WDTPRS Thursday in the 3rd Week of Advent: We’re all going to die!

The LordThis Collect was in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  In the 1962MR it was one of the prayers for Ember Saturday of Advent.  The cutting, snipping experts of Fr. Bugnini’s Consilium decided in their wisdom to add a word, salutari, for the version in the post-Conciliar editions of the Missal.

Indignos nos, quaesumus Domine, famulos tuos,
quos actionis propriae culpa contristat,
Unigeniti Filii tui adventu salutari laetifica

Note the antithesis in laetificare (“gladden”) and contristare (“sadden”).  Contristo, in our vast Lewis & Short Dictionary, means a range from things, from “to make sad, to sadden”, to “afflict” and “hurt, damage”.   I think we should try to hear all of these meanings in this rich word.   On the other hand, laetifico also means “to render fruitful”.  Rich contrasts.

O Lord, we implore,
by the saving arrival of Your Only-Begotten,
gladden us Your unworthy servants
whom the sins of our own actions have saddened

Unworthy servants that we are, O Lord,
grieved by the guilt of our deeds,
we pray that you may gladden us
by the saving advent of your Only Begotten Son

Unworthy servants that we are, O Lord,
disheartened by the guilt of our deeds,
we pray that you will gladden us
by the saving advent of your Only Begotten Son

I wonder if the translator didn’t fall partially into the trap of sticking too closely to Latin word order.  I think the effort was good, but….

You decide.

our sins bring us unhappiness.
[O for the love of God…. just one. more. year.]
Hear our prayer for courage and strength.
May the coming of your Son
bring us the joy of salvation

Roman Catholic Daily Missal (Angelus Press):
By the [saving] coming of Thine only-begotten Son,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
gladden us Thine unworthy servants
stricken sorrowful by the guilt of our misdeeds

“Stricken”!  OORAH!  The gets both “sadden” and “harm” pretty well!

In remember the especially shallow “prof” in my US seminary who categorized all human emotions as variations of “sad, mad, glad or scared”.   Yah… let’s talk about scared for a moment.

Advent is about the Second Coming and the general judgment.  Don’t lose track of that!

We will have an anticipation of the Second Coming if we die before the Lord returns (which is likely).  Our death is like a Second Coming, for that is when our particular judgment will take place.  Those who are not ready, or rather have neglected to prepare, will be sad indeed on that fearful day.  Sins, which have been so harmful, will make that soul sad indeed.  Sad indeed.

In that light, the word contristat grabbed by attention.   In the Preface for the Dead, we have this:

In quo nobis spes beatae resurrectionis effulsit: ut quos contristat certa moriendi conditio eosdem consoletur futurae immortalitatis promissio. Tuis enim fidelibus, Domine, vita mutatur, non tollitur: et dissoluta terrestris hujus incolatus domo, aeterna in coelis habitatio comparatur.  …  in Whom the hope of a blessed resurrections heath beamed upon us: so that those who are saddened by the certainty of dying to Thy faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not taken away; and when the home of this earthly sojorn is dissolved, an enternal dwelling is made ready in heaven.

Use your time of Advent, especially as we move into the greater days of Advent tomorrow, to reflect on your state of life and state of soul.

Are you ready for what will come?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Would anyone agree that 2010’s “grieved” might be a slight improvement over 2008’s “disheartened”? Or at least that this is (finally?) an example in which 2010 does not appear to be downhill from 2008.

  2. Jack Hughes says:

    boy I’m glad that perhaps (God Willing) this time next year I’ll be waiting to go to Wyoming where I won’t have to endure ICEL as a pennance.

    Certain priests say ‘why don’t we just wait’- I say why wait – lets introduce it now

  3. Lucas says:

    Love the Christ in Majesty picture!

  4. rfox2 says:

    Yes, the horrific ICEL version we’re living under needs to go away. The great treasury of Latin prayers in the Missal must be freed from bondage!

    I’m a beginning student in Latin. I know my attempt extremely literal which is not what you always want to do when translating (hey — wait, have we thought of just returning to strict use of Latin in the liturgy — oh yeah that’s been brought up hasn’t it?), here’s my attempt to translate this with as many tools as I can muster. Please correct me, and I realize this is very close to the corrected ICEL version:

    “Unworthy we are O Lord, your servants,
    who are grieved by our own sinful actions,
    we implore you gladden us
    by the saving advent of your only begotten Son.”

    This is a beautiful prayer. The pleading of the penitent is a moving scene before the Lord our Judge — “Unigeniti Filii tui adventu salutari…”. It’s hard to get the imperative to come out well in the English translation. Please send me corrections, Fr. Z. or anyone. — 7th0mistica@sbcglobal.net

  5. Geoffrey says:

    “Lord, our sins bring us unhappiness. Hear our prayer for courage and strength. May the coming of your Son bring us the joy of salvation.”

    When I prayed this prayer at the end of Lauds this morning I thought “what a nice prayer… and how true”. [It is a nice prayer. But it is not what the Latin says.] And then I visit WDTPRS and am completely blown away! I am tempted to print out the new collect prayers from the Missal and stick them in my Breviary, but that could get to be a bit cumbersome.

  6. Marcin says:

    Oh boy, my masculinity suffers from the sight of such magnificent physique of Christos Myokratis. I’m glad Our Lord’s sixpack is covered. ;)

    Now, there are indeed a lot of sixapacks to be seen on Byzantine icons, but those are non-realistic, if not plain weird, and so not distracting.

    The image in the apsis is one of the reasons I don’t particularly favor the Basilica in DC. Although, the crypt church is just fine. I guess I like the clutter of it.

  7. Cincinnati Priest says:

    For the American ear, at least, I like the translation of “grieved” for _contristat_ over “saddened”

    Partly because, in modern parlance, “saddened” has become such a weak word, as witnessed by
    Fr. Z’s mention of shallow seminary profs who use it as one of the “four basic feelings.” When I did my CPE as a seminarian (an experience that still gives me nightmares for its sheer silliness and bizarreness) my CPE director made it even more shallow than that, figuring all four had to rhyme.

    I distinctly remember being forced to “group share” what our feelings were any given day. If we said anything other than “mad, sad, glad OR bad” we were duly chided and he demanded that we recast it in light of one of the 4 feelings, or some combination thereof. I think he maybe even wanted us to put it on a one to ten scale, or something similarly bizarre.

    But I digress. The whole topic of abolishing CPE as a prerequisite for completing the formation process in an American seminary should perhaps be the topic of another post.

  8. Golatin5048 says:

    I was at mass this morning and when I was reading along in my daily missal, and heard and read when father said: “Lord, our sins bring us unhappiness.” I was like, really? does it really say that? I was just shocked. I can not believe it.

  9. dans0622 says:

    I heard the current version at Mass today and thought “What will Fr. Z say about this one?” Anyway, I rather like the corrected versions’ word order.

  10. Joan M says:

    Having come to realize the true banality of the ICEL translation, the prayers we are forced to endure literally scream at me!! I found myself mentally commenting on this prayer this morning, at Mass. I almost wished for the ignorance of the past……

    Roll on Advent 2011!!

  11. kallman says:

    I recognise the picture from behind the altar in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC at CUA which I visited last week from Sydney Australia

  12. TJerome says:

    That ICEL (Lameduck) translation sounds like something you would hear on “Romper Room.” They should have forced the translators to read their translations aloud to see if they could pass the “laugh-o-meter.”

  13. Dr. Eric says:

    Slightly off topic, but TCM lists the seven emotions that can harm the body if they become extreme: Joy, Fright, Anger, Worry, Sorrow, Fear, and Grief.

    Practitioners of Five Element Acupuncture consider 5 basic emotions: Joy, Sympathy, Grief, Fear, and Anger; each belonging to one of the 5 Chinese Elements (although Phases is a much better translation- Oriental Medicine suffers from bad translations too!) This is similar to the Galenic Medicine that St. John of Damascus refers to in one of his treatises which lists a personality type corresponding to one of the Greek elements, ie Sanguine, Choleric, etc…

  14. Tradster says:

    The Baronius Press Missal uses the same wording as the Angelus Press version. I agree with the preference for the word “stricken”.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Grieving, that we may lose eternal life with the Trinity and the Blessed Mother, cannot compare with unhappiness. Unhappiness may be our salvation, as well. I think of the Dies Irae of Mozart….and for another great image, check this out


  16. Tom in NY says:

    Cur oratio non loquitur, “… quaesumus laetificare” aut “…quaesumus ut…laetificet.”? Etiam contristare in honoris vocabulae manet.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  17. Tom in NY says:

    corrigendum: vocabulis, erratum: vocabulae.
    Cogitandum ante mittendum.

  18. It’s gotten to the point when I’m praying the LOTH privately, I use the Latin prayers instead of the English Translation, This one and “God we need your help” have closely made me laugh uncontrollably…Let’s just bring on the new translation already, or we can drop it and use the Latin originals

  19. frjim4321 says:

    ICEL 1998 Abandoned

    Lord God,
    our faults weigh us down
    and our sins make us unworthy of you;
    but gladden our hearts by the birth of your only Son,
    for he comes to bring us salvation.

    Not very inspiring, but better than ICEL 1974.

  20. rakesvines says:

    Your English “translation” flows more smoothly without diluting the original prayer. It is one thing to translate word for word and construct the sentence mechanically from the Latin; it is another to get the meaning and express it faithfully in another language. You do the latter and so not much is lost. I wonder if there’s a term for that besides translate.

    I attached a link for your readers to situate that mosaic with a statue of our Lady at the Basilica for perspective i.e. the Divinity of the Son vis-a-vis the humanity of His mother. Even the proportion and the media artistically represent that theological reality.


  21. rakesvines says:

    The link does take the reader directly. They will need to click on the upper Church #52 – the Baldachin Altar.

  22. RichR says:

    Yes, these translations by ICanEviscerateLatin are as mundane and unhelpful as usual, but what about the Latin originals? No one here, in their eagerness to embrace the upcoming improved English translations, has mentioned Fr.Z’s observation about the alteration of the prayer.

    By adding the word salutari, are we now to believe that Christ comes to save us all, independent of our preparation for his arrival? Does this de-emphasis of Christ as Judge hasten or delay our self-examination and rectification of un-Christian living? Does it inspire apostolic zeal or cozy chuminess with Our Blessed Lord? Does He come to save all? If not, then should we unilaterally label his coming as “saving”? It is not a petition to save us, it is a declaration.

    I’m just asking…..

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