WDTPRS: Saturday in the 5th Week of Lent

Deus, qui omnes in Christo renatos
genus electum et regale sacerdotium fecisti,
da nobis et velle et posse quod praecipis,
ut populo ad aeternitatem vocato
una sit fides cordium et pietas actionum.

In the Tridentinum there is a prayer from Holy Saturday after the 10th prophecy: Deus, qui diversitatem gentium in confessione tui nominis adunasti: da nobis, et velle, et posse quae praecipis; ut populo ad aeternitatem vocato, una sit fides mentium, et pietas actionum.   In the Gregorian Sacramentary in the Hadrianum manuscript this results on the Thursday in the Octave of Easter, when the Station is at XII Apostoli.

O God, who made all those reborn in Christ
to be a chosen race and a royal priesthood,
grant us both to desire and to be able to do what you command,
so that within the people called unto eternity
there may be one faith of hearts and one compassionate duty of actions.

The Angelic DoctorThe really hard phrase in this is pietas actionum.  We have on many occasions in the daily Lent series talked about pietas, and how hard it is to get into English, since “piety” just doesn’t sound right to our modern ears.

In a nutshell, when we talk about pietas as applied to us humans, we generally are referring to our duty, what we owe.  When pietas is used to describe God, we are usually speaking of His mercy towards us.  But, here we seems to have a confluence, whereby our duty is that of mercy to our neighbor as God is dutifully merciful to us His children.

If you are steeped in medieval things, or at least archaic usage of English, and know something of heraldry, you might remember the symbol of the pelican “in her piety”.  There is a symbol of Christ and His Church as a pelican who, in time of famine and drought, pierces her own breast with her bill to feed her chicks from her own blood.

Perhaps you have sung the hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) called Adoro Te devote, in which we find the words, “Pie pelicane, Iesu Domine, / me immundum munda tuo sanguine. … O compassionate pelican, Lord Jesus, cleanse me, unclean, in your blood.”

This sort of pietas harks to the sense of “duty” and mercy.  This is what she must do for her young out of mercy.

So, in the phrase una sit fides cordium et pietas actionum we have an expression of Christian wholeness.

Just interior faith alone does not suffice for the Christian life, nor do mere outward actions of charity and mercy.

Pope Benedict spoke to this in his first encyclical letter Deus caritas est.  All good outward actions are good not just because they are performed, but because they are performed from love, a deep sacrificial love which is charity and which imitates the Lord on the Cross.

But wait, there’s more!

Double checking led to the discovery that there was a change of Collect in the 2002MR.  Here is the Collect used in the Novus Ordo this day until the 2002 editio tertia.

Deus, qui, licet salutem hominum semper operaris,
nunc tamen populum tuum gratia abundantiore laetificas,
respice propitius ad electionem tuam,
ut piae protectionis auxilium
et regenerandos muniat et renatos.

The prayer in the edito typica altera of 1975 was not in a previous edition of the Missale Romanum.  It had precedent, however, in the Gelasian Sacramentary.

God our Father,
you always work to save us,
and now we rejoice in the great love
you give to your chosen people

No, folks.  That’s really it.   Let’s keep moving along with a chuckle.

O God, who have made all those reborn in Christ
a chosen race and a royal priesthood,
grant us, we pray, the grace to will and to do what you command,
that the people called to eternal life
may be one in the faith of their hearts
and the homage of their deeds

See what the new, corrected version does with that pietas actionum?  “Homage of their deeds”.

You decide.

As of tomorrow, we enter into the Passion with Palm Sunday.  Sweet Hosannas will ring, before we, as a Church, plunge into darkness.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The more I see the “God you are Big”-type lame duck translations currently in use, the more I do realise just how lame they are! November 27th cannot arrive soon enough.

  2. FrCharles says:

    Very interesting! When I began the post I had a little fright; I said, “That’s not the prayer I said from my 2002 Liturgia Horarum this morning–oh noes…I said the wrong office!” But then I got to the end about the change. Whew!

  3. JulieC says:

    Homage of their deeds? That doesn’t make sense from a literal or moral sense. Does that mean we’re supposed to praise our own actions?

    Pietas actionum, on the other hand, has a fine classical ring to it: Pietas, gravitas, dignitas and the other Roman virtues.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    I like “homage of their deeds.” “Piety” is a good word spoilt. “Homage” carries the same sort of medieval echoes as the pelican in her piety. She is the state seal for Louisiana, btw.

  5. pelerin says:

    I am a little confused – I do believe the new translation here is beautiful but is it really ‘O God who HAVE made?’ It does sound a little strange seemingly putting God in the plural. Is it because understood is ‘ O God, you who have made?’

  6. pelerin: Is it because understood is ‘ O God, you who have made?’

    Yes, indeed. That is it.

  7. Andrew says:

    It does sound a little strange …

    The problem is that commonly people no longer distinguish between “made” and “have made”. Folks will just say “Oh God, who made …” instead of “Oh God, who have made …” And come to think of it, the Latin does not say “have made” but “made”. “Have made” would be “feceras”. I think. (?)

  8. A little off topic, but the picture of the pelican was the inspiration for the flag of Louisiana. But keep that a secret so the aclu won’t sue them.

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