WDTPRS 22nd Ordinary Sunday: graft into our hearts the love of Your Name

With small differences our Collect for the 22nd Ordinary Sunday is based on a prayer in the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary and, subsequently, one in the 1962 Roman Missal for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.

Deus virtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum, insere pectoribus nostris tui nominis amorem, et praesta, ut in nobis, religionis augmento, quae sunt bona nutrias, ac, vigilanti studio, quae nutrita custodias.

Insero means “to sow, plant in, engraft, implant.”  I like “graft”.  Optimum is “best”, but seeing that we are applying “best” to God, we can get away with “perfect”.

Our Collect summons images of, on the one hand, armies and, on the other, an orchard and vine tending.  On the one hand, the God of hosts guards the good things we have.  On the other, this same mighty God is grafting love into us and then nourishing it so it can grow.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

Almighty God, every good thing comes from you. Fill our hearts with love for you, increase our faith, and by your constant care protect the good you have given us.

The norms underlying the new, corrected translation stated that “deficiency in translating the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth, as well as the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed in the Latin text” (Liturgiam authenticam 51).   Today the priest invokes God as Deus virtutum, an expression in St Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Psalter (Ps 58:6; 79:5 ff; 83:9; 88;9) often translated as “God of hosts.”  Don’t confuse “host”, which is “army, multitude”, with the wheat wafer used at Mass.  Virtutum is genitive plural of virtus, “manliness, strength, courage, aptness, capacity, power” etc.  St Jerome chose virtutum to render the Hebrew tsaba’, “that which goes forth, an army, war, a host.”  Tsaba’ describes variously hosts of soldiers, of celestial bodies, and of angels.   In the Sanctus of Holy Mass and, in the great Te Deum, we echo the myriads of angels bowed low in the liturgy of heaven before God’s throne: “Holy, Holy, Holy LORD GOD SABAOTH …. God of “heavenly hosts”.

LITERAL RENDERING:

O mighty God of hosts, of whom is the entirety of what is perfect, graft into our hearts the love of Your Name, and grant, that by means of an increase of the virtue of religion, You may nourish in us the things which are good, and, by means of vigilant zeal, guard the things which have been nourished.

CURRENT ICEL (2011):

God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured.

Today we pray to God for an increase in “religion.”  I’ll take this to be the virtue of religion. Last week I wrote about the difference between “values” and “virtues”.  Let’s make more distinctions.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “religion” as a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The First Commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion (cf also CCC 2084, 2135).   St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274) says that religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God as the creator and supreme ruler of all things (STh II-II, 81, 1).  We must acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (eg, by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (eg, external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.).  The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, and blasphemy.  We creatures must recognize who God is and act accordingly both inwardly and outwardly.  When this at last becomes habitual for us, then we have the virtue of religion.  A virtue is a habit.  One good act does not make us virtuous.  If being prudent or temperate or just, etc., is hard for us, then we don’t yet have the virtues.

Our petition for religion follows immediately from our desire that God “graft” (insere) love of His Holy Name into our hearts.  We move from the title of God the angels and saints never tire of repeating in their everlasting liturgy in heaven: HOLY.  Then we beg for all good things to be nourished in us by God as He increases in us the virtue of religion.  This leads to the proper interior and exterior actions that necessarily flow from recognizing who God truly is and who we are.

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16 Responses to WDTPRS 22nd Ordinary Sunday: graft into our hearts the love of Your Name

  1. Therese says:

    Be religious or be damned! —Cure d’Ars

    (No, really. He did say that.)

    Thanks, Father, for the best posts of this blog. (Not that the others are at all shabby. ;-)

  2. Bruce says:

    “There is one further point about the virtues that ought to be noticed.
    There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action
    and being a just or temperate man. Someone who is not a good tennis player
    may now and then make a good shot. What you mean by a good player is the man
    whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained by making innumerable
    good shots that they can now be relied on. They have a certain tone or
    quality which is there even when he is not playing, just as a
    mathematician’s mind has a certain habit and outlook which is there even
    when he is not doing mathematics. In the same way a man who perseveres in
    doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character. Now it is
    that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk
    of ‘virtue.’ ”
    C.S. Lewis

  3. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The first image you posted in this blog entry reminds me a whole lot of the image painted inside the facade entry wall of the Abbey Church at Monte Cassino in Italy. Except in that image, it is Saint Benedict’s refulgence on display. I tried finding a link to the image, but can’t find an existing one online.

  4. Palladio says:

    I hope you gather these as a book: I volunteer to edit it.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: “Deus virtutum,” presumably that would be in the sense of “powers” as an angelic order?

    Re: practicing virtues to become virtuous, Bede has an interesting bit in his commentary on the Valiant Woman (the bit on Prov. 31:14). He basically compares the soul to a merchant ship; you load up your soul with virtues, and for those you can receive the higher gifts from God. Also, you do the good that you can do now, and God gives you “pay” that helps you do the better things that will be asked of you later, and so you are gradually helped by Him to be ready for eternal life.

  6. StWinefride says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda: I think I have found it:

    http://touritaly.org/tours/montecassino/church-fresco-portal.jpg

  7. teomatteo says:

    Therese….
    “Be religious or be damned”
    would make a nice bumper sticker.

  8. Pingback: WDTPRS 22nd Sunday | Quoniam Tu Solus

  9. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    StWinefride: YES, that is it. Well done! If you zoom in, you can see the smug self image of the artist in the lower right hand aspect of the painting.

  10. Vecchio di Londra says:

    This Collect (‘nourishing the things that are good…guarding what has been nourished’) seemed to chime for me with the Gospel of modesty and its thematically partnered first reading (Ecclus: 3:19-21) – it is a great motto to take into the autumnal working season, ‘with vigilant zeal’:
    “My son, be gentle in carrying out your business,
    and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.
    The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly,
    and then you will find favour with the Lord”

  11. StWinefride says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda: thanks for pointing him out – I hadn’t seen him! The text accompanying the photo mentions the three Popes in the foreground for anyone who is interested:

    “…the fresco which resides on the wall above the central portal of the Basilica. It is titled The Glory of St. Benedict or The Benedictine Paradise. In it you can see St. benedict surrounded by monks, bishops and nuns who lived in holiness by following his rule. These include three popes in the foreground: at the left is Gregory the Great, St. Benedict’s first biographer; in the middle is Pope Paul VI who re-consecrated the Basilica in 1964 and proclaimed St. Benedict the main Patron Saint of Europe and on the right is St. Victor III, Formerly Abbot Desiderius – author of Montecassino’s splendor in the 12th century“.

  12. jaykay says:

    I couldn’t figure out at all how the “ut praesta” fitted in, in the sense of “grant that”, since I recalled that it had the primary sense of to excel, to surpass etc. But then it is a very long time since I studied Latin.

    However I found out on Lewis & Short online that it has this subsidiary definition: ” To give, offer, furnish, present”. I also came across this from the Acts: “Festus autem volens Iudaeis gratiam praestare…” as in to do a favour or help, facilitate etc. So that seemed to be it. Had me stumped, though!

  13. Mike says:

    “… et praesta, ut in nobis, religionis augmento…”

    Is it any wonder that this was totally left out of the 1973 translation?

  14. Mike: It could be that the translators and their overloads didn’t like the concept of the virtue of religion.

  15. Mike says:

    I’d say that was exactly the case, Father… ;)

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I just ‘caught up’ with this (on the Feast of St. Gregory the Great, happily enriched by the contributions of Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda and StWinefride): thank you (however belatedly)!

    What a rich lot to think about!

    Hugh Pope in his Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Angels”, quotes St. Gregory, (Hom. 34, In Evang.): “We know on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim.” Suburbanbanshee notes the connexion between specific ‘order’ sense of ‘Virtues’ and what is here (from St. Jerome) a broader sense. The wonderful Venerable Bede reference (what is the exact source?) reminded me of Andrew Louth’s exposition in Denys the Areopagite of (Pseudo-) Dionysius on the mediating of gifts by the angelic hierarchies. And the “custodias” closing the collect presumably also has an ‘angelic’ resonance, ‘custodes auroram’ (?), guardian angels, “Ye watchers and ye holy ones”. What such angels have never lost, we must have engrafted, and so also nourished in ways different from the angels, though presumably also sometimes by means of angelic agency.

    Is Antique and Patristic consideration of the etymology of ‘religio’ also active, here: ‘religio’ as uniting creatures to God ? – that (also with angelic help) we may become lovingly, serviceably united to God even as they are, that we with “the angels and saints [may come at last] never [to] tire of repeating in their everlasting liturgy in heaven: HOLY.”

    (It also makes me want to reread Tolkien’s Silmarillion, Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion, and Lewis’s That Hideous Strength in the light of this collect.)