Saturday, February 8, 2014

2000 Years’ Indulgence

Dix claimed in his magnum opus (I have the 1946 second impression of the second edition: see page 622) to know of no mediæval prayers for Mass in Missals that did other than commemorate the Passion, by referring also to the Lord’s resurrection and ascension.

But what of a common prayer in layfolk’s Primers – I first found it in a facsimile edition of the Great Hours of Anne of Brittany, which I bought for €60 at the monastery of St Scholastica at Subiaco in Italy a few weeks ago – a prayer adorned with a probably apocryphal, but to late mediæval pray-ers most attractive, promise of 2000 years’ indulgence (granted apparently by Pope Boniface VIII at the request of his sworm enemy King Philip IV of France! hence my suspicion)?

The prayer in question, Domine Jesu Christe, qui hanc sacratissimam carnem, which is to be said between the Elevation and the third Agnus Dei, is profoundly anamnetic: as Jungmann explained it, “remembering [Christ’s Passion, Resurrection, Ascension], we offer” – and this prayer, to be recited, in God’s own Latin of course, by lay attendees at Mass, precisely does this.

(For those wishing to behold it as Anne of Brittany did, here and here are links to those beautiful pages.)

The prayer exists in slightly variant forms – a little googling reveals ten different recensions – so in the interest of devotion, I having no skill in text criticism, nor access to a critical edition such as Wilmart’s Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du moyen âge latin, I have decided to conflate the texts into what I prefer:
Domine Jesu Christe, qui hanc sacratissimam Carnem tuam et hunc pretiosissimum Sanguinem tuum de gloriosissimæ Virginis Mariæ utero assumpsisti, et eumdem pretiosissimum Sanguinem tuum de sacratissimo latere tuo in ara Crucis pro salute nostra effudisti, et in hac gloriosa Carne a mortuis resurrexisti, et ad cælos ascendisti cum eodem sacratissimo Corpore tuo, et iterum venturus es judicare vivos et mortuos in eadem Carne: libera nos per hoc sacratissimum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, quod modo in altari per manus sacerdotis tractatur, ab omnibus peccatis et immunditiis mentis et corporis, et ab universis malis et periculis, præteritis, præsentibus, et futuris. Qui vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

(Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst assume this Thy most sacred Flesh and this Thy most precious Blood from the womb of the most glorious Virgin Mary, and didst shed the same Thy most precious Blood from Thy most sacred side on the altar of the Cross for our salvation, and in this glorious Flesh didst arise from the dead, and didst ascend into heaven with the same Thy most sacred Body, and shalt come again to judge the living and the dead in the same Flesh: deliver us by this Thy most sacred Body and Blood, which in a manner on the altar is handled by the hands of the priest, from all sins and uncleannesses of mind and body, and from all evils and perils, past, present, and to come. Who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.)
It is a very full-blooded profession of faith in the truth that the Flesh and Blood of Christ are offered up on the altar and handled by the priest, the very same He took from His Mother, the same Blood which He shed on the Cross, the same Body in which He ascended to heaven, the same Flesh in which He shall come again to judge the quick and dead.

I do think, however, that the petition of the prayer for deliverance from all sins and uncleannesses, from all evils and perils, is a little anticlimatic, given the robust restatement of belief in the saving works of Christ that precedes it. (The petition is of course derived from the opening phrases of the Libera nos, the embolism or prayer that follows the Pater noster.)

That said, do think about using it – I have, since I found it.

(What a pity that all promises of more than a thousand years' pardon, if any were ever validly granted, were abrogated over a century ago; and – sigh – as the former method of measurement of the amount of temporal punishment remitted, by reference to so many days, Lents, or years of canonical penance, was abolished by Paul VI, all that remains to enrich this devout prayer is the general grant in the modern Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, by which the Church from the treasury of merit of Christ and the Saints doubles whatever remission of temporal punishment due to sin is gained by the praying of the prayer.)

No comments: