Notebook

Mystery Mislaid

At Lauds this morning, I rejoiced on reading one of the preces. Truly a prayer for the present moment! Here it is: ‘Da nos mysterium Ecclesiæ altius percipere, ut eadem sit nobis et omnibus efficacius salutis sacramentum.’ We pray for the gift of being able to perceive – to fathom intellectually – the mystery of the Church more deeply, in order that the Church may more efficaciously be for us and for all a sacrament of salvation. Just out of interest, I looked up the prayer, afterwards, in the English breviary. There it reads as follows: ‘Lead us more deeply into the life of your Church; and through us make it a clearer sign of the world’s salvation’. It’s like boiling good pasta down to mush before serving. The mystery is gone. The sacrament is gone. Perception – the summons to exercise one’s mind so that it might open one’s being to grace – is gone. Instead of the Church, Body of Christ, being for us and for all a sacrament, agency is lodged in us.

In this simple example of sense lost in translation, the source of much current malaise can be found. We should heed, then, the 2. Vatican Council’s watchword and return to the sources.