Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent

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

Suscipe, creator omnipotens Deus,
quae de tuae munificentiae largitate deferimus,
et temporalia nobis collata praesidia
ad vitam converte propitiatus aeternam.

This prayer was in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary though not in any pre-Conciliar edition of the Missale Romanum.

We have word variety in the verbs defero and confero which, though they have subtle shades of meaning, pretty much point to the same concept.  Converto( r ) has the sense of both changing and of changing directions.  Think in terms of a person who is a Catholic "convert".  He has change directions, but in a sense he has "turned back" and gone in the direction of the Truth.  He is now going in the direction of his true home.  In this he is changed.  For the directional dimension, remember that in the ancient Church of Rome, in celebrations at the Vatican Basilica, people were directed to turn around to pray facing the east  so that the priest and people were facing the same direction (conversi ad Dominum). 

Accept, Almighty God the Creator,
the things which we are offering from the largess of Your generosity,
and cause the temporal helps conferred upon us, propitiously to change unto eternal life.

This prayer has an echo of the exitus/reditus paradigm from Platonism that so shaped the thought of early Christian thinkers.  The idea is that created things "go forth" from God, they undergo a change or conversion, and then "return back" to their source.  Our prayer clearly indicates that what we are offering on the altar we received from God.  It came from Him (de-fero).  By His power and plan it changes and returns back up to Him.  

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom expresses it in the following way, right before Epiclesis:

    “Thine own of Thine own, we offer You, in behalf of all, and for all.”

    Speaking of todays anti-spam word, I have seen also spelling antepedium without intervening “n”. Would you please explain this ambiguity, Father?

  2. Marcin: Thanks for that quote from the Anaphora. Perfect. About that spelling. Could it be a reference to something covering the “foot” of the altar? Otherwise, it is just one of those odd variants, perhaps resulting from the nasal disappearing.

  3. Marcin says:

    Indeed, Father, both forms make sens to me now: antepedium as something “in front of the feet/legs” of the celebrant (as in pes, pedis), and antependium as something “hung in front” of the altar (as in pendulum).

    But which was the first one coined in the Church?

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