5th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Post Communion

What Does the Prayer Really Say?  5th Sunday in of Ordinary Time

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in February 2003 

Treasures arrived this week!  I mean letters from you readers, of course.  A veritable stack of them arrived, most in handwritten form.   Since they all dated to September/October 2002, I think the editor found a pile that had not been forwarded.  In this confined space I cannot mention all the comments I get by snail mail and e-mail, but do know that I read everything.  First, thanks to HS of BC, Canada and HNY of NY who sent items.  Mrs. HT of TX writes: For a long time now, I have been a devoted reader of the WDTPRS? … On Oct. 17 I was impressed by Clavius.  Imagine trying to live without a decimal point….” Dear HT, just ask my accountant how its done.  Going on: “I saw your picture.  I thought you would be in your eighties, an ancient Latin scholar…”  Yes, I get that a lot.  You are not alone in your error about my age, HT.  Many in chanceries far and wide that are dead positive I am from the ‘50’s of one century or another.  By the way, Christopher Clavius, SJ (1538-1612) was the mathematician who calculated the 1582 reform by Pope Gregory XIII of the out-of-kilter Julian calendar. I wrote of Clavius in my column on the Super oblata of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time last October.  Included with the present article is my own detail photo from the bas-relief on the tomb of Gregory XIII in St. Peter’s Basilica.  The marble depicts Clavius presenting the Pope with his schema for the calendar.  The bespectacled figure is an onlooker at the far left.  I promise it is not a portrait of the present writer. Rather, he closely resembles another correspondent for The Wanderer, Mr. Farley Clinton in Rome, who, while never at the far left, may indeed have been the model for the sculptor Carlo Mellone back in 1723.

Do not suppose that everything I get is laudatory.  TC, Esq. of NYC, handwrote wrote a blistering rebuke about virtually all my presentation of your feedback in last year’s column for the Super oblata of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Sorry I irritated you, TC, sincerely.  When Catholic gentlemen disagree, they must seek common grounds.  The next time I journey to Gotham I will take you for coffee.  Also writing from the same NYC, DH took me up on a challenge I proffered in that same column wherein I spoke of Clavius.  I wrote back then of a tiny abandoned fountain next to the Roman church San Salvatore in Lauro bearing a Latin poetic inscription.  I suggested that some of you might want to “take a crack” at a translation.  DH did, and elegantly too, tossing in comments on Horace’s Ode 1.4, Catullus’ Carm. 5 and T.S. Eliot’s appraisal of them both.  Delightful!  Thanks DH.  You inspired me to dust off some long neglected neoteric poets I so enjoy.  Year by year I appreciate Horace ever more, just as my Latin profs told me I would. One needs a working knowledge of those poets to appreciate the inscriptions found in Rome, so much were they a part of cultural ambience of the humanists that produced them.  First century (BC and AD) neoteric poets (or Poetae Novi) wrote comparatively brief pieces abounding in colloquial language and learnéd allusion. This was a movement reacting against long epic poetry of the ancient world, such as the Greek Illiad and Latin Aeneid.  Neoterics were in part inspired by earlier Greek poetry of Alexandria in Egypt, especially that of Callimachus (fl. 250 BC), and his quip mega biblion mega kakon… “a big book is a big evil”.   Please join me and TC for that coffee, DH, or a glass of Caecubum when I come to the (get ready) Magnum Malum


LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):

Deus, qui nos de uno pane et de uno calice
participes esse voluisti,
da nobis, quaesumus, ita vivere, ut, unum in Christo effecti,
fructum afferamus pro mundi salute gaudentes.

 This is new to the Novus Ordo of 1970 and subsequent editions, though, speaking of learnéd allusions, there are many biblical echoes herein, e.g., Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 10: 16, John 15, 16; John 17:11 & 21.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):

God our Father,
you give us a share in the one bread and the one cup
and make us one in Christ.
Help us to bring your salvation and joy
to all the world.

Do you remember what the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote when last year they rejected the ICEL translation of the 2nd (lame duck) edition of the Missale Romanum?   One of the CDW’s objections was that ICEL inelegantly referred to sacred vessels with language more befitting “kitchenware”.  I think future translators might do better by this Latin prayer.  Let us look at it more closely.  The verb affero merits some attention.  The meticulous Lewis & Short Dictionary helps with this complicated (at least in literal English) prayer.  Affero means basically, “to bring, take, carry or convey a thing to a place (of portable things, while adducere denotes the leading or conducting of men, animals, etc.)”.  It also is used for “to bring, bear, or carry a thing, as news, to report, announce, inform, publish” (constructed with alicui or ad aliquem aliquid, or with accusative and infinitive).  Thus, it signifies concepts such as “occasion, impart, allege, adduce” and (rarely in classical Latin) “to bring forth as a product, to yield, bear, produce” such as “to bear fruit” (cf. Vulgate Luke 12:1).  Participo is “to share; viz., to cause to partake of, to impart; and also, to partake of, participate in” and it can be constructed with the preposition de.  L&S cites the Vulgate 1 Cor 10:15-17: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ (communicatio sanguinis Christi)?  The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ (participatio corporis Domini)?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (de uno pane participamur)” RSV.    


O God, who desired that we be participants
of the one bread and one chalice,
grant us, we beg, so to live that, having been made one in Christ,
we, rejoicing, may bear fruit for the salvation of the world.

This prayer shows a strong influence of both Paul and John.  Especially striking (and obvious) is the connection between the oneness we have in union with Christ as members of the Mystical Body, which is the Church, and how Holy Communion is both a sign of that existing communion and an efficient cause of that communion.  In the context of the Last Supper, Christ prayed to the Father before instituting the sacraments of the Eucharist together with Holy Orders and then going out to His Passion and Sacrifice: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one (ut omnes unum sint).  As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us (ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint), so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one (ut sint unum sicut nos unum sumus), I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one (ut sint consummati in unum), so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” John 17:20-23 RSV.   Immediately you will see the importance of this passage for the Church’s proper efforts in a real process of dialog with non-Catholic Christians in an authentic ecumenism.  This was the phrase used to identify one of the Holy Father’s most important encyclical letters on this matter, Ut unum sint.   Please note that last phrase is the passage I quote: “that they may be completely one” or as the Vulgate puts it: ut sint consummati in unum.  The late Latin verb consummo means “to sum up” and “to make perfect, to complete, bring to the highest perfection.” We describe someone as a “consummate gentleman” or a completed sacramental marriage bond as having been “consummated”.  Do not to be confuse consummo with consumo, “to take wholly or completely” and “to consume, devour, waste, squander, annihilate, destroy, bring to naught, kill” as in “to consume a Sacred Host” or “consumer price index” or even “consumed with envy”.

In all we do, including that consummate moment when we consume Holy Communion, let us reflect in our dealings with our neighbors a real oneness with Christ so that others may be moved to enter into the glory of that same communion with us in Him and we may all be one at last.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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