Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, but let us continue with our march through Advent by looking at an ancient prayer from the Rotulus of Ravenna, which survived the centuries and became Saturday’s

Deus, qui, ad liberandum humanum genus
a vetustatis condicione,
Unigenitum tuum in hunc mundum misisti,
largire devote exspectantibus supernae tuae gratiam pietatis,
ut ad verae perveniamus praemium libertatis.

This is an ancient prayer found in the Rotulus of Ravenna, which is included by Mohlberg in his edition of the ancient Veronese Sacramentary.

The phrase condicio vetustatis here refers to the "old man" we must put off, the state of sin inflicted by the fall of our first parents.

O God, who sent Your Only-Begotten
into this world in order to save the human race
from the condition of the old man,
lavish the grace of Your heavenly mercy
upon those devoutly awaiting,
so that we may attain unto the reward of true freedom.

O God, who sent your Only-begotten Son into this world
to free the human race from ancient bondage,
lavish on those who devoutly await him
the grace of your compassion from on high,
that we may reach the prize of true freedom.

NB: My version above I posted about a year ago.   The "proposed" version above is being kicked around as an eventual official replacement for the wretched stuff presently in use.  What I find consoling is the fact tha the second version really tries to stick to the sense of the Latin, and does so smoothly. 


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Dear Fr. Z.

    First, you have as of this writing a problem with your html code. Close your italics!

    Second, I appreciate the second version. The “ancient bondage” evokes the lenghty wait that Advent is to give us. It also uses “Son,” a nice wake-up call for those who might want to strip Christ of his male identity.

  2. Esther says:

    Happy Feast Day Fr. Z! I really appreciate this blog! God bless.

  3. Berolinensis says:

    Like the other “proposed draft” you posted, I like it very much. Although, like with the other one, I am not really happy with pietas=compassion. I think your rendering as mercy is more apposite.

  4. Legisperitus says:

    It’s groovy, man.

  5. Brian Day says:

    that we may attain unto the reward of true freedom.
    that we may reach the prize of true freedom.

    I like the proposed version better except for the word prize. The concept of reward seems better in this instance than prize. Of course a straight substitution does not work, so perhaps “attain the reward” might be a good way to go?

  6. Happy Feast Day Fr…we had a wonderful Latin sung Mass..

  7. Alexamenos says:

    “attain unto the reward”
    is much better than
    “reach the prize”

    for the reason that we are not to reach out to grab the fruit of the tree of life, but receive it from our Lord, humbly, though rejoicing.

  8. Petellius says:

    I don’t have a problem with “prize” here, though I think I do prefer “attain to the reward”. I just suspect that most people would find it a little stilted.

    I’m not sure about “ancient bondage” though, since the “bondage” isn’t really in the Latin. Why not just “ancient state/condition”?

  9. ALL: I think the word “prize” was chosen, in the second version I posted, to call to mind the passage from Paul about “running the race”, etc. and attaining the “unfading crown of glory”, using the imagery of the athletic contest.

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