Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae, quaesumus Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab aeterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum iubeas grege numerari: Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Graciously accept, then, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this service of our worship and that of all Thy household. Provide that our days be spent in Thy peace, save us from everlasting damnation, and cause us to be numbered in the flock Thou hast chosen. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.1
This oblation, therefore, of our service, and that of Thy whole family, we beseech Thee, O Lord, graciously to accept and to dispose of our days in Thy peace, and to command us to be delivered from eternal damnation, and to be numbered in the flock of Thine elect. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.2
Wherefore, we beseech Thee, O Lord, graciously to receive this oblation which we Thy servants, and with us Thy whole family, offer up to Thee: dispose of our days in Thy peace; command that we be saved from eternal damnation and numbered among the flock of Thine elect. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.3
Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab aeterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum iubeas grege numerari: (Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.)
Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen: (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)4
The ICEL translation is fairly muddled but still retains the general sense of the Latin text. Among the erroneous translations of terms are: Father for Domine, offering for oblationem, final for aeterna. There is however as sense in which each of these translations can be taken to be correct. The Lord to whom we are offering the oblation is the Father (as understood by the Canon being a continuation of the Preface which is addressed to the Father). An oblation is an offering, in fact oblatus is listed as a past participle of offero by Dr. Traupman in his ‘New College Latin and English Dictionary’.5 Oblation is an english ‘latinism’ which I find preferable because it carries a more easily understood connotation of the sacrificial. Nevertheless, the sacrificial connotation of the prayer is just as easily understood from the context in which it used and the action that is taking place upon the altar. Eternal damnation is quite final because it is damnation without end. Final damnation must also be eternal, the case is closed, judgement is without appeal, is the judgement cannot be repealed then it is everlasting. I still prefer the traditional wording in this instance.
On the meaning of the prayer there seems to be various view points. Dr. Gihr and the 1962 Sunday Missal understand it in one way while the ICEL and Fr. Lasance seem to understand it in another way. The latter grouping seems to understand ‘oblationem servitutis nostrae’ or at least the oblation therein mentioned as referring to the gifts of the altar. Whereas the former, and in my opinion more insightful opinion, understands the term more literally as the ‘oblation of our servitude’. Dr. Gihr explains it thus: “The expression ‘oblation of our servitude’ may be applied to those who are present, that is, to those who most intimately take part in the celebration of Mass; the addition ‘as also of Thy whole family’ to all the others, who are absent. Or we may consider the first clause as especially designating the consecrated ministers of the altar, that is, the priests, or all clerics, in which case by the family of God the believing people are to be understood, but in particular those faithful who by actual participation unite in the celebration of the Mass. However, this does not exhaust the full sense: it says ‘the oblation of our servitude’, (oblatio servitutis nostrae), which would signify more than ‘the offering which we Thy servants (nos servi) present,’ which is the expression used immediately after the Elevation. The holy Mass is called ‘the oblation of our servitude,’ that is, the offering that we and all the members of the Church make, in order to acknowledge the absolute dominion of God over all that is created, and to express our profound submission to it.6
Dr. Gihr goes on further to explain that the oblation here spoken of is the ‘veneration, homage and acknowledgement’; that ‘worship which is due to Him alone’ because ‘sacrifice is the chief act of religion, or, what amounts to the same thing, of divine worship’. Now if I understand Dr. Gihr correctly then while this prayer more literally concerns the sacrifice of the people of God and not only in reference to the gifts of the altar themselves; it is here where the faithful are urged in explicit terms to join their own particular sacrifice of self to that of the perfect Sacrifice of Calvary about to be made present on the altar at the consecration of the gifts. Understood in this fuller sense, the oblation is of both, but foremost of the only perfect offering made to the Father through the complete Self-sacrifice of His Son upon the Cross. I find this explanation much more satisfying, though perhaps far to liberal with the literal meaning of the text. Given the explanation of the prayer it seems to me that none of the English translations really captures the fullest meaning of the Latin prayer, and yet all are capable of such a mystical understanding, which does not contradict the literal sense of the vernacular.
1 My Sunday Missal, Confraternity of the Precious Blood, Msgr. Joseph F. Stedman, 1962
2 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Dogmatically, Litugically and Ascetically Explained, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr, 1877 1st edition, 1897 6th edition, translated from German ©1902, printed 1924, page 621.
3 The New Roman Missal, Fr. Lassance, 1993 reproduction of the 1945 edition, page 778.
4 St. Joseph's Sunday Missal, 2003
5 The New College Latin & English Dictionary, Revised and Enlarged, John C Traupman, Ph.D., 1966 and Revised 1995.
6 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Dogmatically, Litugically and Ascetically Explained, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr, 1877 1st edition, 1897 6th edition, translated from German ©1902, printed 1924, page 623.