Life & Soul

Omnium Gatherum

I’m a fan of properly understood “liberation theology”. What do I mean? In the Original Sin all of creation was wounded and enslaved. This is evident daily. There ought to be harmony between us and the rest of material creation, but our role as nature’s steward has been damaged. Material creation (including us) is captive to an Enemy who beats us down. Sin enslaves.

Christ came as Liberator. Since every word of Holy Mass is Christ singing and speaking, then every word of Mass can have a liberating and empowering force if you are actively receptive.

Speaking of empowering, our Collect for the 14th Ordinary Sunday offers the image of material creation as an enervated body, captive to sin, lying in the dust whence we all came: “Deus, qui Filii tui humilitate iacentem mundum erexisti, fidelibus tuis sanctam concede laetitiam, ut, quos eripuisti a servitute peccati, gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis.”

It is interesting to compare pre-conciliar versions of prayers with the Novus Ordo versions. This Collect is similar to one in the 1962 Missale Romanum for the Second Sunday after Easter. However, the post-conciliar version says, “whom You snatched from the servitude of sin”, while the 1962 says rather ominously, “whom you snatched from the perils of everlasting death”.

Humilitas comes from humus, “dirt, earth, ground”. In his dictionary of liturgical Latin, Albert Blaise says that humilitas, “lowness”, can have a more theological meaning, namely, the “abasement” of the God Incarnate who took the form of a “slave” (cf Philippians 2:7). Blaise cites this very Collect under his lemma “humilitas”.

Current ICEL translation: “O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness.”

Note the shift from the dire to the hopeful. Sacrifice first. Then joy. We often see in our orations the pattern of descent and ascent, of exit and return. Before exaltation, there is humiliation. Descent, suffering and humiliation bring the return, rising and joy which embrace both the interior and the outward, the whole human person.

Christ rouses us, hauls us upward out of sin and death. If we cooperate and get back on our feet, Our Lord opens up again the possibility of peace in this passing world and definitive joy in the next. Let Christ pull you back up. Go to Confession.