WDTPRS – 4th Sunday after Easter (1962MR): The smoke of Satan

The Collect for the 4th Sunday after Easter, in the traditional Roman calendar, is the same as the Collect for the 21st Ordinary Sunday in the post-Conciliar calendar. Or… the other way around! Let’s look at the structure.

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis, ut, inter mundanas varietates, ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

A master crafted this prayer. It is in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  Listen to those “eee”s produced by the Latin “i”.

Savor those parallels.

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis
id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis,
ut, inter mundanas varietates,
ibi nostra fixa sint corda,
ubi vera sunt gaudia.


Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis
id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis,
ut, inter mundanas varietates,
ibi nostra fixa sint corda,
ubi vera sunt gaudia.

When the text is simply on the page, in continuous lines (word wrap?), you don’t see it.  You have to hear it.

Varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.”  I like “vicissitude”.  The adjective mundanus is “of or belonging to the world”.


O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command, to desire that which You promise, so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.


O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

Let us revisit that id…quod. We can accurately say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but that strikes me as vague.  Can we be more concrete and say “love the thing you command… desire the thing you promise”?

We are called to love and desire God’s will in concrete situations, in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.

We must love God in this beggar, this annoying creep, this Jesuit, not in beggars, creeps, and Jesuits in general.  We must love Christ and His Cross in this act of fasting, this basket of laundry, this ICEL translation. I said it was a challenge!

We must not reduce God’s will to an abstraction or an ideal. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven”… or so it has been said.

Lest we forget why we needed new translation….


Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart.

Good riddance!  “Values”.  Very slippery.  Typical of the obsolete translation.

To my ear, “values” has a shifting, subjective starting point. In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values that “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”

In this post-Christian, post-modern world, “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.

John Paul II taught about “values”, but in contradiction to the way “values” are commonly understood today.  For example, we read in Evangelium vitae 71 (emphasis added):

“It is urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority, and no state can ever create, modify, or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect, and promote.”

In his 1985 letter to young people Dilecti amici 4, John Paul II taught:

“Only God is the ultimate basis of all values…. in Him and Him alone all values have their first source and final completion… Without Him – without the reference to God – the whole world of created values remains as it were suspended in an absolute vacuum.”

Benedict XVI has spoken about the threats we face from the “dictatorship of relativism”, from the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, from caving in to “the world”.

Christ warned His Apostles about “the world”, saying said: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).  He spoke about this world’s “prince” (John 12:31; 14:30 16:11).  St Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

If what “the world” offers gets priority over what God offers the world through His Holy Church, we produce the situation Paul VI described on 29 June 1972, the ninth anniversary of his coronation:

“Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

Our Collect today asks God to grant that His will be the basis of our “values” in concrete terms, not in mere good intentions or this world’s snares.

Of course today, we are seeing what Satanic smoke in the Lord’s House has done.  John XXIII and Paul VI wanted to throw the windows open to the world.  Be careful what you wish for.  Now we have to throw the windows and doors and maybe the roof also to the renewing light and rushing wind of the Holy Spirit of Truth to clean out the slimy residue the smoke left on just about everything.

If the explanation about the Collect helped you in some way, chime in.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Father, I hope you submit this to the appropriate magazines so that those who are not a part of this
    blog can enjoy it too. Thank you for this.

  2. John21 says:

    This helped a lot. God’s will is so specific, whether it’s willing that I say thank you to a waiter or willing that this particular trial of slime left by a snail be x inches long and wide. Nothing is beyond Him.

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks for the Latin lesson Fr. Z, and the virtue/value distinctions made by Gertrude Himmelfarb, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.

  4. Grant M says:

    The collect from the Book of Common Prayer for the fourth Sunday after Easter:

    O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Followed by the same Epistle and Gospel as in the Roman Missal.

    PS: Those old ICEL translations really were appalling. We really were played! (to calque on the Indonesian idiom as well as the English idiom.)

  5. Sword40 says:

    Our parish, St. Joseph’s in Tacoma, WA, celebrated our 107 anniversary with a Votive Mass. The pastor forgot to announce it until we got to the Gospel. Boy were we confused for a bit.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    For a few decades now there has been some sort of sly “progressive” trend to replace Christian virtues with “democratic values,” and Republic with “democracy” or “constitutional democracy.”

    One example is last year’s reprint of the 1985 textbook “Reasoning with Democratic Values.” The 2018 expanded version has two volumes and a Kindle teacher’s guide. As the authors state, these are not quite U.S. history books. Rather, they are snapshots or episodes in U.S. history- ranging from Fr. Junipero Serra to the burning of draft cards- that are designed to get students “excited” and to “promote social responsibility.”

    Thomas Sowell had something to say about classroom indoctrination in 1999:

    “”Values clarification” programs under a variety of names encourage children to create their own personal rules of conduct, independent of the traditional morality taught to them by their families, churches and other social institutions.”

    William Bennett, Secretary of Education 1985-88, quoting in 1997 the Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush:

    “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without it there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty…”

    George Weigel, from “Two Ideas of Freedom,” on Aquinas, virtue, and freedom:

    “Freedom, then, is a matter of gradually acquiring the capacity to choose the good…Aquinas was fully aware that human beings can fail, and in fact do evil…[Yet] Thomas insisted that we have within us, and we can develop, a freedom through which we can do things well, rightly, excellently…Developed through the four cardinal virtues- prudence, justice, courage, and temperance- freedom is the method by which we become the kind of people our noblest instincts incline us to be…”

    Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on virtue and vice:

    “That there is as a general rule a correlation between virtue and human flourishing, and between vice and misfortune, really should not be so problematic as many intellectuals seem to think it is…It is not that God zaps drunk drivers with car crashes, but drunk drivers tend to crash. That has something to do with the nature of things.”

    Abp. Chaput on St. Augustine, virtue, and politics from “Strangers in a Strange Land”:

    “For St. Augustine, the classic civic virtues named by Cicero- prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance- can be renewed and elevated, to the benefit of all citizens, by the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Therefore, political engagement is- or at least it can be- a worthy Christian task. Public office can be an honorable Christian vocation. But any Christian involvement in politics needs to be ruled by modest expectations and a spirit of humility. Success will always be limited.”

    “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

    – 2 Cor 3:17

  7. KateD says:

    So, I read this with my children as a lesson. You do such a great job of breaking down the text.

    I had them read each paragraph in rotation.

    My eleven year old boy got the line (emphasis his):

    “Through some…CRACK…the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

    ….and giggled gleefully as his sibling read about subsequently needing to open a window to air it out.

    Always fun seeing it through a child’s perspective….

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    This topic raises two questions: Is patriotism virtuous? What about not only military service, but combat service?

    Fr. Z has a Podcazt on Patriotism and Fulton Sheen. Here is some of the text, posted at The Catholic Thing.

    Fr. Fulton Sheen in 1938:

    “The treatise on Patriotism in the writings of the greatest philosopher of all times, St. Thomas Aquinas, is to be found under the subject of “Piety.” This at first may strike as strange those who think of piety as pertaining only to love of God. But once it is remembered that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God, it is seen that love of our fellow citizens is a form of piety.”

    “But as we talk about patriotism, it might be well to remind ourselves that in a crisis like this even devotion to the stars and stripes is not enough to save us. We must look beyond them to other stars and stripes, namely the stars and stripes of Christ, by whose stars we are illuminated and by whose stripes we are healed.”

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    “The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity.” #2239

    “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. See Rom 13:7” #2240

    “The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict.” #2312

    God has placed us in the City of Man for a while, our goal is the City of God. However, Christians are not Manicheans despising the physical world- we seek the welfare of our country, family, and friends. While doing this we are called to be virtuous, and to go to Confession when we fall short of the mark.

    Okay, that only scratched the surface but should serve as a good orientation.

    As for combat, here is a statement from Archbishop Broglio, Diocese of the Military Services, about a Medal of Honor recipient several years ago:

    “SEAL Senior Chief Edward Byers has demonstrated true heroism both in rescuing a fellow citizen and in praying for his deceased comrade. His actions will continue to inspire all of those who love our Country and serve it so selflessly. It is obvious that his patriotism and prayer are motivated by his strong Catholic faith. May his story strengthen all of us in our conviction to do what is right and just.”

    So, fight hard and fight well. Remember the words of a Navy chaplain at Pearl Harbor: “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

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