Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatae passionis, nec non ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam † puram, hostiam † sanctam, hostiam † immaculatam. Panem † sanctum vitae aeternae et Calicem † salutis perpetuae.
Mindful, therefore, O Lord, not only of the blessed passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, but also of His resurrection from the dead, and finally His glorious ascension into heaven, we, Thy ministers, as also Thy holy people, offer unto Thy supreme majesty, of Thy gifts bestowed upon us, the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the all-perfect Victim: the holy Bread of life everlasting and the Chalice of unending salvation.1
Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, His resurrection from the grave, and His glorious ascension into heaven, offer up to Thy most excellent majesty of Thine own gifts bestowed upon us, a victim which is pure, a victim which is holy, a victim which is stainless, the holy bread of life everlasting, and the chalice of eternal salvation.2
Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, and likewise Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed Passion of the same Christ Thy Son, our Lord, together with His resurrection from the grave, and also His glorious ascension into heaven, offer unto Thy excellent Majesty, of Thy gifts and presents a pure Victim, a holy Victim, an immaculate Victim: the holy bread of eternal life, and the chalice of everlasting salvation.3
Missale Romanum 1970
Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatae passionis, nec non ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam. Panem sanctum vitae aeternae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.
Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.4
This prayer actually forms together with the next two preceding prayers a single liturgical prayer of oblation. The consecration of the elements has essentially completed the liturgical sacrifice by the making present of the Body and Blood of Christ upon the Altar. For we hold by faith that the sacrifice of the Altar is the re-presentation to the Father of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Therefore the making present of the Sacrifice of the Cross already completes the essential sacrificial action. However, the Church wishes to present these holy gifts together with those spiritual gifts we have offered in union with the one sacrifice of Christ. She does so with supplication that they be accepted and finally asks for the blessings of grace to be abundantly poured out upon all who participate in the holy sacrificial action.
Dr. Gihr points out that the plural “Thy servants” is a left-over from a time when the concelebration of the priests with the bishop was still in practice. This points to two things, first it proves the ancient tradition in the Roman Church of concelebration which dwindled in frequency until it remained only for the ordination of priests and bishops. Secondly, it proves the antiquity of the prayer itself.5
“At this offering priest and people are at the same time “mindful also of the blessed passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ,” and that, because the Lord Himself commanded it. It is to this above-mentioned and previously stated command of Christ (in mei memoriam facietis) [hoc facite in meam commemorationem] that the words Unde et memores refer. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the living commemoration and mystical accomplishment of the entire work of redemption (opus redemptionis nostrae exercetur); Christ, as Highpriest and as Victim, is present on the altar with all the fruits and merits of the redemption. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass not only His passion and death, but also the life of His glory is mystically (in mysterio) represented and renewed. Three great mysteries are here principally made prominent: before all, the sufferings of Christ in His sacrifice and death on the Cross, as the essence and center of the work of the redemption; then the joyful resurrection and glorious ascension, which constitute the conclusion, crown and completion of the work of the redemption.”6
The ICEL text, as seen in previous prayers, is not a literal translation. They do not translate the triple hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, instead opting for a paraphrase of this holy and perfect sacrifice. It is part of the character of the Roman Canon, that in places things are repeated in triplicate and in seems that in these cases, the translators opted not to carry this distinctive characteristic into the English translation. Secondly, they refuse the translation of hostiam as victim, rendering it instead as sacrifice. It remains true that in all sacrifices a victim is offered. It seems plausible that the scholars responsible for translation thought it best to underscore this interconnection for those of the faithful who might not have understood the interconnection between victim and sacrifice. Remaining consistent to my previous criticism, I prefer a literal translation to an interpretive one, regardless of the appropriateness or quality of the translation. Due to the rendering of victim as sacrifice some have criticized the translators of being intentionally unfaithful to the catholic ethos of the text. I see no reason to presume that is the case. They have drawn a sufficient interconnection between the passion, resurrection and ascension of Christ into glory and the holy and perfect sacrifice offered sacramentally: the bread of life and cup of eternal salvation.
The wording they chose to translate ‘offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis’, fails to draw out the double meaning of the Latin text. The chosen translation represents only a reference to the earthly elements offered as ‘from the many gifts you have given us.’ A better choice in my opinion is the use of the prepostion ‘of’ rather than ‘from.’ The gifts now offered are not merely the eucharistic elements of bread and wine, for this offering was accomplished at the Offertory. The offering done here is more significant in that it comes after the consecration is completed. This echoes the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “Remembering therefore this precept of salvation and everything that was done for our sake, the Cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand, the second and glorious coming again, we offer Thee Thine own of what is Thine own, in all and for sake of all.”7
As I have seen numerous times throughout the ICEL texts, wherever they have decided to simplify the structure of a prayer, or elucidate a particular meaning of phrases in order to instruct the faithful, they succeeded mostly in obscuring the richness of our tradition while simultaneously stripping it of its literary beauty. Still, what remains is orthodox and with a little study of the original text nothing is lost to the faithful who desire to know the mind of the Church.
1 My Sunday Missal, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Stedman, Confraternity of the Precious Blood, 1961, pp.. 37-38.
2 The New Roman Missal, Fr. F. X. Lasance, Christian Book Club of America, 1993, pg. 784.
3 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Dogmatically, Liturgically and Ascetically Explained, Rev Dr. Nicholas Gihr, 6th edition, B. Herder Book Co, 1924, pp. 646-647.
4 Daily Roman Missal, Fr. James Socias, ed., Midwest Theological Forum, 2003, pg. 758-759.
5 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Rev. Dr. Gihr, pg. 649.
6 Ibid., pg. 650-651
7 The Divine and Holy Liturgy of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, Kyr Joseph-Archibishop Raya, Alleluia Press, pg. 67.