You Do It WDTPRS: Mary, Help of Christians

Along with being the Vigil of Ascension THURSDAY, today is the feast of Mary, Auxilium Christianorum…Help of Christians.

Here is the Secret, in Latin, from the 1962 Missale.

Let’s see what you can do.

For WDTPRS pieces, I try to find something about the

  • provenance of the prayer (whether it is ancient, or modern)
  • vocabulary and syntax: tricky words, imagery, structure, etc.
  • compare different translations
  • theological point
  • spiritual and practical application

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, qui ad defensionem populi christani in beatissima Virgine Maria perpetuum auxilium mirabiliter constituisti: concede propitius; ut, tali praesidio muniti certantes in vita, victoriam de hoste maligno consequi valeamus in morte.

Have a go.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The ever so accurate and precise Google Translate rendered me this gem:
    Almighty and most merciful God, of the Virgin Mary the mother of perpetual help, who will defend the people, in a wonderful manner in the Most Blessed Christani you have signed, anything that we do; so that, with such a garrison, after battling for life, even in death, the victory over the enemy, we may be able to achieve the power of the evil.

  2. Joe in Canada says:

    It is also the feast of Our Lady of the Way, Madonna della Strada, patroness of the Society of Jesus. May she help that least society always follow the Way!

  3. iamlucky13 says:

    With some internet help for the vocabulary and grammar, because I never was good at this even in school, and have gotten worse since, here is my slavishly clumsy translation:

    Almighty and most merciful God, who for the defense of the Christian people have wonderfully established perpetual help in the Blessed Virgin Mary: favorably grant; that this protection of help for the struggles in life, to obtain victory from the evil one may be strengthening in death.

    The first part didn’t seem too challenging since these are phrases we frequently use, although I’m disappointed in myself for having to look up auxilium.

    I struggled with “praesidio muniti certantes” and the overall structure of the clause containing it. It feels repetitive to me and I was unsure how it transitions to the final clause via “ut.” That set me up to have to guess at exactly what the final clause meant, and while I get the gist of it, I’m pretty sure I messed up several things, aside from sounding awkward.

    “Favorably grant” is an interesting request. I read it as a recognition that we are given what we need to live a holy life, but we ask as a favor that our strength be increased particularly when it is most crucial for achieving victory. It is similar to praying to be spared an unprovided death.

    I was also struck by the thought that while as we approach death our bodily strength typically declines, we speak here of increasing spiritual strength. It makes me think of those who are often called prayer warriors. Although perhaps of only limited physical capability, their final years are often marked by frequent prayer and they demonstrate a different kind of strength.

  4. Eric1989 says:

    Here’s a translation from a lowly Classics grad student:
    “Almighty and merciful God, who wonderfully set up an unbroken protection for safeguarding the Christian people in the most blessed Virgin Mary, mercifully grant that, because we have been fortified by such a bulwark while fighting in our life, we may be able to pursue victory in death over our evil enemy.”

    I translated “muniti” and “certantes” adverbially because most of the time participles in Latin are adverbial clauses, not adjectival; it’s how Latin sneaks multiple verbal ideas into a single predicate.

    If I weren’t being literal, I would have: “who wonderfully set up the most Blessed Virgin Mary as an unbroken protection for safeguarding the christian people.” But I wanted to be slavish.

    I find it interesting that we don’t have “ad defendendum populum Christianum” which uses a far more classical way of expression purpose: the gerundive. The use of the gerundive would also tie this prayer closely with military works such as Caesar “De Bello Gallico” in addition to the martial vocabulary.

    This prayer strikes me as a great encapsulation of Mary’s role in our life. She defends us in this life so that we are able to overcome the Flesh, the World, and the Devil. By overcoming our enemies through Christ’s victory while aided by his mother, we then attain to the fullness of this victory in heaven. I’m also reminded of Our Lady’s various promises of final perseverance for our devotion to her.

  5. Animadversor says:

    This is a bit less slavish than I usually like to render it, but it sounds OK out loud:

    Almighty and merciful God,

    Who didst for the defense of the Christian people marvellously ordain

    that in the most Blessed Virgin Mary they might have a source of ever-availing succor,

    be Thou gracious and grant that, having been fortified with such protection as we struggle in life,

    we may prevail and obtain the victory over the spiteful foe.

  6. James in Perth says:

    Holy day of obligation in Australia which is under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Christians.

  7. Animadversor says:

    Oops! That should read “…over the spiteful foe in death.”

  8. Father K says:

    James in Perth

    Our Lady Help of Christians most certainly is not a holiday of obligation in Australia. Where on earth did you get that idea?

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Great image of Mary as “the tower of guard,” like Zion for Jerusalem.

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