Sunday, March 25, 2012

Domenica V Di Quaresima Anno B

Once again, it's time to look at the collection of collects exclusive to the Messale Romano.

Ascolta, O Padre, il grido del tuo Figlio 
che, per stabilire la nuova ed eterna alleanza,
si e` fatto obbediente fino all morte di croce;
fa' che nelle prove della vita 
partecipiamo intimamente alla sua passione redentrice,
per avere la fecondita` del seme che muore 
ed essere accolti come tua messe nel regno dei cieli.

I haven't commented much upon the Italian collects as of late because, frankly, they've been a little one dimensional. This one, however, is rich in imagery and linguistically pleasing. The first three lines of the collect interact thematically with the responsoral psalm (psalm 50) and the first reading (Jeremiah 31:31-34) and the second reading (Hebrews 5:7-9). In fact, much of the force of this prayer resides in the first three lines. The allusion to the humanity of the Son is particularly noticeable. One could interpret Ascolta, O Padre, il grido del tuo Figlio...si e` fatto obbediente fino all morte di croce as an oblique allusion to divine pathos. In any event, it underscores the very real suffering of Jesus as he is tortured upon the cross and connects the prayer to Psalm 50, the responsoral psalm for the day. The prayer magnifies, for the attentive reader, the visceral emotions of Jesus of Nazareth; Jesus' does not quietly endure the crucifixion, but indeed experiences the full thrust of agony and responds much as any human being would. The prayer makes supplication for our participation in his redemptive passion, ultimately with the ultimate end being the Kingdom of God. The second half of the prayer is, admittedly, a bit clumsy - not so much linguistically as it is theologically. The degree to which we actually participate in his redemptive passion is debatable and it is uncertain if the prayer intimates that human beings somehow function as co-redemptors. Sadly, in this respect, the collect is an example of the muddled picture that often results from contemporary theology. The prayer's conclusion recalls a notion common to monastic literature - our end is the kingdom of God.

Overall, not one of the best of the Italian collects, then again, not one of the worst either. How we resolve the supplication is crucial to making the prayer passable for Christian liturgy, although, I don't think we're looking at a new perennial favorite.