Today’s Secret for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost was in ancient versions of the Gelasian Sacramentary, such as the 8th c. Gellonensis. I don’t think it survived the scissors of the Consilium, wielded by Fr. Bugnini’s liturgical experts.
Haec munera quaesumus, Domine, quæ oculis tuae maiestatis offerimus, salutaria nobis esse concede.
In prayers which stress propitiation we will often have looking words or imagery. For example, we get orations with the gentle imperative respice, from respicio (“look upon, have regard”). We also put things and ourselves in God’s sight, “in conspectus tuo” and, as today, we offer things to the “eyes of your majesty”. I think this is both a “courtly” form of address, but it also resonates of the Biblical, as in Ps 32 (33):18: “Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him: and on them that hope in his mercy.” We know from many other WDTPRS articles that maiestas can be a form of address for God, as in “Your Majesty”, but it also refers to a divine characteristic, His glory, in this case tied to His mercy.
SUPER LITERAL TRANSLATION:
We beseech You, O Lord, grant that these gifts which we are offering in the sight of Your majesty, are for us saving things.
Grant, we beseech You, O Lord, that these gifts which we offer, under Your merciful gaze, may be for our salvation.
St. Andrew Bible Missal (1962):
O Lord, we ask that these gifts which we offer in the presence of your majesty may be availing unto our salvation.
In the Introit, we begin with Salus, (“salvation, health”). In the Collect we beg to be freed not only in mind, but also in body. The Epistle, from Ephesians, we hear the Apostle pray for the renewal of the mind and the new man. The Church sings in the Offertory “salvum me faciet… Thy right hand will save me.”
The Secret also has salutaria, “saving/healthful things” and in the Postcommunion the priest intones, “medicinalis operatio… the working of healing grace”.
Another common theme in the Mass formulary is that of observance of the commandments.
In the Introit the Psalmist sings “Attend, O my people, to my law.” In the Collect we pray to seek what is of God (“quae tuae sunt”). The Communion explicitly speaks about God’s mandata, His commandments “to be kept most diligently”. The Postcommunion links the medicinalis operatio with keeping God’s laws (“inhaerere mandatis”).
The “medicinal” imagery today may stem from the ancient Roman church where this Sunday’s Mass was celebrated: The Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, whose feast day since the earliest day has been celebrated in the autumn – in ancient times as today on the fifth day before the Kalends of October (27 Sept). Remember, this Sunday can “slide around” in the calendar depending on when Easter fell. St. Cosmas and Damian, you will recall, were brothers and physicians who were martyred during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian in 283. They were venerated in Rome, having not only a Basilica at the Roman Forum dedicated to their memory, but their names are in the Roman Canon.