Saturday in the 3rd Week of Lent

COLLECTGod will provide the lamb
Observationis huius annua celebritate laetantes,
quaesumus, Domine,
ut, paschalibus sacramentis inhaerentes,
plenis eorum effectibus gaudeamus.

Today we have a nice parallel of the forms laetantes and inhaerentes and also of paschalibus sacramentis and plenis effectibus.

This was in the Gelasianum Vetus on Saturday of Quinquagesima: Obseruationis huius annua caelebritate laetantes, quaesumus, domine, ut paschalibus actionibus inherentibus plenis eius effectibus gaudeamus.  Notice the word is actio and not sacramentum.  In the Veronese a version is found in the month of July: Obseruationis annuae celebritate gratulantes… ut eorum, quorum actionibus inheremus, plenis effectibus gaudeamus.  Again we have actio.  There was no version of this prayer in the pre-Conciliar Roman Missal.

An observatio, according to Blaise is "observance", particularly of Lent.  In the L&S we go more deeply into the word and find "observance, attention, respect, regard, reverence shown to another" also, "an observance of religious duties, divine worship, religion".  Actio in Blaise is "the celebration of the mysteries, the holy sacrifice".  This is why the Roman Canon with the Preface was called the canon actionis.  However, actio was replaced by the redactors of the Novus Ordo with sacramentum in the plural.  The paring sacramenta paschalia is very Leonine, appearing quite a few times in that great Pope’s sermons.  Antoine Dumas, who reworked Blaise’s original, suggests that this combination would be "paschal mysteries", which seems entirely appropriate.

Rejoicing in the in the annual celebration of this religious observance,
we pray, O Lord,
that engaging deeply in the paschal mysteries,
we may rejoice in their full effects.

Here "effects" limps a bit for effectus which, in this context, points to the realization of both the Lenten observance and the paschal mysteries in both the sense of the Lent/Easter dying and rising of the Lord and also the sacred action of Holy Mass.  Effectus must be the desired effective outcome of the the preceding. I think we get at this idea adequately with "effects" in English, though we might really need a circumlocution like, "effective outcome", or somewhat more philosophically "efficient realization".

The vocabulary and theme of the prayer seems to sum up something of what has been going on in the previous Collects of the week.  Perhaps the pattern we are seeing is that the Saturday prayer, being the last of the week, ties up the themes of the rest of the week, before moving to the new ideas to be brought forth starting with Sunday, tomorrow.

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  1. martin says:

    Fr. Z. i had been working on the thematic unity of the latin collects and the lack of theme in the ICEL. The product was very long, so I give an edited version here.

    The up-beat almost carefree tone of today’s prayer (anticipating the joy of the Resurrection) is continued over in the collect for the 4th Sunday. But for nine days after the 2nd Sunday (which was itself a time of prospective rejoicing) we were in a pretty dark place: I identified the 3rd Sunday as a kind of mid-Lent crisis where, for the first time, we appeal to God’s mercy: we are bowed down and need Him to lift us up. Again on the Monday we appeal to His mercy. This is set in the context of our repeated appeals to God to take over the direction of our Lenten journey (a note decisively struck on Tuesday of the 2nd week and prolonged in later collects with the verbs “dirigo/ guberno/ traho” which we last encountered this Monday).

    As late as Tuesday of this week, we are begging Him not to desert us and appealing for His help. Wednesday is calm. The tone lifted on Thursday with a hint of what is to come “dies salutiferae festivitatis”. It cooled down again on Friday (with our consciousness of going astray) and is now very elevated. The interplay of hope and anguish is very human and psychologically true. It is never an easy progress from darkness to light, and I am sure there will be more pitfalls on the way, before the end of Lent.

    This Saturday, then, is not, on my reading, a summation of the previous week, but a new note, repeated tomorrow. Even Thursday’s collect, which (for the first time) anticipates the joyful festival, is bound up with an overwhelmingly suppliant address to the Deity, the like of which we havent encountered before: “Maiestatem Tuam, Domine, suppliciter imploramus”. Today and tomorrow, at least, the clouds have parted and we are raised up to a new level of confidence and happiness: we are “laetantes”. By comparison, the only previous use of “laetor”, on the 2nd Sunday, was prospective: “gloriae Tuae laetemur aspectu”.

    For my part, I find the repetition of “inhaerentes” two days running in slightly different senses infelicitous (cf. “follow your advice” one day, and “follow your blog” the next). In fact, as a spill-over from your post on “active receptivity”, your use of “engaging deeply in the paschal mysteries” implies to my ear (and I do recognise that english and american ears hear differently!) exactly the kind of “busy ness” that you deplore. “Inhaereo” can mean “to have ones attention fixed on/ to be utterly absorbed in” which connotes “active receptivity” better, to my mind (without excluding the possibility of physical participation).

  2. Martin: Good and interesting comments. Yes, this prayer also struck me as remarkably different in tone. But keep in mind that this prayer was from the July section of one ancient source and the pre-Lent section of another.

    I don’t hear in “engage in” necessary only an exterior or physically busy kind of activity. The connection with “active receptivity” is a good one.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    ICEL version:
    May this lenten observance
    of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ
    bring us to the full joy of Easter.

    Perhaps it’s good that ICEL spells it out for the typical contemporary Catholic who otherwise might have not guess what the term “paschal mysteries” refers to. But I’m not sure I see so profound a thematic development. The temporary ray of joy may merely be standard laetare. In any event, is it not traditional for Sunday themes to project forward into the following week, rather than backward to the preceding Saturday?

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