WDTPRS: Tuesday 1st Week of Advent – COLLECT (2002MR)

We continue with our glance at the Collects of the days of Advent.

Propitiare, Domine Deus, supplicationibus nostris,
et tribulantibus, quaesumus, tuae concede pietatis auxilium,
ut, de Filii tui venientis praesentia consolati,
nullis iam polluamur contagiis vetustatis.

This prayer has ancient origins in Rotulus 3 which is published in the edition of the Veronese Sacramentary by Mohlberg.

Remember that propitiare looks like an infinitive, but it is really a passive imperative of propitio. This makes it almost like propitius esto, as we sing in the Litany.   Another interesting point is that tribulo is transitive. So, tribulantes would refer to the things inflicting tribulation rather than those undergoing tribulation. Tribulo is used by ancient ecclesiastical writers, but always will this sense of "to oppress, afflict".  Thus, Jerome writes in Commentarioli in psalmos 43: "saluasti enim nos a tribulantibus nos."  Augustine in his Ennarationes in psalmos 26,2,21 has: "ne tradideris me in animas tribulantium me, id est, ne consentiam tribulantibus me.

On the other hand, Gregory the Great goes the other way with tirbulantibus.  He writes in Registrum epistularum 10.20: "Quia uero ea infirmitatis nostrae natura est, ut non possimus de obeuntibus non dolere, fraternitatis uestrae doctrina tribulantibus sit solamen."  It is interesting that this letter of St. Pope Gregory concerns the sufferings of us in this life before the coming of the Judge, "quanto his signis nuntiantibus venturum iudicem in proximo non nescimus". 

I have a sense that this prayer, which is quite ancient, goes back, as do many of our most ancient Latin prayers at least to the time of Gregory.  As I mention above, this is in an ancient Rotulus.  A rotulus, or "roll" is long narrow strip of papyrus or parchment wound up on a wooden rod.  By the fourth century the rotulus was being displaced by the codex, more like a book as we have now.  The Rotulus of Ravenna, our earliest liturgical rotulus is from the 5th or 6th century. So, this prayer is probably pretty old.  

Render our supplications favorable, O Lord God,
and, we entreat You, grant to our tribulations the aid of Your mercy,
so that, having been consoled from the presence of Your Son who is coming,
we may indeed be fouled by no contaminations of the sinful state of the old man.

That "tribulantibus tuae concede pietatis auxilium" is intriguing.  We can probably also render it as "grant the help of Your mercy to (us) experiencing tribulations" and would be able to defend that from what Gregory the Great wrote.

Notice that the priest does not ask God to remove the tribulations!

He prays God to put His mercy into the mix.

Pietas, when referring to God, his the impact of "mercy".  Pietas for man is our "dutifulness", what we owe God in our relationship.  But when pietas is applied to God, the sense of duty, that is, obligation, fades into mercy.

His mercy protects us as we are involved in the murky and mucky details of this world.

Someone sent me what he says in the version from the proposed draft translation now being prepared:

Be moved by our pleading, Lord God, we pray,
and in our trials
grant us the help of your compassion,
that, consoled by the presence of your Son who is
we may be sullied no more
by the taint of former ways.

Compare it to the lame-duck ICEL version still, alas, in use:

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR)
God of mercy and consolation,
help us in our weakness and free us from sin.
Hear our prayers
that we may rejoice at the coming of your Son.

We need that new translation!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Oh, how I long for that new translation. I decided to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin this year, and the differences are just astounding.

    Thanks for your exposition of these prayers! They’re a big help to someone who may have bitten off more than they can chew with their current Latin skills. (And gets no help from looking at the English Breviary…)

  2. Brian Day says:

    [Humor Alert]
    How is that different from just a literal version?
    [/humor alert]

    Yes, we need the new translation. Too bad it is still two years away.

  3. The translation in the only Latin-English LOH Lauds and Vespers with which I am familiar — from Newman House Press (ed. Fr. Peter Stravinskas):

    Be favorable, O Lord God, to our supplications and tribulations,
    we beseech You, and grant us the help of Your kindness,
    so that, consoled by the presence of Your Son Who is coming,
    even now we may be protected from the poisons of our old way.

  4. Nathan says:

    Hmmmm. The ICEL translation has been in use since 1973. Did no one really not notice that the ICEL version has absolutely no correlation with the actual Latin prayer for close to 35 years? Is Father Z really the first to discover this? What gives?

    Don’t the Faithful deserve and need the actual prayers of the Roman Missal? Especially in the Ordinary Form?

    Yes, this is a bit of a whine. This prayer is pretty egregiously mistranslated.

    In Christ,

  5. Nathan: Did no one really not notice that the ICEL version has absolutely no correlation with the actual Latin prayer for close to 35 years?

    For the past 8 years in his WDTPRS columns, Father Z has been “noticing this” with virtually all the collects, super oblata, and postcommunion prayers in the 1973 Missale Romanum still in use in English-speaking countries.

    Indeed, today’s example is far from the worst in the sorry ICEL 1973 repertoire. In fact, it’s inclusion of a word like “sin” probably by itself places it a cut above their average in orthodoxy of meaning.

  6. Michael: I decided to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin this year, and the differences are just astounding.

    To wit … I pray the LOH Lauds in Latin early each morning alone at home, then later Morning Prayer (from LOH/Christian Prayer) in English with a group before Mass at my local parish.

    If asked doesn’t this seem redundant, my answer would be … No, the differences in form and meaning are so great that the two experiences are quite different (and both of value, in different ways).

    Though, of course, neither matches Solemn Vespers like Pope Benedict’s in St. Peter’s this past Saturday (1st Vespers of the 1st Sunday in Advent), sung in Latin with two thurible-wielding deacons. Though, even with just a few of us at our parish church, sometimes our priest or deacon leader is coped.

  7. Nathan says:

    Henry Edwards, I am (as usual) in violent agreement with you. I think I framed those questions because this ICEL version just got my goat. I know Father Z’s been doing his column for a while, but until the past two or three years “The Wanderer” et al seemed to be a (to borrow from the season) a voice in the liturgical wilderness.

    I’m also aware that the late Michael Davies (+RIP) wrote extensively on the ICEL problem as early as 1980. We know how popular he was with the establishment of the time.

    Sorry about the whine. It just gets to me occasionally when I see that the vast majority of practicing Catholics in Englsh-speaking countries get, in the OF, a doubly dumbed down liturgy–first from Archbishop Bugnini’s redactors, then the ICEL. Thirty-five years of thin gruel is, IMO, dangerous to one’s spiritual health (leaving out the idea of God granting the Faitful extraordinary graces during the time). And, to use a concept from Lumen Gentium, not worthy of the People of God.

    In Christ,

  8. Maureen says:

    Why are we so allergic to the expression “the old man”? It’s in the Bible, and everybody knows it. In fact, it’s probably the only part of the prayer an evangelical would “get”.

  9. Henry,

    I am surprised you can stand to pray the LOH in English. It is absolutely wretched. I bought the translation of the Novus Ordo breviary that is issued by the UK & Ireland conference — it is a better translation but the psalms are still awful (grail translation).

  10. Last trad standing says:

    Can I ask where one could find the Liturgy of the Hours (NO version) in Latin? Not a website but the book.

  11. Bailey Walker says:

    “Last trad standing”: https://www.paxbook.com/

  12. Dominican says:

    The Advent collects have got to be the worst “translation wise” and when you are praying the full LOFH publically by Vespers you just want to scream! It’s like praying for dummies.
    I guess there has to be some penance in one’s life!

  13. Dominican: It’s like praying for dummies.

    ROFL!  Yes… well said.

    It’s like praying for dummies.

  14. last trad standing says:

    Thank you Bailey!

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