WDTPRS 10th Ordinary Sunday – Wherein I offer really haaaard stuff, I rant, and I post a frivolous POLL

Let’s really drill down into the Collect for this 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Hang on.  This might get a little hard, but – unlike liberals who resist the new translation – I think you are smart.

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, tuis largire supplicibus, ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quae recta sunt, et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus.

In the 1962 Missale Romanum this was the Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Easter. In the Gelasian Sacramentary it was the Collect for the Fourth Sunday after the close of the Easter Octave. The Gelasian Sacramentary (the Liber sacramentorum Romanae ecclesiae or Book of Sacraments of the Church of Rome) was assembled from older material in Paris around 750. It has elements of both the Roman and Gallican (French) liturgies of the Merovingian period (5th – 8th cc.). In today’s classically sculpted Collect, without diminishing other possibilities, I think there is a key concept which was extremely important for theological reflection of the ancient Church through the Medieval period. A theological key helps us to open up what the Church is really saying to God, on our behalf, locked up in words.

The Lewis & Short Dictionary’s supple white pages, unstained by coffee cup rings even though it rests constantly open before us, states that procedo means “to go forth or before, to go forwards, advance, proceed” and more importantly “to go or come forth or out, to advance, issue” and even “to issue from the mouth, to be uttered”. Largire looks like an infinitive but is really an imperative form of the deponent largior, “to give bountifully, to lavish, bestow, dispense, distribute, impart… to confer, bestow, grant, yield”. The neuter substantive rectum, -i (from rego), is “that which is right, good, virtuous; uprightness, rectitude, virtue”. Rego involves “to keep straight or from going wrong, to lead straight; to guide, conduct, direct”. The core concept is “straight” and “upwards”. In its adjectival form, rectus, -a, -um, there is a moral content, “right, correct, proper, appropriate, befitting” again having reference to that which is “above”. Cogito is more than simply “to think”. As in Descartes’ often quoted “Cogito ergo sum… I think, therefore I am”, it is really, “to pursue something in the mind” and “to consider thoroughly, to ponder, to weigh, reflect upon, think”. The English derivative is “cogitate”.

REALLY LITERAL RENDERING:

O God, from whom all good things issue forth, bountifully grant to Your supplicants, that, as You inspire, we may think things which are right, and, as You guide, we may accomplish the same.

I’ll put on my patristiblogger hat for a bit.

Ancient theologians, both pagan and Christian struggled alike for answers to the same questions. If all things come from God, did God create evil? If all things come from God, then are all things, in fact, also God? If in the cosmos there are only God and everything else which is not-God, and if God is the only Good, then are all created not-God things evil? Is matter evil by nature? Are we evil, destined to doom or nothingness? Pagans and Christians, using the same starting points and categories of thought, came up with differing solutions.

Rejecting the idea of both a good God principle and an evil god principle, pagan theologians of the Platonic stream of thought posited a creation through an endless series of intermediaries to avoid the conclusion that God, the highest good, created evil. For them, the perfectly transcendent One overflowed with being through descending triads of intermediaries down to the corrupt material world from which we must be freed. This solved nothing, of course, because no matter how many hierarchies of intermediaries you propose, those hierarchies always must be further divided into more hierarchies.

Christian theologians, who were also Platonists, using the same categories of thought and basing themselves in the Jewish Scripture tradition found another solution: a creatio ex nihilo… immediate (that is “unmediated”) creation of the universe from nothing. Evil was explained as a deprivation of being, essentially a “nothingness”, not created by God. All things which have being come forth from God, are good, and will go back to God.

This is the key for our prayer.

We will look more deeply at this, but first let’s look at the dreadful version you had to hear in church for over thirty years, brought to you by…

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
God of wisdom and love,
source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions
in your way of peace.

Blech.

Folks, translation is hard but it ain’t that hard.

I absolutely marvel that people still go to church after all the antics and frauds perpetrated in the spirit of Vatican II.  

In fairness, old ICEL this week didn’t make us ask God for “help”, like good little Pelagians. Nor did old ICEL tell God who He is (“O God, you are so big!”) or chop the sentence into fragments. It is hard to get the Latin structure, with its propensity for complex subordination, into smooth English. Old ICEL never tried. Preferring the easy way out, the obsolete versions shatter the unity of thought in prayers by creating separate sentences (parataxis). The Latin vocabulary, moreover, is challenging. Back in the bad old days, ICEL chose simplistic words or left concepts out completely when they were too challenging, concepts like grace and humility and majesty and judgment and sin.  I think they thought you all were too stupid to grasp what the prayers really said.  I prefer that explanation to the other one… that those responsible for those translations and the liturgical reform didn’t believe what the prayers really say.  I mean… good grief!  The Latin originals in the Novus Ordo are good prayers but we have to admit that in many cases, through editing and word swapping, they were dumbed -down in content compared to the prayers in the older, traditional Roman Missal.  But I digress….

When our Collect was probably composed, Western theologians (still really in large part Platonists) were mightily struggling to solve thorny problems about, for example, predestination. This required them to gaze deeply at man’s nature and the problem of evil. In this titanic theological battle we find on all sides the ancient Platonic view of creation. All creation proceeds (procedo) forth from God in indeterminate form. In a reflection of the eternal procession of uncreated divine Persons of the Trinity, the rational component of creation (man) turned when proceeding forth to regard the Source and, in that turning, that conversio, took determinate form and began to return to God. This going forth and returning, descent and rising (in theology exitus and reditus or Greek exodos and proodos) is everywhere present in ancient and medieval thought… and liturgical prayer.

For Christians of the Neoplatonic Augustinian tradition, man, the pinnacle of creation, “drags” as it were all of created nature with him in a contemplative “conversion” back to God. Man’s rational nature was not destroyed by sin in the Fall.

However, were it not for the Incarnate Logos, the Word made flesh, the union of uncreated with created, the descent of creation would have simply continued “exiting” away from God for eternity. If not for the Incarnation, man and all creation with him would never turn back. It would be doomed to become ever more indeterminate. Instead, rational man, the image of the rational Word, and all creation with him can turn back to God. The Son entered our created realm and made possible man’s conversio after the Fall.

As John Scotus Eriugena (+877) put it, man is “nature’s priest”. Through rational acts man plays a part in God’s saving plan for creation.

This pattern of exitus and reditus is in the writings of theologians in a line from pagan Neoplatonic writers like Plotinus (+270), to Christian Platonists like St. Augustine (+430), Boethius (+525), Eriugena, St. Bonaventure (+1274) and St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274). This is the theology behind many ancient prayers.

Our Collect echoes the Neoplatonic theology of late antiquity and early Middle Ages together with the Scriptural James 1:17, a text used frequently by these same Merovingian and Carolingian thinkers.

CURRENT ICEL (2011):

O God, from whom all good things come, grant that we, who call on you in our need, may at your prompting discern what is right, and by your guidance do it.

Which version of the Collect for the 10th Ordinary Sunday would you prefer to hear in church on Sunday?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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40 Responses to WDTPRS 10th Ordinary Sunday – Wherein I offer really haaaard stuff, I rant, and I post a frivolous POLL

  1. Vergilius says:

    I voted for Latin. I am constantly astounded that my Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu friends all understand and embrace their respective religions’ non-vernacular sacred languages while the “Vatican II” generation of priests and liturgists consider us Catholics too stupid to comprehend a Latin-English translation.

  2. MacBride says:

    Fr Z, Very good read…but I think you had a splash too much coffee last night;D

  3. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    This post was simply breath-taking. Few can even do this kind of linguistic-liturgical-theological analysis at all any more, and NONE share this level of insight with the rest of us. I sit in humble admiration. And gratitude.

  4. RafkasRoad says:

    In the Marounite Rite of the Catholic Churche this day is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost; our readings are;
    Luke 10: 21-34 and
    1 Cor 2: 11-16.

    There is no such thing as Ordinary time in the Marounite liturgical year. Every Sunday, every week, every weekday is primed to remind us of a point surrounding the annunciation, birth, life, death, resurrection, post-resurrection time on Earth, Assention and anticipation of Christ’s return, coupled with Christ’s charge upon His church. no time is ‘wasted’ or considered merely ‘ordinary’.

    We have a one-year cycle, not a three year cycle.

    to give non Marounite readers a taste of the ‘turn of the Marounite earth’ as it were, if Fr. Zuhlzdorf would be so kind as to permit my posting, here is a good liturgical calendar link.

    http://www.olol.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=105&lang=en

    It is a wonderful way to follow Christ throughout each year.

    this morning, in a nutshell, the two points that stood out for me re Fr. Charlita’s sermon were:

    if we wish to call ourselves Christians, we need to be obedient to Christ’s commandments, all of them (referring to the Decalogue)
    and
    live lives of genuine, self-sacrificing humility modelled after Christ’s humility.

    Please pray for St. Charbel’s Marounite Church, Sydney, Australia, all its priests, permanent deacons and brothers,
    and
    Please pray for our former Mgr. Antoine Tarabay, now Marounite Bishop of Australia Fr. Antoine, Charbel Tarabay as we all strive as one to live as ambassadors for Christ in a world dying of spiritual thirst.

    St. Charbel, pray for us,
    St. Maroun, Pray for us, and hands across the rites,
    St. Theresa Benedicta (Dr. Edith Stein), pray for us.

    Blessings,

    Aussie Marounite

  5. Fr. Z.: I absolutely marvel that people still go to church after all the antics and frauds perpetrated in the spirit of Vatican II.
    Fr., as long as the Gospel is proclaimed in a Mass, consecration happens and I can receive, I will go to church.

  6. Kerry says:

    “If not for the Incarnation, man and all creation with him would never turn back. It would be doomed to become ever more indeterminate.” What a perfect description of certain voters in Minnesota.

  7. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “Fr., as long as the Gospel is proclaimed in a Mass, consecration happens and I can receive, I will go to church.”

    I agree, CC (enjoying some good coffee right now!).

    However, as some on this board have said before, and I agree with them completely, sometimes going to Holy Mass “…after all the antics and frauds perpetrated in the spirit of Vatican II” is a penance. :(

    Fr Z said it perfectly when he lamented that we should be blown away by the Sacrifice of the Mass we assist at.

    Unfortunately, our diocese has a seminary with too close ties to the one up in Fr. Zs neck-O’-the-woods. The mindset of “antics and frauds perpetrated in the spirit of Vatican II” is alive and well here. Fr. Zs post the other day called “CRI DE COEUR: If there were no more priests hardly anyone would be crying about it” will hit our diocese hard…and soon.

    No hope, you say? Not much.

    MSM

  8. Andrew says:

    Thank you Father Z. for all you do. I wanted to say this while it is still legal to communicate.

  9. Priam1184 says:

    First I would like to send a shout out to Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and whoever at the NSA is reading this comment. I hope they read Father’s post and learned something! That said: an extremely beautiful exposition Father. I feel sometimes that I am working toward an advanced degree in Theology just by reading your analysis of Collects.

  10. Cathy says:

    Father Z, sometimes I think peace is a word so overused and so little understood. If Christ had never entered my heart and disturbed my peace, I would be lost. Sometimes, in our general intercessions, I sit in wonder that we pray so much for peace in our world, and so little for conversion to Christ and His Church. Without such conversion, with whom do we seek peace?

  11. Imrahil says:

    Voted “your version”, but that doesn’t mean I’d not appreciate it (even over that) to have the whole Mass in Latin. I do vote against a Latin collect in an otherwise English Mass, though.

  12. This post epitomizes what you do best, Father Z, and better than anyone else in the wide world of internet Catholic commentary. This intermingling of linguistic, liturgical, patristic, and theological analysis and reflection is what makes you unique; who else on the current scene even compares? Of all your writing, this surely is what we most appreciate, those devoted readers who have stayed with you, many since the beginning of WDTPRS. It’s what first attracted us, doubtless some who’d never heard of Lewis & Short before, and has kept us here, gratefully still with you, blessed with deep and wonderful reflections like this which show forth the beauty and splendor of the Roman rite as many might never see it otherwise.

  13. wanda says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z. Though thanks doesn’t seem adequate. I had never heard of Lewis and Short, I had Latin in HS, but that is the extent of it. There are things too numerous to tell that I would never know had I not stumbled accross your place. But, slogging my way through these explanations, I find my ears perking up more often at mass when I hear something that you’ve talked about here. Because of your posts, I had for a brief time the chance to attend mass in the extraordinary form. I was struck by the quiet. It was strange but it also seemed familiar, if that can make sense. Sadly the awesome priest who said the mass in a tiny chapel has been moved. I am old enough to remember when more use was made of Latin in the mass many moons ago.
    Thank you and you have my prayers.

  14. PA mom says:

    Fr Z, your translation puts God’s action at the front, before ours, constantly drawing our action in right response.
    The current ICEL still puts man as looking for God’s input, and “in our need” does not convey so clearly that we are ALWAYS in need, more like, “if we decide we are in need, help us out, God.”

  15. mamajen says:

    I think the current ICEL is quite good! The literal translation is good, too, but the language is a bit cumbersome. The former version is absolutely atrocious.

  16. q7swallows says:

    Ditto Dr. Edward Peters’ comment.

    Two lines caught my (feminine) attention for further pondering vis-a-vis the critical importance of holy male leadership in both family & sanctuary:
    Man’s rational nature was not destroyed by sin in the Fall.
    and
    As John Scotus Eriugena (+877) put it, man is “nature’s priest”. Through rational acts man plays a part in God’s saving plan for creation.

    Thank you!

  17. JabbaPapa says:

    The rendering of “gubernante” as “guidance” is a little weak ; this is an active participle, and “te gubernante” is an absolute ablative, not just any old adverbial. It looks like it’s also an actual ablative per se.

    Using “governance” would be too strong though, we are not God’s slaves.

    Sovereignty ?

    I like the wtdprs translation best of the three (and voted for it — the Latin is beautiful in meaning, but somewhat clumsy in execution), but maybe :

    O God, from Whom all good things issue forth, grant to we Your supplicants that, from what You inspire, we may conceive thoughts which are righteous, and, obedient to Your Sovereignty, that we may accomplish them in our action.

  18. Midwest St. Michael: sometimes going to Holy Mass “…after all the antics and frauds perpetrated in the spirit of Vatican II” is a penance. :( I agree. The paraliturgical add-ons, the laypeople going in and out of the sanctuary, the extraordinary ministers and the cheap music make me cringe, too. And Fr. Z. is right in saying that the N.O. is much more prone to this than the EF. I’m from Eastern Europe, where the N.O. has been celebrated reverently and without the abuse often cited here – and because of this I firmly believe that the N.O. is valuable and part of the solution, if we can restore it to dignity at the places where it has gone off the rails.

  19. StWinefride says:

    I was at the OF Mass today (I normally attend the TLM). Psalm 30 was beautiful:

    2 O LORD my God, I cried to thee for help, and thou hast healed me.
    4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
    5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
    6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
    11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
    12 that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.

  20. jilly4ski says:

    I picked the literal version, mostly because of how the end sounded, when read out load. “accomplish the same.” sounds nicer than “do it.” Though I will admit, that by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th comma, it gets a little clunky, so I can see why they went with the current one. I also really like thee phrase “issue forth” in Fr.’s version, but I like the “discern” in the current version, it seems to convey what Fr. Z was talking about, that cogito, means more than think.

  21. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    There is, of course, also Cranmer (whose many felicities Fr Z despiseth not, as I recall): “O Lord, from whom all good things do come: Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Also for the Fifth Sunday after Easter).

    Taking up JabbaPapa’s attention to “gubernante”, might any evocation of an image of God as ‘gubernator’ (steering the ‘navis’ of His creation and within it of His new creation, the Church) be likely, here?

    Fr. Z, your saying “The Son entered our created realm and made possible man’s conversio after the Fall” made me also think of “da nobis [...] ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostae fieri dignatus est particeps”.

  22. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “nostrae”! (and I thought I proofread it before hitting ‘Post’…)

  23. Unwilling says:

    I am a Latinist, PhD in translation. The translation by Fr Z can hardly be improved upon; I cannot. His philology and theology are apparently as erudite. A translation is not the original, however, and it is practically impossible to represent every nuance of meaning or connotation in a translation. (For example, the Latin allows inspirante… gubernante… an intimate connection to their finite verbs that gives a sense of the operation of grace perfecting nature, in a way English cannot.)

    The worst translation in the note is the old ICEL. {Apart from crude departures, such as those of inclusive translation, what makes a translation of a sacred text for sacred purposes bad is exegesis that interjects rather than extracts, epexegesis.} The old ICEL is unabashedly epexegetic — though I do not judge its exegesis, AS epexegesis, particularly misleading. And, for all its elegance, the new ICEL adds “in our need” — again, an unobtrusive epexegesis trying to give a feel for the connotations and images in supplex.

    Fr Z’s ends the prayer with “the same” which is odd and somehow less effective than the new ICEL’s “do it”. But, that Nike slogan ending is disconcerting in other ways.

  24. “What does the Church really say?” maybe should be the new name of your blog Father Z. :-)

    Mammon is a synonym for wealth, speaking of the reference to temporal goods here. Learned that today in the sermon at the Melkite Liturgy, since their Gospel mentioned that today. What a lightbulb moment! Now that makes so much more sense than ‘worldliness’ or the ‘anti-christ’ or whatever explanation I’ve heard over the years that never really hung together for me. We are to be good, use wealth wisely but don’t let it command our lives. The saintly pastor mentioned that priests should never seek wealth or money or even wealthy parishioners, because wealth ends up controlling us.

    The proper texts and understanding the words make a difference – these are what can change lives. I think I prefer the WDTPRS literal translations as they are the clearest. Thank you Fr. Z for seeing and explaining so well. There is nothing more powerful than exposing the Truth of what the Church really says.

  25. q7swallows says:

    I had voted the WDTPRS literal translation also although the Current ICEL was a close second.

    I’ll take deadly, pointed (and yes even occasionally cumbersome) clarity over complete smoothness and ease. A diet of all smooth and no crunch is just plain baby food! Let us not be afraid to take time out of this sound-byte world to pause over the savory nuggets of truth.

  26. Andrew says:

    Ad linguae latinae studiosos:

    Sicut auctor quidam olim indicavit: “Bonorum apellatio, sicut hereditatis, universitatem quandam ac jus successionis, et non singulares res demonstrat.” Claudicat igitur translatio quae “bona cuncta” interpretatur sermone nostro anglico “all good things” (omnes res bonae). Meliorem tamen versionem anglicam, fateor, non invenio, nisi forte veterem illam ICEL “source of all good” quae sensum latinum, quamvis mutatis vocabulis, aptius videtur servare.

  27. One of those TNCs says:

    I voted for the Current ICEL (2011) version.

    Here’s my favorite part: “…discern what is right, and by Your guidance do it.”

    Love that “DO IT” !!!

  28. Unwilling says:

    Auctoris nomen Sexti Caecilii Africani in Digestis Iustiniani 50. 16. 208 invenitur, fragmento illius 4 quest. In hoc usu autem huius testimonii aegre consentiam. verba “quae recta” et “eadem” ad cogitationes et actus diversas spectant. et ipsa sunt inter bona Deo supplicata. Nisi erro.

  29. JabbaPapa says:

    Unwilling :

    The translation by Fr Z can hardly be improved upon

    ALL translations (with a few notable exceptions) can be improved upon.

    This note of yours may be an indirect dig at myself (or not !!), but my own proposed literal translation is not un-improvable either !!!

    (the peculiarities of Late and Vulgate Latin are nevertheless good to know ; not that I doubt that your ability to read Classical is far superior to mine)

  30. JabbaPapa says:

    Meanwhile, I wholeheartedly agree with Fr Z’s appraisal that this is a hard text to translate.

  31. Unwilling says:

    Dear JabbaPapa, Please be assured that I meant no personal slight or reference to you. I don’t like quarreling or making “digs” — and I hope I never “do it”. But to make useful comment sometimes requires contradiction. For example, in the nice but somewhat “explanatory” translation you offer there is a tiny slip: you need “us” after the preposition “to”. Your implied interpretation and representation I have no problem with. I mean to respect both you and your contributions.

  32. Suburbanbanshee says:

    In case anybody was wondering, the extra Maronite liturgical seasons are Pentecost (well, we still have that in the EF, and the OF readings still reflect it; but the Maronite Pentecost-tide lasts all summer), Holy Cross (Sept. 14 till the beginning of Nov.), Introduction to the Liturgical Year (Nov – Advent), and the Weeks Before Lent. (They count both Advent and Christmastide as the Season of the Lord’s Birth.)

    In other words, it’s exactly the same structure as everybody else’s Christian liturgical year, but they have more named seasons, and they either smoosh seasons together or lengthen them.

  33. It was a tough choice between the 2011 ICEL and your WDTPRS translations, but I selfishly ended up choosing the WDTPRS. That is probably in part owing to the facts that I am:

    • A “Thinking” type (in Myers-Briggs terms);
    • By education, what amounts fundamentally to an engineer, and;
    • A convert who had been, at the time of beginning RCIA, for almost 40 of my then 63 years, an Episcopalian, drawn in part by the richness of the Elizabethan language, which I find an aid to worship..

    Those three facts may account in some significant part for my predilection for words that “carry more freight,” which is to say not that they are sesquipedalian, but that they have texture and nuance and layers of associations which allow them to serve as the seeds for contemplation.

    Your translation wins, hands down, and I add my thanks and appreciation to those of Dr. Peters.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  34. Blaise says:

    I voted for the Latin, as that would always be my preference. I would have put the new ICEL second as I felt it flowed a little better than Fr Z’s. However, at Mass on Sunday the priest managed so completely to misunderstand the current ICEL that he added “to us” at the end!!! I don’t think he would have done the same with Fr Z’s version.

    The Old ICEL version comes a distant last.

    [Just to be clear: It has never been my intention with those "literal" versions to produce "smooth" or "flowing" versions. Just to be clear.]

  35. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    And yet, Fr Z, they flow admirably compared to the interlinear-style ‘ponies’ one might produce!

  36. lana says:

    I thought the 2011 ICEL was beautiful. I think I will post it on my mirror for a while.

  37. JabbaPapa says:

    Unwilling :

    Thank you for your kind explanations.

    For example, in the nice but somewhat “explanatory” translation you offer there is a tiny slip: you need “us” after the preposition “to”

    No — I wondered about that in my head, and I’m sticking with the “we” ; the “to” is a preposition to “Your supplicants”, NOT to the pronoun (in the intent of my English). The pronoun “we” is not being used as a shifter in my translation. I do understand that American and English usage in these grammatical niceties can vary, and I had exactly the hesitation that you suggest on this very basis, due to this being a US not UK forum.

  38. Kathleen10 says:

    I picked your version Fr. Z., but would love the Latin the same, if not more. I agree with whoever said we ought to be able to use the original language of our faith.

  39. q7swallows says:

    From Martial Artist:
    . . . words that “carry more freight,” which is to say not that they are sesquipedalian, but that they have texture and nuance and layers of associations which allow them to serve as the seeds for contemplation.

    Brilliantly said.

    Amen!

  40. Emilio III says:

    FWIW, the Anglican Breviary’s version:

    O LORD, from whom all good things do come: grant to us thy humble servants; that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same. Through…