WDTPRS – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time: “kissing the porch”

kiss of peaceFor this Ordinary Form calendar Sunday, we have reached the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  In the Extraordinary Form this Sunday is the purple-draped, pre-Lent Septuagesima Sunday (Alleluia Buh-bye!).

In the Ordinary Form we have a Collect based on a prayer in the 8th c. Liber sacramentorum Gellonensis (but not in the 1962 Missale Romanum) for the Sunday after Ascension Thursday… yes, Thursday, not Ascension Thursday Sunday.

Deus, qui te in rectis et sinceris manere pectoribus asseris,
da nobis tua gratia tales exsistere,
in quibus habitare digneris.

Pectus signifies a range of things from “the breast bone, chest”, “stomach” and therefore moral concepts like “courage” and other “feelings, dispositions”.  If we talk about a man having “chest”, he has a noble spirit and is brave, upright.  Pectus also refers to the “spirit, soul, mind, understanding.” In the ancient world, the heart was thought in some ways to be the seat also of the mind and understanding, not just of feelings and emotions. It is reasonable to translate this as “upright and pure hearts”. Exsisto “to step out, emerge” and also “spring forth, proceed, arise, become.” It also means “to be visible or manifest in any manner, to exist, to be.”

LITERAL RENDERING:

O God, who declared that You remain in upright and pure hearts, grant us to manifest ourselves to be, by Your grace, the sort of people in whom You deign to abide.

NEW CORRECTED ICEL (2011):

O God, who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.

I think they did a back-flip here to avoid using the word “deign”.  We need more “deigning”.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

God our Father, you have promised to remain for ever with those who do what is just and right. Help us to live in your presence.

No reference to “grace”, even though it is at the heart of the original.

In today’s Collect the distinction between “be” and “show forth” is tissue thin.

We must be on the outside what we are inside. 

Or rather, outwardly pious and practicing Christians must be sincerely and truly on the inside what we strive to show on the outside.

At baptism the Holy Spirit enters our lives in the manner of one coming to dwell in a temple.

Click!

With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit comes “habitual” or sanctifying grace and all His gifts and fruits by which we live both inwardly and outwardly in conformity with His presence. We manifest His presence outwardly when He is present within. There is nothing we do to merit this gift of His presence and yet, mysteriously, we still have a role to play in His deigning to dwell in our souls.

We can make choices about our lives. We can make use of the gifts and graces God gives, allow Him to make our hands strong enough to hold on to all He deigns to bequeath, and then cooperate in His bringing all good things to completion.

That phrase in today’s prayer, in the literal rendering, “the sort of people in whom you have deigned to dwell” forces us to reflect on our treatment of and conduct towards our neighbor, whom Christ commands us to love in accord with our love of God and self.

Paul writes in 2 Cor 13:11-13:

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Of this verse St. John Chrysostom (+407) said,

What is a holy kiss? It is one that not hypocritical, like the kiss of Judas.  The kiss is given in order to stimulate love and instill the right attitude in us toward each other.  When we return after an absence, we kiss each other, for our souls hasten to bond together.  But there is something else which might be said about this.  We are the temple of Christ, and when we kiss each other we are kissing the porch and the entrance of the temple.”  (Homilies on the Letters of Paul to the Corinthians 30.2).

When we reflect on our treatment of other as temples, we might think about our comportment when “kissing the porch” within temples, our churches.

In the Ordinary Form, the “sign of peace” before Communion is an option a priest can chose or not chose to invoke.  Given its proximity to Communion, and given that the Blessed Sacrament is upon the altar, avoid long, distracting, undignified “signs of peace”, which are the formal liturgical echo of the “holy kiss” of which Paul speaks.

In Roman liturgical practice, the “kiss of peace” has a dignity which we must strive to reclaim.  Otherwise, let’s not do it at all.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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3 Responses to WDTPRS – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time: “kissing the porch”

  1. jaykay says:

    “If we talk about a man having “chest”, he has a noble spirit and is brave, upright.”

    That immediately brought to mind C.S. Lewis, who wrote about “men without chests”. Prescient.

    Now, that surely was one of the more difficult Collects to translate, for me anyway. I usually try to, before skipping on to the slavishly literal version. I have to admit, the last clause “in quibus habitare digneris” had me beat this time! But such lovely, compressed expression in the Latin. I think the ’73 version is just about o.k., as paraphrases go, in the first sentence, but then it just peters out, almost as if they were going through the motions and didn’t care. No need whatsoever to divide it in two. “Graceless” indeed.

  2. jaykay says:

    “I have to admit, the last clause “in quibus habitare digneris” had me beat this time!”

    Sorry, meant to say, it wasn’t the actual Latin, I just didn’t see how it “hung together” with the rest. Now I do. But it also made me think: how much those are wrong who say that we this Latin was the vernacular of its day. And you know the conclusion usually drawn from that. It was about as much the common parlance of its day as was the Augustan prose of Dr. Johnson compared to what was being spoken in Covent Garden, or Wapping or…

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this!

    Not unlike jaykay, you got me wondering if Lewis was thinking Latinly when he called the first part of The Abolition of Man “Men without Chests”. (I’ve seen his imagery interestingly discussed as that between the cerebral and the visceral, and myself thought he was avoiding fodder for unintended sniggers in not referring to ‘the breast’, but am not Latinist enough to have thought of ‘pectus’.)