1st Week of Advent: Monday

In the past, we have seen day by day the Collects for all the days of Lent according to the Novus Ordo.  I thought I would do something similar with the prayers for Advent.

I won’t make references to the lame-duck ICEL renditions.  They aren’t worthy of our attention.

So we can turn our attention to the

Fac nos, quaesumus, Domine Deus noster,
adventum Christi Filii tui sollicitos expectare,
ut, dum venerit pulsans, orationibus vigilantes,
et in suis inveniat laudibus exsultantes.

We beseech You, O Lord our God, cause
us anxious ones to await the Coming of Christ Your Son,
so that, while He will have come knocking,
He will find us being vigilant in prayers and rejoicing in His praises.

The prime images here are Christ, on the move and coming to the door, where He stands knocking.  We, on the other hand are within, keeping vigil.  Thus, it is dark, late night, early morning.  So, there is an interesting tension in the prayer.  It compresses three distinct moments: Christ in motion, coming to the door.  Christ at the door knocking.  Christ entering through the door and finding the state we are in.  The use of the present participles makes this tension possibles.

This prayer is from a very ancient source.  It is adapted from an oration in the Gelasian Sacramentary.   Here is the ancient text with the main differences underscored.

Fac nos, quaesumus, domine deus noster, peruigiles atque sollicitos aduentum expectare Christi filii tui domini nostri, ut dum venerit pulsans, non dormientis
[sic] peccatis sed vigilantes et in suis inveniat laudibus exsultantes.  That dormientis is like dormientes, an alternate form.

Do you see any theological difference?  The text is slightly rearranged, but that doesn’t make too much difference.  The main thing is that the snip-pasters of the Novus Ordo cut out the concept of sin: "so that when He will have come, He will not find (us) sleeping in sins, but waking…".

This gives us a little more insight.  Remember that during Advent was have the constant cry to "Wake up!"   In ancient times (and in the 1962MR and in the 2002MR) the lesson for Sunday, yesterday, was from Romans 13 where Paul says

Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to rise from our sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Novus Ordo Gospel from Matthew 24 for Sunday Jesus says: "Therefore, stay awake!"

In another place the Lord describes how wise servants stay alert even during the night when the master is gone and must come home to find them ready to open the door to him.  In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks of the need for the master of the house to be vigilant against the enemy, the thief who would steal what is precious: our eternal happiness. I find it interesting that Christ speaks of the need for both master and servants to be vigilant. There is a measure of shared responsibility. In fact, the master will serve the servants. In Luke 12 we read:
“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.”

And not forgetting that the season of Advent is about the Coming of the Lord at the end of things to judge the living and the dead, we can consider also the Book of Revelation 3:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: ” ‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. ” ‘”Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Papaefidelis@ameritech.net says:

    Fr. Z:
    Regarding “dormientis,” don’t forget that -is is an alternate ending for the accusative pl. of the third declension, especially in poetry: Vergil uses it all the time.

  2. Papae: Yes, I believe I know that. However, most people don’t, so I indicated the better known form.

    However, your reminder of the poetic use of -is serves as a reminder that liturgical Latin was not really the common used Latin of daily life, the vernacular of the day. It was stylized and literary. Some people argue that we should use the vernacular today because Latin was once the vernacular. Some like Bp. Trautman claim our prayers be immediately comprehensible in everyday language. That was never the way liturgical language was. Just because Latin was once spoken commonly, that does not mean that all Latin was on the same level.

  3. Berolinensis says:

    Father, I think “sollicitos” in the collect is used attributively. I therefore propose that “…cause
    us anxiously to await the Coming…” would be a more accurate translation. Am I wrong?

  4. Berolinensis: No, I don’t think that is wrong. It is a little smoother to make it sound like an adverb. That sort of construction doesn’t go easily from Latin into English.

  5. Thaliarch says:

    Father Z,

    We may possibly translate “dum venerit pulsans” as “until he comes (will have come) knocking,” if we cite Allen and Greenough, 553., Note 2 for this unusual use of the indicative. This seems to support the purpose expressed by “inveniat.” What do you think?

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    The main thing is that the snip-pasters of the Novus Ordo cut out the concept of sin: “so that when He will have come, He will not find (us) sleeping in sins, but waking…”.

    A revealing observation. As a result of 7 years of WDTPRS, many (if not all) are familiar with the dumbing down of the liturgy that took place when it was translated from Latin into English.

    But perhaps most are still unaware that, even before translation, the Novus Ordo liturgy had already suffered systematic dilution in its doctrinal content in the original Latin Missale Romanum (1970, 1975, 2002) — with the widescale elimination of concepts such as grace, sin and punishment, sacrifice and propitiation, etc.– so as a result a couple of generations of Catholics are effectively unfamiliar with these concepts in everyday Catholic faith and practice.

  7. Thank you for beginning this review of the Advent Mass prayers. I’ve been curious about what these prayers actually say for a long time. It’s unfortunate that even in the Latin, these prayers have been compromised by a modernist agenda. I once held out hope that the new Advent Masses could be used to enrich the 1962 Roman Liturgy. However, it becomes more and more evident that even the seemingly innocent and well-translated parts of the 1970 Roman Liturgy are incompatible with authentic Catholic liturgical reform. I hope you continue to point out how the Advent Mass prayers have left out major Catholic concepts, as I believe this will help conscientious liturgical scholars/students sort through the wheat and chaff in the new missal.

  8. Gratias tibi, Pater Z!
    Interesting about the “snipping” of sin from the prayer…and not a little disconcerting.

  9. Jeff Pinyan says:

    What is peruigiles?

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