by Alan Griffiths

The Prayer over the Offerings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter reads:

Ascendant ad te, Domine, preces nostrae
cum oblationibus hostiarum,
ut, tua dignatione mundati,
sacramentis magnae pietatis aptemur.
Per Christum …

For this, the new text gives:

May our prayers rise up to you, O Lord,
together with the sacrificial offerings,
so that, purified by your graciousness,
we may be conformed to the mysteries of your mighty love.
Through Christ our Lord.

It seems to be a feature of the current English translation that the aspirational ‘may’ is often used where the Latin uses an optative subjunctive (I think that’s what it’s called). In English, it would be more correct to say ‘Let our prayers …’ as the rising of the prayer is more a matter of God’s condescension than our aspiration, important though that is. To my ear, ‘may’ sounds like a commonplace of motivational speaking!

The final two lines are opaque. What exactly does ‘conformed to the mysteries of your mighty love’ mean? The translator has tried to paraphrase the Latin where there seems to be no need to do so. Aren’t we simply asking that God will make us ready to offer and receive the mysteries?

Dignatio denotes something like ‘gracious kindness.’ ‘Graciousness’ is not an easy word to speak or hear, as in the 1960’s UK Intercessions response: ‘Lord, graciously hear us’ which someone once said sounded like a den of vipers hissing. Would ‘kindness’ not do here?

Future revisers of the Missal might think in terms like these:

Let our prayers rise up to you, O Lord,
together with the sacrificial offerings,
so that, being purified by your kindness,
we may be made ready for the sacraments of your great love.
Through Christ …

Or even this:

Let our prayers rise up to you, O Lord,
together with the sacrificial offerings,
so that we, being purified by your kindness,
may be made ready to receive
the sacraments of your great love.
Through Christ …

Fr. Alan Griffiths is a priest of of Portsmouth Diocese, UK.