Thursday in the 1st Week of Advent

Here is the Collect for Thursday of the 1st week of Advent.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam,
et magna nobis virtute succurre,
ut, quod nostra peccata praepediunt,
gratia tuae propitiationis acceleret.

This prayer was in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary and other sacramentaries. It was in the 1962MR as well for the 4th Sunday of Advent ("Rorate").

Rouse up Your power, O Lord,
and hasten to aid us with your great might,
so that, what our sins are hindering
the grace of Your merciful favor may make swift.

Praepedio means "to entangle the feet or other parts of the body; to shackle, bind, fetter" and therefore "to hinder, obstruct, impede".   The idea here is that something is placed "before" (prae) the "foot" (pes) which makes you stumble.  But if you dig at the word a little more, you find that interestingly enough prae-pes means also "swift of flight, nimble, fleet, quick, rapid".   There is an interesting tension that sparks the imagination in hearing prae-ped…

During Advent we are being constantly given images of movement, of rushing swiftly to a goal.  Succurre harks to curro, which is "run".  Accelero is "to hasten". 

Christ is rushing towards us. Will we hasten him to us by clearing the path for His rushing feet, bring peace and reward?  Will our sins hasten His more violent coming, with correction and then separation?

We must smooth His path, remove the obstacles.

When the Lord comes, He will come by the straightest path … whether we have straightened it out or not.

Our sins make His path crooked.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The revised Office has some of Isaiah 45 as the Reading for Lauds on the 1st Thursday of Advent, including Rorate caeli desuper… (Is 45:8). I was pleasantly surprised to read it this morning.

    EWTN is broadcasting a Rorate Mass on Saturday, Dec. 15th, at 8:00 AM (EST).

  2. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I also meant to include this, from Pope St. Gregory the Great. I used it last night in the Bible Study I lead:

    Every one who preacheth right faith and good works, prepares the Lord’s way to the hearts of the hearers, and makes His paths straight, in cleansing the thoughts by the word of good preaching. (from the Catena Aurea, citing Homilies on the Gospel, I, 20, 3)

  3. Jim says:

    My pre-Vatican II English breviary translates “excita” as “stir up.” Thus, the Lauds prayer during the 1st week of Advent reads: “Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance.”
    . . . a pithy prayer that sums up in a few words both our predicament and our hope.

  4. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Jim – the Advent wreath prayers I use (from sounds very very similar to that. I guess I know its source now.

  5. FGilbert says:

    Wasn’t this prayer an Advent Sunday collect in the Anglican tradition? Seems to me I remember something about ‘Stirrup Sunday.’

  6. London Calling says:

    Some Anglicans use this collect for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Their translation isn’t bad, either: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.” Far better than the flabby ICEL: “Father, we need your help. Free us from sin and bring us to life. Support us by your power.”

    They once used a different “Stir up” prayer (it begins Excita, quaesumus Domine and reads in English “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded”) on the last Sunday before Advent (in some Anglican liturgies it is now used as a post-communion). This gave the name “Stir up Sunday” to the Sunday of Christ the King; the idea was that this was the day you were supposed to “stir up” Christmas puddings, so that they would have time to mature and be ready on the day itself.

  7. Dominican says:

    It’s wonderful to read your postings on the collects for weekdays of Advent but if one is in a monastic community than SEVEN times we have to have the current “Advent Prayers for Dummies” version: God we need your help! God was merciful and this year we got a breather because it was the feast of St. Nicholas.

    One year I was the Heb and I couldn’t take it any longer so I warned the sisters that I would use the English breviary instead.

    I sometimes wonder if I will live to see the day when we get accurately translated collects!

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