Wait until you see what is hidden the prayer this week, as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Prayer after Communion for Sunday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time.
Grant us, almighty God, that we may be refreshed and nourished by the Sacrament which we have received, so as to be transformed into what we consume. Through Christ our Lord.
When I study the prayers of the mass, I enter the Latin translation into a Latin lexicon to see what the words meant when the prayer was written. Sometimes I find some amazing surprises, like this week.
In the prayer, we ask God that he would allow us to be refreshed and nourished by the Sacrament.
Let’s start with a look at the word refreshed. In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the word inebriemur and if you’re thinking that you heard something like the word inebriate, you would be right. When we ask to be refreshed, we are asking to be intoxicated. Why on earth would the translators choose the word refreshed? I have no idea, but it does sound better than asking God to make us intoxicated.
This word reminded me of the second chapter of Acts, when, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and disciples of Jesus are accused of being drunk, “They have had too much new wine.” (v.13) However, there is another way to define inebriated, and that is to be under the influence. The people in the Upper Room were under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Next let’s look at the word nourished. In the Latin prayer, we find the word pascamur, which means to feed, or to pasture. It’s reminiscent of being the sheep in Psalms 23. Jesus leads us to still waters, and He gives us lush green pastures in which to rest.
To ask to be under the influence and under the care of God is not a surface-level request. The prayer tells God that we have received it. In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the word sumimus. It means to thoroughly grasp or take completely into to oneself and when do do, we are transformed into what we consume. We become more like Christ. St. Augustine wrote that when we receive the Eucharist, we become what we receive.
I decided to put this prayer to the test. I went to Mass and told God that I wanted to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit and I wanted to be completely content in his pasture. Here’s what I found: It may not happen all at one time. It could, because God can do whatever He wants, but it may not happen so quickly. If this transformation is what we want, how can we accomplish it? Make this prayer the desire of your heart, and also make this prayer the ruler, yes ruler - not rule.
Someone who studies and follows the Rule of St. Benedict knows that the Rule is really more like a ruler, or a guide, a way to measure how well we are following the path to Christ. This Prayer after Communion can be used the same way. On a scale of 1 to 10, or if you prefer, use the imagery of a 12” ruler, and use it as a guide to see how you are progressing, as you strive to be 100% refreshed, nourished, and transformed into what, or Who, you receive.
There is one more thing about this prayer. In the Latin prayer, the word for Sacrament is plural and there is no specific reference to a particular Sacrament. Every Sacrament we celebrate makes us refreshed and nourished, so for every time we have not fully received a Sacrament, we can add another prayer, asking God to help us make up for lost time.
Thanks for praying with me,