The Collect for today’s Mass for All Saints is the same in both forms of the Roman Rite. It it found already in the 8th century Liber sacramentorum Engolismensis. It was also, with variations in the Gelasian Sacramentary, among the prayers for Sts. Peter and Paul.
Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui nos ómnium Sanctórum tuórum mérita sub una tribuísti celebritáte venerári: qu?sumus; ut desiderátam nobis tuæ propitiatiónis abundántiam, multiplicátis intercessóribus, largiáris.
I like the separations of nos from venerari and, in the next section, desideratam from abundantiam. Note the assonance on “o” in the second line and “i” in the second. The third has strong alliteration and that whole second section hums with “m” and “n”. That last line has some thumping fine rhythms, and the final largiaris gives us a splendid clausula, or rhythmic closing: íntercessóribus lárgi-ÁH-REES. Wonderful to sing.
Our L&S says that celebritas, which looks an awful lot like an English word, is in the first place “a great number, a multitude, a large assembly, a numerous concourse or gathering, a crowd”. However, Cicero and Livy use it for “festal celebration, a solemnity” as in c. supremi diei, “a solemn procession for the dead”, appropriate for this time of year, for All Saints and All Souls. In the third place celebritas is “fame, renown”. But you might be able to hear how celebritas, while most naturally is in our prayer in the second sense of “solemnity”, can also bear that echo of “multitude” or even “throng” in our Latin ears and minds. Veneror is a deponent verb, and therefore has passive forms but active meanings. It means, “to reverence with religious awe, to worship, adore, revere, venerate” and “to ask reverently for any thing, to beseech, implore, beg, entreat, supplicate”.
Propitiatio, in our liturgical prayer, reflects propitiation in the sense of atonement, to be sure, but it is often rendered as “pardon, mercy, merciful indulgence”.
Almighty, eternal God, who granted us to venerate the merits of all Your saints under a single solemn festal celebration: we beseech You; that, our intercessors having been multiplied, You bestow upon us the longed for abundance of Your atoning mercy.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
today we rejoice in the holy men and women
of every time and place.
May their prayers bring us your
forgiveness and love.
This is the sort of thing that libs want to return to.
I like that image of the multiplication of intercessors. Remember the great scene in the movie Fantasia when Mickey Mouse is trying to stop the brooms from multiplying? They redouble and redouble and redouble, their numbers compounding. That’s how God’s glory is increased in heaven and how we received intercessory help before the throne of God. Each soul entering heaven massively increases joy by orders of magnitude. Each saint before the throne of God – in love for us and desire for us to join them – intercedes and and glorifies.
We, however, cannot for a moment think that we can be mere passive recipients of their loving intercession, any more than we can commit the errors of Lutherans and think that we are strictly passive in the reception of graces. We have to do our part. Concerning our brethren in the Church Triumphany, we of the Church Militant must beg for intercession from on high and pray and intercede for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.
We are all in this together.
We are together because of our common humanity and our baptism into Christ, from whom come and to whom go all things.
This perspective can help us get through all the vicissitudes of this life, the duties and challenges of our respective vocations… no matter what.
Are you frustrated in your life or what you see going on around you? Anxious? Angry or sad?
Let’s hear this prayer through the lens of the Imitation of Christ (3, 47):
THE VOICE OF CHRIST:
My child, do not let the labors which you have taken up for My sake break you, and do not let troubles, from whatever source, cast you down; but in everything let My promise strengthen and console you. I am able to reward you beyond all means and measure.
You will not labor here long, nor will you always be oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labor and trouble shall be no more. All that passes away with time is trivial.
What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to the Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present but perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and safe repose. Then you will not say: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” nor will you cry: “Woe is me, because my sojourn is prolonged.” For then death will be banished, and there will be health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then, but blessed joy and sweet, noble companionship.
If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven, and the great glory wherein they now rejoice – they who were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were, unworthy of life itself – you would certainly humble yourself at once to the very earth, and seek to be subject to all rather than to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days of this life, but rather be glad to suffer for God, considering it your greatest gain to be counted as nothing among men.
Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In truth, the loss or gain of God’s kingdom is no small matter.
Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life, but now they rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest. And they shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of My Father.