Super Oblata of the 1st Week of Ordinary Time

Let’s look at the so-called “Prayer over the gifts” or Super oblata in use during this 1st Week of Ordinary Time.

Grata tibi sit, quaesumus, Domine, tuae plebis oblatio,
per quam et sanctificationem referat,
et quae pie precatur obtineat.

Ambiguity abounds. The trick in this prayer is the verb refero. It means an avalance of things revolving around the idea of giving something back. So, it is used in phrases of thanking, conveying news, or indicating a source (as in the English word “refer” and “reference”). You need to puzzle over sanctificationem referat, the subject of which is a little hard to discern. It might be oblatio, in which then would mean that the plebs is the means through which sanctification comes, or it might be the plebs making reference to the source of sanctification. The per quam doesn’t help us much, grammatically at least, because both oblatio and plebs are feminine. It helps that precor is nearly always deponent, rather than passive. If precatur is active in meaning then clearly the plebs is begging for something, which makes sense. The oblatio can’t pray. If precatur is a passive (from the rather seldom used preco) then the quae is the thing prayed for and we are again all at sea.

So, resorting to a theological solution I have come up with this:

We beseech You, O Lord, may the offering of Your people be pleasing to You,
by means of which it both may ascribe its sanctification anew,
and it also may obtain what it has dutifully prayed for.

If anyone has another idea feel free to post it. Also, right now I don’t have an ICEL Sacramentary at hand, so I can’t see what sort of hash they made of this rather sticky prayer.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    ICEL Super oblata — 1st Week in Ordinary Time:

    Lord, accept our offering.
    Make us grow in holiness
    and grant what we ask you in faith.

  2. Jeff says:

    What does “ascribe its sanctification anew” mean?

  3. Fr. Z says:

    You tell me what the ICEL prayer means… if anything… and I will tell you what my version means. /VBG/

    Refero is a slippery verb. How to get sanctificationem referat into English? Take a look in your dictionary, preferrably the Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary and you will see what I mean.

    Remember, in this WDTPRS series, it is not my objective to produce smooth and polished translations. I am presenting a version that is brutally literal, showing as best I can (and still have it be English) even the structure of the original. I am trying to stick as closely to the vocabulary as I can and still have it get at the core of the Latin prayer.

    There is a prayer with similar structure in the ancient Veronese for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul:

    Exultet plebs tua, domine, placitorum tibi fulta praesidiis, quibus et sanctificationem referat, et subsidia propriae fragilitatis adquirat…

    See how the per quam in our prayer echoes the quibus in the other?

    At any rate, Jeff, in direct answer to your question. Remember what “ascribe” means in English? “Ascribe” means “to attribute to a specified cause, source, or origin”. So, “…by means of which it both may make anew an attribution to the source of its sanctification,…”

    If you have a better idea, please share it!

  4. James says:

    Can I assume that the ICEL wording is less in number than the Latin base ?

    The more I read and study these differences the sadder I get.

  5. If you mean, is the ICEL verison shorter than the Latin original, I think we can both do the math. That is NEVER a good sign (when the translation is shorter than the original).

    Let your sadness be a stimulus: pray for those who are working on the translations and for the BISHOPS who need to COOPERATE – not obfuscate – in the process!

  6. Maureen says:

    We beseech You, O Lord, may the offering of Your people be pleasing to You,

    by means of which it both may give credit to its sanctification’s source anew,

    and may obtain what it has dutifully prayed for, too.

    (Yeah, the scansion’s off, but you can’t rhyme two lines and leave the third one hanging….)

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