WDTPRS 3rd Sunday after Epiphany – Do It Yourself Edition!

The Post Communion of today’s Mass, on this 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, is spectacular:

Quos tantis, Domine, largiris uti mysteriis: quaesumus; ut effectibus nos eorum veraciter aptare digneris.

Let’s see if you, perhaps collectively, can do something along the lines of my WDTPRS offerings.

So… get to work.

What is the origin of this prayer, if any? Is it in an ancient source?

Notice anything about the style? Rhythm? Tropes?

Any interesting vocabulary? Constructions? What might they tell you about a deeper text in the text?

What practical application might we find in it?

There are your canvas, brushes, colors, pallets…

So… go ahead, paint.

Please share this post!

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18 Responses to WDTPRS 3rd Sunday after Epiphany – Do It Yourself Edition!

  1. Andrew says:

    This post communion prayer for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary. (According to some internet website.)

    Quos tantis, Domine, largiris uti mysteriis: quaesumus; ut effectibus nos eorum veraciter aptare digneris.

    First, let’s restructure the entire prayer to a more anglicized word order, even though we shall in that process diminish it somewhat. So here it is:

    Qaesumus Domine, ut (nos) quos tantis mysteriis uti largiris: effectibus eorum nos veraciter digneris aptare.

    Translation: We pray Lord, that (us) whom you grant to use such mysteries: dein to make us truly suitable for their result.

    OK. That didn’t work. There is no literal translation possible, in my opinion, so let’s break it up instead to smaller pieces.

    “Quaesumus” might by rendered as “we beseech”. “Uti” is somewhat similar to our “to use” except that the Latin “uti” conveys the notion of “having the usage of something” instead of “using something”. Minor difference but not unimportant. Therefore the phrase “largiris tantis uti mysteriis” might be best rendered as “you grant us the usage of such mysteries”. Christ is the true actor Who grants those who perform the liturgical action to act in His name and person, hence they are granted to be availed of the “usage of such mysteries” – “uti tantis mysteriis”. The word “tantis” carries a connotation of “so great”. So to say “such mysteries” doesn’t fully capture the “tantis mysteriis”. It would be better to say “such great mysteries”. But English would tend to put that into singular: “so great a mystery”. It often happens that things that sit well in singular, in English, sit much better in plural in Latin, and vice versa. Moving along: “largiri” is best rendered in English as “lavish” – to give in abundance, to shower someone with generosity. It is related to our “large”. The second part of the prayer starts with “effectus” which can be put in English as “effect”. But the underlying concept has to do with completion. “Efficio” means “to work something out” or “to build something” hence “effectus” is the state of having worked something out. God grants us to use “so great a mystery” but we also need to ask that the consequence of that usage be brought to fruition in us, by being made “apt” or “suitable” for the final result. Which reminds me of St. Paul writing to Philippians that “God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” it out. And St. Jerome in his letter “against Pelagian” argues that one cannot even spit or pick his nose without divine help. Which brings me to my final comment: I am not a crypto Pelagian. Yet, it doesn’t excuse me from having to try to obey the commandments. The good result is the work of divine grace, but negligence and failure is due to my culpability. There is no option to say: “hey, I can’t be good therefore I don’t have to try”. Instead, one has to say: “Lord, I cannot do it without your help. Be with me always”.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. jameeka says:

    Thank you, Andrew. Without knowing Latin, I looked up each word separately–the only other online reference I found was : “remarks on the vocabulary of ancient orations in the Missale romanum”.
    One question–I read that the post communion prayer(s) were added later in the Church, and that there may have been 2 kinds?

  3. TopSully says:

    Totally unqualified to read this in Latin, let alone translate or understand it. But I did find the English in my Missal.

    Father, I rarely comment here when you post these and do the work for us, but I do always find them interesting and enlightening. After a couple of years now I do find I am getting the gist of some of these from week to week as certain words and word combinations are repeated. I like trying to at least figure out some of it before I read your translation and explanation.

    Andrew, thanks for your work on this one.

    [Thanks for the comment, Top.]

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Andrew’s interpretation is dauntingly good. (Andrew, where did you find the sacramentary source of the prayer? I tried, but couldn’t find a link.)

    It’s interesting that in many post-communions we find ‘mysteria’ (mysteries) where we’d naturally call it ‘mystery’ in the singular. Perhaps this is a more ancient tradition of perception, of classical religious experience? We tend to think of the Mass as a single unified temporal event of Eucharistic sacrifice/ transubstantiation), but there are several mysteries, including the cleansing power of penance and submission to God’s will, the Offering of Christ to the Father, the Communion of the Living and the Dead, the universal Church, the Trinity, the power of repeated invocation, and of musical incantation…

    Or perhaps was it just that the Latin plural was borrowed in early Christian times from the more ancient pagan rites where ‘mysteries’ and ‘rites’ were a more customary form than the singular ‘mystery’ and rite’?

  5. lana says:

    Fr Z, Andrew, thank you!

    It wouldn’t be Sunday without WDTPRS!

  6. Andrew says:

    Vecchio di Londra:

    (“where did you find …”)

    Here is what I did:

    search on Google for “gelasian sacramentary liber sacramentorum”
    enter the “archive.org” website produced by Google search
    ask for “pdf” form of the gelasian sacramentary
    search for “veraciter aptare digneris” in the Google search window of the book

    [Good search: That’s a unique phrase. If there is something out there, that would likely find it.]

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    I have zero skills in latin. That forces me to do what people lacking skills do: learn the skill, or cheat. In the interest of time, I’m going with the latter. My 1956 St. Joseph missal does not have the latin for the Postcommunion, but it does have the English.

    “We, O Lord, to whom Thou grantest the use of mysteries so great, beseech Thee to render us truly fitted to obtain their effect.”

    I’ll take a stab at a practical application, but fair warning – I lack any particular talent or expertise in this area so I tend to over-simplify such attempts.

    I’m thinking that since this is a post(after) Communion prayer, it would seem to make sense that the mysteries of Transubstantiation, in conjunction with all of the mysteries of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (remission of sins, the collect(ing) of our prayers by the priest, the exchange of our prayers and incense being lifted up to Heaven and the Lord accepting our offerings and sending down His Mercy and Forgiveness upon us, to name a few) these are the mysteries that God graciously grants us the use of for our salvation. Since we can do nothing to merit the use of them, we beg the Lord to make us “fit to obtain their effect”.

    That’s the best I can come up with for a “text within a text” or a mystery within a mystery. I apologize in advance because it sounds inadequate even as I read it back to myself.

  8. Bea says:

    According to my English/Latin TLM Missal pre-V2 the English translation reads:
    “Grant, Lord, that we, who by your generosity, are admitted to frequent these great mysteries, may be made fit to profit by them as we ought; through Our Lord”

    According to Catholic Encyclopedia the Post Communion (originally meant as a Thanksgiving but evolved into a Petition) and is supposed to tie in with the Collect readings of the day: the Collect being:
    “Almighty and Everlasting God, look with favor on our weakness, and stretch forth the Right Hand of Your Majesty to help us; through Our Lord…..”

    The Latin that you posted, Father:
    “Quos tantis, Domine, largiris uti mysteriis: quaesumus; ut effectibus nos eorum veraciter aptare digneris.” is exactly as read in my husband’s Saint Andrew Daily Missal version and the English translation is:

    “Vouchsafe, we pray Thee, O Lord, that we who of Thy Bounty frequent these Great Mysteries, may be made worthy to enjoy their fruits, through Our Lord”

    The Collect that it ties into reads almost verbatim with the pre-V2 Collect:
    WOW, I really liked the St. Andrew’s version better. I’d never noticed the difference. I think I’ll get this version for myself.

    Any interesting vocabulary? Constructions? What might they tell you about a deeper text in the text?
    The deeper text shows me, our utter dependance on God. We are weak. He is Omnipotent.

    What practical application might we find in it?
    In our helplessness, we must not despair, but rely totally on God’s bounty. It leads us to Faith in Him as when Peter began to sink, when Peter doubted that his Trust in God was enough to walk on water.
    Peter stopped looking to God and looked at his own human prowess and with “that”, he began to sink.
    “Worthy”, we can never be, but in His Bounty, He has given us a worth by the Great Mystery of His Body and Blood where we can be as ONE with Him and enjoy the fruits of Faith and of Peace as only HE can give.
    We can put this Fruit into action by showing love and service to our fellow-man, but this is not mentioned at all in these prayers. God, and only God, is our focus here as it should always be.

    THANK YOU, Father Z. for leading us into meditation and drawing us ever closer to HIM.

  9. robtbrown says:

    It’s interesting that in many post-communions we find ‘mysteria’ (mysteries) where we’d naturally call it ‘mystery’ in the singular. Perhaps this is a more ancient tradition of perception, of classical religious experience? We tend to think of the Mass as a single unified temporal event of Eucharistic sacrifice.

    It is not uncommon for priests to speak of “celebrating the mysteries” when referring to celebrating mass.

  10. Priam1184 says:

    Thanks Andrew. And thanks for the tip on where to find the Gelasian Sacramentary online!

  11. teejay329 says:

    Wow…I’m sure glad there are other Fr. Z devotees out there (and devotees to the Tridentine Mass, I should add) who are somewhat in the dark with the Latin. I have tried my best to learn, thanks to my Wheelock’s Latin text book, but this Kentucky-born-Baptist-turned-Catholic is often in the dark. I thought I might have to find another blog to follow! Thanks, fellow readers, for your honesty. And, God bless you Fr. Z.

  12. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Andrew, thank you – that photocopy of the Gelasian Sacramanetary is an invaluable online resource:-

  13. Vecchio di Londra says:

    oops, typo: ‘Sacramentary’ of course.

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    As a distinctly little Latinist with less Greek, to the questions concerning the plural “mysteriis”, may I add a question as to why, for instance, “mysterton” in 1 Corinthians 4:2 is translated “mysteriorum”, but “to mysterion” in Ephesians 5:32 is translated “sacramentum”?

    The Internet Archive always seems a place well worth checking, for older works of which the title and/or author are know (such as appear in old Catholic Encyclopedia articles, for example), but also works of which there might be an edition and/or translations out there somewhere – and sometimes (the mysteries of copyright law?), the books found are not even that old. (Some pretty wacky-looking recent things also turn up sometimes, in response to what seems no unusual search term – I don’t know the copyright, or other, explanations for that, either.)

  15. Confitemini Domino says:

    Deus, qui nobis
    sub sacramento mirabili
    passionis tuae memoriam
    reliquisti: tribue,
    quaesumus, ita nos corporis
    et sanguinis tui sacra
    venerari, ut
    redemptionis tuae fructum
    in nobis jugiter sentiamus.

    I think this is the reason/reference of the acc. pl. :
    Mysteria corporis et sanguinis.

  16. Charlotte Allen says:

    Andrew beat me to the translation, but I’d like to add that there’s a nice parallelism in the two deponents, “largiris” and “digneris.” Also in the two infinitives “uti” and “aptare.”

    Is the separation of “tantis” and “mysteriis” hyperbaton? This kind of construction is pretty common in Greek.

    The prayer as a whole is a nice example of rhetorical climax, with its two parallel clauses, the second building on the first.

  17. Unwilling says:

    largiris uti mysteriis “allow us to benefit from such mysteries”

    Generally, I endorse Andrew’s translation comments and offer this as a friendly amendment or food for thought about the difficulties of translation.

    On the Latin “uti”. The (deponent) verb is “utor” with the range of meanings suggested: use, make use of, enjoy, etc. However, we find that the stem “uti-” appears in a more frequent word, the adjective “utilis”, with a similar range of meanings around the idea of “usefulness”.

    The noun “utilitas” meaning “a useful thing”. {Howard’s motto Veritas et Utilitas” may correspond to the transcendentals — truth for the intellect, good for the will.}

    Titus 3:8 haec sunt bona et utilia hominibus “these [good deeds] are good and good for men”

    In English, “useful” implies instrumentality, the virtue of means over ends, extrinsic rather than intrinsic good. In Latin, this same sense predominates. However, we find that “utilis” opens onto another range or a side range of meanings that are translatable as denoting relatively intrinsic goods, or goods that are in a general, non-specific sense, “beneficial”. We ought to read the verb in the prayer in the light of the adjective.

    In this light, I suggest that largiris uti mysteriis be translated “allow us to benefit from such mysteries”.

    Here are some sample loci:
    Sap 2:6 [voce impiorum] utamur creaturam in iuventute “enjoy creatures while we are young”

    Macc 2:21 non est nobis utile relinquere legem “it is not good we desert the law”
    {RSV “Far be it from us…”}

    1 Cor 10:33 quod mihi utilis est {RSV “what is to my own advantage”}

    RB 7:18 dicat semper utilis frater in corde suo “the good brother says always in his heart”
    RB 42:4 infirmis intellectibus non erit utile illa hora hanc scripturam audire “for the sake of weak understandings, it will not be good to hear this scripture at this time of day”

    RB=Rule of St Benedict, RSV=Revised Standard Version

  18. robtbrown says:

    Confitemini Domino,

    The Eucharist makes Christ present, and so it makes sense to use the plural (cf. 15 Mysteries of the Rosary). Ephesians 5:32 refers to Marriage, a singular Sacrament.

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