12 December 2008

TERRENA DESPICERE

OK, so Sunday's Postcommunion in the Ordinary Form is not a modern composition. You can find it in the Hadrianum, the Sacramentary Pope Hadrian sent to Charlemagne. But it's always worth checking that the Bugninides didn't do a naughty when they incorporated a collect into the post-Conciliar Missal. In this case, I suspect they did. The original text hopes that God will enable us terrena despicere; to despise (well, literally, to look down upon) the things of earth. The Revising Committee changed that to terrena sapienter perpendere, to weigh up wisely the things of earth.

One can see why. We are not Manicheans; we are not opposed to material things; we do not despise the Earth that God has created. Indeed, the ancient Roman Eucharistic Prayer, the Canon Romanus, ended in its classical period by asking a blessing on the fruits of the Earth, concluding: haec omnia semper creas sanctificas benedicis et praestas nobis. God's Goods are good, and it is our duty to discern and weigh them and to be wise in our use of them. But the old text - and it resembles a great many other such texts in the euchological tradition of the Western Church - is based on the infinite space between things earthly and things heavenly; between God and (even the good) things which he creates and gives us. We must pass through a willingness to accept that even the best of them, even when entirely used as God wills, are as nothing in the estimation of the Christian compared with caelestia, the things of Heaven.

2 comments:

rev'd up said...

Lord knows, I can't "despise" a whisky Sunday afternoon; but if I try, I at least won't love it too much!

BJA said...

Isn't "terrena despicere et amare caelestia" simply an allusion to the Apostle's words, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. iii. 2)? Ah, well, I suppose the Consilium knew better ...