WDTPRS: The new Latin Collect for Paul VI – a key phrase hunted up

In the Bolletino today we find liturgical decrees and texts pertaining to the celebration (in the Ordinary Form) of the recently canonized Paul VI.

His optional memorial will be 29 May, the annivesary of his ordination to the priesthood.  He died on the Feast of the Transfiguration, so that date didn’t work.




Shall we look at the Collect to see what the prayer really says?

Deus, qui Ecclésiam tuam regéndam
beáto Paulo papæ commisísti,
strénuo Fílii tui Evangélii apóstolo,
præsta, quaesumus, ut, ab eius institútis illumináti,
ad civílem amóris cultum in mundum dilatándum
tibi collaboráre valeámus.
Per Dóminum.

Committo primarily regards “to join two things, connect”, or also “bring men or animals together to fight” (which certainly happened in Paul’s day), or “to perpetrate a crime”. Here, rather, we have the meaning of  “to place, commit to” constructed with aliquem alicui.  There are a couple of precedents in the post-Conciliar Missale Romanum. 

Strenuus is “brisk, vigorous, restless”. Illumino gives us illuminatiIllumino means, surprise, “to light up”.  There is a precedent in the new MR on the Feast of the Presentation.   An institutum is an “intention, plan, mode of life, instruction”. Dilato is “to spread out, amplify, extend”.

It might be trick to entangle what the last part means because of two words. Cilivis is “pertaining to citizens, civil, civic” or, digging down into the dictionary page, “relating to public or political life”. Cultus means, “care, a laboring at” or “training, education”, and “an honoring, veneration”, “manner of life”.


O God, who entrusted the governance of the Church
to blessed Pope Paul,
restless apostle of the Gospel of Your Son,
grant, we pray, that, enlightened by his teachings,
we may be able to collaborate with You
to make widespread the public cultivation of love.

This prayer is wordy, which is consistent with prayers of modern composition and inconsistent with the Roman liturgical genius.

QUAERITUR: What are we to do with that last bit?

“to spread a political movement of working for love”?

(And, there will be those wags who remind us that amor can mean sex. I’ll head that off here.)

Put that way, it seems that this is a call for some kind of “pacem in terris… peace on earth” is a highly desirable goal, this is not the primary role of the Pope or of the Church.  All you need is luv… luv.  Luv is all you need.  However, our goals are not, primarily, earthly.  Our sights are set on heavenly things, or at least that is what prayer after prayer after prayer in the Roman liturgy has prompted.

Nope, none of that was intended.

What is intended by that phrase, civilis amoris cultum is “civilization of love“, a phrase coined by Paul VI in a Regina caeli address on Pentecost Sunday, 17 May 1970.

È la civiltà dell’amore e della pace, che la Pentecoste ha inaugurato; e tutti sappiamo se ancor oggi di amore e di pace abbia bisogno il mondo! …  It is the civilization of love and of peace which Pentecost has inaugurated— and we are all aware how much today the world still needs love and peace!”

So, we should read at the end…

…grant, we pray, that, enlightened by his teachings,
we may be able to collaborate with You
to spread far and wide a civilization of love.

How did that little phrase – “civilization of love” –  become so tied to Paul VI ? After that first use in 1970, Paul used the phrase in 23 other documents during the last three years of his life, from 1975-1978.

Clearly, Paul wanted that phrase to linked to his teaching as a legacy.

He got it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    ICEL (1970):
    O God, You let Pope Paul lead the Church with the Gospel of Jesus.
    By his teachings, let us [help up to] love one another.

  2. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    The canonization of Pope Paul VI seems to be based on the testimony of very contradictory men.

    What do I mean?

    A – We all know that Pope Francis is a BIG promoter of the “theology” of Walter Cardinal Kasper. He has publicly praised his work repeatedly.

    B – We all know that as friends and like-minded Bishops, both Pope Francis and Kasper are delighted that Pope Paul VI was canonized. We also know that this canonization has raised concerns about politicizing the canonization process.

    C – People who have read Kasper’s work, including thousands of Catholic college students and seminarians since 1974 who have been required to read his book “Jesus the Christ,”, know that Kasper teaches others to reject all of the miracle accounts in the Gospels, calling them “legends” ( Jesus the Christ, 1974 edition, pp 90-91, and reissued in 2011 without change).

    D – So there we have it. The most prominent Cardinal in this pontificate has spent the last 50 years teaching Catholics to deny the miracles of Jesus, and he is revered by this Pope, who it is safe to assume shares his disbelief, and yet these two, and their colleagues, have just asserted that we are to suspend our disbelief for this one moment, and to assent to 2 miracles attributed to Paul VI, while persisting In denying any miracles of Jesus.

    No wonder people think Pope Francis is an oracle.

  3. Angelo Tan says:

    In Martyrologium Romanum, die 29 maii, primo loco:

    Sancti Pauli papæ Sexti, qui, hac die presbyterátu auctus est, dein Archiepíscopus Mediolanénsis, tandem Sedi Románæ eléctus, Concílium Œcuménicum Vaticánum Secúndum diligénter ac felíciter pértulit, renovationémque vitæ Ecclésiæ, sacræ præsértim Liturgíæ, promóvit, œcuménicum diálogum atque Evangélii núntium homínibus huius ætátis curávit, donec die sexto augústi in pace Dómini obdormívit.

    A rough translation:
    In the Roman Martyrology, on the 29th of May, there occurs:
    Pope Saint Paul VI, who was made priest this day, then-Archbishop of Milan, eventually elected to the See of Rome, diligently and joyfully presided the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, renewed the life of the Church especially the Sacred Liturgy and promoted Ecumenical Dialogue and for the new age preached the Gospel to all men, who on the sixth day of August died in the peace of the Lord.

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