Monday of the 5th Week of Easter

Monday of the 5th Week of Easter

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis,
da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis,
ut, inter mundanas varietates,
ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

This prayers is same as the Collect for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time and also in the 1962MR on the Fourth Sunday after Easter.  In the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary you find it on the Third Sunday after the close of Easter. 

All those long "eeee" sounds produced by the Latin letter i are marvelous. Note the nice parallels: id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis as well as ibi…sint corda and ubi…sunt gaudia.  In the first line the genitives unius…voluntatis are elegantly split by the verb efficis.  A master made this prayer.

The pages of our opportunely situated Lewis & Short Dictionary divulge that varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.”  I like “vicissitude.”  The adjective mundanus, a, um, “of or belonging to the world”, must be teased out in a paraphrase.  Efficio (formed from facio) means, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form”.   Voluntas means basically “will” but it can also mean things like “freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination” and even “disposition towards a thing or person”.

O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.

Let us revisit that id…quod construction. We could simply say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but to me that seems vague and generic.  Of course, we must love everything God commands, but the feeling I get from that id…quod is closer to what the Anglican version expresses: “love the thing which you command… desire the thing which you promise.”  This seems more concrete.  

We love and desire God’s will in the concrete situation, this concrete task.  A challenge of living as a good Christian in “the world” is to love God in the details of life, especially when those details little to our liking.  We must love him in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars or creeps in general.  We must love him in this act of fasting, not in fasting in general.  This basket of laundry, this paperwork, this ICEL translation…. Hmmm…, didn’t I say it was a challenge?  God’s will must not be reduced to something abstract, as if it is merely a “heavenly” or “ideal” reality. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA, WDTPRS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. 1973 ICEL version:

    help us to seek the values
    that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world.
    In our desire for what you promise
    make us one in mind and heart.

    Ugh. What better argument for our bishops to quit foot-dragging and get on with it? Hmm … How did ICEL lose their favorite English word (“love”) that actually appears today in the Latin (amare)?

  2. Also, it is instructive to look at the translation — very similar to Father Z’s — that we see in a typical 1962 Latin-English hand missal:

    O God, who makest the faithful to be of one mind and will:
    grant to Thy people the grace to love what Thou dost command
    and to desire what Thou dost promise,
    that amid the changes of the world,
    our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are to be found.

    This is hardly an atypical example in which the 1973 ICEL “translators” had only to pick up an available hand missal to read the answer to the perennial question What Does The Prayer Really Say? One sees this with prayer after prayer. Thus we see that what was done to us in 1973 was not simply a result of either chance or incompetence. I myself can only infer that this dilution of the content and meaning of the prayers of Catholic liturgy was deliberate and mendacious. But if someone more perceptive than me can provide it, I would certainly welcome an alternative explanation that is less troubling in its implications.

  3. Karen Russell says:

    I realized (too late, alas, for the Lenten series of collects) that my old copy of the interim version of the Roman breviary (published in 1970) provided another set of translations for these seasonal collects.

    Today’s collect reads:
    O God, who make your faithful to be of one mind and heart,
    grant that we may love what you command and desire what you promise,
    so that amid all the vicissitudes of this world,
    our hearts may be firmly fixed where true joys are to be found.

    This Interim Version was printed in England in 1970, and authorized for use in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, S. Africa, Australia and Canada.

    I don’t know what was used in the US during this period, but when the official ICEL version came out, Canada went with that translation. Geographically, it makes a certain amount of sense, but for quality . . .

    I would be very interested in seeing how the interim UK version compares with the one presently used in that country. They certainly both seem to be much closer to the original Latin.

    I’m delighted to see the daily collects being posted again. Since Easter I’ve been missing my morning Latin fix!

Comments are closed.