WDTPRS Tuesday in Holy Week: strengthening our grasp on Christ, His grasp on us

[A special note for priests alone at the end.  Nobody else look! o{];¬) ]

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 The Redactors of the Novus Ordo didn’t fiddle around with.  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 remind 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 “célèbrer” as in “célèbrer 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.

As the Council document Gaudium et spes 22 tells us, and this was a contribution of the young bishop Karol Wojtyla, the Second Person of the Trinity took up our human nature and came into this world to reveal man more fully to himself.

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 strengthening our grasp on Christ, and His grasp on us, His merit becomes our merit and thus we can receive the saving pardon He grasped for us on the Cross.

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 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.

Almighty ever-living God,
grant us so to celebrate
the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion
that we may merit to receive your pardon

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

Think about this: today is the last time we will have to hear that in church.


Think again about that verb percipio.  Then think about the prayer we, many of us at least, say before our own reception of Communion during Holy Mass.

Perceptio Corporis et Sanguinis tui, Domine Iesu Christe, non mihi proveniat in iudicium et condemnationem; sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis et ad medelam percipiendam.

1962 Missale Romanum version:
Let not the partaking [perceptio] of Your Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, unworthy, presume to receive [quod ego indignus sumere praesumo] turn out to be unto my judgment and condemnation: but by Your goodness, may it become a protection of soul and body and remedy to be grasped/received [percipiendam] .…

The older version stresses the priest’s, our, unworthiness.

Our hands and eyes and mouths, Fathers, are close to the Eucharistic species on the altar.

Our breath touches them as we recite this prayer.

We are speaking not to Christ present in the Host and chalice under the humble appearance of bread and wine, but beyond them and in them and through them to the High Priest Christ glorious and reigning in heaven.  Alter Christus in Christi persona. Even that per-sona refers to the sound moving through the ancient actor’s mask to characterize and amplify the sound.

Baptism washed away our sins, Fathers, but it didn’t remove the wounds to our souls and bodies.  We say this prayer bent down as sinners in need of a Savior, not as the “lords” of what done at the altar or Who is on the altar inches before our eyes.

In this prayer, with its conclusion, we priests must be mindful of our fallen and sinful state even as we – not allowed even to lift our eyes – hope for glory to come, the very purpose of our Mass.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    So does that mean that I have to destroy my computer’s hard drive since this top secret information was downloaded to it? We mustn’t forget about remnence security, after all…


  2. markomalley: I’m afraid so.

    But, since this is a time of self-emptying, you can get away with one of those data shredders and then a deep reformat of the drive.

  3. anna 6 says:

    Beautiful, thank you Father. Your podcasts and translation comparisons have been most helpful.

    Also, I love your punctuation illustration of priest wearing a biretta! Did you create that?! How clever!

  4. jasoncpetty says:

    Ouch, that moving banner almost blinded me. I felt like I was on some kid’s myspace page.

  5. APX says:

    Ouch, that moving banner almost blinded me. I felt like I was on some kid’s myspace page.

    It messed up my eyes trying to read it backwards without it being in mirror image. I can do it with non-moving text, but it disorrientated my eyes, thus making it impossible to read that double top secret note for priests.

    Scrolling marquees are supposed to scroll from right to left, so you can read the text from left to right. This must be an enhanced security feature to prevent us from being able to read that secret note. Kinda like how I write my confession list in mirror image to make it hard for peering eyes to read.

  6. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I’m left handed so I can read backwards anyway. But now I have to gouge out my eyes cuz I read the secret message. But that’s okay, blind musicians are common.

  7. Banjo: Please also cut out your tongue and chop off your fingers, just to be sure. You’ll want to do that after the eye thing. Thanks in advance!

    I hope you get this in time.

  8. Mindyleigh says:

    I am a novice to the TLM but experienced with the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. I did not know that the prayers prior to Holy Communion in the Byzantine rite are so similar to those in the TLM. I have, since my first Divine Liturgy, believed very much that that prayer or something equally thorough should be in every rite, so as to ensure not only adequate preparation prior to Communion but ongoing catechesis about what is happening at Mass. So after the elevation of the Eucharist and prior to Holy Communion, I pray the prayer from the Byzantine Liturgy.

  9. Ed the Roman says:

    I want you to know that I will not divulge that note even under torture.

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