Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent

Holy Mass

Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine,
tuae miserationis operatio,
quia tibi sine te placere non possumus.

In the pre-Conciliar Roman Missal this was the Collect of the 18th Sunday after Pentecost.  It had an ancient source in the Gelasianum and the Tridentinum.  For a change, The Redactors, didn’t mess around with this prayer.  Then again, there isn’t much to mess around with, is there?   This is as simple as yesterday’s was complicated.  Perhaps The Redactors chose one that was really easy for today because they were still trying to figure out what yesterday’s prayer meant.  Be that as it may…

O Lord, we beg You, may the working of Your mercy
direct our hearts,
for we cannot please You without You.

Given the intricacy and depth of some of the prayers of the Lenten weekdays, this is startlingly stark.  We have to conclude, I think, that it was chosen from our of the prayers for the Season of Pentecost for insertion into Lent because of its vocabulary, pointing to the themes The Redactors decided were important for us.  We see a reprise of vocabulary of the heart and of direction and guiding.

In earlier contributions to this Lenten WDTPRS series, I have mentioned St. Augustine of Hippo’s great insight that God crowns His own merits in us.  Surely that is what is at work in today’s prayer.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord,
that the operation of thy mercy may direct our hearts,
forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee.

This is what you would have heard… or rathyr, hearde of yore in the

1559 BCP1549 Book of Common Prayer
for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee;
Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges
directe and rule our heartes;
Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.
Lame Duck
I rather, er um, rathyr lyke the way they turnéd downe syde up the ourdre of thynges. 

Would that we might be able to have prayers like this in the new translation!

Since ICEL got to make up prayers higgeldy piggelty, so can we.  Here is another addition, animi causa, to our distinguished collection, namely…  

you are nice.
Be nice and help us love.

I think this get’s to the essence of what the old ICEL "translators" gleaned from the Latin originals, don’t you?  After all, it expresses our need for the sacrament of niceness, which is the heart and soul of the old ICEL versions and the now cliché theology behind them.  And don’t forget to look into everyone’s eyes at Mass, er… liturgy.  As we were taught in seminary (and I am not making this up) when "community" goes forward for "bread" the sacrament takes place when you look into each other’s eyes.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. UK/Ireland Breviary:

    In your gentle mercy, Lord,
    guide our wayward hearts,
    for we know that left to ourselves
    we cannot do your will

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    ICEL version:
    guide us in your gentle mercy,
    for left to ourselves
    we cannot do your will.

    Now there, Father Z. You see, ICEL can be beautiful and profound when they want to, perhaps even a bit more incisive than the the UK/Ireland Breviary. Though I’d expected them to chop it into a couple of little bitty sentences to “help us” plumb its depth and sublety of language more easily.

  3. Karen Russell says:

    What?! ICEL doesn’t mention “love” today?

    I’m shocked!

  4. martin says:

    Out of 32 collects so far, only 12 of the ICEL versions mention “love”, actually (God’s love for us, ours for Him, or ours for each other). A 12th collect mentions desire (translating “desiderium”).

    1 translates “amator”. 5 perfectly reasonably ring changes on words or phrases in the Latin rooted in “cor”. In another 2 instances it translates a “devotus” root. Twice it uses love to render “sincerus” (“sinceris mentibus” becomes “with love and sincerity” on Friday post cineres where “benigno favore” also occurs, translated “Your loving care”).

    On Tuesday (3) “gratia tua ne nos . . derelinquat” becomes “may Your love never abandon us”; “gratia” as “favour” certainly inclines to “love”.

    Apart from that there is only 1 case where the use in the ICEL version is either gratuitous:

    item: on Friday (2) “open our hearts to Your love” responds to no words in the original but the phrase “corda nostra” is not infrequent in the Latin originals (6 instances, plus 1 instance of “corda fidelium”. In 2 of these 6 instances (including today), ICEL does not use “love” in its translation.

  5. Norman says:

    Fr Z, how did you end up attending such a seminary?!

  6. martin says:

    Consider this before you mock:

    “. . sacramental ‘mysticism’ is social in character,
    for in sacramental communion I become one with the Lord,
    like all the other communicants.
    As Saint Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17).
    Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself.
    I cannot possess Christ just for myself;
    I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own”


    ” ‘Worship’ itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn.”

    Now, as I read this papal text, it is neither a zillion nor indeed very many miles at all away from what the despised seminary lecturer was trying to get over. Taken alone, of course, it is not a full account of the Sacrament; but this outpouring of love for others is central to Eucharistic theology. Any chance the lecturer was actually saying more than he (or she) has been given credit for? (It sounds a suspiciously short lecture; maybe someone walked out or switched off before the full message was delivered).

    No prizes for guessing where this statement is taken from.
    So where is the joke?

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