I get little… “creative” in making these links.  My goal is to help you listen to, think through, connect with these Collects during Mass.

Our prayers flow down to us from an ocean of ancient culture, pagan and Christian. Our vocabulary retains overtones of the Roman military, of agriculture, philosophy and religion. In previous centuries, people not yet gifted with glowing screens and text messaging more easily heard connections between fleeting phrases. They needed as a hook only a few words of a psalm, or even a single unusual word.  In the Gospels, Our Lord constantly alludes to psalms and the prophets. His (often hostile) listeners caught these allusions immediately.  People of seemingly simpler oral/aural cultures are better at this than we O so technologically sophisticated denizens of the West.  Our memories and attention spans are shrinking with each apparent advance.

But I digress.

SLAVISHLY LITERAL ATTEMPT:
O God, let your people rejoice always, the youth of spirit having been renewed, so that they (the people) who rejoice now that they have been restored in the glory of spiritual adoption, may in the hope of true thanksgiving await the day of the resurrection.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):
God our Father, may we look forward with hope to our resurrection, for you have made us your sons and daughters, and restored the joy of our youth.

CURRENT ICEL (2011):
May your people exult for ever, O God, in renewed youthfulness of spirit, so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption, we may look forward in confident hope to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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8 Responses to WDTPRS: 3rd Sunday of Easter – your beehive

  1. B.Questa says:

    Gah. The obsolete ICEL is soooooooo bad.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    That was lovely!

  3. Laura Lea says:

    I loved this the best:

    “O God, let your people rejoice always, the youth of spirit having been renewed, so that they (the people) who rejoice now that they have been restored in the glory of spiritual adoption, may in the hope of true thanksgiving await the day of the resurrection.”

    That seems to be what Easter is all about. To rejoice! It reminds me of what Pope John Paul II once said too. I never forgot his words:

    “We are an Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song!”

  4. skvie5738 says:

    AMAZING and how fitting, that this be the collect for this upcoming 3rd week of Easter, as it is the week we are getting our bees!!! We will be first-time beekeepers as of next Saturday. How fitting!!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  5. Long-Skirts says:

    Fr. Z. writes:

    “Parts may go back to St Ambrose. In this great proclamation there are many images of light and darkness. One image concerns the fiery light of candles: beeswax nourishes the divided and yet undiminished flame. Pope Benedict in his sermon for the Easter Vigil of 2010 remarked that…
    “the cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.””

    THE
    BEES
    SACRED PURPOSE

    For centuries beeswax
    In the sanctuary reigned
    Our sacred purpose
    From the first ordained.

    Producing honeycombs
    All that we handle –
    Though our sacred purpose -
    The Holy Mass candle.

    But at the last council
    Of the great Church bee
    Man turned to man
    Birthed sterility.

    Graces for fruits
    Crops and offspring
    Schools, churches shut -
    Can’t pollinate a thing

    Until man again
    On His altars lets towers -
    Candles of beeswax
    Sacred purpose -
    …all ours!

  6. gjp says:

    There are all sorts of bees buzzing around my head lately. Not literally.

    I knew that I read something else about bees and the church recently (not just the Exsultet). Then I was sitting around today flipping through the breviary and found it.

    From the Novus Ordo breviary (beeviary?), Office of Readings, for the Sunday in the Octave of Easter, from St. Augustine:

    “I speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ, you who are the new offspring of the Church, gift of the Father, proof of Mother Church’s fruitfulness. All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown.”

    I’m surprised that Fr. Z doesn’t have a bee on his priestly coat-of-arms. It wouldn’t be (bee?) out of place.

    In fact, I can think of only one person who has a bee on their coat-of-arms. Princess Beatrice of York, who has groups of three bees on hers. Its a heraldric joke of sorts. Three bees = “bee trice” or Beatrice. Sadly, when the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is born, this will bump Princess Beatrice down to 6th in the line of succession to the throne, who knows how long it will be before England once again has a red-haired Queen.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:

    skvie,
    Welcome to the Wonderful World of Beekeeping! Get a good book if you haven’t already – in addition to the usual “First Lessons in Beekeeping” books, of which there are many, you need one of the big encyclopedic books (either the Dadant “The Hive and the Honeybee” or the A.I. Root “ABC and XYZ of Beekeeping” are fine). I think the Dadant work is kept up to date better.
    My grandfather-in-law was one of the first commercial beekeepers in the South (he pioneered the annual trucking of hives to Florida for the orange crop, back in the 1910s), and he had two pieces of advice he always gave: 1. Smoke ‘em; 2. Smoke ‘em some more. Also, he said never to work a hive when you are hot and sweaty (bees hate the smell of sweat, I guess they think we might be particularly nasty smelling bears) . . . and NEVER wear blue jeans, especially nice new ones with the dye still in (they hate the smell of blue jeans too).
    Looking at the illustration our genial host has provided, I am very thankful for the Rev. L. L. Langstroth for inventing the movable bee frame and the compartmented hive!!! Beekeepers in the old days had to be made of very stern stuff.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    gjp,
    Princess Beatrice’s “canting” use of the bee is fairly common in heraldry. But there are a lot of bees in historic blazons – Sir Robert Peel is one, and Pope Urban VIII another.