WDTPRS: Last Days of Advent: 21 December – “majesty which transforms us”

Here is the Collect for 21 December.  Remember, that in the Novus Ordo, the Last Days of Advent, from 17-24 December, shift in focus in the Collects to images of light and glory, moving the listener to attend to the great mystery about to be celebrated.  The prayers are in substance from the ancient Rotulus of Ravenna.

Preces populi tui, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi,
ut, qui de Unigeniti tui in nostra carne adventu laetantur,
cum venerit in sua maiestate,
aeternae vitae praemium consequantur.

This prayer is similar to a Post Communion in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary during the “tenth month” (“Decem”-ber). Remember that laetor is deponent.

Graciously hear the prayers of Your people, we beseech You, O Lord,
so that those who are rejoicing about the Coming of Your Only-Begotten in our flesh,
may attain the reward of eternal life
when He will have come in His majesty.

As we have seen many times, the prayers of Advent look in two directions, back to the historic moment of the Nativity of the Lord and also forward to the moment when He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.

The prayer juxtaposes caro (“flesh”) and maiestas (“glory” or “majesty”). The maiestas here refers to the characteristic of God we see at times revealed in Scripture as, for example, when Moses encounters God in the cloud on the mountain or in the tent of the ark. The encounter with God’s majestic glory (Greek doxa, Hebrew kabod) transforms Moses flesh so that it is so bright that he must wear a veil over his face. The Lord, when He comes, will transform everything in His presence and our sight of Him in the bosom of the Trinity in the Beatific Vision will transform our human flesh forever.

The prayer is also careful to link joy with prayer, as if prayer would be a sine qua non for joy.

Rhetorical question alert:

Can someone who does not pray truly be happy?

Listen with clemency, we pray, O Lord,
to the prayers of your people,
that those who rejoice at the coming
of your Only-begotten Son in our flesh
may, when he comes in his glory,
receive the reward of eternal life.

Hear in kindness, O Lord,
the prayers of your people,
that those who rejoice
at the coming of your Only Begotten Son in our flesh
may, when at last he comes in glory,
gain the reward of eternal life

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The word clemency has a different meaning than kindness. Kindness implies gentleness between equals, whereas clemency implies kindness from someone of a higher status reaching down, as it were, to one lower. A king shows clemency or a judge. The word denotes a stronger relationship based on the hierarchy of God’s mercy towards us lowly creatures. The necessity of realizing that we rely both on God’s Mercy and His Justice finds a better expression in clemency.

    And, no, a person cannot be truly happy and definitely not joyful without a life of prayer.

  2. Dave N. says:

    Recall that in Hebrew, for the famous begadkefat letters (b, g, d, k, p and t) the stops only occur at the beginning of syllables when immediately preceded by another consonant. (So it’s “kavod” instead of “kabod.”)

  3. Cathy says:

    Without prayer, I don’t think its possible to be happy or at peace. I think people try to be happy, or to act happy, but I think it leads to terrible loneliness even when you are surrounded by people you love and consider friends. I think part of the mystery of faith is that God knows us better than we know ourselves and without Him it is impossible to know ourselves.

  4. jaykay says:

    Supertradmum: yes, I agree that “Hear in kindness” is not the best rendition of “clementer exaudi”. I think it’s reaching back a bit into the spirit of the bad ol’ days (*shudder*)

    That said, I think apart from that the rhythm of the new version is very good and it reads easily.

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