December 5, 2011

New Translation: Similitudini Mortis

On a rainy Tuesday in Ordinary Time--that was my first, and very formative, liturgy teacher's shorthand for a liturgical day of low solemnity--I have a tendency to use Eucharistic Prayer II. If the Mass is being offered for a deceased person or persons, and I have not the liturgical or pastoral option to offer Mass in one of the full formularies for the dead, I tend to add the embolism for the deceased during the prayer.

This little prayer is one of many improvements in the new translation. Here's the old version:

Remember N., whom you have called from this life. In baptism he (she) died with Christ: may he (she) also share his resurrection.

And the new one:

Remember your servant N., whom you have called (today) from this world to yourself. Grant that he (she) who was united with your Son in a death like his, may also be one with him in his Resurrection.

It is the conformity of our death to the death of Christ which is saving, a conformity that God has accomplished in the Son by emptying himself into the misery of our death-bound condition in Christ. Of course the 'death like his' language comes from St. Paul and refers most specifically to our baptism. The translators of the older version were surely trying to bring out this baptismal connection. Our baptism is our dying into the death of Christ, passing mystically into the new life of the Resurrection. The whole of our post-baptismal, eucharistic life is the working out and flowering of this Resurrection mystery, culminating in the final letting-go into God that is our bodily death. But bodily death means little to the Christian; after all, we have already died in baptism.

Nevertheless, in having prayed this prayer a couple times now in the new translation, I'm led to pray for all of those in this world who die a death like the Lord's in a more plain and immediate way: lonely, humiliated, in physical torment, abandoned by friends and even feeling abandoned by God. Offering the Mass that is the memorial and re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, I remember that is for such that the Compassion of God stretches forth from the Blessedness of the Trinity to live and die in us.

No comments: