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The 18th Sunday after Pentecost

September 21, 2013

Here are two practices which I have found are helpful when trying to understand how the propers of a given Mass relate to each other :

1. Looking up the psalm from which a proper is derived and reading the whole thing.

2. Reading the readings, prayers, etc. in Latin, even if I still need to reference the English to hold things together.

 

To illustrate the sort of thinking I sometimes do, here are my observations about the 18th Sunday after Pentecost :

The main part of the introit for today (Da pacem) is from Ecclesiasticus : Give peace, O Lord, to them that patiently wait for thee…

However, the verse is from Ps. 121 (Laetatus sum) : I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : We shall go into the house of the Lord.

The connection between these two text is found further on in the psalm, vs. 6, which doesn’t make it into the introit (unless you sing extra verses ad lib) : Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem…

Peace.

 

Then comes the collect : Let the operation of Thy mercy… direct our hearts…

And the epistle : I give thanks… for the grace of God that is given you… that in all things you are made rich in Him…

Let’s save these for later.

 

With the gradual, which is borrowed from Laetare Sunday, we are back to Ps. 121, but this time adding vs. 7 : I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : We shall go into the house of the Lord. Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.

Now, the alleluia is taken from Ps. 101 (Domine exaudi) : The gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord : and all the kings of the earth thy glory. This quite a non sequitur, right ?

But looking at the preceding verses of the psalm we see the context : Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion : for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come. For the stones thereof have pleased thy servants : and they shall have pity on the earth thereof. All the gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. For the Lord hath built up Sion : and he shall be seen in his glory.

So in the bigger picture, the idea of “the gentiles fearing the name of the Lord” is something which follows on the establishment of Sion, and the showing of mercy towards it. These things have a similar ring to what the introit was asking : “the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem… peace be in thy strength : and abundance in thy towers…” A connection, perhaps.

 

However, the best is yet to come – the part which inspired me to do this post today : the gospel.

The Lord forgives the sins of the paralytic, and cures him. How can this possibly fit ?

 

But the Lord says to him in the Latin :

Surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. 

Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.

 

Now, perhaps you don’t have the Latin of the 121st Psalm which we have been discussing rattling around in you head like I do, so I’d better give it here :

Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : We shall go into the house of the Lord.

 

In the Latin, there are about half as many words as are needed in English, and as a result, the words “in domum = into the house” are quite strikingly… exactly the same in both the psalm and the gospel. Here with the gospel we begin to see that the the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem, the operation of thy mercy (from the collect), and the grace of God that is given you (from the epistle) could perhaps be related to what is given the paralytic : the forgiveness of his sins. And after which is given to him, he goes into his house or alternatively, the house of the Lord. “In domum Domini ibimus.”

Then we see the reaction of the crowd : timuerunt, et glorificaverunt Deum – they feared and glorified God. Isn’t this what is said by the alleluia verse ? The gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord, and the kings of the earth thy glory.

 

So. At the offertory, I suppose you could say that we find out what we are doing in the house of the Lord : offering on it [the altar] holocausts, and sacrificing victims… to the Lord God for an odour of sweetness, in the sight of the children of Israel.

Sacrifice comes in at the “secret” prayer as well.

With the communion, we reiterate : Bring up sacrifices, and come into his courts : adore ye the Lord in his holy court : The sacrifices again, as well as the going-into-a-house motif.

Last of all, we have the postcommunion : Strengthened by the sacred gift, we render thanks to Thee, O Lord, beseeching Thy mercy that Thou make us entirely worthy to partake thereof. Through Our Lord…

You can do various things with that.

Anyhow, these were my thoughts about tomorrow, the 18th Sunday after Pentecost.

*    *    *    *    *

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : * We shall go into the house of the Lord.

Our feet were standing in thy courts, * O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, which is built as a city, * which is compact together.

For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord : * the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.

Because their seats have sat in judgment, * seats upon the house of David.

Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem : * and abundance for them that love thee.

Let peace be in thy strength : * and abundance in thy towers.

For the sake of my brethren, and of my neighbours, * I spoke peace of thee.

Because of the house of the Lord our God, * I have sought good things for thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

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