WDTPRS: Monday 1st Week of Lent – Post communionem (2002MR)

We continue our project of looking at the Post communions of Lent:

Monday 1st Week of Lent

This prayer is ancient, found in the Veronese Sacramentary in the month of July.   It is in the Liber sacramentorum Engolismensis and Gellonensis, variations of the Gelasian.

Sentiamus, Domine, quaesumus,
tui perceptione sacramenti,
subsidium mentis et corporis,
ut, in utroque salvati,
de caelestis remedii plenitudine gloriemur

We have sensing verbs: sentioperceptio.

Perceptio, (from the verb percipio) is basically a “a taking, receiving; a gathering in, collecting.”  It is also, by extension, “perception, comprehension”.   I "perceive" that you "gather" what I am saying.

St. Ambrose in his Commentary on Luke 4, 15 uses this noun with “frugum fructuumque reliquorum… a gathering of the produce of the earth and of the remaining fruits”.  At the time of his Holy Communion in the 1962MR the priest says (now in the 1970MR in a shortened version): "Let not the partaking (perceptio) of Your Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, unworthy, presume to receive turn out to be unto my judgment and condemnation: but by Your goodness, may it become a protection of soul and body (mentis et corporis) and remedy to be received (percipiendam).…”

We had subsidium also in the PC of Ash Wednesday.  The verb subsideo gives us the substantive subsidium originally meaning, “the troops stationed in reserve in the third line of battle (behind the principes), the line of reserve, reserve-ranks, triarii.” By extension it also means “support, assistance, aid, help, protection.”

Glorior is deponent… passive in form and active in meaning.

May we sense, O Lord, we beseech You,
by this taking in of the Sacrament,
the support of mind and body,
so that, having been saved in both,
we may vaunt in the fullness of the heavenly remedy.

What pops out for me is that stark in utroque salvati… saved in both body and soul.

There are also a couple prominent currents in the language.

First, there is the medicinal.  The prayer feels like a plea for healing.  We want to be saved by a remedium.

Then there is the military.  The sacramentum has overtones of the military oath taken by soldiers, which comes to be used in Latin to express Greek mysterion.   Subsidium is a line of troops in support of those in the front lines.  We seek protection of mind and body and glory at the end. 

In another sense it could be agricultural/economic, I suppose.  Think of the gathering and fullness notions which save mind and body.  I don’t think anyone hasn’t heard about "subsidies" these days.  But I digress.

Our Lord took our full nature into a bond with His Divinity so that both might be saved.  Our Lenten discipline, our spiritual warfare, isn’t just a physical matter.  It is mental, spiritual, emotional.  We seek to mortify body for the sake of the soul.  We seek to challenge the mind so that the body will follow.  We will be attacked by the Enemy on both fronts.  The battlefields of the Lenten discipline will affect both dimensions, because… as the theology of the body developed in the last decades reminds us, we are out bodies.  We are not angels. 

Wound or heal the one and you affect the other.

Your Lenten project should be well-defined and smart.  Keep a clear eye on what you are doing for Lent.  Remember that mortifications have effects that reach beyond what you immediately sense.

The prayer reminds us also of the role of the sacraments and sacramentals in this battle.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Peter Morrell says:

    Beautiful words Father – and an excellent and powerful explanation.
    I made the decision to try the ‘older rules’ for fasting and abstinence this
    Lent just to see if I could do it. It has definitely been a humbling yet
    soul-strengthening experience (much more powerful than I would have imagined).

  2. Michael UK says:

    My nearest diocesan church parish priest at the week-end when preaching referred to Lent as his “least favourite season” and a period of drudgery! He has also preached for a wider lay participation, et al. Recently to new communicants he referred to the Sacrament as a meal at the best table in town !!

    I find the Propers during Lent as the most moving and I particularly appreciate the Tract – Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, … . Equally moving is that prayer at the incensing: Dirigatur, Domine, … which I pray in any event. There are so many small but releant prayers that we appear to have lost. Also, alaso, although said somewhat rapidly by the Celebrant, the magnificent Last Gospel – truly inspiring.

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