Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Post-Vatican II Reform of the Proper of Saints in the Missale Romanum – As Told by Fr Carlo Braga, C.M. (Part 2)

This is the second part of my translation of Fr Carlo Braga's 1970 article in Ephemerides Liturgicae about the reform of the Proper of Saints in the post-Vatican II Missal. The previous part, published yesterday, can be found here. The subsequent parts will be published over the next few days.

Following the explanation of the general principles of the reform, Braga goes on to look at the characterisation of the Saints in the new prayers of the reformed Missal, specifically here for the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, the latter of these having previously been "not the most pleasing" according to Braga.

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[p. 406] Characterisation of the Feast or Saint

This element, as mentioned previously, is primarily realised in the collect, which highlights the essential lines of the mystery proper to the day, or the fundamental aspect of the figure, spirituality, or activity of the Saint being celebrated.
    Let us examine some of these well-defined categories.

Memorials of the Blessed Virgin

In general, an attempt has been made to search for the aspects that make these celebrations universal, eliminating from the public prayer of the Church any notion of what might have made them seem somewhat legendary, or anything of a private devotional character.
    a) The celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes is centred on the veneration of the mystery of her Immaculate Conception [p. 407] and on the reference to the message of repentance and conversion that resounds in the sanctuary. Hence, there is a felicitous adaptation of the traditional oration Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostrae praesidium.
    b) Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Virgin of the holy mountain, with whose help ad montem, qui Christus est, pervenire valeamus [we may reach the mountain, which is Christ]. This is a joyful image, which makes it possible to recover part of the petition in the collect of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which has disappeared from the universal calendar.
    c) The sorrows of Mary at the foot of the cross are intimately connected with and almost constitute the premise for the joy of the resurrection: they are a type of the Church’s participation in the mystery of Christ’s redemption. The new texts for the collect and postcommunion are very interesting:

C: Deus, qui Filio tuo in cruce exaltato compatientem matrem astare voluisti,[4] da Ecclesiae tuae, ut, Christi passionis cum ipsa consors effecta, eiusdem resurrectionis particeps esse mereatur.

[O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection.]

PC: Sumptis, Domine, sacramentis redemptionis aeternae, supplices deprecamur, ut, compassionem beatae Mariae Virginis recolentes, ea in nobis pro Ecclesia adimpleamus, quae desunt Christi passionum. [5]

[Having received the Sacrament of eternal redemption, we humbly ask, O Lord, that, honouring how the Blessed Virgin Mary suffered with her Son, we may complete in ourselves for the Church’s sake what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.]

d) In the celebration of Our Lady of the Rosary, our thoughts extend to the mysteries of the life of Christ, so that they may obtain for us full participation in the mystery of redemption. Therefore, the collect Gratiam tuam is profitably used.
    e) The Presentation of Mary, aside from any legend of the apocryphal gospels, centres the object of the feast on the concept that the East attaches to it: her fullness of grace. It is for this reason that, remembering this privilege, we ask God that de plenitudine gratiae tuae nos quoque mereamur accipere [we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace]. [6]

[p. 408] Feasts of the Apostles

Until now, the orations for the Apostles were not the most pleasing in terms of identifying their characteristic notes; or, at least, these were expressed in such a succinct and vague form that no place was given for a comprehensive reflection. The situation is now very different, even if for some of the Apostles it was not possible to do more due to the lack of truly reliable elements about their person and life. In these cases, the revision was limited to making the petition denser and more ecclesial.
    a) Saints Philip and James, celebrated in Eastertide, give way in order to ask God that we participate in the paschal mystery of Christ in such a way as to reach the vision of the Father that Philip had asked of Jesus:

C: ... da nobis, ipsorum precibus, in Unigeniti tui passione et resurrectione consortium, ut ad perpetuam tui visionem pervenire mereamur.

[… grant us, through their prayers, a share in the Passion and Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son, so that we may merit to behold you for eternity.]

PC: ... ut, cum apostolis Philippo et Iacobo te in Filio contemplantes, vitam habere mereamur aeternam. [7]

[... so that, contemplating you in your Son together with the Apostles Philip and James, we may be worthy to possess eternal life.]

b) Saint Matthias is the man who is gratified by God’s choice. So, we also ask for ourselves, with appropriate adaptations in the final part of the traditional collect, for the same happy lot:

C: ... dilectionis tuae sorte gaudentes, cum electis numerari mereamur.

[… rejoicing at how your love has been allotted to us, we may merit to be numbered among the elect.]

PC: ... beato Matthia pro nobis intercedente, in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine nos digneris accipere. [8]

[… through blessed Matthias’ intercession for us, graciously admit us to a share in the lot of the Saints in light.]

c) The apostles Peter and Paul have always been seen as the founders of the Church, among the Israelites and Gentiles respectively, those who sowed the seed of the great tree of faith. Hence the call to the joy of this day consecrated to their memory, the sense of gratitude for the gift of faith, and the [p. 409] petition to follow their teaching. So, here are the texts of the collects for the Vigil and the Mass in die:

C: Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, beatorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli intercessionibus sublevari, ut, per quos Ecclesiae tuae superni muneris rudimenta donasti, per eos subsidia perpetuae salutis impendas. [9]

[Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation.]

C: Deus, qui huius diei venerandam sanctamque laetitiam in apostolorum Petri et Pauli sollemnitate tribuisti, da Ecclesiae tuae eorum in omnibus sequi praeceptum, per quos religionis sumpsit exordium.

[O God, who on the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul give us the noble and holy joy of this day, grant, we pray, that your Church may in all things follow the teaching of those through whom she received the beginnings of right religion.]

In the second prayer, the beginning of the collect for Saint Bartholomew is reused: a solemn beginning, well-suited to the feast of the princes of the Apostles, for which the statement of the previous collect, which spoke of their martyrdom occurring on the same day, could no longer be held.
    d) Saint Thomas is the apostle of the profession of faith, an act from which our readiness to believe also derives, as pointed out by Saint John (20:31) in the conclusion of the narration of this episode:

C: ... vitam credentes habeamus in nomine eius, quem ipse Dominum agnovit, Iesum Christum Filium tuum.

[… believing, may have life in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, whom Thomas acknowledged as the Lord.]

PC: ... praesta, quaesumus, ut, quem Dominum Deumque nostrum cum apostolo Thoma fide cognoscimus, ipsum opere quoque profiteamur et vita. [10]

[… grant, we pray, that we may recognise him with the Apostle Thomas by faith as our Lord and our God and proclaim him by our deeds and by our life.]

e) Saint James was the first of the apostles to drink the chalice of the Lord. The collect recalls this privilege, while the reference to drinking from the chalice of the Lord is explicit in the super oblata (quem primum inter apostolos calicis eius participem esse voluisti).
    f) Matthew is the man who, struck by the call of the Lord, is transformed completely, and decides to abandon everything to follow Christ with no regrets: 

C: Deus, qui ineffabili misericordia beatum Matthaeum ex publicano apostolum es dignatus eligere, da nobis, eius exemplo et intercessione suffultis, ut, te sequentes, tibi firmiter adhaerere mereamur.

[O God, who with untold mercy were pleased to choose as an Apostle Saint Matthew, the tax collector, grant that, sustained by his example and intercession, we may merit to hold firm in following you.]

[p. 410] Meanwhile, the gesture of hospitality offered to the Lord in Matthew’s home is recalled in the postcommunion:

PC: Salutaris gaudii participes, Domine, quo laetus Salvatorem in domo sua convivam sanctus Matthaeus excepit, da, ut cibo semper reficiamus illius, qui non iustos sed peccatores vocare venit ad salutem. [11]

[Sharing in that saving joy, O Lord, with which Saint Matthew welcomed the Saviour as a guest in his home, we pray: grant that we may always be renewed by the food we receive from Christ, who came to call not the just, but sinners to salvation.]

g) Luke is the evangelist of God’s mercy for the poor. The pages of his Gospel express this note of the love of God for those most in need of the salvation announced by Christ. For this reason, the collect, which without any historical foundation speaks of his love for the cross, was abandoned, and this new text was created:

C: Domine Deus, qui beatum Lucam elegisti, ut praedicatione et scriptis mysterium tuae in pauperes dilectionis revelaret, concede, ut, qui iam tuo nomine gloriantur, cor unum et anima una esse perseverent, et omnes gentes tuam mereantur videre salutem.

[Lord God, who chose Saint Luke to reveal by his preaching and writings the mystery of your love for the poor, grant that those who already glory in your name may persevere as one heart and one soul and that all nations may merit to see your salvation.]

In this prayer, the reference to the text of Acts is evident, where Luke tells of the unity of the Church of Jerusalem and the coming of non-believers to the true faith (Acts 2:42).
    h) We certainly could not fail to mention Saint John, the Evangelist who offered to the Church the highest contemplation of the Word of God and his mysteries. The collect makes a clear allusion to this:

C: Deus, qui per beatum apostolum Ioannem Verbi tui nobis arcana reserasti, praesta, quaesumus, ut quod ille nostris auribus excellenter infudit, intellegentiae competentis eruditione capiamus. [12]

[O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvellously brought to our ears.]

On the other hand, in the remaining two euchological formulas, reference is made to the source from which the Evangelist drew his contemplation, and we ask that [p. 411] the Word made flesh dwell continuously in us, as an effect of our participation in the mystery of the Eucharist:

SO: Munera, quaesumus, Domine, oblata sanctifica, et praesta, ut ex huius cenae convivio aeterni Verbi secreta hauriamus, quae ex eodem fonte apostolo tuo Ioanni revelasti. [13]

[Sanctify the offerings we have made, O Lord, we pray, and grant that from the banquet of this supper we may draw the hidden wisdom of the eternal Word, just as, from this same source, you revealed it to your Apostle John.]

PC: Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut Verbum caro factum, quod beatus Ioannes apostolus praedicavit, per hoc mysterium quod celebravimus habitet semper in nobis. [14] 

[Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the Word made flesh, proclaimed by the blessed Apostle John, may, through this mystery which we have celebrated, ever dwell among us.]


[4] See John 12:32 (cum exaltatus fuero a terra…) and 19:25 (stabat iuxta crucem Iesu mater eius…).

[5] See Colossians 1:24.

[6] The text of this collect is new, created by the merging of some elements of the Ambrosian postcommunion for 12 September (Beatissimae Mariae Virginis nomen venerantibus), and from the ending of the super sindonem of 5 December, the feast of Saint Gabriel (praesta, ut, eodem intercedente, de plenitudine gratiae tuae nos quoque accipere mereamur).

[7] The formulas are taken from the Missale Parisiense (MP) of Mgr de Vintimille, and evidently inspired by John 14:6-10. In particular, the petition in the collect (da nobis, ipsorum meritis, in Unigeniti tui passione et resurrectione consortium) was derived from the MP, as well as the ending of the postcommunion, simplified and modified (ut, cum apostolis tuis Philippo et Iacobo, te in Patre, et Patrem in te contemplantes, vitam aeternam habeamus).

[8] The ending of the postcommunion from the MP (in partem sortis sanctorum ascribere digneris) has been removed, and replaced with Colossians 1:12.

[9] This formula is from the Verona Sacramentary (ed. Mohlberg, n. 1219).

[10] The end of this postcommunion is inspired by many common texts, and derived from the MP (ut, cum Apostolo tuo Thoma, Te Dominum Deum nostrum, fide per diléctionem operante, fateamur).

[11] The two texts are taken from the MP: the collect almost ad litteram; the postcommunion with slightly more heartfelt variations (suppliciter te, Domine, deprecamur: ut eius sanet nos gratia medicinalis, qui venit vacare peccatores, D.N.I.C. Filius tuus).

[12] This collect reproduces the text of the Leonine (n. 1274) and Gelasian (n. 36), with the sole variant per os beati Ioannis transformed into per beatum Ioannis.

[13] This super oblata is an arrangement of the same text found in the MP: Deus, qui nobis, per dilectum Discipulum, aeterni Verbi secreta reserasti, da, quaesumus, ut, quae ex hoc divino fonte hausit in coenae mystico convivio, in terris profiteri, et in caelis contemplari mereamur.

[14] See Sacramentarium Bergomense (ed. Paredi), n. 155, with slight variations to the ending.

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