WDTPRS 18th Ordinary Sunday: clear, cold reality

When the priest, alter Christus, says our prayers during Holy Mass, Christ, Head of the Body, speaks.  His words have power to form us.  As Catholics, formed according to the mind of the Church, we then go out from Mass to shape our world around us.  It is the work of Christ’s Body to bring the content of these prayers (Christ Himself!) to every corner and nook we influence.  Holy Church shapes us and we – especially lay people – shape the world around us. We then bring gifts – the very best we can conceive – back to Holy Church who makes them her own.  This is dynamic exchange is called inculturation.

However, in this simultaneous two-way exchange, what God offers to the world through Holy Church must always have logical priority over what the world offers back.  This is authentic inculturation!

The Collect for the 18th Ordinary Sunday was not in any previous edition of the Missale Romanum.  The ancient Veronese Sacramentary has a close cousin used by our ancestorsOur modern version simplified the grammar.  I found similar vocabulary in the works of Cicero (+ 43 BC – Ep. ad fam. 2.6.4), in the writings of St. Ambrose of Milan (+ 397 – Hexameron, Day 1.2.7), and in the sermons of St. Augustine (+ 430 – s. 293d, 5).   The Church and culture have been deeply interwoven through the centuries.

Adesto, Domine, famulis tuis, et perpetuam benignitatem largire poscentibus, ut his, qui te auctorem et gubernatorem gloriantur habere, et grata restaures, et restaurata conserves.

Adesto is the “future” imperative of the verb adsum, “to be present”, in both the physical and the moral sense.  By logical extension, adsum means, “to be present with one’s aid.”  It can also mean, “to be present in mind, with attention” and “to be fearless.”  “Adsum!” is the famous word in the rite of ordination to Holy Orders.  Men are officially “called” by name to Holy Orders (vocatio).  One by one they respond, “Adsum! …  I am present!”  Men may have inklings or personal convictions that they are called by God to the priesthood, but this “calling” during ordination is the Church’s affirmation of the vocation.

At this time of year some of our Collects use similar vocabulary, including slightly unusual words which spark our attention.  Last week we saw dux (“leader, guide, commander”) and rector (“ruler, leader, governor; helmsman”).  This week we have the similar term gubernator, “a steersman, pilot” or “a ruler, governor”.   During Ordinary Time there are groupings of Collects linked by vocabulary, theme, or images, (e.g., military, agricultural, judicial).  The Collects in the Novus Ordo are usually either derived from prayers in ancient sacramentaries or directly from orations in previous editions of the Missale Romanum.   Though they were taken from different times of the year in those sources, they are now grouped together.  This must have been a conscious choice.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide, be close to us and hear the prayers of all who praise you. Forgive our sins and restore us to life. Keep us safe in your love.

What’s this I see?  Uncharacteristically, the old ICEL allowed theword “sins” into their version!   The old incarnation of ICEL consistently expunged references to sin, guilt, our humility, the possibility of hell for the unrepentant, propitiation, etc.

LITERAL VERSION:

Be present to Your servants, O Lord, and grant Your unending kindness to those seeking it, so that You may restore favors to those who glory in having You as author and guide, and You may preserve them once restored.

CURRENT ICEL (2011):

Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored.

Take note of the unequal statuses of those to whom the Latin prayer refers.

On the one hand, God is our creator.  He directs our paths.  He is eternal and kind.  He gives gifts.  He can be present to us.  On the other hand, we are servants and needy seekers.  We need God’s favors. We must be grateful, for they are unattainable apart from His kindness.  We do not deserve anything apart from Him. Some of us, moreover, have lost God’s favors.  We are incomplete until He restores them to us. He will not restore them unless we beg Him in His kindness to do so. Because we are weak, God must preserve His gifts in us once He has given them back.

Our status as lowly servants is the key to everything we receive or regain.

The clear, cold reality of our neediness is today masterfully juxtaposed with the warming, reassuring confidence we find in God’s presence.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to WDTPRS 18th Ordinary Sunday: clear, cold reality

  1. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m very excited. Today I purchased my first copy of the Daily Roman Missal. Now I may finally know what you all are talking about. It feels like Christmas!

  2. acardnal says:

    Kathleen10,
    who published it?

  3. Unwilling says:

    The “warming, reassuring confidence”, even intimacy, that “we find in God’s presence” is also suggested in the vocabulary choice “famulus” for “servant”. But I am conflicted about the dynamic “draw near” for “be present” — I suppose the literal is too flat in English. But why “what you have created” for “grata”?!

  4. tonyfernandez says:

    Humility? Servants? But I learned in CCD class that God is our buddy, our friend, the guy that we go to when we need something. And that hey, He loves us all, no matter what we do. Just love Him and we’re A-Okay!

    Much like history and other academic subjects, I only learned the truth when I actually read about these things online. Oh how lost I would be without the internet. I can only pray unceasingly for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but I deserve nothing but eternal damnation.

  5. tonyfernandez says:

    Oh and thank you Fr. Z for these wonderful posts. I feel like slowly but surely I am learning this classical language. Are there any (preferably cheap) resources that you recommend for furthering my knowledge of the tongue?

  6. jameeka says:

    Yes, I learned the roots of “family” and “restaurant”–amazing. And this is a good all-around prayer.

  7. StWinefride says:

    But Father! Doesn’t Our Lord tell us that we are His friends?

    You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you “.

    John 15:14-15

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Real inculuration means we re-make the culture around us to reflect the Kingdom of God. Book please, Fr. Z. Excellent, as usual. And, are not we all called to be present and practice the Presence of God daily, hourly-The book changed me years ago and I re-read it often. The Sacrament of the Presence Moment.

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    Powerful thoughts to consider. Thank you so much, Fr. Z. for all of the work that you put in to preparing these prayer points for us.

  10. Regarding Unwilling’s question, the Liturgia Horarum 1985 has

    et grata restaures, et restaurata conserves.

    as Fr. Z quotes it, in agreement with his “favors” for grata. However, in my pdf of the Missale Romanum 2002 this line is changed to

    et creata restaures, et restaurata conserves.

    which agrees with the ICEL 2011 translation

    restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored.

  11. Andrew says:

    Henry Edwards:

    Interesting. “Creata” makes a lot more sense then “grata”. Some sources have “congregata” which doesn’t help either. It makes sense to me to speak of God restoring all creation – “creata”.

  12. Andrew, I notice also that my New Daily Missal (Catholic Truth Society)–which has Latin (MR 2002) and English (ICEL 2011) in parallel columns–also has “creata” instead of “grata”. I haven’t checked this out, but I’d conjecture that the 1st and 2nd editions of the Missale Romanum had “grata”, but it was changed to “creata” in the 3rd edition.

  13. jameeka says:

    Father Z, I really like your definition of authentic inculturation.

  14. Andrew says:

    Henry Edwards:

    I used to dabble in original manuscripts and I know how easy it is to misread the text (or not to be able to read it at all). It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if someone misread “creata” for “grata”.

    Some of the scribes didn’t know Latin well and the danger was that they would lose track, when copying, and write things that made no sense. Other scribes knew Latin well, in which case the danger was that they would presume to know what the sentence being copied wanted to say and at times slip up and substitute their own ideas for the original text.