WDTPRS – Saturday 2nd Week of Lent – “Prayer over the People” (2002MR)


A great new feature of the 2002 Missale Romanum in Latin is that for Lent the "Prayer over the people" or Oratio super populum has been revived as an option.

Priests can use this prayer NOW at the end of Mass, but still only in the Latin.

Let’s have a look at today’s:

Sacramenti tui, Domine, divina perceptio
penetralia nostri cordis infundat,
et sui nos participes potenter efficiat

This is a rewriting of a prayer in the ancient Gelasian in the forms of the Liber sacramentorum/Augustodunensis/Engolismensis/Gellonensis.   It used to run: Sacramenti tui domine diuina libatio penetralia nostri cordis infundat, et sui participes potenter effitiat.

The older form of this prayer was also the Postcommunio for this very day in the 1962MR.

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.  We get the paring perceptio with sacramenti fairly often in our prayers.  In the priest’s prayers in the older form of Mass he prayers before Communion – and this is one of the most moving of the priest’s prayers at Mass –

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Iesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere praesumo, non mihi proveniat in iudicium et condemnationem; sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis et ad medelam percipiendam: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen. … Let the receiving of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I presume to receive, though unworthy, turn not unto me for judgment and condemnation, but, according to Thy mercy, let it be profitable to me for the receiving of protection and healing, both of soul and body: Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.


If you were looking for a key difference between the spiritualities of the older form and newer form of Mass, I think that prayer is a good example: in the newer form of Mass many of the references to the priest’s humility were removed.  Penetralia are "innermost places, or secrets places".

But I digress.

O Lord, may the divine receiving of Your sacrament
pour into the inmost depths of our heart,
and may it mightily bring us to be Its participants.

Take note that this was a Postcommunion changed into an Oratio super populum.

The older form had libatio, which was a "drink offering" poured out to the gods.  But clearly in the context of a prayer at Mass Eucharistic reference.  But libatio made better sense of infundo.  The imagery of pouring into the secret places of the heart… well… much clearer, no?

Consider that this prayer underscores the reception of the sacramental mystery. 

We receive.

In worship worthy of the name, and of the moment, mystery flows around us, into us, within us.  Or it should.

We have a sense of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in this prayer, though at heart it is Eucharistic.  You might even think of what we ask the Holy Spirit to do in the Veni Sancte Spiritus.

The presence of the Lord (us before the Eucharist, the Eucharist within us) can indeed wear us down, polish and smooth us, like the erosion over time by water pouring around and into something.

Note also that it is the Lord, in the prayer, who does all this.  He makes us His participants. 

How wrong it seems to me the physical gesture of "receiving" Communion in the hand.  Sure it is reception, of sorts, but it seems far more like a grasping at or taking from.

Finally, we desire that this go to the very heart of who we are, the inmost recesses, the secret place we all have which God knows better than we do, away from which we so often avert our inner eyes and ears.

Do all you can to make that inward flowing of graces God is offering to you, a straight and open path.  This is in large measure what Lent is for.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike says:

    “How wrong it seems to me the physical gesture of “receiving” Communion in the hand. Sure it is reception, of sorts, but it seems far more like a grasping at or taking from.”

    Which is why the phrase “taking Communion” is so wrong on the ears, and in fact…

  2. ikseret says:

    Can’t a priest use one of the optional prayers over the people found in the sacramentary?

  3. But… your hand is supposed to be flat. It’s an anti-grasp. Without bending your fingers back the opposite direction, you could hardly be less grasping. People can’t claim there’s all these crumbs and loose Hosts flying around one minute, and then claim that reception in the hand is all grabby the next. Makes no sense.

    Sigh. Clutching for arguments is silly. “Reception in the mouth is the default way of doing it” is the only argument needed. What else is there to say?

  4. rinkevichjm says:

    Given that penetralia refers to an inner shrine maybe better is

    O Lord, let Thy sacrament’s divine reception pour into our hearts’ inner shrines, and let it effect us participants powerfully.

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