Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Theology of the Offertory - Part 7.6 - Two Prayers from the 1551 Missal of Toledo

The prayers of the Offertory emerged as a feature of the Roman Rite in the post-Carolingian period, which is to say, the middle to late decades of the 9th century. The most widely used among them, Suscipe sancta Trinitas, first appears in a form similar to that which it has in the Missal of St Pius V, and almost identical to that of the Ambrosian Rite, in the Sacramentary of Echternach, written about 895 A.D. At the same time, there appear in the sacramentaries of the Roman Rite another kind of prayer, also said at the Offertory, known as an “Apologia”, a prayer in which the priest protests his unworthiness to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. These prayers originated in the Gallican liturgy, the Rite used in Gaul before the time of Charlemagne, and are commonly found in Roman sacramentaries and early missals; by the end of the 12th century, however, they had largely dropped out of use.

As noted in the previous article of this series, the Missal according to the Use of Toledo is very unusual in still having two Apologias included among the Offertory prayers in the middle of the 16th century. I will here give the text in Latin, followed by my own translations of them. The first is labelled “Oratio Apologetica S. Ambrosii – An Apologetic Prayer of St Ambrose,” but is actually by St Anselm; the words in brackets appear in earlier versions of this prayer, but are omitted as it is printed in this Missal.

Si tantum Domine reatum nostrae delinquentiae cogitamus, deputatum observantiae ministerium non implemus. Grave est enim, quod ad mensam tuam mundo corde et innocentibus manibus non venimus, sed gravius est, si dum peccata metuimus, etiam sacrificium non reddamus. Licet igitur per obedientia assistere, pro indulgentia petere, pro officio ministrare, pro remedio immolare, obsecrare pro populo. Quaeso, Domine, conforta in me quod trepidat, cura quod taedet, reconcilia quod discordat, evacua quod corrumpit, humilia quod superbit. Sit pia justitia, clemens correctio, [quae peccatum coerceat], non quae me peccatorem absorbeat. Da in salutem disciplinam, non in mortem sententiam. Exaudi peccatoris precem, qui visitas in dolore gementem.

Lord, if we only think of the crime of our delinquency, we do not fulfill the ministry entrusted to (our) observance. For it is a grave matter that we do not come to Thy table with pure heart and innocent hands, but graver still, if, while we fear for (our) sins, we also do not render the sacrifice. Therefore it is permitted to be present (at the sacrifice) for the sake of obedience, to ask for forgiveness, to minister in accord with our office, to implore remedy, to make supplication for the people. I ask, o Lord: strengthen in me that which trembles in fear, heal that which offends, reconcile that which is at variance (with Thee), remove that which corrupts, humble that which is proud. Let (Thy) justice be gentle, merciful Thy correction, [such that it restrain the sin, and] not destroy the sinner. Grant (me) discipline unto salvation, not condemnation unto death. Hear the prayer of the sinner, who Thou visit as he groans in grief.

The prostration of priestly ordinands in the tradition ordination rite. (photo courtesy of the Fraternity of St Peter)
The second prayer is found in various Missals at various points in the ceremony. In the Use of Lyon, it was said by the priest before coming up to the altar at the beginning of the Mass; in other places, it was appointed to be read while the choir sang the Gloria in excelsis.

Deus, qui non mortem sed poenitentiam desideras peccatorum, me miserum fragilemque peccatorem a tua non repellas pietate, neque aspicias ad peccata et scelera mea, et immundas turpesque cogitationes meas, quibus flebiliter a tua disjungor voluntate; sed ad misericordias tuas, et ad fidem devotionemque eorum, qui per me peccatorem tuam petunt misericordiam. Et quia me indignum medium inter te et populum fieri voluisti, fac me talem ut digne possim exorare tuam majestatem, pro me, et eodem populo tuo. Et adjunge voces nostras vocibus sanctorum angelorum tuorum, ut sicut illi incessabiliter in aeterna beatitudine te laudant, ita nos quoque eorum interventu mereamur inculpabiliter te laudare in hac peregrinatione.

O God, who desirest not the death of sinners, but their repentence, from Thy mercy drive me not, a miserable sinner and weak, nor look upon my sins and crimes, and my unclean and base thoughts, by which I am lamentably separated from Thy will; but (look) upon Thy mercies, and on the faith and devotion of those who through me, a sinner, ask for Thy mercy. And because Thou didst will that I, though unworthy, should be between Thee and the people, make me such that I may be able to worthily beseech Thy majesty, for myself, and for the same Thy people. Join our voices to those of Thy holy Angels, so that, just as they praise Thee unceasingly in eternal blessedness, we also by their intercession may merit to praise Thee without blame in this pilgrimage (on earth.)

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