Aurem tuam, quaesumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda:
et mentis nostrae tenebras, gratia tuae visitationis illustra.
The multi-volume Corpus orationum says this prayer was, with variations, in numerous ancient manuscripts. The mickle Lewis & Short Dictionary says accommodo means “to fit or adapt one thing to another, to lay, put, or hang on”. In English “accommodations” are a place suited to our living needs. An “accommodating” person adjusts his world to suit our exigencies. In relation to property accommodo means: “to lend it to one for use”. In Classical Latin it is found, as in today’s prayer, with “ears”. Think of Marc Antony crying out in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (III,ii) , “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”. Mens means “the conscience” as well as “a plan, purpose, design, intention”. Mens points to our heart, mind and soul.
O Lord, lend your ear to our prayers, we beseech you, and by the grace of your visitation, illuminate the shadows of our mind.
God is infinite. Yet it is possible for us to call on a loving God to condescend and adapt to our needs. Our prayers are bound with God’s eternal self-knowledge, plan and providence. In the case of God “hearing” us, He knows what we want better than we know it ourselves. Consider also that the eternal Word, uttered from before time, is in our prayers and good words and deeds, echoing back to the Father.
If we are images of God, especially in our mens, God should be able to hear and recognize Himself in us. Our neighbor should look at us and hear us and see God reflected.
A second image in the prayer is from the contrast of illumination and darkness. Christ, the light to our darkness, moral and intellectual, is coming. With grace He adapts our minds and hearts to receive what is necessary for salvation. He adapts to us, in His incarnation. He adapts us to Him by grace.
There’s a nice Tudor (Anglican) anthem by Adrian Batten using this text, presumably from the Book of Common Prayer.
The anthem text is: Lord, we beseech thee,
give ear unto our prayers,
and by thy gracious visitation
lighten the darkness of our hearts,
by our Lord Jesus Christ.
This meditation is truly profound and comforting. So often, when I pray, I feel that I might be at odds with God’s Perfect Will. This interpretation of “lend” indicates that the all-loving God knows our very hearts and even places His desires there for us.
As a reader of the WDTPRS posts I ask that you keep posting these, Father. Also, please post pictures of your rose vestments tomorrow. Some of us are hoping that the pink won’t be too flourescent tomorrow at our Masses.
Beautiful explication, Father. I’ll echo Dr. Eric: thanks for these!
I really get a kick out of the bottomless fund of adjectives applied to L&S. Mickle is a good one.