The Collect for Sunday Mass this week in the Extraordinary Form wound up in the Ordinary Form Missale Romanum as the Collect for Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent. Go figure. It had an ancient source in the Gelasian Sacramentary. For a change, the redactors of Fr. Bugnini’s and Card. Lercaro’s Consilium, with their scissors and glue pots, didn’t mess around with this prayer.
Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine, tuae miserationis operatio, quia tibi sine te placere non possumus.
LITERAL WDTPRS TRANSLATION:
O Lord, we beg You, may the working of Your mercy direct our hearts, for without You we cannot please You.
Fairly stark. I have mentioned with some frequency St. Augustine of Hippo’s insight that God crowns His own merits in us. Surely that is what is at work in today’s prayer.
AN OLD HANDMISSAL VERSION:
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the operation of thy mercy may direct our hearts, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee.
This is what you would have heard… or rathyr, hearde of yore in the 1559 BCP1549 Book of Common Prayer
O GOD, for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges directe and rule our heartes; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.
I rather, er um, rathyr lyke the way they turned downe syde up the ourdre of thynges. Would that we might be able to have prayers like that in the new, corrected translation! Speaking of the…
CURRENT ICEL (from Saturday 4th Week of Lent):
May the working of your mercy, O Lord, we pray, direct our hearts aright, for without your grace we cannot find favor in your sight.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 – Saturday 4th Week of Lent):
Lord, guide us in your gentle mercy, for left to ourselves we cannot do your will.
The Latin original says nothing about God’s mercy being “gentle” when directing our hearts, our inmost thoughts and aspirations.
If we are invoking His mercy, then surely we are suggesting that, perhaps, we aren’t always so nice after all. Right? We don’t ask for mercy if we haven’t been “weighed and found lacking”.
Again with the Augustine, taking his cue from from the medical practices of the day, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop. It sometimes hurts to be corrected. But God’s correction, as harsh as it can seem at times, is gentle compared to the torments of everlasting Hell.