WDTPRS – 16th Ordinary Sunday: You are being hunted by the Enemy
The Collect for the 16th Ordinary Sunday is not in any pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum. It has its antecedent in a 9th century manuscript. Enjoy the fine clausula (rhythmic ending).
Propitiare, Domine, famulis tuis, et clementer gratiae tuae super eos dona multiplica, ut, spe, fide et caritate ferventes, semper in mandatis tuis vigili custodia perseverent.
We have been cheated of the beauty of our Catholic worship in Latin, which is our common patrimony. These prayers, from our forebears, are our inheritance. They lay quiet in manuscripts, but, even after a vast gap of time in human reckoning, they glitter even today.
However, now that we have, far and wide, abandoned our past, slammed the door on our common treasury, switched off the light of learning, it will be more and more difficult for future generations to grasp these tightly woven ancient Latin Collects with their lovely rhythms, their clarity of thought, their force. Translation doesn’t do them justice.
I am reminded of the present controversy surrounding the infamous paragraph 299 in the 2002 GIRM: if you don’t know Latin, if you don’t use Latin as a priest in the Latin Church, in the Roman Rite, you are effectively cut off from the wisdom of our forebears.
Famulus and feminine famula appear frequently in our Latin prayers. Famulus is probably from Latin’s ancient cousin, the Oscan *faama, “house.” A Latin famulus or famula was a household servant or hand-maid, slave or free. They were considered members of the larger family.
Custodia is “a watching, guard, care, protection” and has the military overtone of “guard, sentinel”. Vigil is “wakeful, watchful”, and, like custodia, can also be “a watchman, sentinel”.
Liturgically, a “vigil” is the evening and night before a great feast day. In ancient times vigils were times of fasting and penance. Men who were to be knighted kept a night’s vigil. They were