What kept running through my mind at mass today was the Suscipiat, the altar boy’s prayer of many decades ago, which goes like this:
Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque ecclesiae suae sanctae.
May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands, to the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His Holy Church. [“All” is omitted from the currently approved version.]
The meme (“Suscipiat”) came to me at the “Pray, sisters and brothers” part — formerly Orate Fratres, or “Pray, brethren” — when the pew-sitter in front of me gave her clearly heard response, as did others, with a slight change, one of dozens that identify a person as true-blue post-Vatican 2 Catholic, substituting the above sui, “his,” with “God’s,” so that it became “for . . . the good of God’s Holy Church.”
It is surely God’s, but there is a slight problem with the change, apart from its unauthorized tweaking of the approved text, something I have been wrestling with for many years of pew-sitting. I can explain.
First, no “God” is needed because like any reflexive pronoun, sui refers in the sentence precisely eleven words back to Dominus, “Lord,” and that’s how we talk, isn’t it? We use pronouns so as not to repeat a word needlessly, and needless indeed is this substitution of “his” with “God’s.”
Second, if there’s cause to be unsure in the matter, whether Lord in not the same as God, one’s prayer in church is no place to announce it. Take it to a confessor or friendly theologian. Why so? because we would not shy away from the pronoun except to avoid confusion in the matter. Would we?
So I made the best of this distraction, which turned out a very good thing. I kept repeating the prayer in the Latin I learned as a boy as the mass wore on, testing memory while feeding soul.
This took me almost to communion time, when I tumbled out of my pew and did the long, slow walk to the front, hands behind my back for balance’ sake, and received the Lord, hands still at my back, then walking the faster walk back to the pew.
All in all, a good way to start the day whatever the confusion.