31st Sunday of Ordinary Time: POST COMMUNION (1)

What Does the Prayer Really Say?  31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2003

JR writes via e-mail: “Some time ago, you wrote in WDTPRS about the ordo, and its notation of the daily "station churches," which were, of course, deleted from the Roman Missal when it was revised in 1970.  I have purchased the ordo 2003-04 from the LEV online, and it does not include the station churches.  Were you perhaps referring to another ordo, perhaps the proper ordo for the diocese of Rome?”   An “Ordo” is a little book published every year and containing practical information about what Mass is to be said each day and “LEV” is “Libreria Editrice Vaticana”, the Vatican’s publishing house.   No, JR, I don’t think I said that the Roman stations were listed in any modern Ordo.  I wrote in the column on the Post communion of the 1st Sunday of Lent in 2003 that the newer Vatican Ordo “still cites the practice of the stations and recommends their observance” even though I see now that in the newest LEV Ordo for 2003-2004 there not the slightest mention of the practice.  Nevertheless, as I also wrote: “In the Latin 1970MR, it is strongly recommended (valde commendatur) that this Roman custom be maintained, at least in larger cities.  This is represented in stronger terms in the newest 2002MR.”  The tear-off sheet wall calendar the Vatican publishes for the offices of the Curia lists the station churches each day when they pertain.

I recently attended in Rome the annual meeting of Una Voce International.  Una Voce (from the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity (“with one voice”) is an international federation of associations, founded in the 1960’s dedicated to ensuring that the so-called “Tridentine” Mass (1962MR) is maintained and to restoring the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant, and sacred polyphony in Catholic liturgy always in keeping with the Church’s Magisterium and legitimate pastors.  Good goals.

Many lay people and priests attended the meeting.  Speakers gave brief summaries of the changes and advances of their respective organizations.   With the exception of an address by Count Neri-Caponi, the presentations were very positive and upbeat, not at all what sometimes one has come to expect from the sturdy traditionalist supporters of the older form of the Church’s great Roman liturgy.   Father Arnaud Devillers, FSSP, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Gerald Goesche of the new Institute of St. Philip Neri in Berlin, Fr. Evaristus Eshiowu from Nigeria, and Fr. Olazabal of the Institute of Christ the King in Rome all provided accounts of their activities.  The common thread binding their presentations together was that on all fronts their groups are expanding and extending their apostolates, not merely holding steady.  They all had two concerns.  The first, of course, was that they all need money.  Secondly, they simply do not have enough men in Holy Orders to handle all the work they could otherwise have.  I consider that positive in more than one way: they focused on successes rather than lamented the obstacles.  

Dr. Eric de Saventhem, President Emeritus of Una Voce, made a suggestion at the end of the meeting.  He pointed with special attention to the fact that on 24 May 2003 His Eminence Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos celebrated Mass with the 1962MR in the great Roman basilica St. Mary Major.  His Eminence stated in his homily that the “The rite of Saint Pius V cannot be considered to be extinct and the Authority of the Holy Father has expressed his benevolent recognition of the faithful who, though recognizing the legitimacy of the roman rite renewed according to the indications of the Second Vatican Council, remain attached to the preceding rite and find in it valuable spiritual nourishment in their journey of sanctification.”   And also, “The ancient roman rite hence conserves in the Church its right of citizenship among the multiformity of Catholic rites, both Latin and Oriental.”  Dr. de Saventhem, seemingly with the intention of rallying the troops present, pointed out that no matter how much some critics may wish to marginalize this historic Mass or downplay the Cardinal’s words, those words were in fact spoken and cannot be unspoken.  They mean something.  It is important, therefore, to make those words ring true with concrete advances and not let anyone “off the hook” (my words, not Dr. de Saventhem’s).  

We should wish them well in this endeavor.   Wide-spread celebrations of the older form of Mass must be welcomed also by those who personally have no desire to attend them.  Use of the older Mass, in my opinion, has functioned as an agent for correction and reform of the way many younger priests are celebrating the Novus Ordo.  In my opinion, the older pre-Conciliar form of Mass is critically important right now, for it keeps us anchored in the Roman Rite.  The ever wider use of the 1962 MR has been constantly stirring the pot over the last fifteen years or so, showing younger men in the priesthood exactly what it means to belong to the Latin Rite of the Church of Rome.  Maybe I am wrong, but without this great benefit of having also the older form of Mass we may not have seen some traditional elements creep their way back into the third edition of the present Missal, the 2002MR (such as the Oratio super populum during Lent).   It is also possible that the correctives which may (hopefully) be applied in the Congregation for Divine Worship’s upcoming document would have otherwise been unthinkable had the older Mass not kept the contrasts constantly before our eyes.  Similarly, though those who usually go to the older “Tridentine” Mass may only rarely attend the newer form of Mass, they too should fervently pray for and support with positive encouragement those who are preparing new vernacular translations of the Novus Ordo.  Although sometimes it may not seem so judging from the rhetoric that flies around now and then, the frequenters of both the new Mass and the older traditional rite all belong to the one same Holy Catholic Church.  Every Catholic benefits when things are legitimately going well for one group or the other.  We must help each other.   It is a work of mercy to do so.

LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):
Augeatur in nobis, quaesumus, Domine,
tuae virtutis operatio,
ut, refecti caelestibus sacramentis,
ad eorum promissa capienda tuo munere praeparemur.

This was the Postcommunio of the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany during the season once called the Time through the Year before Septuagesima… Tempus per annum ante Septuagesima, though the prayer was a little different: Augeatur in nobis, quaesumus, Domine, tuae virtutis operatio: ut divinis vegetati sacramentis, ad eorum promissa capienda, tuo munere praeparemur.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
you give us new hope in the eucharist.
May the power of your love
continue its saving work among us
and bring us to the joy of your promise.

I hope you have anticipated our weekly exercise by settling into your comfortable chair with the praiseworthy Lewis & Short Dictionary at your elbow.   Within its pages we find the entry for operatio.   Obviously operatio bears a close resemblance to English “operation”.   We have seen this before in the Super oblata for the 4th Sunday of Easter.  Operatio, from the verb operor, means “is primarily “a working, work, labor, operation.”  It also means in classical Latin, “a religious performance, service, or solemnity, a bringing of offerings.”    In early Christian poetic authors it also has the meaning of “beneficence, charity” as in, you might say, a “corporal work of mercy” (cf. Lactantius (+ c. 325) 6, 12 and Prudentius (b. 348)  Psychomachia 573).   

The verb augeo has given us vocabulary we have seen before (auxilium, augmentum), but I think we have not yet seen the verb, which is rich in meanings.  L&S starts with some etymology showing that it is “allied” to vegeo – vegetus, vigeo – vigor, vigil.  Note that in the older form of this prayer in the 1962MR we find the word vegetati in the place of refecti.    This is why I will choose to say “reinvigorated” for refecti as L&S suggests.   Right away in English you will think of “augment”.   In Latin, however, its basic mean is “to increase, to nourish” and then “increase, enlarge, augment, strengthen, advance that which is already in existence”.   By extension it comes to be also “to exalt, to extol, embellish, to praise” almost like we might say colloquially “to make much of”.   Then you find in L&S a fascinating entry showing that in a range of classical authors from the rather wild early playwright Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254 – c. 184 BC) to Publius Vergilius Maro or Virgil/Vergil (70–19 BC.) augeo has a religious overtone meaning (like mactare, adolere, etc.), “to honor, reverence, worship by offerings”.   In Latin Our Blessed Mother “magnifies” the Lord in her great exclamation while visiting Elizabeth (Luke 1:46-55).

May the working of your power, O Lord,
be increased in us,
so that, having been reinvigorated by the heavenly sacraments,
we may by your gift be prepared to grasp hold of the things they promise.

It is easy to snipe at the now lame-duck ICEL translations made decades ago.   At the same time it is very hard to produce adequate alternatives.  Consider that two of the Latin words is today’s prayer have at the same time regular, surface meanings which are somewhat intuitive from having a good working English vocabulary inventory.  However, both those words when you get under the surface had for centuries religious and ritual applications that make them snap and echo with new possibilities.  How does a translator cope with all this?  It is an extreme challenge and one that is bound to produce a version that is lacking in some ways.  We just can’t squeeze into a single translation all the prospective nuances.   

In our celebration of the sacraments God effects marvelous things in us by His power through our words and actions.   We have both our words and actions and God’s mighty grace in the liturgy.  By our religious offerings He powerfully works in us.  He puts it into us to perform these effective works and, when we cooperate, He Himself makes them meritorious for us.  The same can be said for every other good work (operatio) we perform in the state of grace: he urges us, we respond lovingly to cooperate, and He makes our hands strong – big enough (augeatur in nobis) – to grasp hold of what he offers.  We must grasp what he gives us now in this life through works of charity and mercy out of love of neighbor so that we can grasp in heaven all he has promised (promissa capienda).  Thus, our good works are really our works by which we please Him and merit His promised rewards and at the same time they are meritorious solely in light of His good pleasure and freely given grace (tuo munere).

How wonderful it would be to have celebrated far and wide many Holy Masses the Latin language and put into the hands of clerics and lay faithful alike beautifully bound personal missals containing a sound basic translation with accompanying notes and annotations (perhaps along the lines of some of the paragraphs of these weekly articles). In that way we might that crack open the treasure boxes that every one of these prayers can be.  Yet the vernacular will remain useful, and widespread.  Therefore we must strive seriously to pray for the translators and send notes of encouragement to those who will judge and approve their work.  Please, dear reader, as you put down this week’s paper, right away write a kind note to His Eminence Francis Card. Arinze!  With all the debates about the translations, and also this highly controverted document that is yet to come forth, I suspect his days are grueling, long and often punishingly thankless.  If you haven’t done this before, pick up your pen.  Do it now.

His Eminence
Francis Card. Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for
   Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
00120 Vatican City


His Eminence
Francis Card. Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
00120 Vatican City

Your Eminence,

Please be assured of my special prayers for you in your heavy mandate.  I love Holy Mass, which is the source and summit of my Catholic Christian life.  Humbly I ask you to guide with courage the process of creating new English language translations according to the new norms in Liturgiam authenticam, in which I see a sign of great hope for beautiful, faithful, and reverent celebration of the Church’s liturgy.  I entrust you to the motherly care of the Blessed Virgin in this difficult task.

Sincerely in Christ,

Name ________________________________________
ADDRESS _______________________________  Date  _____________

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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