WDTPRS – 20th Sunday after Pentecost: Quiet is a hallmark of the holy

Yesterday I posted about the Collect for this Sunday’s Novus Ordo Mass for the 29th Ordinary Sunday.  Now, let’s see the Collect for what I jocularly like to called the “adult Mass”, in the Extraordinary Form for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost.

This ancient Collect is found without variation in the Liber Sacramentorum Gellonensis, written perhaps in Meaux, near Paris, between 790-800. The Gellone Sacramentary, which has Frankish influences, is a strand in the complicated web of manuscripts descending from what we called the Gelasian Sacramentary, the source of so many of our ancient prayers found in the Roman Missal.  The Gellone seems to have been an attempt at a complete book for liturgical services.


Largire, quaesumus, Domine, fidelibus tuis indulgentiam placatus et pacem: ut pariter ab omnibus mundentur offensis, et secura tibi mente deserviant.

The pattern indulgentiam [X] et pacem reminds me of the post-Conciliar formula for absolution of sins spoken by the priest in regular auricular confession: Deus, Pater misericoridiarum… indulgentiam tribuat et pacem.   I found the same patter in ancient prayers with various verbs inserted in the X spot, such as tribuas and also consequatur as well as largiatur or largiaris.

Our prayers very often include requests for pardon, that God forgive our sins.   We ask for absolutio, remissio, indulgentia (technical terms for different ways of being unbound and reconciled) and in liturgical language we use verbs like largiri, tribuere, conferre, and as the priest speaks to God, he describes Him in terms of propitius, propitiatus, and placatus.

Largire looks like an infinitive but is really an imperative form of the deponent largior, “to give bountifully, to lavish, bestow, dispense, distribute, impart… to confer, bestow, grant, yield”.

The adjective securus, –a, –um, which the mighty Lewis & Short Dictionary says means first and foremost “free from care, careless, unconcerned, untroubled, fearless, quiet, easy, composed” is understandably found in conjunction with the Last Judgment.  We wish to be “free from anxiety” when see the Just Judge coming.  Think of the line in the great sequence Dies irae used during Requiem Masses… coming up in a couple weeks:

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?  Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus.  … What am I, a wretch, to say then? what patron am I to beseech? When the just man is scarcely free from care [about his salvation – ]”.

Remember also from the Ordinary of the Mass after the Lord’s Prayer (my emphases):

Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi et ab omni perturbatione securi: exspectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Placo is “to appease, render favorable”, and is also connected with gifts (munera, dona) or sacrifice (immolatio).  Deservio is not simply “to serve”, but “to serve zealously, be devoted to, subject to”.  This takes a dative “object”.   Par, paris, n., means “a pair”, which logically gives us the adverb pariter, “equally, in an equal degree, in like manner, as well”.

In the first place, indulgentia indicates an attitude: “indulgence, gentleness, complaisance, tenderness, fondness”, and then what flows from that attitude, namely, “a remission” of something like punishment or taxation.  In the French language dictionary of liturgical Latin, we find the same idea, an attitude which brings a result: “abandon de sa sévérité”, or “a giving up of severity”.

It doesn’t take much thought to see why “security”, in the sense of being without anxiety, and “peace” are closely tied to God’s forgiveness, His indulgence.

If God were to judge us truly according to our own fruits, and not mercifully see us through the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice, life would become unbearable and each day would bring us closer to unspeakable terror as we awaited either death or Christ’s return.


Having been appeased, impart to Your faithful, O Lord, we beseech You, remission and peace: so that in an equal measure they may be cleansed from all sins, and may zealously serve You with a mind free from anxiety.

It is nice to look at old translations from old hand missals on occasion, just to see something smoother, language that doesn’t stick slavishly to the text.  Here is a version prepared by J. O’Connell and H.P.R. Finberg, the editors of …

The Latin Missal In Latin and English (1957):

Relent, Lord, we pray thee, and grant thy faithful pardon and peace, so that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind.

I like that “with a quiet mind”.

What a grace it is to live with a mind and conscience quiet about the course of our lives and our coming judgment.

Isn’t it true that when you are aware of your unconfessed sins, or when you – through your fault – are out of step or in conflict with others that your mind is not quiet?

Quiet is a hallmark of the holy.

Even the ringing, thunderous song of HOLY  HOLY HOLY before the throne of God in heaven is quiet, because it is in perfect accord.

Hell and sin are discordant.  When Hell and sin are in us, we are out of harmony, disquieted.  God’s grace in the sacrament of penance washes out our disrupting sins and pours calming sweet balm on our minds and hearts.  We need quiet, outside as well as inside.  Put aside the noise makers, sins of course, but also clattering screens and caterwauling distractions.

Maybe you have done a wave experiment in a physics class using a table full of water, set to vibrate at different rates and from different directions.  When the waves, crossing each other, are in sync and harmony, it looks as if they are standing still in perfect patterns.  The more they get out of harmony with each other, the greater the chaos on the surface of the water.

Remember too that in the spaces between sensible signs is where God is to be found.  That is one of the reasons why the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite is so helpful.  It has elements such as silence which are now so hard for modern people.  We have to grow out of the noise and distraction and into the still and the quiet.

And speaking of “silence”…

Robert Card Sarah’s The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise


Must have!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Interior silence, yes! However, in the current climate of the church we need to foster interior silence so as to pray for the strength to go out and say what needs to be said.

    At some point, I think that every priest is going to have to answer the Dubia for his flock. I understand that some priests are silent right now so as to not be forced to abandon their flock, but at what point is the flock going to be scandalized by this silence? I do not think that we are going to be allowed to keep our heads down and wait for new, traditional leadership from the Chair of Peter. Most likely every priest is going to be asked to give a yea or nay.

    Please prepare yourselves and your flock to speak the truth!

  2. Julia_Augusta says:

    I bought the Kindle version of Cardinal Sarah’s Power of Silence (through your link, Father Z.). In the book, Cardinal Sarah describes modern (especially Western) man’s fear of silence. On page 181, Cardinal Sarah observes: “The language of suffering and silence contradicts the language of the world. Faced with pain, we see two diametrically opposite routes traced out: the noble way of silence and the stony rut of rebellion, in other words, the path of love of God and the path of love of self. This pathological fear of suffering and silence is particularly acute in the West. On the other hand, African and Asian cultures manifest a remarkable acceptance of pain, sickness and death, because the prospect of a better life in the next world is profoundly present in them.”

    On page 177, he says: “In silence, man can tell how limited earthly time is.”

    On page 173: “Modern existence is a propped-up life built entirely on noise, artificiality, and the tragic rejection of God. From revolutions to conquests, from ideologies to political battles, from the frantic quests for equality to the obsessive cult of progress, silence is impossible. What is worse: transparent societies are sworn to an implacable hatred of silence, which they regard as a contemptible, backward defeat.”

    Best of all, he says, on page 170, what the Church must do (perhaps referring to the TLM):

    “The Church, too, must turn away from worldly languages and conventional talk, the best to find God in silence.”

    I urge everyone to buy Cardinal Sarah’s book (through Father Z.’s link). Read it very slowly, pause after each paragraph and meditate. It will deepen your faith.

  3. richmondtom says:

    The observation about “adult” liturgy put me in mind of my experience over the weekend at a new liturgy… in listening to the communion “hymn,” a typical, dumbed-down, social justice ditty (“The World is About to Turn”) it struck me that I could substitute the words of the song with a somewhat irreverent Irish folk song I know, and it would be a perfect fit.
    I don’t think that would have worked for Panis Angelicus.

  4. drohan says:

    “That is one of the reasons why the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite is so helpful. It has elements such as silence which are now so hard for modern people. We have to grow out of the noise and distraction and into the still and the quiet.”

    Yes. And that can be our best persuasion. The fact that a church is a quiet spiritual goldmine can save people. Especially among the young. I teach school. In my time there have been converts to the Faith, people who respected the silence and reverence of our local parish. Use the power of silence and the power of meditation with a purpose (Liturgical Catholic prayer) to redeem souls.

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Your line about sin and hell’s discord reminds me of the cacophony of Melkor during the song of the Ainur at the beginning of the Silmarillion. In the end, Illuvatar brought the chaos of Melkor’s music into a greater overall song that was different but not worse than the original harmony, God brought good out of the evil of rebellion in the end.

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