WDTPRS – 6th Sunday after Pentecost: mercy and zeal

Please flip open your own trusty copy of the  edited by Leo Cunibert Mohlberg, OSB (in other words the Gelasian Sacramentary and yes, it is “Aeclesiae”.).

You will find Sunday’s ancient Collect in the second group of prayers for Sundays.  This prayer survived the scissor and paste-pot wielding liturgical experts who, under the aegis of the late Fr. Annibale Bugnini, revised and shuffled the ancient prayers for the Novus Ordo.

With only slight changes, this prayer is still heard today on the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.

COLLECT – (1962 Missale Romanum):

Deus virtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum: insere pectoribus nostris amorem tui nominis, et praesta in nobis religionis augmentum; ut, quae sunt bona, nutrias, ac pietatis studio, quae sunt nutrita, custodias.

In the 2002 Roman Missal it appears this way (variations underscored): Deus virtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum, insere pectoribus nostris tui nominis amorem, et praesta, ut in nobis, religionis augmento, quae sunt bona nutrias, ac, vigilanti studio, quae nutrita custodias. But in the ancient Gelasian it is like this: Deus uirtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum, insere pectoribus nostris amorem tui nominis et praesta, ut et nobis relegionis augmentum quae sunt bona nutrias ac uigilantia studium quaesomus nutrita custodias. (Yes, quaesomus.) However, the apparatus criticus at the bottom of the page, where variations in different manuscripts are listed, also suggests vigilanti studio. Thus, the Novus Ordo redactors attempted to restore the prayer in some respects to the version pre-dating by many centuries the “Tridentine” Missale Romanum, making also changes in style.  But they changed the conceptual grounding of the Collect by removing pietas.

Your even trustier copy of the Lewis & Short Dictionary informs you that insero means “to sow, plant in, ingraft, implant.”  Virtutum is genitive plural of virtus, “manliness; strength, vigor; bravery, courage; aptness, capacity; power” and so forth.  Virtutum translates the Hebrew tsaba’, “that which goes forth, an army, war, a host.”

Tsaba’ is applied to hosts of angels, of soldiers, and the sun, moon and stars.   In the Sanctus of Holy Mass and in the great hymn called the Te Deum we echo the myriads of saints and angels bowed before God’s throne in the celestial liturgy: “Holy  Holy  Holy  LORD GOD SABAOTH…. God of “heavenly hosts”, or as the lame-duck ICEL version puts it, God “of power and might”.  “O mighty God of hosts” is a fair attempt at what Deus virtutum is saying.   We find in old translations of the Latin Vulgate Psalter that this address for God is rendered as: “God of hosts.”

The Holy See’s document which lays down the norms for liturgical translation, Liturgiam authenticam 51, says, “deficiency in translating the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth, as well as the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed in the Latin text.”  We must drill into these tougher phrases and not simply gloss over them.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):

Almighty God, every good thing comes from you. Fill our hearts with love for you, increase our faith, and by your constant care protect the good you have given us.

LITERAL TRANSLATION:

O mighty God of hosts, of whom is the entirety of what is perfect: graft the love of Your Name into our hearts, and grant in us an increase of religion; so that You may nourish the things which are good and, by zeal for dutifulness, guard what has been nourished.

Here are images having to do with armies and also with vine tending, military and agricultural. On the one hand we have the God of hosts who guards the good things we have.  On the other, God grafts love into us and then nourishes it into growth.

Notice that we pray to God for an increase in “religion.”

Ancient Roman religio is a complicated term.  The word derives from the root lig– , “to bind”, hence, religio means sometimes the same as obligatio.  As our obliging L&S explains, Romans understood reverence for God (or their gods), the fear of God, “connected with a careful pondering of divine things; piety, religion, both pure inward piety and that which is manifested in religious rites and ceremonies; hence the rites and ceremonies, as well as the entire system of religion and worship, the res divinae or sacrae, were frequently called religio or religiones.”

Note the reference to “piety”.  This description also resonates closely with our Catholic axiom that the “lex orandi lex credendi… law of praying is the law of believing”, if we believe certain things inwardly, we are duty bound to express them outwardly in worship.

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) in Book X of City of God states that pietas concerns honor and service to God and that it does not much differ from religio.  The Roman sense of pietas is especially the honor we are bound to show toward our parents, especially our father, but by extension to children and the one’s fatherland, patria.  In liturgical language, when pietas is applied to us humans it is the due respect we show supremely to God the Father, but also to His children in the foreshadowing of our true heavenly patria, the Church.  When in liturgical texts we talk of the pietas of God, we are talking about His mercy.  God cannot be under obligations, as we can be, but He has made us promises.  He will be true.

So, in our prayer is a strong conceptual link between pietas and religio.  It is fair to take religio to be the virtue of religion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion in the glossary toward the back of the newer English edition, “Religion: a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion. (Cf. also CCC 2084 and 2135)   Religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh, 2-2a, 81, 1) as the creator and supreme ruler of all things, and to acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (e.g. by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (e.g., external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.).  The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, blasphemy, etc.”

In sum, we must recognize God and act accordingly both inwardly and outwardly.  When that comes easily for us and is habitual, then we have the virtue of religion.  A virtue is a habit.  If it is hard to do something virtuous (be prudent, be temperate, be just, etc.) you don’t yet have the virtue.

Notice also that this petition of the Collect directly follows from the desire that God graft love of His Holy Name into our hearts.  Our thought in this prayer moves from the title given to God by the angels and saints in heaven in their unending liturgy: “HOLY”, they say again and again.  Then we ask for love of the Holy Name of God.  Then we want all good things nourished in us by God increasing in us the virtue of religion, the proper interior and exterior action that flows from recognizing who God truly is for us.

I find interesting the choice to change the phrase with pietatis in the “Tridentine” version of the Collect to vigilianti studio.

The 1962 version says, “…by means of zeal for dutifulness/mercy, you may guard the things which have been nourished.”  The 1970 edition says, “by means of vigilant zeal.”  We should also decide if the prayer is talking about God’s zeal or about our zeal, resulting from God’s increase of our religion.  From the Latin it is not entirely clear whose zeal it is.

Certainly in all ages and everywhere the powers of hell attack the Christian and attempt to pervert his soul.

It is always necessary to attend to one’s soul dutifully, striving to acquire and to practice the virtue of religion.

I get a somewhat greater sense of urgency in “vigilance” than I do from “duty”.

Consider the image of the soldier at a sentry post.

In peacetime he carries out his duty and is vigilant.  In wartime he is intensely vigilant.

Think of 1 Peter 5: 8-9, so long the chapter for every night at Compline in the Roman Breviary:

“Be sober and vigilant (vigilate): for your adversary the devil is going around like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour: whom you must resist, strong in the faith.  But you, O Lord, have mercy (miserere) on us.”

 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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5 Comments

  1. Semper Gumby says:

    “In liturgical language, when pietas is applied to us humans it is the due respect we show supremely to God the Father, but also to His children in the foreshadowing of our true heavenly patria, the Church.”

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  2. Semper Gumby says:

    “St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) in Book X of City of God states that pietas concerns honor and service to God and that it does not much differ from religio. The Roman sense of pietas is especially the honor we are bound to show toward our parents, especially our father, but by extension to children and to one’s fatherland, patria.”

    Sen. Tom Cotton writing in Imprimis, April-May 2019, about the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” serving since 1784, three years older than the U.S. Constitution:

    “Nothing interferes with The Old Guard’s mission in Arlington [National Cemetery]- and when I say nothing, I mean nothing, not even 9/11. On that beautiful morning, the 9 o’clock funerals were underway when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, blasting debris across Washington Boulevard into the cemetery’s southeastern corner. The Old Guard’s Medical Platoon rushed to the scene, becoming the first soldiers to deploy to a battlefield in the War on Terror. Yet those funerals continued. So did the 10 o’clock funerals. And the 11 o’clock funerals. Over the next month, even as hundreds of Old Guard soldiers pulled guard duty at the Pentagon and carried remains from the crash site, funerals never stopped in Arlington.”

    “As one Old Guard soldier told me, “Our standards remain the same, whether it’s President [George H.W.] Bush or a private first class.””

    “No one summed up better what The Old Guard of Arlington means for our nation than Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey. He shared a story with me about taking a foreign military leader through Arlington to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sergeant Major Dailey said, “I was explaining what The Old Guard does and he was looking out the window at all those headstones. After a long pause, still looking at the headstones, he said, “Now I know why your soldiers fight so hard. You take better care of your dead than we do our living.””

    Abp. Fulton Sheen:

    “Where is found the source of the liberties and the rights of man? On what stable foundation are they to be reared? What is their source? The answer they [the Founders] gave was the right one. They sought the foundations of man’s rights and liberties in something so sacred and so inalienable that no State, no Parliament, no Dictator, no human power could ever take them away, and so they rooted them in God. Hence our Declaration of Independence reads: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Matthew 13: Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat…The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

    Galatians 5: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery…For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.

    2 Cor 5: Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

    Letter to Diognetus, 2nd c. AD: As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so He sent
    Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He
    sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us.

  4. Semper Gumby says:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    St. Augustine, 4th c: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

    Matthew 28: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.

    Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774: The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    St. John Paul II at Camden Yards (blessed baseball stadium), Baltimore, 1995:

    Priests, women and men Religious, and increasing numbers of lay people daily recite the Liturgy of the Hours, giving rise to a powerful mobilization of praise to God who, through his Word, created the world and all that is in it: “In his hands are the depths of the earth, and the tops of the mountains are his. His is the sea, for he has made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.”

    The Psalmist’s call to hear the Lord’s voice has particular significance for us as we celebrate this Mass in Baltimore. Maryland was the birthplace of the Church in colonial America. More than three hundred and sixty years ago, a small band of Catholics came to the New World to build a home where they could “sing joyfully to the Lord” in freedom.

    Here in Baltimore, in 1884, the Bishops of the United States authorized the “Baltimore Catechism”, which formed the faith of tens of millions of Catholics for decades.

    One hundred thirty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln asked whether a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” could “long endure.”…Surely it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

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