Historically the prayer has roots in the ancient “Leonine” or better the Veronese Sacramentary used during the month of July in which we find: sic bonis praetereuntibus nunc utimur, ut iam possimus inherere perpetuis.
This historical digging shows us that the Novus Ordo version returned to a more ancient form of the prayer.
That inherere for the more regular inhaerere shows how the ae was pronounced when the manuscript was made. The eminent paleographer E.A. Lowe dated the earliest manuscript of the Veronese to the first quarter of the 7th century.
Protector in te sperantium, Deus, sine quo nihil est validum, nihil sanctum, multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam, ut, te rectore, te duce, sic bonis transeuntibus nunc utamur, ut iam possimus inhaerere mansuris.
There is a very pleasant humming “m” alliteration in lines 2-3. A nice pair of pairs present themselves: nihil validum, nihil sanctum and some exemplary ablative absolutes te rectore, te duce.
Protector is from protego fundamentally meaning “to cover before, or in front, cover over” and obviously also “to shield from danger” as well as things like “put a protecting roof over”. A protector is also “one of the lifeguard or body – guard”.
Last week in the Collect we heard “vigili custodia … vigilant restraint/guarding.” Both words refer to protection.
In last week’s Collect the priest prayed to God: clementer gratiae tuae super eos dona multiplica, (indulgently multiply upon/over them the gifts of Your grace) while this week we ask multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam. In this and last week’s prayer we have the image of a people asking to cover them over abundantly, last week with the theological virtues, this week with mercy.
God is our shield. In His mercy He guards us from the attacks we face as soldiers in the Church Militant.
Validus, a, um (from the verb valeo) is “strong, stout, able, powerful, robust, vigorous” and also “well in body, in good health, sound, healthy”. “Vale!” is one Latin way to say “Farewell!”
The verb inhaereo means “to stick in, to stick, hang, or cleave to, to adhere to, inhere in”. Inhaereo is construed with either dative or ablative and it is very hard to know which case is mansuris, the future participle from maneo, “to remain, last, endure, continue”. Without going into details, St. Augustine (+430) used a similar combination of words, but to different effect, in a sermon about the love of God and love of the world (s. 344.2 in PL 39:1512).
O God, protector of those hoping in you, without whom nothing is efficacious, nothing holy, multiply your mercy upon us, so that, you being our helmsman, our commander, we may so make use of things that pass away as to be able to cleave to those that will endure.
We can also render rector and dux respectively as “guide” and “leader” but I think in our times we need a bolder tone. A rector is also a “helmsman” and “commander of the army”. In honor of World Youth Day, rector can be the “master of youth, teacher”. On the other hand, dux is also a military term for a “general” or “chief”.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):
God our Father and protector,
without you nothing is holy,
nothing has value.
Guide us to everlasting life
by helping us to use wisely
the blessings you have given to the world.
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
We are members of the Church Militant and we must never forget it. We must not permit ourselves complacency. We must not be softened into spiritual acedia by the coos and lullabies of those who deny the existence of evil and the devil and personal sin.
Some people today think that any “evil”, if it is really evil after all and not merely a difference of perspective, can be reduced to mere social ills stemming from a societal lack of tolerance and diversity.
This is a deception of the enemy of the soul, the devil.
In reality, our personal sins are the foundation of every societal ill. When people do not believe in the devil and in sin, then the enemy has already won. Our enemy Satan and his fallen angels desire our everlasting damnation and agony with them in hell. This world has a fell prince, a spiritual being, a mighty fallen angel (cf. John 14:30).
Jesus Christ is our King, our great Captain in our battle against all that is wicked in this world. Christ Jesus has broken hell’s power over us, but for a time we are still in this world and the devil dominates it – but only to the extent that omnipotent God permits in His providence. We are living in a state of “already, but not yet.”
As soldiers traveling through enemy territory we need strong shields, a sure leader to set our feet on the right path out of the danger zone, a sturdy roof over us when we rest, some way to identify what is holy and what is deception.
Without God nothing is worthwhile or holy. He must pour out and multiply upon us all that we need simply in order to live.
Today we are asking for a protection, sin-Teflon, so that the passing things of this world can’t stick to us, distract us, and hold us back from heaven. May God give us demon-Kevlar, so that the enemy cannot penetrate our minds and hearts with the darts of temptation and the provocations of doubts.
We beg God to make us “sticky” only for the things that endure forever and not the things that are under control of this world’s prince, who from the beginning is a liar, a murderer (cf. John 8:44).