WDTPRS – Tuesday of Holy Week – COLLECT

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
da nobis ita dominicae passionis sacramenta peragere,
ut indulgentiam percipere mereamur.

This prayer was in the 1962MR on Tuesday of Holy Week.  It was in the Hadrianum and Paduenese of the ancient Gregorian Sacramentary for the same day, when the Station is at Santa Prisca.  So, it seems that today we have a prayer which cutters and snippers of the Novus Ordo didn’t "improve".  They left it on the same day as it had always been, and didn’t change or cut out any words.

The verb perago means, according to the dark blue bound Lewis & Short Dictionary, in its fundamental sense “to thrust through, pierce through, transfix”.   It can then come to mean by logical extension “to drive about, harass, disturb, disquiet, agitate, annoy a person or thing”.  However, in our context here, it is probably “to carry through, go through with, execute, finish, accomplish, complete”.    However, I ought to reminder readers and even comment posters this blog, as well as myself, that mentio non fit expositio as one of my old profs used to shout.  I cut now to the chase with Blaise/Dumas  who says perago is “célébrer” as in “célébrer les mystères de la Passion du Seigneur”.

The verb percipio is “to take wholly, to seize entirely”.  Often when you see a prepositional prefix per on verbs, you get an intensification of the concept of the verb.  At the same time percipio is “to perceive, observe” and “to feel” and “to learn, know, conceive, comprehend, understand, perceive”.    Blaise/Dumas gives us “recevoir (l’eucharistie)”.  I think this gets us close to the meaning for our prayer. 
Almighty everlasting God,
grant us so to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion,
that we may merit to receive pardon.

The words peragere and percipere underscore the intensity with which we ought to participate in the sacred mysteries especially during this Holy Week.  The per prefix suggests to us a thoroughness of our participation, the one per leading to the other per through the connect of the itaut.   The peragere is an invitation to us to participate in the mysteries of Holy Week in a way that is “full, conscious and active”, especially in the interior sense.  In this way we can more completely grasp in all senses of that word what the Lord has to offer to us. 

The Second Person of the Trinity took up our human nature and came into this world to reveal man more fully to himself (Gaudium et spes 22).  Our participation in the sacred mysteries at all times of the year help us to grasp and perceive many things.  We learn about ourselves, we learn about the magnalia Dei, we grasp and perceive the fruits and graces of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, we deepen our grasp of the content of the Faith.  The content is both things we can learn and contemplate and, more deeply, the divine Person of the Lord Himself. 

One of the most important things we grasp, as our prayer reminds us, is pardon for our many and black sins which merit hell.  By improving of our grasp on Christ, and allowing His grasp on us, His merit becomes our merit and thus we can receive the saving pardon He grasped for us on the Cross.

may we receive your forgiveness and mercy
as we celebrate the passion and death of the Lord

No.  Really.  It is.

It might be a good idea to meditate a bit on the 1 Cor 11:29-31, in which Paul talks about “discerning” the Body and Blood of the Lord before our reception.  The Greek verb diakrino for “discern” doesn’t quite match in exact meaning the force of percipio but there is a conceptual connection between discerning verbs.  In any event, this verse came to mind and it is good to examine ourselves carefully in this regard.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in WDTPRS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. FrCharles says:

    Mentio non fit expositio! Love it. I’ll use it too, with attribution. One thing I’ve begun to think about lately is the need for catechesis on just what we mean by our use of the word “celebrate” in English when it comes to the faith and the liturgy. I think about this because I have noticed in preaching that sometimes words aren’t heard in the same senses they are spoken. “Mystery” is my most usual example. The sense of peragere and percipere in this prayer helps. Thanks!

  2. MargaretC says:

    Father, as a struggling Latinist, I really enjoy and appreciate your analyses of the collects. Please keep up the good work.

  3. Sixupman says:

    During this period I use a pocketbook sized Holy Week Book with a January 1913 Imprimatur. On certain days are prayers for persecuted church and Pope.I look to my 1962 Missal and find nothing in such respect. The Holy Week Book prayers appear extremely appropriate at this time. Naturally, the full Tridium is included in the pocketbook. Some years ago, in Durham, UK, an itinerant priest regularly celebrated the full Tridium as had been discarded and very moving it was.

Comments are closed.