15th Sunday of Ordinary Time: POST COMMUNION

What Does the Prayer Really Say?  15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2003

More than one of you the faithful readers of WDTPRS have inquired about the Latin text of the Holy Father’s recent encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia which I said was on the Vatican’s internet website.  Apparently some folks are having difficulties locating it on the site.  Keeping in mind that webmasters rearrange sites and that web pages and their content are by definition not permanent, this is where you can find the document (this is case sensitive): http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/index.htm  At that address you can find multiple language choices, including the Church’s official tongue.  The webmasters of the Holy See’s site have been busy recently.  They have rearranged and made many texts available in Latin not previously to be found even though the other, modern languages were in evidence.  On the page I avert to above, the first two encyclicals, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003) and Fides et ratio 14 Sept 1998) are provided in both Latin and the seven major languages (English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish) the Holy See normally provides.  Fides et ratio was considered important enough for a world-wide audience that it is also in Arabic!  They haven’t yet gotten around to getting the Latin versions of the previous encyclicals up and running.   I think the backend for these text pages is provided by the folks at Intratext Digital Library (http://www.intratext.com), the fascinating site in which I virtually live on some days.  

A while back I opined that, because of the recent coverage in the press of positive developments in favor of celebration of Mass using the 1962 Missale Romanum, the opposition would start to rally, close ranks and resist the calamities that would result from “turning the clock back” yadda yadda.  Remember that?  I suggested that it might have been better to remain quiet about the whole thing lest loose lips sink our ships.  The torpedoes are in the water, friends. In an article on the Vidimus Dominum (VID) site (www.vidimusdominum.org) we read that Fr. Rinaldo Falsini, OFM, who was an “expert” at the Second Vatican Council wrote in an Italian weekly called Settimama that a Catholic rite of St. Pius V does not exist because that rite, valid before the Council, has been profoundly reformed by Pope Paul VI according to the indication of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium.  The VID article further says, “The Franciscan friar recently published and strong criticism of Cardinal Ratzinger’s theses regarding the liturgy. This time his criticism is directed to the statements made by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos during a Mass celebrated in Rome at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major according to the Rite of St. Pius V….  Fr. Falsini sustains that the legitimate Roman rite “is only one, the traditional rite revised and renewed by the Second Vatican Council reform. If the preceding rite, called the rite of St. Pius V, has the same value as the present Roman rite we would be in an unheard of situation which no one could allow. We have the right and duty to forcefully object to these irresponsible statements”.”  (emphasis added)  Behold a battle of experts (periti)!  Whose side to take… hmmm… let me think…. Falsini?  Ratzinger?  Falsini?  Ratzinger?….  At any rate, the fight is now more closely engaged.  I suspect we will see more of this sort of thing in the future.

LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):
Sumptis muneribus, quaesumus, Domine,
ut, cum frequentatione mysterii,
crescat nostrae salutis effectus.
It seems to me that the vocabulary for even the basic student of Latin is not too much of a reach today.  However, we can look more closely at a couple words, with the help of our great bulwark against ignorance and confusion the Lewis & Short Dictionary.   Frequentatio means, “frequency, frequent use, a crowding together.” As a figure of speech, in rhetoric, it is “a condensed recapitulation of the arguments already stated separately, a recapitulation, summing up.”  This noun comes from the verb frequento, meaning “to visit or resort to frequently, to frequent; to do or make use of frequently, to repeat” and “to celebrate or keep in great numbers, esp. a festival.”  Or, in somewhat post-Augustan usage, of a single person, “to celebrate, observe, keep”.  In grammar, a “frequentative verb” describes a repeated action.  In English (there is an English noun “frequentation”, by the way) we once said more commonly when we went to a place or someone’s house with some frequency that we would “frequent” a place, as in the well-known Irish pub song The Wild Rover: “I went into a ale house I used to frequent, and I told the landlady my money was spent.  I asked her for credit, she answered me "Nay, such a custom as yours I can have any day!"    We had the phrase frequentare mysteria in the Super oblata of the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary time and the lovely alliterative frequentata mysteria in the Post communion of the 1st Sunday of Advent.  So, a frequentatio is a complex idea.  In this liturgical context it means “to attend or participate in often” and it has the over tone of being crowded together with others doing the same.  Just as an aside, consider frequentatio from the point of view of its use as a term in rhetoric: the celebration of Holy Mass is the source and summit of our Christian lives.  Our reception of Holy Communion in the context of Mass is really the fullness of what the Church calls “full, conscious and active participation” in the sacred liturgy (which is the “source and summit”).  In a way, is not the moment of Holy Communion being described in this prayer is a summation of the whole of the Christian’s identity and life?  How could it not be?  This is the Eternal Word made flesh, who dwelled among us so as to save us from our sins and reveal us more fully to ourselves (cf. Gaudium et spes 22).  Of all the sacraments Christ gave us, this Most Blessed Sacrament is the only one which actually is what it signifies: Christ truly present.  Christ, who is the Word spoken from eternity by the Father, is the frequentatio who at the end will take all things to Himself and submit them to the Father so that God might be all in all (1 Cor 15:28).  Christ is our frequentatio.  

We can also pause a moment to examine effectus, which dervies from efficioEfficio means, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form” and as a substantive, effectus, “worked out, i. e., effected, completed”.   Remember also that mysteria and sacramenta are frequently interchangeable.

Understanding what people are trying to say is difficult at times even in everyday life.  I am sure that, listening to or reading the words of others you, like I, have had to pause and consider, “Just what does he mean by that?”  If we have time, or the situation permits, we can at times interrogate the wordsmith or at least the text itself.  Certainly in these WDTPRS articles we try to do that in a brief way before translating.  We have to figure out what the texts means to say.  If that is hard in daily discourse and reading, it is far more difficult to accomplish when we are called upon to translate something.  This prayer today was and remains the Postcommunio of the Second Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962MR.   Since this prayer of ours today has been around for a while, it has undergone quite a few attempts at translation.  Let us examine a few, just to see what the similarities and differences are.

The New Roman Missal – 1945 (Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi)
Having received Thy sacred gifts, we pray, O Lord, that, as we now frequently assist at this mystery so may it cause to increase the grace of our salvation.

The New Marian Missal – 1950/1958
We who have received the sacred Gifts beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the frequenting of the Mystery, the fruit of our salvation may increase.

St. Joseph Daily Missal – 1959
Having received Your sacred gifts, we beseech You, O Lord, that our assistance at these mysteries may result in an increase of our salvation.

St. Andrew Missal – 1959
Having received Your sacred gifts, we implore You, Lord, that by our assiduous assistance at these holy mysteries, they may the more surely avail to our salvation.

Daily Missal of the Mystical Body/Maryknoll – 1960
O Lord, may we, who have received your gifts, be brought closer to our salvation by each performance of this sacred rite.

St. Andrew Bible Missal – 1960
O Lord, we who have received your gifts pray that the effect of your saving grace may increase in us in proportion to the frequency of our communion.

St. Joseph Daily Missal and Hymnal – 1966
O Lord, may we, who have received Your gifts, be brought closer to our salvation by each celebration of this sacred rite.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the version you have been waiting for.  This is what you will more than likely hear in your parish church where the Novus Ordo is celebrated in English speaking lands:

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
by our sharing in the mystery of this eucharist,
let your saving love grow within us.

Ugh.  You can tell that we are back into Ordinary Time can’t you.  The translations during the festal cycles were not as bad as these tend to be.   Can we get at what the prayer really says?

The gifts having been consumed, we beg you, O Lord,
that the effect of our salvation may grow
with frequent participation in the sacramental mystery.

I find frequentatio mysterii quiet evocative.  The layers of meaning in frequentatio summon to mind simultaneous superimposed images of the visible and invisible dimensions of Holy Mass, the Eucharistic sacrifice (mysterium).  In the earthly building of the church where Holy Mass is being celebrated we have gathered around us many people.  Ideally, the church should be virtually thronging (frequentatio) with convinced and participating Catholics properly disposed to participate in the highest mode of active participation by receiving Holy Communion.  They are here often (frequentatio), each Sunday and often during the weekdays.  Imagine now a superimposed layer of the invisible participants at that Mass: myriads of holy angels and other members of the Church who have died and gone before us.  This is a fore glimpse of heaven.   Even if, in this imperfect world,  we approach this image more realistically and see in our mind’s eye that many at Mass are in fact not in the state of grace and may indeed be wicked, we also see in our two-fold visible invisible image the fallen angelic beings in all their intensely pain-filled fury.  Though they suffer the increased agonies of being within a structure which is itself a sacramental, and though they have unimaginable agony in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, their malevolence against us and God is so great that they will endure this intense torture from holy things if, during Mass, they can spur just one person to weaken in his conscience and make a bad Holy Communion.  Their pain is great but their malice is greater yet.  By our frequent good Holy Communions we ask God to increase in us the effects of salvation which, in this world and our state of “already but not yet”, includes strengthening helps against the persistent and dire attacks of hell’s deadly minons.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Deacon Jeffery BeBeau says:

    Fr. Z,

    We are priviledged to be able to read your daily offerings, in particular your translations. Even though in a couple of years we are going to have a fairly accuarte translations of orations from the Roman Missal, I hope you’ll still continue to offer us your insights into the vocabular and structure of each prayer.

    I don’t know if you’ll recall him but Fr. Stephen Hero, a student at Sant Anselmo a couple of years ago, told me he knows you and says to say hello.

    I have a copies of a couple of interesting translations of these prayers, the rejected 1998 Sacramentary as well as the first draft or the “Green Book” of the Proper of Seasons for the Missal. I thought I’d share both translations.

    1998 Sacramentary

    Opening Prayer

    O God,
    you show the light of your truth to those who stray,
    that they may return to the right path.
    Grant that all who profess the Christian faith
    may reject whatever is contrary to the gospel
    and follow the way that leads to you.

    Prayer over the Gifts

    look kindly on the gifts of your Church gathered in prayer,
    and grant to the faithful who will receive them
    an increase in holiness and grace.

    Prayer after Communion

    Nourished by these holy gifts,
    we pray to you, Lord,
    that each time we celebrate this mystery
    your work of salvation may grow within us.

    2006 ICEL Draft of Proper of the Seasons


    O God, who show the light of your truth to those who wander
    that they may regain the way,
    grant that all who are counted as Christian for the faith they profess
    may reject whatever opposes this name
    and follow whatever accords with it.

    Prayer over the Offerings

    Look upon the gifts of the Church at prayer, O Lord,
    and grant that they be received
    for the greater sanctification of believers.

    Prayer after Communion

    Having received the gifts, we pray, O Lord,
    that as often as the mystery is celebrated,
    its saving effect may grow within us.

  2. REv. Mr. BeBeau: Thanks for your contribution! It is very welcome. Of course I remember Fr. Hero, whom I would ask that you greet on my behelf both cordially and with energy. He is a gentleman and scholar.

  3. Deacon Jeffery BeBeau says:

    Fr. Z.

    I sure he’ll be glad to hear your greetings. Fr. Hero was my director last year in the seminary, he is also Director of Liturgy, which means he has been teaching us how to say Mass.

  4. Boeciana says:

    If the preceding rite, called the rite of St. Pius V, has the same value as the present Roman rite we would be in an unheard of situation which no one could allow.

    An unheard of situation like… having a multiplicity of Uses in Latin Christendom? Oh wait…

    Sorry; obvious but irresistible. (Or is it -able?)

  5. RP Burke says:

    Please, PLEASE don’t posit that literal ablative absolute formation — “The gifts having been consumed” — unless you want a D+ in your second-year Latin class.

    One of the things that’s wrong about the notion of literal Latin as a model for English in the Mass.

  6. Burke: Did you post your own version somewhere?

    The purpose of the series is NOT to produce versions useful for liturgical services, but rather to help people get into the Latin and understand what is going on in the prayers.

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