WDTPRS: 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – Holy Fear

It isn’t really Corpus Christi in the traditional Roman calendar, though it is often transferred to this Sunday.  It is really the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost.  Corpus Christi was Thursday, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

Let’s see today’s quintessentially Roman style Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962 Missale Romanum.

This week’s Collect survived the slash and burn expertise of the liturgists of the Consilium to live on unscathed for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo. It was already in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary on the Sunday after the Ascension (which everyone knows is also supposed to be on a Thursday).  This prayer is also prayed at the end of the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

This is a marvelous prayer to sing in Latin!  It is simultaneously stark and lavish.  Its elements are carefully balanced.  It is perfectly Roman.

COLLECT – (1962MR):

Sancti nominis tui, Domine, timorem pariter et amorem fac nos habere perpetuum: quia numquam tua gubernatione destituis, quos in soliditate tuae dilectionis instituis.

Your bulky editions of the Lewis & Short Dictionary contain the entry, the lemma, for timor: “fear, dread, apprehension, alarm, anxiety” and, in a good sense of “fear”, “awe, reverence, veneration”.  Immediately there come to mind many citations from Scripture.  All clerics once knew the phrase from good old Psalm 111 sung every Sunday afternoon at Vespers, “Initium sapientiae est timor Domini… Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”   Look up the first chapter of the Book of Sirach and find a meditation on timor Domini… fear of the Lord.  This is in the New Testament as well.

Gubernatio means “a steering, piloting of a ship” or “direction, management”, which is where we get the word “government”.   A gubernator is the pilot of a ship.  For the adverb pariter look under the lemma for par, paris, meaning, “equally, in an equal degree, in like manner, as well” or like simul, “of equality in time or in association, at the same time, together.”  The verb destituo is basically, “to set down” and thus it comes to mean literally, “to put away from one’s self” and therefore, “to leave alone, to forsake, abandon, desert”.   This contrasts with instituo, “to put or place into, to plant, fix, set” and a range of other things including “to make, fabricate”, “take upon one’s self, to undertake”, “to order, govern, administer, regulate”.


Make us to have, O Lord, constant fear and, in equal degree, love of Your Holy Name: for You never abandon with Your steering those whom You establish in the firmness of Your love.

Do you see how the concepts are balanced?  Timor/amor (fear and love) and instituo/destituo (establish and abandon)?

In instituo I hear a “setting down” in the sense of how God made us and by that making He takes us up to Himself.  He will not abandon His role in our care and governance.  God sets us down next to Himself, under His watchful eye, so that we don’t go wrong.  He shelters us.  Our humanity is “set down” now at the Father’s right hand in the person of Christ.  In destituo, on the other hand, I hear a “setting down” in the sense of a setting aside, away, an abandonment of interest.  In gubernatio God is, our pilot, our steersman, keeping his hand on the wheel of our lives.  We are solid and on a sure course because His loving hand is firm.  Were He to abandon us, our ship would wreck.  We would be “destitute”.

Amidst the vicissitudes of this world we depend in fear and love on His Holy Name, which we invoke in our neediest moments.  Let us never invoke it in vain or frivolously!

Novus Ordo 12th Sunday OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

Father, guide and protector of your people, grant us an unfailing respect for your name, and keep us always in your love.

Can you believe we had this rubbish for so many years?

Novus Ordo 12th Sunday CURRENT ICEL (2011): 

Grant, O Lord, that we may always revere and love your holy name, for you never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundation of your love.

A name, in biblical and liturgical terms, is far more than just the unique combination of sounds by which we label a person or thing.  Names refer to the essence of the one named.

In the case of a divine Name we must be reverent and careful.  We must be like Moses who put off his shoes before the burning bush.  Moses learned God’s Name so he could tell the captive Jews that the one who is Being Itself – “I AM” – would set them free (cf. Exodus 2).  They were destitute.  Then they were instituted as His People.  For the Jews, the name of God was so sacred, so loved and feared in awe-filled reverence, that they would not pronounce the four Hebrew letters used to indicate it in Scripture, something like YHWH.  They substituted “Adonai”, “Lord”.

God’s Name dominates the first phrase of the prayer.

What does the Lord Jesus Himself say about His own Name?  In John 16:23 Jesus reveals His unity with the Father and the power of His Name saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.”  In Mark 9:38-39 we read an exchange between the beloved disciple and the Lord: “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.’”  The Gospel of John says that, “these [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (20:31).  His Name – His Person – is our path to everlasting life.  Signs and wonders are connected with Jesus’ Holy Name.  The Apostles and disciples worked many miracles through the Name of Jesus (cf. Acts 2:38; 3:6; 3:16; 4:7-10; 4:29-31; 19:13-17).   The Apostle Paul wrote to his flocks about the Name of Jesus.  What he taught reveals a fundamental aspect of God’s will for us His images.

God focuses in the Second Commandment on what we might do with our hands (Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image…”) and in the Third on what we might say (Exodus 20:7: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”).

St.  Paul wrote: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).  The Name of God, of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit, is worthy of our fear and our love.

Consider the Holy Name of Jesus.

Keep in mind not only love for the Name but also the fear which is Its due.  Do not exclude the fear which is really reverential awe.

In Scripture forms of words for “fear” occur hundreds and hundreds of times.  This a healthy loving fear.  Scripture is imbued with loving fear of God, indeed, an awe leading to love.  Consider, for example, this passage the Book of Revelation which can teach us timor:  “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.   His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself.  He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” (Rev 19:11)   But in the book of Malachi, speaking of the Name of God, we read, “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

God’s Holy Name is sacred.  “God fearing” men and women need not have terror of the Lord, but speaking and hearing His Holy Name will warm them with His love.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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