WDTPRS – 1 Jan – Mary, the Mother of God (2002MR)

The prayers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in the 2002MR.

Deus, qui salutis aeternae, beatae Mariae virginitate fecunda,
humano generi praemia praestitisti,
tribue, quaesumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus,
per quam meruimus Filium tuum auctorem vitae suscipere.

O God, who by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary
bestowed upon the human race the rewards of eternal salvation,
grant, we beg, that we may perceive her interceding for us,
through whom we merited to receive Your Son, the author of life.

This prayer was in the pre-Conciliar Missal and, slightly different, in the Gelasian Sacramentary for the Assumption of Mary on 15 August (xviii Kalendas Septembris). 

Now, please forgive me, but I must include the laughably deficient lame-duck version from…

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
God our Father,
may we always profit by the prayers
of the Virgin Mother Mary,
for you bring us life and salvation
through Jesus Christ her Son…

Let’s now move on to the so-called “Prayer over the gifts”.   This following prayer was not in the pre-Conciliar Missal, but it does have an antecedent in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary within the body of prayers for September in what appear to be a collection of prayers for the ordination of bishops (“in natale episcoporum”).

Deus, qui bona cuncta inchoas benignus et perficis,
da nobis, de sollemnitate sanctae Dei Genetricis laetantibus,
sicut de initiis tuae gratiae gloriamur,
ita de perfectione gaudere.

The super useful Lewis & Short Dictionary gives us a fascinating piece of information about initium.  Along with “a beginning, commencement” it also means – this is so cool – “secret sacred rites, sacred mysteries, to which only the initiated were admitted”.  

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
God our Father,
we celebrate at this season
the beginning of our salvation.
On the feast of Mary, the Mother of God,
we ask that our salvation
will be brought to its fulfillment.

A lot is going on herein this elegant Latin prayer.  First, the priest acknowledges that all good things have their beginning in God.  We are His instruments, truly involved, but He is the one who brings them to a good completion: He perfects them through us.  The sicut…ita construction sets up a proportional relationship between the two clauses.  Just so, we ask God 1) to grant to us to rejoice in the fact of God bringing good things to completion and perfection and, moreover, 2) to grant that we in like manner may revel in the mysterious things He set in motion to begin with. 

Furthermore, the context of this prayer is a) the Christmas Octave feast of the Mother of God, focused on Mary’s maternity of the divine Person Jesus Christ and also of His Church, us, the members of Christ’s Body and, moreover, b) the raising up to God of the good fruits of the earth God gave us and we worked with our efforts, and His imminent transformation of them through the priest’s words and actions.  God begins every good thing.  He uses us who cooperate with His plan, and He perfects all things for our benefit and His glory. 

Notice the de…de…de, all three of which point to the causes of our joy: i) the solemn feast of and fact of Mary’s divine Motherhood, ii) the mysterious gifts (even this Mass itself – initia) accruing to the initiated (baptized and in the state of grace) from God’s free gifts, iii) their perfection/completion.   It is super hard to convey the impact of this prayer in English without getting really wordy.

O God, who kindly begin all good things and bring them to completion,
grant us, now rejoicing over the solemnity of the Holy Mother of God,
so to delight about perfect completion,
as we are glorying about the initiatives of Your grace.

We are coming to the ending of Holy Mass.  Those who were able to do so received Holy Communion.  There follow a time for reflection and perhaps exaltation of the soul in song.  

It has been years since we looked at Post communion prayers, so let’s review what they are.  The context of Mass for the Post communionem has a structure similar to contexts of the Collect and Super oblata.  In each case there is movement from one place to another in the church: the entrance procession, offertory procession, and the procession for Communion.  In each case a choir or schola traditionally sings a psalm with antiphon (see what you lose when you lose Gregorian chant?).  In each case the priest makes introductory silent prayers: the “prayers before the altar” in the older form of Mass, the hushed prayers (audible in the Novus Ordo) while preparing the paten and chalice, and finally the orisons he softly recites while purifying the sacred vessels after Communion.  In each case the pattern of song and prayer conclude with the priest’s audible prayer, always introduced with an invitation of Oremus… “Let us pray” (and in the traditional form of Mass with the 1962MR the courteous and elegant greeting Dominus vobiscum preceding each invitation).  The pattern is present in proclaiming the Gospel: the priest or deacon’s silent prayer for grace and worthiness, the procession with the Evangelarium, the greeting, reading, and sermon, the invitation to pray the so-called “prayers of the faithful”, followed by the concluding prayer by the priest.  The structure is the same in all four instances.  

In fact, St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) distinguished four sections of the Mass, the last of which after Communion was called the gratiarum actio, the “thanksgiving” (cf. ep. 149,16).  In contrast to the Eastern rites (and unlike this column sometimes) the Roman Rite is characterized by concise, spare language.  However, for many centuries until the Novus Ordo the Latin Rite’s Mass had a double closing consisting of prayers of thanksgiving and of blessing.  Happily these post Post Communion blessing prayers have been reinstated to the 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum during the season of Lent after an absence of some thirty years… which restoration makes me wonder how “upset” people in the pews will get from such a radical change!  After all, the addition of a prayer makes Mass longer!  And sputter for heaven’s sake, those blessing prayers were conspicuously absent from Mass for a venerable three whole decades, an out-and-out tradition!  But I digress….   

The style and structure of our Latin Post communionem prayers is virtually the same as that of the Collect and the old Secret or Super oblata.  These are prayers of petition addressed to God the Father through the Son (per Dominum nostrum).   They focus on our gratitude to the Father for all His blessings, especially the continual gift of His Son in Holy Communion.  So, the Post communion thanksgiving embraces the Communion of all the faithful, laity and priest together.  This was so even in the centuries when people received Communion rarely during the year.

So, at this point in our New Year’s Day Mass, in honor of the Mother of God, the priest, who during Mass is Christ the Head of the Body, speaks for the whole Body, the Church, raising prayers of thanks to the Father for the fact of and effects of the Eucharist, singing:

Sumpsimus, Domine, laeti sacramenta caelestia:
praesta, quaesumus,
ut ad vitam nobis proficient sempiternam,
qui beatam semper Virginem Mariam
Filii tui Genetricem et Ecclesiae Matrem
profiteri gloriamur.

O Lord, we happy ones have consumed the heavenly sacraments:
grant, we beseech You,
that they may be advantageous unto eternal life for us
who exalt to profess blessed Mary ever Virgin,
Mother of Your Son and Mother of the Church.

This is based on a prayer in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary but it was not in an edition of the Roman Missal before the Council.  An odd thing about this prayer is that it has a colon at the end of the first line.  Colons were often an indication for how to sing the prayers, though they were expunged the editions after the Council.  

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
as we proclaim the Virgin Mary
to be the mother of Christ and the mother of the Church,
may our communion with her Son
bring us to salvation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I can say from the depths of my heart yet again that seeing our Blessed Lord or the Virgin referred to as ‘You’ causes real pain; it is hurtful. While the I.C.E.L. translations are an æstheitic abomination, anything which does not use the T. forms of the pronoun is completely unacceptable. Thank the Good Lord, as well as Baronius Press, the Fr. Lasance handmissals, and the St. Andrew handmissals that I don’t have to see such things in print very often. If the newest printings did not have the respect (not affective) pronouns of liturgical usage, I would type my own missal out for private use.


  2. Geoff says:

    How unfortunate that “Mother of Christ” in the ICEL translation of the closing prayer–unwarranted in the first place, and Nestorian-sounding to boot.

  3. Andreas says:

    Some day perhaps it will be common among Roman Catholics (at least among the traditionalists) to speak the Church’s language. Then we won’t have to worry about the “thee’s” and “thou’s” and “you’s”.

  4. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    I’d like to see the pronouns Thou and Thee etc also, and in any event the pronouns whether Thou or You should start with a capital letter if referring to God.

  5. Another entry hijacked…

  6. Dallas says:

    I hate to continue a hijack, but I think Mr. Perkins’ concern about the use of the pronoun “You” as informal is misplaced. Having some fluency in the ancient Icelandic/Norse language, I am able to confirm that the use of the more modern pronouns “Thou” (nominative), “Thee” (accusative), correspond, in Icelandic, to the informal terms of address—þú and þig. The most formal terms, þér and yður, became “you” and “ye” in English. In a historical sense, it makes more sense to address the Lord and Our Lady with You or Ye. Please keep up the good work, Fr. Z.

  7. Dear Fr.

    OK! Is this better?!:

    Thank you for an extremely well constructed exposition of the matter in hand – as always. Everytime I read these comparisons, or make them myself (studying Gueranger at the moment) I am reminded of A. Bugnini’s public statement of his intentions and how utterly and horribly successful he has been. It seems to me that the whole thing resides in his having wished to remove from Catholic Liturgy and prayer, anything which may ‘act as a stumbling block to our separated brethren’, the Protestants.

    But keep on going, Father. The more this fact is brought to the notice of Catholics, the more chance there is of reversing the damage that man was allowed to do from within the Church herself..

    As you say, ‘brick by brick’. I suppose you know that this phrase of yours has passed into the lingua franca of British orthodox Catholics.

    God bless and may He grant you a blessed New Year.

  8. Jane: I am reminded of A. Bugnini’s public statement of his intentions and how utterly and horribly successful he has been. It seems to me that the whole thing resides in his having wished to remove from Catholic Liturgy and prayer, anything which may ‘act as a stumbling block to our separated brethren’, the Protestants.

    But in precisely what has Ab. Bugnini been successful? Have Protestants flocked into the Catholic Church, as Bugnini allegedly assured Paul VI they would, so as to persuade the pope to approve his schemes?

  9. Marc says:

    Brick by brick indeed. Am beginning to learn my way around the several available Masses in both uses of the Roman rite here in Washington DC: thanks so much for sharing the fruit of your studies of such beautiful prayers! and best wishes for a happy and fruitful new year.

  10. My dear Henry,

    (sounds almost Jane Austen),

    That is the whole point. Nobody needs to go anywhere, from anywhere, if the Catholic Church herself has become Protestant, which I’m afraid she largely has for the last 40 years. Fewer conversions? Look no further for the reason.

    Paul VI’s understanding of what went on, is another matter. Clearly, to me at any rate, he was duped. He wanted people in the Catholic Church: Bugnini wanted the Church as Paul saw it, not to exist any more. Remember B’s other statement after the Novus Ordo was promulgated: ‘We have done it. We have achieved victory over the Catholic Church.’ Some rum kind of Catholic he.

    God bless and HNY

  11. John Cassian says:

    “Mother of Christ” doesn’t just “sound” Nestorian – it is the explicit formula Nestorius proposed to counter the title “Theotokos” (“Mother of Christ”). Really unfortunate.

  12. My dear Jane,

    The point, indeed … that Bugnini accomplished precisely what he had sought to achieve, victory over the Catholic Church as it had been. For as his close associate Fr. Gelineau said,

    “Let those who, as I did, knew and sung the High Mass in Latin with Gregorian chant, remember it if they can. Let them compare it with the Mass which we now have. Not only have the words, songs, and gestures been changed. To tell the truth: it is a whole new Liturgy of the Mass. This must be said without subterfuge: the Roman Rite, as we knew it, exists no longer. It has been destroyed.”

  13. Jordanes says:

    Jane said It seems to me that the whole thing resides in his having wished to remove from Catholic Liturgy and prayer, anything which may ‘act as a stumbling block to our separated brethren’, the Protestants.

    Bugnini never said he wished that. His comment was referring to just one matter — he wasn’t necessarily expressing an
    underlying philosophical approach to “anything” that might be a stumblingblock.

  14. Jordanes:

    I should be most grateful if you would explain to this apparently misinformed soul, exactly to which matter he WAS referring?

  15. Antiquarian says:

    Jane, The “stumbling block” quote that is all over the internet is largely fabricated– an almost completely inaccurate translation. There’s plenty to criticize Bugnini for, but apparently some misguided “traditionalist” thought he would help by misrepresenting what the Archbishop said to make it more objectionable. In context, he was talking solely about the removal from the Good Friday prayers of the words “heretics” and “schismatics,” and there is no reference to the Mass, or any other object of reform, at all, nor does he mention the Protestants by name. What he actually said in L’Osservatore Romano was–

    “Love of souls and the desire to facilitate in every way, by removing anything that could even remotely be an impediment or make them feel ill at ease, the road to union on the part of separated brethren, has induced the Church to make even these painful sacrifices”


    When this was discussed on another blog, there were howls of protest that Bugnini was being defended. Not so– there’s plenty of things to accurately critize him for, but this kind of fabrication only allows sympathizers to dismiss the criticisms as unbalanced and unrealistic.

    Unfortunately Michael Davies, an excellent writer who sometimes relied on sources of questinable value, cited the false statement and now it’s everywhere. Which, of course, calls into question the “conquest” styatement as well, since it too is offered all over the place with no context or original Italian text.

  16. Themakodama says:

    Mary was and is the first priest of Christ!

    The priesthood of maternity… she mediated Christ for the world.

    At his birth, at the wedding feast of Cana, at his death…all throughout, she could say with him, ‘This is my body, this is my blood.’

    Praying and labouring for an end to the sins of exclusion of women that continue to be perpretrated by Rome, may the blinders be lifted so as to see and understand that women belong in Holy Orders just as much as men.

    Blessings for the new year! Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women [and men], and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen.

    with my eyes fixed on Christ,

  17. jarhead462 says:

    Themakodama said- “Praying and labouring for an end to the sins of exclusion of women that continue to be perpretrated by Rome, may the blinders be lifted so as to see and understand that women belong in Holy Orders just as much as men.”

    So Jesus sinned by not making Mary one of the Twelve….Do you want to let Him know? I dont have the onions to tell Him.

    Semper Fi, Tired old chestnuts!

  18. Nestorius has the final laugh!

    I preached on the Council of Ephesus and how Nestorius’ proposal for the title of “Mother of Christ” was defeated by St. Cyril’s “MOther of God”. Yet the final prayer of Mass went to Nestorius!

    It is both ironic and painful, and a reminder how dangerous it is to change the liturgy.

  19. Angela Berla says:

    [This sentimental slop about women’s ordination was removed. It earned the heretical stalker yet another boot from the blog. Look, friend… if you find your way back in here through another computer, just take the hint and a) revise your view, b) keep them to yourself, or c) find another blog to post.
    o{]:¬) ]

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