WDTPRS 17 Ordinary Sunday: There is no room in Christian life for complacency.

Our Collect for the 17th Ordinary Sunday has roots in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary for the month of July and, with variations, is in the Extraordinary Form on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost.  After some digging I determined that the Ordinary Form version was edited back to the more ancient version of the prayer.

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.

I like the pleasant “m” hum in the first part. Note the spiffy pairings with their asyndeton, “nihil validum, nihil sanctum” and “te rectore, te duce” (exemplary ablative absolutes).

Protector (from protego) meaning fundamentally “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 a “lifeguard, bodyguard”.  Inhaereo means “to stick in or to, cleave to, inhere in”.  Inhaereo, construed with either dative or ablative, is stuck to mansuris, the future participle from maneo, “to remain, last, endure, continue”.   St Augustine of Hippo (+ 430) used a similar combination of words in a sermon about love of God and love of the world (s. 344.2).

LITERAL VERSION:

O God, protector of those believing in you, without whom nothing is efficacious, nothing holy, multiply upon us Your mercy, 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.

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.

NEW CORRECTED 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.

Last week we prayed about vigilant or watchful restraint or guarding (“vigili custodia”) and said “super eos dona multiplica … multiply gifts (of grace) upon/over them (us)”.  This week the priest asks God to “multiply mercy upon us … multiplica super nos misericordiam”.  In both prayers we have the image God covering us over (super). Last week it was with the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity).  This week it is with mercy, though vigilance still rings like a claxon through the prayer.

We are members of a Church Militant. Never forget it!  There is no room in the Christian life for complacency.  Don’t soften into spiritual acedia by the coos and lullabies of those who deny the existence of evil and of the Devil and of personal sin.  Give them no ear.

Some people today think that evil, if “evil” isn’t merely a difference of point of view, can be reduced to mere social ills which stem from a lack of diversity and tolerance.

That is a deception of the Devil.

All societal ills take root from the foul seeds of our personal sins of commission and omission. When people do not believe in the Devil and in personal sin, then the Enemy has already won.   Satan and the fallen angels desire our everlasting damnation in Hell in the agony of separation from God.  They are powerful, relentless, cunning, merciless.

This world has its demonic prince (cf John 14:30), but Jesus is our King, our great Captain (dux) in our marches and battles.  Christ Jesus has broken Hell’s power over us once and for all.  For a time yet, we are still in this world.  The Devil still dominates it, but only to the extent that our loving God permits in His providence.

We are soldiers traveling through enemy territory.  We need a sure leader before us and strong shield beside us.  We need good path beneath us, and protection over us when we rest.  God must multiply over us everything we need, simply that we may live.  God’s graces, our wits, and the authority of Holy Church all tell us what is safe and holy, what is a trap and evil.

May God make us sticky (inherere) for things that endure forever, rather than clingy for what is under the sway of this world’s prince, the liar and “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Beg for demon-Kevlar, if you will, so the Enemy cannot penetrate our minds and hearts with temptations and doubts. Ask for God’s shielding protection, sin-Teflon, so that the passing things of this world can’t stick to us, distract us, hold us back from heaven.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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4 Responses to WDTPRS 17 Ordinary Sunday: There is no room in Christian life for complacency.

  1. Supertradmum says:

    I just told a friend of mine on Thursday that I lived in “enemy territory” as a member of the Church Militant. He was not surprised, but many of the females I know do not want to talk about anything unpleasant. Frankly, I do not know what they want-complete escapism, I assume and therefore, a huge chance to lose their immortal souls.

    There is not slacking off and I, for one, only keep going because of grace and staying very close to the sacraments and the Church.

    We are in for it and might as well get use to it and work on personal holiness in order to not only perfect the Church, and pass on the Faith to the next generation, but cooperate with grace so that we may persevere to the end.

    I find myself praying more and more for the grace of perseverance to have a holy death-something we cannot take for granted.

    Excellent and timely post, Father.

  2. acardnal says:

    That 1973 ICEL version bears no resemblance whatsoever to literal or revised version of 2011. Why some bishops fought the 2011 revision I do not understand. I mean the word “mercy” (misericordiam), for example, is no where to be found in the 1973 version!

  3. Andkaras says:

    Dux- Captain? I always thought Guide. Dictionary vague.

  4. wanda says:

    Thank you for these break-downs of the Sunday Collects. I find that I listen for them more closely now at Mass. I love the Latin explanations, too. My knowledge of it is limited to a few years way back when in high school, your place has taught me more and more about Latin and so many others things I otherwise would never, ever hear or learn. Never.
    Much gratitude.