WDTPRS: Quinquagesima – SECRET

Haec hostia, Domine, quaesumus, emundet nostra delicta:
et ad sacrificium celebrandum,
subditorum tibi corpora
mentesque sanctificet.

This prayer was in the ancient L.S. Engolismensis.  It didn’t survive the Consilium for the newer missal.

Subdo is “to put, place, set, or lay under; to bring under, subject, subdue”.  After Mary and Joseph found the young Jesus in the Temple, Our Lord went with them and was “subject” them (Luke 2:51).  Subdo is used to describe also the state of a wives to their husbands. This verb, in the participial form acting like an adjective, describes the state of the servants of God.  Very often our prayers describe us as servi or famuli or members of the familia of God.  That fam- root goes back to the household servants on an estate, totally under the law and care of their master.  We call those under someone’s mastery, “subjects”.

O Lord, may this sacrificial offering cleanse away our sins,
and may it sanctify the bodies and minds of  those subject to You
unto the Sacrifice now to be celebrated.

Human beings are both body and soul.  The wounds to our human nature from the Fall of our First Parents affected us both spiritually and physically.  The whole human person needs healing. Therefore, the Word took up all of our human nature, perfect human body and soul, so that the whole of man could be redeemed.  At Mass there is also an inward component and an outward physical expression.  Both must be active, each in their own proper manner and moment.  The key in both cases is that we who are active participants nevertheless remain the subjects of the Lord, in the sense that we are entirely dependent on Him.

Paradoxically, we who are subjects in the sense of being beneath and dependent, by willing subjection become our own subjects, in the sense of being aware and willing actors.  In grammar a subject is the thing in an active sentence which acts on an object.  Because humans are God’s images, we are made to be subjects of our own determinations.  We mustn’t be turned into unwilling objects.  When we yield to God, however, in our state of being His “subjects” we are even more our own “subjects”.  As Pope Benedict reminded us in his inaugural sermon in April 2005,

… If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, … do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? … No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Ought the second line to read: ad sacrifium celebrandum?

    Also, I am interested to know why you prefer “sins” for delicta, which could arguably be better rendered with ‘crimes’ or even ‘delicts’; delictum it is a juridical term, after all, in a way that the English ‘sin’ is not.

    To be sure, hostia is always difficult to render with any sort of poetic economy. Might I offer the following:

    Allow this offering, O Lord we beseech you, to cleanse away our crimes
    and unto the sacrifice presently to be celebrated,
    sanctify the bodies and minds of Your subjects.


  2. Mike says:

    How wonderful is this Pope! I can hear, in modern idiom, the spirit of Augustine, a lover rejoicing that at last he has found his Beloved, which is the Lover of all that is.

  3. Supertradmom says:

    What beautiful thoughts. Many of us think that the only freedom is not to be subject to anyone. How silly we are. Thank you for the meditation.

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