WDTPRS Thursday in the 2nd Week of Lent (2002MR) – steadfastness and the human heart

In the older, pre-conciliar Missal, today’s Collect was used on Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Lent as an Oratio super populum or “Prayer over the people” which followed the Post Communions of the Mass. As such, take note that the priest in praying does not refer to “us” and “we” as he does in normal Collects.   He prayers for the people on their behalf. This lends a different impact to today’s prayer.

Deus, innocentiae restitutor et amator,
dirige ad te tuorum corda servorum,
ut, Spiritus tui fervore concepto,
et in fide inveniantur stabiles,
et in opere efficaces.

The prayer has ancient roots in the Gelasian Sacramentary for the 7th day in the Octave of Easter though the prayer was somewhat different (Deus, innocentiae restitutor et amator, dirige ad te tuorum corda famulorum, ut quos de infidelitatis tenebris liberasti, numquam a tuae veritatis luce discedant). The second half of today’s prayer comes from another prayer in the Gelasian, from vespers in the Octave of Pentecost (Deus, qui discipulis tuis spiritum sanctum paraclytum in ingis fervore tui amoris mittere dignatus es, da populis tuis in unitate fidei esse ferventes, ut in tua semper dilectione permanentes et in fide inveniantur stabilies et in opere efficaces).

Now you know the rest of the story…. as your eyeballs roll up into your head, drool trickles onto the keyboard… your head lolls back and snaps forward again.

“Fervor”, in English, is a a bit weak in conveying the impact of Latin fervor, “a boiling or raging heat, a violent heat, a raging, boiling, fermenting”. It stands for “ardor, passion”.

We are going to have to really think about concipio. This verb has many meanings. In English we have the same problem with “conceive”, which mean “become pregnant” or “perceive with the mind”. Concipio is in its most fundamental sense “to take or lay hold of, to take to one’s self, to take in, take, receive”. Logically there extends from this fundamental meaning a physical idea of fecundation and an intellectual or sensory idea of “to take or seize something by the sense of sight, to see, perceive” and “to comprehend intellectually, to take in, imagine, conceive, think”. Then we take another conceptual step (sorry, about that) to “to receive in one’s self, adopt, harbor any disposition of mind, emotion, passion, evil design, etc., to give place to, foster, to take in, receive; to commit”.

O God, restorer and lover of innocence,
guide unto You the hearts of Your servants,
so that, once the ardor of Your Spirit has been taken in,
they may be found both to be steadfast in faith
and efficacious at work.

This prayer brings me to think of baptism and also the sacrament of penance.

In baptism, we are forgiven the original sin of which we are guilty by our being children of our first parents. When Adam and Eve sinned, the whole race sinned, but it just happens that the whole race was only two members. God restores us to a state of friendship with Him, of innocence, even though it is not the original innocence of the time before the fall. Baptism removes the stain of original sin and also of all the actual sins we have committed. The Holy Spirit makes His dwelling in our souls with the Father and the Son. In a sense the Holy Spirit is “conceived” in our souls, in the various senses of that word.

When we drive the indwelling Spirit from our souls through mortal sin, it can be restored to us through the sacrament of penance, when Christ Himself in the person of the priest, alter Christus, completely removes the sins from our soul, restoring us to God’s friendship.

There are may things in this changing and shifting world which can erode the steadfastness of a human heart. This world by its very nature is passing. If we give our hearts to these passing things, or set them in the place that belongs to the One who is eternal and ever faithful, we will be lost forever. When we are attached overly to the passing things of this world we cannot be effective in our work, in the vocation God conceived for us from before the creation of the universe.

O God, who delight in innocence and restore it,
direct the hearts of your servants to yourself,
that, caught up in the fire of your Spirit,
we may be found steadfast in faith
and effective in work

God of love, [You must be joking.  Really?]
bring us back to you.
Send your Spirit to make us strong in faith,
and active in good works

You decide.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    God of love, [You must be joking. Really?]

    It was the 70’s, Father. You need to chill and just let the groove lead you where it will! You’re just too rigid, man.



    And need I point out again, that these were the same people who fabricated the new missal? Have I mentioned that already? The hip music, the polyester vestments, the …um…free?..translations, the habitless religious, the magisterium of nuns, and THE NEW MISSAL — it all came from the same source, in one package, probably with a lava lamp thrown in for good measure. It’s time to leave the experiment behind.

  2. skull kid says:

    The lame duck ICEL has become a running joke Father. I’ve stopped rolling my eyes though, I just want the new translation!

  3. Widukind says:

    Hieronymus – do not forget the shag carpet and the fondue pot, as consolation prizes.

    [Lava lamps?]

  4. Once again, the old ICEL “translation” is not a translation at all, but something totally other than the original.

  5. UncleBlobb says:

    …. as your eyeballs roll up into your head, drool trickles onto the keyboard… your head lolls back and snaps forward again.
    Oh no, dear Father, not at all. Thank you for magnificent work, and please complete the collection of the entire cycle. I want you to know that before being made familiar with the E.F., and before I became practically addicted to your blog, I never followed the Mass as closely, or payed attention to the proper prayers very much. Now I do. [Bless you. That is one of the best things I have read in an age.] I follow along at each O.F. of the Mass as I do with my full Missal at the E.F. of the Mass, sometimes as a life preserver, but always as a way to enter ever more into the Mystery, and in communion with Him and others. I am always now thinking when I see the Collect or Offertory or Communion prayers in my Magnificat: “Now I wonder what that really is?” But I still appreciate it and pray it, and knowing that you are out here proclaiming these prayers, and many others, and that the translation is on the way, are great signs of hope to me. I’m love history and the background you provide for these prayers and the Mass is of great benefit. And I can’t help but think that the Holy Ghost is in charge in spite of the O.F. changes, and that He will make things the way He wants them, and on His own schedule. Thank you again!

  6. Hieronymus says:

    [Lava lamps?] — Fr. Z.

    Ahem. Father, I had already included the lava lamps in the original rant. I think the shag carpet was a nice addition. We could really double down and add vestments made with shag carpeting. I would also add earthy ceramic “chalices” (though “cup” was more the flavor of the day).

    I just remembered the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, but was disappointed to see that their website has shut down. Surely there is as much need now for their important work as there ever has been. Or perhaps we should take this as a sign of the improvement made in liturgical music during this pontificate?

  7. APX says:

    Uncle Blobb is right about the paying attention part. I used to drift off and start to count whatever I could find in sight worth counting, but I too pay attention more and when I get to go to the EF mass, it makes it possible to know what each Sunday is about (I’m not a follow along in the missal type of person). Your blog has changed the way I see what being Catholic actually means, granted that gets me into arguments at home because my family are very liberal Catholics, but I digress.

    Thanks again for your hard efforts!

  8. Tony Layne says:

    The more I see of the new, corrected collects, the more I look forward to the implemetation of the new missal. Not only closer in language, but also closer in spirit (or shall we say Spirit?), with a definite Catholic “crunch” to them. Did we really have to wait forty years for this? Thanks for all the drilling and unpacking that you do!

  9. Melody says:

    Is it bad that I exclaimed “epic fail!” upon reading the old ICEL version? This is what happens when nerds love liturgy.

  10. APX says:

    Is it bad that I exclaimed “epic fail!” upon reading the old ICEL version?

    I don’t know, but when I read it, I was reminded of how I used to start off any prayer we had to write in primary school. I usually started mine off with “God of love” or ” Loving God” or something else along those lines. This means that either at the tender ages of 6 and 7 I was as proficient at writing prayers as ICEL, or ICEL’s prayer re-writing abilities were as a good as a primary student.

  11. q7swallows says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for your *example* of drilling.   

    Yesterday’s 1st reading from Jeremiah really caught my attention because I’ve been identifying very much this week with the cursed man in Jer. 17:5-6.

    Decided to “pull a Fr. Z” and drill (at least in English) into a word I didn’t know:  TAMARISK — to better understand the passage.  

    WOW!  What a return on my little investment!  

    Did you know that a tamarisk (or salt cedar) is a noxious, invasive, ornamental shrub weed that sucks large amounts of water out of already fragile desertic ecosystems and creates and even exudes large amounts of salt and acids that prevent other plant growth?  Not only that, but this SELF-sowing shrub shades out other potential turfbuilding plants (perpetuating desertic conditions), and provides food for tarantula hawk wasps and perches for raptors.  Nice, huh?  But on the positive side, apparently it makes fragrant firewood . . . .  

    Now, applied to the spiritual life . . . WHAT a fitting image of a rebel heart and how poisonous it is in so many ways!

     The truth ain’t pretty sometimes but if I hadn’t drilled, I probably would have continued on my vague destructive course, leaving nothing but salt & smoke behind . . .

  12. q7swallows says:

    A great new song: “Blessings” by Laura Story

  13. teomatteo says:

    I must agree with UncleBlobb. Before I discovered Fr. Z’z site i didnt have a clue that these prayers had any significance. The priest would recite them so quickly i came to think of them as transition verbage from standing to sitting, kneeling, etc. So with this site’s insight into these prayers the mass became richer and drew me into the reality of the liturgy. Goodness. Beauty. Truth.

  14. Matariel says:

    I don’t know very much about linguistics, but shouldn’t it be “O God, who delight[s] in innocence and restore[s] it” to be grammatically correct? Or am I missing something? [We don’t say “You delights”, we say “You delight”.]

    Either way, it’s way better than the lame-duck translation, that’s for sure.

  15. dervorin says:

    God is not of love, God IS love.

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