Monday in the 1st Week of Lent

We continue our Lenten journey through the prayers of Holy Mass with today’s

Accepta tibi sit, Domine, nostrae devotionis oratio,
quae et conversationem nostram, te operante, sanctificet,
et indulgentiam nobis tuae propitiationis obtineat.

I am really too tired to do much with this, so let me free-wheel a little.

In Latin conversatio is not "conversation".  It is a Pauline term especially important later in monasticism for "manner of living".  I am going to lend it contemporary weight with "life-style".  Devotio is another loaded term, but I will let it stand for now. 

O Lord, may the offering of our devotion,
which as You are working within it, sanctifies our life-style
be acceptable to You, and let it obtain for us the forgiveness of your proptiation.

I like how we have these third declensions stacking up on on another: devotio…oratio…conversatio… propitiatio…  nice!

My (philological) choice of "life-style" has purpose.  Some people want to think, and want you to think, that just because they choose a "life-style", then that choice perfectly justifies itself.  No moral judgment is possible once a choice is made. 

Since I am very tired and don’t have the energy to mince words, some "life-styles" are filthy and cry out to God for vengence.  People can fool themselves, or pretend to.  They cannot fool the Judge.  If they are not careful, they will burn in hell.

There is always room in God’s mercy.  We can be sorry for sins and ask forgiveness.  There is room for illness and entrenched habit.  There is a great deal of latitude in God’s mercy.  But His mercy is not such that we should tempt God.  God cannot be fooled.

When there is a conflict between the "offering of our devotion" in which God is at work, and our "life-style", in which we sinners alone are at work…. 

We must bring our "life-style" to His style.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Woodward says:

    “Conversatio” for me has always carried the sense of a “way of living TOGETHER.” My Chambers Murray captures that sense by defining the word as “society.”

    Nowadays, of course, “living together” is indeed a “life-style.” So I applaud both the denotative and connotative dimensions of your translation

  2. Mark says:

    Hi Father, I thought I would share my literal translation and comments for you and others to comment. I’ve been reading your blog daily now after stumbling across it two or three weeks ago. This is my first post.

    My literal translation given the subjunctives and various clauses:

    That it may be acceptable to you, O Lord, [through] our devotional prayer, which together with our manner of living, operating from You, might sanctify and obtain for us [through] your leniency, atonement.

    The bracketed words are not the literal rendering but help in reading…

    My understanding that in Latin the emphasis is given in the beginning and the ending of a phrase, being more than a trifle tendency.

    In my opinion, we have two important hopes operating here: acceptance of ourselves and obtaining atonement from our Lord so that we may be sanctified, allowing us entry into heaven. Notice that each hope is rendered at the beginning and end of the prayer – accepta and propitiationis, respectfully.

    This is why we start with the “hope” of acceptance from our Lord that what we offer is “enough”, namely through the manner in which we live our lives and through devoted prayer (both being inspired by the grace of God). This coupled with the “hope” that we may “deserve” God’s leniency and that we may become “holy” by our “works” and ultimately through his divine atonement or forgiveness [in order to gain entry into heaven (implied)].

    What beauty Latin provides us… and I like you appreciate the stacking of the 3rd declensions as well thanks for pointing that out.

    Your thoughts, please.


  3. Woodward: Thanks for the good point about the communal dimension of conversatio.

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