Jul 11, 2005

Supplices Te Rogamus

Missale Romanum 1962

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae: ut quotquot, ex hac altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii tui, Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Most humbly we implore Thee, almighty God, bid these our mystic offerings to be brought by the hands of Thy holy Angel unto Thy altar above, before the face of Thy divine majesty; that those of us who, by sharing in the Sacrifice of this altar, shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.1

We humbly beseech Thee, almighty God, to command that these our offerings be borne by the hands of Thy holy angel to Thine altar on high in the presence of Thy divine Majesty; that as many of us as shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son by partaking thereof from this altar may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace: Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.2

We humbly beseech Thee, Almighty God, command these to be carried by the hands of Thy holy Angel to Thine Altar on high, in the presence of Thy divine Majesty, that as many of us as shall, by partaking at this Altar, receive the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be filled with all heavenly blessing and grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.3

Missale Romanum 1970

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae: ut quotquot, ex hac altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii tui, Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur. (Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.)

Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)4

As Dr. Gihr points out there is "no question of a local transfer of the Body of Christ from the altar to heaven."5 The meaning therefore is mystical for "in this that the petition for a favorable acceptance of the gifts of the altar is not simply repeated, or continued, but presented under new aspects, that is, given greater scope and strengthened."6 "To the words "Do ye this in remembrance of Me," the ancient liturgies join a prayer mentioning the memory of the passion, resurrection and ascenscion, as likewise an oblation prayer. That in the fifth, or already in fourth century, the Supplices te Rogamus was considered , not as an invocation, but as an oblation prayer is clear from the writing De sacramentis, in which the first prayer of the Canon after consecration is worded as follows: Ergo memores gloriosissimae ejus passionis et ab inferis resurrectionis et in coelum ascensionis offerimus tibi hanc immaculatam hostiam, rationabilem hostiam, incruentam hostiam, hunc panem sanctum et calicem vitae aeternae et petimus et precamur, ut hanc oblationem suscipias in sublimi altari per manus angelorum tuorum, sicut suscipere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel et sacrificium patriarchae nostri Abrahae et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos Melchisedech (1.4,c.5,n.27)."7

"The text of the Canon recalls a celestial vision of St. John (Rev 8:3-4): 'And another Angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer the prayers of all saints (Christians) upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God (super altare aureum quod est ante thronum Dei). And the smoke of the incense of, the prayer of the saints ascended up before God, from the hand of the Angel (de manu angeli coram Deo)." ... "[T]hese sacrificial gifts (haec), which are to be carried up from the earthly to the heavenly altar, [are] not only the mystical Body of Christ, that is, the faithful with all they are and have - with their prayers and concerns, labors and sufferings, struggles and combats-, but, moreover, the Eucharistic Sacrificial Body and Blood of our Lord, inasmuch as we offer them."8 "To bring our offerings up to God, to raise them up to heaven, where He may receive them, or to cause them to reach His throne, means in the ordinary language of Scripture, to present them in such a manner and with so pure a conscience, that they may be pleasing to Him."9

"But then this will be the case only if the eye of God detects nothing displeasing in them who offer - but, on the contrary, beholds them so pure and so holy, as to deserve to be united and to be presented along with the Most Holy Sacrifice of Christ. Yet our life is not so blameless, nor our heart so pure, nor our dispositions so perfect." ..."The blessed vocation of the heavenly spirits consists in glorifying God by praise and in assisting man to attain salvation. Now where could this twofold object be better fulfilled than is actually done during the holy Sacrifice? Hence hosts of angels collect about the altar to procure for God honor on high and for man peace on earth. Between the angels and the Holy Eucharist there exist, undoubtedly, intimate relations, which , indeed, to our weak vision here below remain always shrouded in a mysterious obscurity. Christian tradition speaks not only of the presence of angels at the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, but it often, moreover, mentions in a determinate manner, a certain angel specially commisioned to carry our prayers and sacrifices before the throne of God."10

"St. Ambrose writes, that we cannot doubt that "an angel assists" (assistere angelum), when Christ is sacrificed on the altar. Thus the text of the Canon also mentions but one angel. Does it not appear from this that the Church herself would thereby indicate that God intrusts an angel with the special mission of bringing the oblation of the priest and people into His presence? More minute and accurate information relative to this Angel of the Sacrifice of the Mass (Angelus assistens divinis mysteriis - S. Thom. III, q. 83, a. 4 and 9) is not granted to us. Many saints and servants of God had a particular devotion to the angel here mentioned, without being able or willing to decide as to his name. Some beleive him to be the guardian angel of the church and the altar, or that of the priest, who most effectually assists, directs and enlightens him during the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. Others suppose, and this appears probable, that it is St. Michael, who is honored as the guardian angel of the Eucharist and of the Church Militant. It is not easy to judge correctly of the value of such pious opinions. The majority of them have their foundation in divine things which can more readily be conjectured than explained. With the above named angels, multitudes of other blessed and heavenly spirits unite in faithful co-operation; hence many perceive in the petition of this prayer of the Canon for the angel's service a supplication to obtain the assistance of the angels in general."11

ICEL once again uses a flat and banal translation which loses much of the mystery of the original Latin. They translate supplices te rogamus as simply pray, which denudes the varied expressions given by other translators as humbly beseech or humbly implore. Benedictione coelesti becomes simply blessing instead of heavenly blessing. The worst omission of translation is that of jube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui. Jube which means command is not translated at all; haec becomes this sacrifice which loses the sense of the passage; perferri becomes take instead of to be brought to or conveyed to; per manus is not translated which destroys the scriptural allusion to Rev 8:3-4 (de manu angeli); and finally sancti is not translated so that we now say your Angel instead of your holy Angel.

According to the syntax, it is true that the heavenly blessings and grace implored for are for those who participate in the feast of the Body and Blood from the altar. Fr. Stedman in his translation has supplied words not in the text but that give a truth as well. There are two means of participation in the Holy Mysteries: spiritually and sacramentally. It is true that the superior participation is that of one who, being properly disposed, communicates. Nevertheless, he who cannot, for grave reasons and in accordance with Church discipline, communicate at Mass still by reason of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, participates in the grace procured at least as means towards repentance. In this case, ICEL has followed a strict translation of the text. If only this were the translation philosophy that they followed throughout.

The worst of the translations and omissions in this prayer is that of the little word haec (these). Instead of following Fr. Stedman (these mystic offerings), Fr. Lasance (these our offerings), or the literal rendering of Fr. Gihr (these), ICEL chose to supply an incorrect translation of this and joined it with the addition of the word sacrifice. In so doing, they obscured the polyvalent meaning of the text. It is Christ, who through the ministry of the priest, offers up the Eucharistic Sacrifice and as such it is always acceptable and pleasing to God the Father because of the holiness of Him who offers: His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Haec refers to two things: the Eucharistic elements in so far as we offer them and to our own particular offerings which are united to those of Christ and offered in union with the Eucharistic elements. Hence, it is important that it be translated in the plural so that both meanings are given. In the ICEL translation, it seems as if we are asking God to accept the one sacrifice of Christ renewed on the altar at the hands of His Angel. Yet, as we have already discussed, there can be no actual question of the gifts being transferred locally to the heavenly altar. For Christ ever lives and reigns to make intercession for us - He is enthroned in heaven at the right hand of God the Father (sedet ad dexteram Patris). We offer in the present, that which was once offered at Calvary, the same sacrificial Lamb which is ever present in heaven before the Father (agnum stantem tamquam occisum12, Rev 5:6, a Lamb standing, as it were slain13).

1 My Sunday Missal, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Stedman, Confraternity of the Precious Blood, 1961, pg 54.

2 The New Roman Missal, Fr. F. X. Lasance, Christian Book Club of America, 1993, pg. 785.

3 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Dogmatically, Liturgically and Ascetically Explained, Rev Dr. Nicholas Gihr, 6th edition, B. Herder Book Co, 1924, pg. 647.

4 Daily Roman Missal, Fr. James Socias, ed., Midwest Theological Forum, 2003, pg. 760-61.

5 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Rev. Dr. Gihr, pg. 660.

6 Ibid., pg. 661.

7 Ibid., pg. 661, footnote 1.

8 Ibid., pg. 661.

9 Ibid., pg. 661. footnote 3, from Bossuet, Explication de quelques difficultes sur les prieres de la Messe.

10 Ibid., pp. 661-2.

11 Ibid., pg. 663.

12 Biblia Sacra iuxta Vulgatam versionem, editionem quartam emendatam, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1994, pg 1886.

13 Scriptours Online Douay-Rheims Bible, www.scriptours.com, 1999-2000 Ableware.