WDTPRS Friday in the 4th Week of Lent: perfect example of a glued together prayer

Novus Ordo Composition Tools

Today’s Collect (Ordinary Form) was not in the pre-Concilar Missale Romanum.

Deus, qui fragilitati nostrae congrua subsidia praeparasti,
concede, quaesumus, ut suae reparationis effectum
et cum exsultatione suscipiat,
et pia conversatione recenseat.

This had me scratching my head. Once I looked up all the references, I knew why. This prayer is a perfect example of a cut and paste job and it just doesn’t stick together well.

A predecessor is in the Gelasian SacramentaryConcede, quaesumus, domine, fragilitate nostrae sufficientiam conpetentem, ut suae reparationis effectum et pia conuersatione recenseat et cum exultatione suscipiat: per. This collect is from two places in the Gelasian, Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent and Septuagesima.

The “et fragilitati nostrae congrua praeparasti subsidia” is in the Veronese in April and references to fragilitas and pia conversatio in a prayer in July.

Subsidium is, as we see so often during Lent, military language. It means, “the troops stationed in reserve in the third line of battle (behind the principes), the line of reserve, reserve-ranks, triarii“. Thus, it is “support, assistance, aid, help, protection, etc.”. A reparatio is “a restoration, renewal”. Recenseo is “to count, enumerate, number, reckon, survey” and “to go over in thought, in narration, or in critical treatment, to reckon up, recount, review, revise”. Blaise/Dumas says “recolere, rappeler, célèbrer le souvenir de…”. But there is in the entry no reference to our prayer, which I find puzzling.

Scissors - another toolConversatio is a super-charged word in Christian literature, which has to do with “manner of life”, how one comports himself. This is often used in monastic literature. I now have also at my fingertips the helpful big dictionary of the indefatigable Albert Blaise, the Dictionnarie Latin-Francais des Auteurs Chrétiens reworked by Henri Chirat. This lexical tool is out of print, so I can’t suggest you buy it any time soon.  Blaise/Chirat shows that Patristic sources handle conversatio in a moral sense of conversio as well as “genre de vie” or “way of life”.

Pius, in the mighty Lewis & Short is “honest, upright, honorable” and “benevolent, kind, gentle, gracious”. With respect to God it points to His mercy. In respect to man, in much Latin literature, it point to his interior and exterior response to duty, the exigencies he faces.

The suae refers back to something feminine, which leaves a single candidate, fragilitas nostra.

The problem with cutting and pasting a prayer together is that you don’t get much of a unified “vision” from it.

This is a good prayer, don’t get me wrong, but it is not in the same league as some of the ancient integral works we have seen, even having endured slight changes from The Redactors.

O God, who readied suitable helps for our fragility,
grant, we beg, that it may both catch up
the effect of its own renewal in exultation,
and sum it up in upright conduct of life.


What on earth does this mean?

I think we need …

O God, who prepared the helps proportional to our (sin induced) frailty,
grant, we beg You, that our (
sin induced) frailty
may both take up in joy the effect of its own renewal
(that effect being the Passion and Resurrection)

and also critically express (our sin induced frailty) by means of a proper manner of living.

The “effect of our renewal” is the impact of the merits of Jesus’ Passion, Resurrection and subsequent Ascension to the right hand of the Father. The “congruent helps” are the mysteries of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection. These are our two hinges.

The sin of our First Parents opened a chasm between us and God which no mere human being (very limited) could bridge or repair. This reparation or renewal required a human being (because of justice) but no mere human was proportioned to the work of our salvation. So, from unfathomable love, God stepped into and over the chasm. In the fullness of time, the Second Person took our humanity into an indestructible bond with His divinity. Only the God/man could repair the rift. The Passion and Resurrection are the “congruent helps”, proportional to such an effect of reparation/renewal.

Realization of this must have a consequence for our lives. It must transform us. The effect, which is interior, must find outward expression. We feel joy interiorly and this must be expressed outwardly. The reordering of the disorder of our soul is an interior and invisible effect, but that effect must be brought to outward expression in proper conduct of life.

That is, I believe, what is going on in this very odd snipped and pasted prayer.

O God, who have prepared
fitting helps for us in our weakness,
grant, we pray, that we may receive
their healing effects with joy
and reflect them in a holy way of life

Okay.  That’s better than the…

Father, our source of life,
you know our weakness.
May we reach out with joy to grasp your hand
and walk more readily in your ways

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I can actually feel myself frolicking gayfully (as in the correct definition of happily) through the wheat fields as I read the old obsolete version.

  2. Flos Carmeli says:

    The more “WDTPRS” posts I read explicating different Mass prayers in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary form (BTW, thank you, Father!), the more I find myself sighing over the closing prayers and the intersessions in the Liturgy of the Hours, which bear a striking and sad resemblance to the the “old, obsolete versions” of the Mass collects. So, when will there be a “new translation” of the Liturgy of the Hours?

  3. NoraLee9 says:

    Jettison the LOH and get thee a Breviary.

  4. Flos Carmeli says:

    I know this is airing my ignorance, but what is the difference? I am under the impression that I can either use the 1970 one promulgated under Pope Paul VI, or the one previous to that, in Latin. Is this correct?
    I belong to the Secular Discalced Carmelites, so in any case, I would have to use the same Divine Office (the 1970 one) as the rest of the Order when praying with my community…..

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