We continue our march through the prayers of Holy Mass in different seasons, now the season of Advent.
We are looking now at the Post Communions in the Novus Ordo.
The context of the Post Communion in the Mass is similar to those of the Collect and Super Oblata.
In each case there is outward activity with movement (processions at the entrance procession, offertory and Communion).
In each case, and originally only at these three points, a choir sang a psalm with an antiphon.
In each case the priest has silent introductory prayers (his prayers before the altar, his preparation at the offertory, and his devotional prayers during the ablutions after Communion).
The theme of the prayer refers to the Holy Communion just consumed moments before and to its effects and benefits in us.
It focuses on the Communion of all the faithful who received, not just that of the priest.
Today’s “Prayer after Communion” is of new composition for the Novus Ordo (1970MR, 1975MR and now 2002MR), but it is rooted in two prayers in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary. It is the same as the Post Communion for the 1st Sunday of Advent in the 2002MR.
POST COMMUNIONEM (2002MR):
Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine, frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia et inhaerere mansuris.
This is a wonderful prayer to sing, which is as it should be. The alliteration of frequentata mysteria gives it a powerful staccato balanced by the assonance of “ah” and “a” sounds. The phrase inter praetereuntia ambulantes is glorious, as is the final cadence, inhaerere mansuris. There may be a touch of Col. 3:1-2 here.
Over thirty years ago, the bishops of various conferences in the English speaking world took the advice of the old incarnation of ICEL and caused the following to be printed and, sadly, used in our churches to the present day.
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope guide our way on earth.
Is this what the prayer really says? When the English is shorter than the Latin, friends, you know there’s trouble. The lame-duck ICEL prayers of the sacral cycles of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter are generally more accurate than those of Ordinary Time. Nevertheless, this is so bad I was tempted to triple check that I got the right prayer.
The Dictionary, the mighty Lewis & Short, helps us to understand that prosint is the third person plural present active subjunctive form of prosum, profui, prodesse, “to be useful or of use, to do good, benefit, profit”. There is a custom in Roman sacristies after Mass. Servers and sacred ministers line up in two rows and wait for the celebrant to enter and bow to the Cross. As he removes his biretta and bows to the Lord, they all say “Prosit!”, that is, “May what you have just done be of benefit for you!” The celebrant responds “Vobis quoque!” (singular “Tibi quoque!”), “And to you!”.
This is about the only time Catholics accurately say something like, “And also with you!”
Frequento is “to visit or resort to frequently, to frequent; to do or make use of frequently, to repeat” and also “to celebrate or keep in great numbers” as in the observance of public festivals. Praetereuntia, the present active participle of praeter-eo, “to go by or past, to pass by; “to be lost, disregarded, perish, pass away, pass without attention or fulfillment (late Lat.)” Mansuris is a plural future participle of maneo, “to remain, last, endure, continue”, and thus means “things that are going to endure”.
SLAVISHLY LITERAL TRANSLATION:
We beg You, O Lord, may they be profitable for us,
these oft celebrated sacramental mysteries,
by which You established that we,
walking amidst the things that are passing away,
would now in this very moment love heavenly things
and cleave to the things that will endure.
A SMOOTHER VERSION:
May these mysteries we so often celebrate
redound to our benefit, O Lord, we entreat You,
since by them You instruct us,
as we journey in the midst of this world which is passing away,
to love the things of heaven and cling to what endures.
When the priest intones this Post Communion, the Eucharistic Christ is within you.
A church’s tabernacle is no more a dwelling of the Real Presence than you are at that moment.