WDTPRS 20th Ordinary Sunday: snatched up into invisible love

The Collect for the 20th Ordinary Sunday, found also in the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary, is in the 1962 Missale Romanum for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost.

Deus, qui diligentibus te bona invisibilia praeparasti, infunde cordibus nostris tui amoris affectum, ut, te in omnibus et super omnia diligentes, promissiones tuas, quae omne desiderium superant, consequamur.

Our prayer has many different words for love and longing: diligo, amor, affectus and the related cor, desiderium, promissioAffectus means “a state of body, and especially of mind produced in one by some influence, affection, mood: love, desire, fondness, good will, compassion, sympathy.”  The marvelous diligo means initially, “to value or esteem highly, to love”.  It also has the impact of being careful  and attentive, as in English “diligent”.  When you love, you give your best.  Desiderium is “a longing, ardent desire or wish, properly for something once possessed; grief, regret for the absence or loss of any thing [or person].” Cor is, of course, “heart” and promissio “promise”.  Consequor means, among other things, “pursue, go after, attend, to follow” and also, “to follow a model, copy, obey”.  It indicates, “to follow a preceding cause as an effect, to be the consequence, to arise or proceed from.”  I will say “attain.”

LITERAL RENDERING:

O God, who have prepared unseen goods for those loving You, pour into our hearts the disposition of Your love, so that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may attain Your promises, which surpass every desire.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

God our Father, may we love you in all things and above all things and reach the joy you have prepared for us beyond all our imagining.

CURRENT ICEL (2011):

O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire.

Today’s Collect pulses with longing.

When this is sung aloud – FATHERS…. please sing our prayers more often? In Latin? – I hear a connection between invisibilia at the beginning and promissiones at the end.  The concepts are ordered into a climax, beginning with the ways that we can love on our own (the starting point as the prayer begins), namely, that at first we love with “natural” love, previous to or apart from our new Christian character given to us through baptism.  We then move beyond mere human loves.  We can love, in this world, with the help of the grace which we ask God to pour into our hearts (charity).  Then we aim at the love which awaits us in heaven, a love beyond anything we can experience in this life.  This Love will complete our every hope and desire.

Everything God promised is already fulfilled for us, but we still have to live in love to have later Love Himself.

What a mystery it is that, even though Christ defeated death, we must still pass through death to have Love’s unimaginable fulfillment.

What awaits us at our entrance into the Beatific vision is unimaginable.  For now, however, we can only ache for the completion of what God promised.

Although we have, in our Collect, an ascent in and to Love personified, we shouldn’t oppose natural and supernatural loves. Human love, sometimes called eros, isn’t automatically in conflict with “religious love”.  We are human beings, not angels.  We must avoid the extreme of trying to profane what is supernatural by locking it into the finite and, on the other hand, in this life paying attention to purely spiritualized supernatural love, which would render us ineffective in regard to Our Lord’s two-fold command of love for God and neighbor.

Our good earthly loves are fulfilled in the perfect love which is only in God.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t destroy it.  In redeeming us, God did not undo us. He lifts up who and what we are and makes us whole again.

We therefore long for Love, we reach out to it, thirsting for its fullness, its completing, it healing, transforming power. This is the promise we live for in this vale of tears.

Though this is summer, consider the Preface for Christmas, the celebration of Love Incarnate and finally visible:

“For through the mystery of the incarnate Word, the new light of Your glory dazzled the eyes of our mind, so that while we know God visibly, through Him we may be snatched up into invisible love… (in invisibilem amorem rapiamur).”

Richard of St. Victor, in his work on contemplation, cites the phrase: “Love is the eye and to love is to see”, or more precisely “where your is love is, there is your eye” (Ubi amor ibi oculus – Benjamin minor 13 – sometimes cites as “Amor oculus est, et amare videre est.”).

Our Collects teaches us that love is the key to seeing the one who is otherwise unseeable.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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14 Responses to WDTPRS 20th Ordinary Sunday: snatched up into invisible love

  1. Tom in NY says:

    Ante dies microphonarum, sacerdos orans ad orientem ut congratatio preces audiat, cantabat.
    Ut semper, gratias causa studii et sapientiae RP Moderatoris agamus.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  2. Tom in NY says:

    Addendum: Annis MCMLX,etiam quidam sacerdos et epistulam et evangelium paroechio meo die feria cantabat.

  3. jameeka says:

    Beautiful

  4. John Nolan says:

    Yet another Collect with a gratuitous “we pray” in the 2011 version. How did they get in? And can we get rid of them?

  5. Alaina says:

    This made my day.

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    Very beautiful, Fr. Z. Such a love is wonderful to contemplate. Thank you.

  7. StWinefride says:

    Thank you, Father. I bought a small book a few weeks ago entitled “Breakfast with Benedict – daily readings with Pope Benedict XVI” (Our Sunday Visitor). In one of the chapters he speaks about how our hearts have to be stretched:

    “St Augustine…describes very beautifully the intimate relationship between prayer and hope. He defines prayer as an exercise of desire. Man was created for greatness – for God Himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched…He then uses a very beautiful image to describe this process of enlargement and preparation of the human heart. “Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [a symbol of God's tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?” The vessel, that is your heart, must first be enlarged and then cleansed, freed from the vinegar and its taste. This requires hard work and is painful, but in this way alone do we become suited to that for which we are destined. Even if Augustine speaks directly only of our capacity for God, it is nevertheless clear that through this effort by which we are freed from vinegar and the taste of vinegar, not only are we made free for God, but we also become open to others…When we pray properly we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well. (Spe Salvi 33)”.

  8. jcr says:

    Re: “unseen” in the literal rendering

    When the new ICEL translation was being introduced, I recall a translator (who didn’t work for ICEL) commenting about the problem with “unseen” in the old translation of the Creed. He pointed out that unseen is not the same thing as invisible: the former is what has not been seen, the latter is what cannot be seen. The Muslim expects to receive in paradise primarily unseen but visible good things, the Christian expects primarily invisible good things.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Great, as usual, Father Z. Our last pope’s encyclical, found here, is one of the most excellent , as it cannot be too highly praised, works on the subject of love.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html

  10. Priam1184 says:

    If one is praying the Liturgy of the Hours as a layman (not under obligation as a member of the clergy or religious), and the published volumes for the closing prayer on Sunday contain the 1973 translation of the Collect for that Sunday’s Mass, would it be proper to insert the 2011 translation of the Collect instead?

  11. Jaybirdnbham says:

    This morning at Mass, my pastor commented very favorably about this collect and about how beautiful it is, and even re-read the first part of it as part of his homily. I found this amusing because when the new translation came out a couple yrs ago, our pastor was very publicly unhappy with it, and said it was ‘cludgy’ or something similar. I’m glad that the new translation has grown on him, and he now seems to like it. :-)

  12. OrthodoxChick says:

    Gorgeous thoughts to reflect upon, Fr. Z. I arrived early today for the TLM and pulled this up on my smartphone to read as my prayer preparation before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thank you so much for this!

  13. Andrew says:

    My dictionary tells me that “diligere est magni facere, paullo minus quam amare” (‘diligere’ is ‘to value’, somewhat less then ‘to love’).

    The Latin prayer makes a distinction and a contrast between “diligo” and “amo” with ‘diligo’ being more of a choice, an election, whereas ‘amo’ has more to do with affection: the prayer asks for an increase of the “affection of love” in order to increase the commitment of the “diligentes” (the ones making a choice, or election as in diligo, seligo, colligo, eligo, lego).

    All of the English translations miss the contrast, because they translate both “diligo” and “amo” as “love”. The drama of the progression from ‘diligo’ to ‘amo’ is lost in the translation.

  14. Priam1184 says:

    @Andrew The same problem exists for John’s post-Resurrection account of the meeting between Our Lord and Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The entire nature of that extremely crucial scene changes once one understands the different words being used for ‘love’ by Jesus and by Peter whether in the original Greek or in Jerome’s translation (diligo and amo are both used in that scene as well). Love is such a multi-faceted concept that has so many shades and complexions; it is a major fault of the English language that we have only one word for love and that it has been so bastardized.