Today’s prayer was not in the 1962MR and its previous editions. This is indeed a Lenten prayer to be found in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary. In the ancient Veronese, a version was found among the prayers for the September fast: Percepimus, domine, gloriosa mysteria, quibus in terris positos iam caelestium facis esse consortes. Tu inter ista quae uiuimus guberna nos, domine, quaesumus, ut ad illa perducas.
Deus, qui nos gloriosis remediis in terris adhuc positos
iam caelestium rerum facis esse consortes,
tu, quaesumus, in ista qua vivimus nos vita guberna,
ut ad illam, in qua ipse es, lucem perducas.
Guberno is really "to steer or pilot a ship", and by extension "to direct, manage, conduct, govern, guide". This where we get our word "governor".
O God, who are already making us, still set in place upon this earth,
to be sharers of heavenly things by means of glorious remedies,
let You steer us in this life in which we are living,
with the result that, You lead us through unto that light in which You are.
In other Lenten prayers we have had the image of illumination of our souls. We have also seen many times remedium. The glorious remedies are without question the saving sacraments, the Church herself, and the practices of Lent. Remember that Lent itself in our ancient prayers and writings of the Fathers is called a sacramentum.
Yet, the prevailing image today is that of the captain or steersman of a ship.
Our life as pilgrims extends beyond the land to the mysteries of the sea as well. On our passage we are guided for and marveling at heavenly things on our voyage. If there are clouds we cannot see the heavens and thus can lose our way. If the winds are too strong or adverse, the voyage is perilous. Light is a key to our sailing properly. We have the lesser lights of the stars, moon and sun in this life. In the life to come we will have Light Itself. I am reminded of Ps 35:10-1: Quoniam apud te est fons vitae, et in tuo lumine videbimus lumen… For in Your presence is the source of life, and in Your light we shall see Light.
The concept of glory figure here as well. The Fathers of the Church wrote of the transfiguring glory of God, a divine characteristic. This glory will be shared with us in heaven and it will transform us, forever. Glimpses of this divine glory have been shown to us by God. Think of how Moses, when speaking with God face to face, had to wear a veil afterwards, because his face was to bright to look at. The luminous presence of God, the Hebrew shekina would descend and transform him who entered into the tabernacle, the tent of the Presence. Even today, the sign of the Real Presence of the Eucharist is truly a veil and a baldachin, more than the presence candle.
God our Father, by your gifts to us on earth,
we already share in your life.
In all we do, guide us
to the light of you kingdom.
Hmm … Looks like ICEL at least stuck with the key words by line: earth (terris), share (consortes), guide (guberna), light (lucem)! It may be a while before we see this happy coincidence again.
I can’t agree with fr. z that the prevailing image in today’s collect is of the captain or steersman of a ship (for all that ships and anchors are ancient and fertile images of Christ and the Church). in graeco-roman thought the orbis terrarum was the land-mass (encircled by the waters of Ocean). the sea was an entirely hostile environment, and when the prayer says nos . . adhuc in terris positos it really means dry land.
there are 9 instances of gubernator* in the vulgate, 8 of which are clearly nautical (prov.23:34; ez.27:8,27,28,29; jon.1:6; ac.27:11; rev.18:17) and the other of which is clearly political:- ubi non est gubernator populus corruet, salus autem ubi multa consilia (prov.11:14). in classical latin the word appears in a political sense too:- rector et gubernator civitatis.
the verb guberno* occurs 11 times. the nautical sense appears just 3 times (twice in the context of Divine Providence guiding the ark) and once in a general meteorological context (job.37:12). a further 3 occurrences relate to the administration of goods and property (e.g., gen.39:4, joseph as pharaoh’s vizier; and tob.10:13 regere familiam, gubernare domum), and 4 are ethical Ã¢â‚¬â€œ of which the most relevant to today’s collect is isaiah: ego Dominus Deus tuus docens te utilia, gubernans te in via qua ambulas (is.48:17).
Martin just enjoys not agreeing!
There probably isn’t too many of us that have the leisure to reflect on these prayers. I was at a Carmelite Monastery for two years and sometimes would get up at midnight and prayer matins with them. It was natural when preaching at Mass to refer not only to the readings at Mass but even to the readings from Matins which we had all just slept on. I often thought the collect might well have been chose because of these readings. For example today on the commandments and St. Ambrose’ comentary, especially the theme he is following here: “Ergo, quia bonus Dominus est at maxime sustinentibus se bonus est, ipsi adhaereamus, cum ipso simus tota anima nostra, toto corde, tota virute, ut simus in lumine eius et videamus eius gloriam et delectationis supernae fruamur gratia; ad illud igitur bonum erigamus animos et in illo simus atque in ipso vivamus, ispi adhaereamus, guod est supra omnen mentem and omnem considerationem et pace utitur perpetua ac tranquillitate; pax autem supra omnem mentem est et supra omnem sensum.”
Reverend and Dear Father, thanks very much for your observations!