Sunday, 3 February 2013



Grant us, Lord our God,
that we may honour you with all our mind,
and love everyone in truth of heart.

From the Veronese Sacramentary. Not in the 1570 Missal.

In line 2, the 1973 translation had 'with all our hearts' for tota mente. The change to 'mind', a more natural translation of Latin mens, is in harmony with a tendency in the official translation to correct the 1973 version's emphasis on the feelings rather than on the intellect. 'Mind' appears more often in 2011 than in 1973.
But I am uncertain whether this translation is correct, because Latin mente has given us the adverbial terminations -mente (Italian) and -ment (French). The fact that an adjective is used in its feminine form before these suffixes (rigorosamente, rigoureusement) shows the origin of this formation, since Latin mens is a feminine noun.
If this development was already in progress by the time of the copying of the Veronese Sacramentary (early 7th century), then perhaps tota mente simply meant 'totally', fideli mente meant 'faithfully', libera mente meant 'freely' and so on, and the translator need not use the English word 'mind'. But it would not be easy to convince the world's English-speaking bishops of this, or the Congregation for Divine Worship.

'In truth of heart' is a free translation, perhaps suggested by the Grail translation of Psalm 51,6 ('indeed you love truth in the heart') of rationabili . . . affectu, which might be translated literally as 'with reasonable affection'. However, in Romans 12,1, rationabilis translates Greek logikos, which in turn is sometimes translated 'spiritual' (e.g. in RSV). This fact justifies the use of 'spiritual' to translate rationabilem in the Roman Canon. It would also justify a translation of the last line of this prayer as 'and love everyone with spiritual affection'.

The implications of Romans 12,1 for the liturgy have been illuminatingly discussed by Joseph Ratzinger in Chapter 3 The Spirit of the Liturgy.


O Lord, we bring to your altar
these offerings of our service:
be pleased to receive them, we pray,
and transform them
into the Sacrament of our redemption.

Like the Collect, today's Prayer over the Offerings is taken from the Veronese Sacramentary, and was not in the 1570 Missal.

The first two lines might more literally be translated 'O Lord, we bring to your altars the offerings of our service'. The prayer would thus refer to all the offerings we bring to God whenever we celebrate Mass. The official version characteristically narrows the horizon of the text by changing 'altars' to 'altar' and 'the' to 'these', making it refer only to the bread and wine placed on the altar shortly before the prayer is said.

'The Sacrament' is a somewhat anachronistic translation, since our current understanding and enumeration of sacraments was only developed in the scholastic period, long after the Veronese Sacramentary. A seventh-century christian would have understood the Latin to mean 'and transform them into a sacred sign of our redemption'.


Nourished by these redeeming gifts,
we pray, O Lord,
that through this help to eternal salvation
true faith may ever increase.

Given in the Veronese Sacramentary among the prayers for Masses in July, this is by many later manuscripts, and by the 1570 Missal, to the Saturday in Easter Week.

Again, the official version uses 'these' although there is no equivalent in the Latin. 'Nourished by the gift of our redemption' would be an adequate translation of the first line.

'True faith' (vera fides) raises a theological question. It is traditional to distinguish fides qua creditur, 'the faith by which we believe', that is, the virtue of faith, from fides quae creditur, 'the faith that we believe', that is, the objective content of the christian faith. We refer to the former as 'faith' and to the latter as 'the faith'. Which is referred to in this prayer?

Most translators before Vatican II understood vera fides to denote the virtue of faith:

'true faith may ever prosper' (Fortescue 1926)
'true faith may ever profit' (Finberg and O'Connell 1949)

Some added 'within us' to make this clear:

'true faith may ever prosper within us' (Husenbeth 1847)
'true faith may ever increase within us' (St Andrew Daily Missal 1962)

This is the interpretation adopted by the official version.

Only one translation that I have found interpreted vera fides as signifying the content of the faith:

'the true faith may ever advance' (Dominican Missal 1948).

This last translation is recommended by the fact that this prayer used to belong to Easter Week, when the addition of new members is fresh in the memory of the Church. It could be heard as a prayer that still more converts will be drawn to the faith. However, now that the prayer has been moved to Ordinary Time, this interpretation is less appropriate - an example of the meaning of a text being changed by its context.