Here is what I offered for my weekly column for the UK’s best Catholic weekly the Catholic Herald – now also in the USA.
This week we encounter a liturgical unicorn. We shall celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and the Second Sunday after Epiphany in the Extraordinary. What makes this Sunday rare is that the collect is the same prayer in both.
Although the Council Fathers of Vatican II said that, in the liturgical reform they mandated, nothing should be changed that wasn’t truly for the good of the people and that changes had to flow organically from what went before (SC 23), the editing, re-arranging, transforming and wholesale creating of new prayers was of tectonic magnitude. The traditional Roman Missal has 1,182 orations, of which 36 per cent made it into the newer Missal and, of them, half were altered. Only 17 per cent of the orations remained unchanged. Moreover, many were shifted to other times of the year. This Sunday, however, we have, unchanged, the same collect on the same day in both forms.
Speaking of unchanged, our collect remains as it was in the ancient Hadrianum Sacramentary which Charlemagne gave to Pope Hadrian I in about 785. Of interest in England, the Sarum Rite had this collect on the Second Sunday after the Octave of Epiphany. Let us see our liturgical unicorn:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris, supplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi, et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus.
That simul et connects two or more co-ordinate terms or facts and represents them as simultaneous, “and at the same time, and also”. The deponent verb moderor means “to manage, regulate, rule, guide, govern, direct”. A moderator is a governing official. Tempus means mainly “time” in general, together with “seasons of times, conditions, circumstances”, or like the Greek kairos, “the appointed time”.
Literal translation: “Almighty eternal God, who govern at the same time things heavenly and earthly, mercifully hearken to the supplications of Your people, and grant Your peace in our temporal affairs.”
Current ICEL translation: “Almighty ever-living God, who govern all things, both in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the pleading of your people and bestow your peace on our times.”
Today we beg God, as omnipotent guide of all things, for peace in our temporal affairs now, not just later in heaven. And we want the peace that comes from Him, not as the world gives (John 14:27). Remember: no passing, created thing can give us the peace that truly lasts. God alone endures.