St. Anselm/John of Fecamp, Oratio XXV (for priests)

Oratio XXV

Prayer 25

Ad Christum

To Christ

Cum sacerdos multum timet ne officium altaris, quod gerit, magis et noceat quam proficiat; et quod consilium de hac re capiat.

When the priest greatly fears lest the office of the altar, which he conducts, harm him more than it profits; and what counsel he may take in this matter.

Dulcissime et benignissime Domine Jesu Christe, altissimi Patris altissime Fili, qui cum eodem Patre tuo, et Spiritu sancto universitatis Creator existis; cui nota sunt omnia antequam fiant, tu nosti insipientam meam, nosti et quam infirma sit et fragilis anima mea; et eius peccata atque delicta a te non sunt abscondita.  Te vero Creatorem meum esse recognosco; et omnia, quae mihi ad praesentis vitae necessitatem sunt, administrare fateor: fecisti ergo me, cum tibi placuit, et tandiu in hac vita ero, quandiu tibi placuerit; nec quousque tibi placeat, ulla vis me hinc expellere poterit.  Et quia de hac re certissimus sum quod ita sit, hoc super omnia immensam bonitatem tuam deprecor, ut qualitercunque mihi eveniat, dum vivo, saltem de me bonus sit finis, omnibusque iniquitatibus meis per veram poenitentiam dimissis, ad visionis tuae gloriam pervenire valeam, propter quam me creasti.

Sweetest and Most Benign Lord Jesus Christ, Most High Son of the Most High Father, Who with the same Father of Yours and the Holy Spirit do exist as Creator of the universe; to Whom are known all things before they come to be, You have known my foolishness, you have known also how infirm and fragile is my soul; and its sins and delicts are not hidden from You.  You, truly, do I recognize as my Creator; and all things which are for me a necessity of the present life, I confess to administer: therefore You made me when it pleased You, and I will be in this life for just so long as it pleases You; nor however long it be pleasing to You will any power be able to drive me hence.  And since in this matter I am most certain it is so, this I implore above all things, the immensity of Your goodness, that howsoever it should befall me while I live, at least for me may the good be my end, and do You remit all my iniquities through true penitence, that I be hale to arrive at the glory of Your vision, on account of which You have created me.

Fateor, dulcissime Domine Jesu, quia omnia bona quae habeo, tu mihi dedisti; et quia propter hoc ea mihi dedisti, ut te, sicut dignum esset, super omnia diligerem, et omnia quae tibi placent, cum magna voluntate facerem; ea vero quae tibi displicent, nullo modo facere auderem.  Sed inter caetera bona quae mihi de servitio tuo praecepisti, nescio quo occulto judicio tuo mihi onus sacerdotii imponi permisisti.  Quod servitium cum diligenter intueor quanta reverentia sit agendum, et quam pura conscientia, et ab omni contagione peccati munda debet esse mens quae tam terrificum ministerium suscipit tractandum; et ex altera parte non minori diligentia respicio quis sum ego qui hoc tractare audeo, non parum de praesumptione mea formido, et vehementissime timeo ne ad maius iudicium, maiorisque judicii damnationem mihi sit, quod ad tam dignam rem tam indignus accedere audeo.  Scio certe, nec de hac re ullo modo dubito quia, si ita viverem sicut ille vivere debet qui hoc ministerium agit, nullum servitium Dei facere possem quod sic mihi proficuo esset et saluti.  Sed sicut proficuum esset, si vita digna existeret, ita maius periculum et major damnatio infirmae animae et peccatis suis oneratae imminent, quae tam dignam rem indigna tractare audet.  Vere ita est, et plusquam dici possit, ista res utilis est et salubris bono sacerdoti, et, plusquam dici possit, periculosa est hanc indigne tractanti.  Quid ergo faciet, dulcissime Domine Jesu, hic tuus sacerdos, imo hic peccator quid faciet, huius tui servitii onere gravatus?  Nimis enim sum incertus quid mihi sit utilius, dimittere, an facere.  Sed tamen si ex toto dimitto, tunc rursus nimis pertimesco ne sub huius formidinis occasione multa mala multaque peccata audeam inchoare, vel etiam perpetrare, quae propter huius servitii formidinem prius non audebam vel cogitare.

I confess, Sweetest Lord Jesus, that all good things which I have, You have given to me; and that on account of this have You given me those things: that I may love you, as would be worthy, above all things, and that all things which are pleasing to You I may do with great will; indeed those things which are displeasing to You, in no way may I dare to do. But among the other goods which You have commanded me concerning Your service, I do not know by what hidden judgment You have permitted the burden of priesthood to be placed upon me.  Which service when I lovingly admire with what reverence it is to be done, and with how pure a conscience, and that the mind which undertakes so terrifying a ministry to be [plowed] ought to be clean from every contagion of sin; and on the other hand with no less diligence do I regard who I am who dares to [pull] this, not a little is there a formido over my presumption, and most vehemently do I fear lest unto a greater judgment–a damnation of greater judgment–be unto me, that to so worthy a thing do I, so unworthy, dare to approach.  Surely I know, nor in this matter do I doubt in any way that, if I were so to live as one ought to live who does this ministry, I would be able to do no service of God which would be of such profit and salvation for me.  But just as it would be beneficial, if a worthy life were to exist, just so does a greater danger and greater damnation loom over a soul infirm and burdened by its sins, which, though unworthy, dares to [pull] so worthy a thing.  Truly it is so, and more than can be said, that this matter is useful and salvific for a good priest and, more than can be said, dangerous to one [plowing] this unworthily.  What then will he do, Sweetest Lord Jesus, this Your priest, or rather this sinner, what will he do, weighed down by the burden of this Your service?  Greatly indeed am I uncertain what would be more useful to me, to dismiss or to do.  But  still if on the whole I dismiss, then again greatly do I grow fearful lest under the occasion of this formido many evils and many sins do I dare begin, or even to perpetrate, which I would not previously dare even to think on account of the formido of this service.

Fateor quippe multoties, cum ad huius officii servitium me praeparo et de malis quae me fecisse recognosco, angustius et districtius intra me doleo, et eas quae tunc perturbant vanas cogitationes vanasque delectationes expeditius respuo, et post peractum servitium, multa mala atque peccata quae iterum insurgunt, propter eiusdem servitii formidinem timidius recipio.  Cum hoc ita evenit, de eiusdem servitii praesumptione aliquam consolationem habeo, quia propter illius reverentiae timorem, aliquantulum a peccatis meis cessare me intelligo.  Sed, o mitissime et misericordissime Jesu, ut tu perspicis, ita saepius cor meum omni malitia plenum, omniumque iniquitatum tenebris obcaecatum; ut has omnes formidines postponens scienterque tuas praeceptiones contemnens, veluti torrens qui omnes fetores in se decurrentes secum trahit, et modo sursum modo deorsum secum volvit, cor meum cum misera anima mea omnes immunditias carnalium delectationum recipiat; et quasi porcus in coeno, sic in easdem immunditias se volvat, et revolvat.  Fateor, o misericordissime Jesu, coram maiestate tua iniquitates meas; fateor immuniditias meas, fateor immanissimas superbias, et sordidas cogitationes meas, quas abiecto timore tuo infeliciter intus amplectitur infelix anima mea.  Ut tu vides, clementissime Domine Jesu, ut tu vides, saepius et saepius ita facio, et in tam sordido vase, vel potius tam sordido corde corpus tuum et sanguinem suscipio; verum dico, non mihi parco! Sic multoties plenus peccatis et iniquitatibus ad servitium tui altaris accedo; unde multum formido ne magis ad perniciem quam ad salutem mihi sit haec praesumptio, quod sic fetens et putens tam munda sacramenta contingere praesumo.

I confess of course many times, when I prepare myself for this service and [make recognition of the evils which I have done], more distressingly and busily do I sorrow within myself, and more expeditiously do I spurn those things which then kick up vane cogitations and vane delights, and after the completed service, many evils and sins which arise again on account of the formido of this service do I more timidly look back upon.  When this so happens, I have some consolation from the presumption of this service, since on account of the fear of that reverence, for a little while I know that I have receded from my sins.  But, O Meekest and Most Merciful Jesus, as You Yourself see all too clearly, so often is my heart full of every malice and blinded by the shadows of all iniquities, that postponing all these formidines and knowingly despising Your precepts, just as a torrent which draws with itself all stenches flowing into it, and now up, now down roils with itself, my heart with a wretched soul receives all impurities of carnal delights; and like a pig in mud, so in these same impurities turns and returns itself.  I confess, O Most Merciful Jesus, my iniquities before Your majesty; I confess my impurities, I confess immense prides, and my sordid thoughts, which–fear of You unhappily cast aside–my unhappy soul embraces inwardly.  As You Yourself see, Most Clement Lord Jesus, as You Yourself see, often and oftener do I so do, and into so sordid a vessel, or rather into so sordid a heart, do I receive Your Body and Blood; I speak true, I do not spare myself!  So very often do I, full of sins and iniquities, approach to the service of Your altar; whence very much I [dread] lest more to destruction than to salvation be this presumption for me, because I, so stinking and putrid, presume to touch upon such pure sacraments.

Modo veniat aliquis fidelis, qui Spiritu Dei plenus sit, et miserum sacerdotem suo spirituali consilio instruat quid ei sit melius, quidve deterius servitium altaris propter huiusmodi impedimenta dimittere, an propter refrenationem multarum iniquitatum, quae eiusdem servitii formidine saepius reprimuntur, servitium facere.  Est autem de hoc (ut mihi videtur) expeditum et salubre consilium a peccatis cessare, et servitium quod Deo debemus reddere; nos autem etsi indigni sumus Deo servire, Deus non est indignus servitio suae creaturae; de aliis nescio quid ipsi magis eligant, de me scio quia magis volo Deo servire, et si non ex toto me possum a malitia retinere quam propter formidinem peccati eius servitium dimittere et in peccatorum damnatione securius iacere.  Melius est ut nos verberet propter aliquam offensionem sui servitii, et tamen suum servitium facientes, quam nos damnet propter timorem peccati suum servitium facere  nolentes.  Immensa est enim eius pietas, immensa eius misericordia, qui etsi viderit nos viam suae rectitudinis vel claudicando ambulare, etsi saepius labendo et relabendo, non tamen ab eiusdem viae rectitudine velle recedere; si nos non lassemur, non diu se retinere poterit, sed conatum nostrum adjuvabit, et diriget gressum nostrum ad viam salutis.  Tamen si peccata sacerdotis sunt criminalia, utilius est ei ab immolatione sacrificii humiliter cessare quam per praesumptionem immolando, majorem damnationem incurrere, donec inchoata vel peracta poenitentia, possit ad altaris servitium securius accedere.

If only would come some faithful, who is full of the Spirit of God, and instruct the wretched priest by his spiritual counsel what is better for him, whether it is poorer to neglect the service of the altar on account of impediments of this kind, or to do the service on account of the re-bridling of many iniquities, which often repress the formido of this same service.  There is however (as it seems to me) an expeditious and salubrious counsel: to stop from sins, and to render the service which we owe to God; moreover, even if we are unworthy to serve God, God is not unworthy of the service of His creature; regarding other people I do not know what they would rather choose; as for me I know that I will rather to serve God, even if on the whole I am unable to restrain myself from malice rather than, on account of the formido of sin, to neglect His service and to lie down securely in the damnation of sins.  It is better that He strike us on account of some offense against His service, even while doing His service, than that He condemn us on account of the fear of sin, not wishing to do His service.  For immense is His piety, immense His mercy, He Who even if He sees that we walk or rather limp  the way of His rectitude, even if often falling and falling again, that we do not wish to withdraw from the rectitude of this same way; if we will not slacken, not for long will He be able to withhold Himself, but He will give aid to our effort and direct our step into the way of salvation.  Yet if the sins of a priest are criminal, it is more useful for him humbly to withdraw from the offering of the sacrifice than through presumption by offering to incur a greater condemnation, until by a penitence begun or completed, he be able to approach to the altar of service securely.

Sed ecce, dulcissime et misericordissime Domine Jesu, fateor immensae bonitati tuae me esse nimis peccatorem, plurima quae tibi displicent facientem, et tamen tui altaris servitium facere praesumentem.  Non enim possum de tua misericordia desperare, non possum, nec mihi expedit, servitium tui altaris dimittere, tuum corpus et sanguinem non sumere, quod pro redemptione mea mortem suscepit, et qui pro remissione peccatorum de tuo latere lancea militis aperto cum aqua exivit (Joan. XIX, 34).  Si indignus sum, sicuti sum, et ego fateor, verbera me, emenda et corripe, et tandiu castiga tuum sacerdotem, imo tuum peccatorem, donec omnis rubigo peccati recedat a me, quae per tam longum tempus ex magna incuria indurata est in lateribus animae meae.  Fateor, fateor, peccator sum, immundus sum, indignus sum, et tamen non recedo a te, dulcissime Jesu Christe; velis quid velis, non dimitto te, etsi infirma manu, tenebo te.  Non recedes a me, donec ab omni contagione peccati absolvas; et sic carnem tuam quotidie manducantem, et sanguinem tuum bibentem, tuaeque voluntati jugiter inhaerentem, tua praecepta assidue facientem, me post mortem carnis perducas ad veram salutem, scilicet ad te verum Sacerdotem, ubi cum aliis sacerdotibus, tuis videlicet membris, ego quoque tunc non peccator, sed dignus sacerdos et dignum membrum corporis tui, te laudem, te glorificem per aeterna saecula.

But behold, Sweetest and Most Merciful Lord Jesus, I confess to Your immense goodness that I am a great sinner, doing very many things which displease You and nevertheless presuming to do the service of Your altar.  For I am not able to despair of Your mercy, I am not able, nor is it expeditious for me, to neglect the service of Your altar, not to consume Your Body and Blood, which for my redemption underwent death and which for the remission of sins, from Your side pierced by the lance of a soldier flowed forth with water (John 19:34).  If I am unworthy, and just so I am and confess, lash me, amend and seize, and for so long castigate your priest, or rather your sinner, until every stain of sin recede from me, which through so long a time from great lack of care has hardened in the sides of my soul.  I confess, I confess, I am a sinner, I am unclean, I am unworthy, and still I do not recede from you, Sweetest Jesus Christ; you will what you will, I do not neglect You even if with infirm hand I will grasp You.  Do not recede from me, until from every contagion of sin You absolve me; and so eating daily Your flesh and drinking Your blood, and cleaving constantly to You will, doing assiduously Your precepts, may You lead me after the death of flesh to true salvation–namely to You the True Priest–where with the other priests–of course Your members–I also then no sinner, but a worthy priest and a worthy member of Your Body, will praise You and glorify You through eternal ages.

Amen.

==Notes==

Need to make a decision on the pulling/plowing idea behind tractare.

Need to do a write-up on formido and then decide how to translate.  Fantastic word!

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