Topics: Stray Thoughts: Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus By Jim Spencer...Prayer to Saint Joseph: Success in Work...Pray for: A Personal Request...Blast From The Past: Old Photos of Croations.
Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus!
Bishop Eugene Gerber has celebrated the Extraordinary Form (EF) liturgy for us twice recently: Midnight Mass on Christmas and Sunday Mass on January 11. We’re always delighted and honored when he does this, and we always know he will be the celebrant when, as he enters the Church, the very talented St. Anthony’s Choir sings their rousing rendition of the Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus!, a hymn usually sung when a bishop enters a church to celebrate a High Mass. (See below for the complete hymn in both Latin and English.)
Literally, “Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus!” means “Behold! a Great Priest!” In Latin, “Sacerdos Magnus” is a synonym for “Episcopus” (Bishop). Not so in English. When we hear “great priest,” we’re apt to think of “a great guy who’s also a darn good priest,” or something like that. This is just one example of the problem associated with literal translation from one language to another without reference to the intent of the words in the original. Here’s another example: If someone were to translate the English idiom “lots of fun” literally into another language and then have someone else translate it back into English, it might come back as “delightful plots of ground.” Clearly, original intent must be the primary consideration in accurate translations.
Okay, so what is the intent behind the Latin expression “Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus!”? In Latin, “magnus” has mostly as connotation of size, from which we get our word “magnitude.” How does a bishop have great priestly magnitude? In that, as a Successor of the Apostles, he has the fullness of the priesthood, as is demonstrated by his power to administer all seven Sacraments. The fullness of the priesthood gives him great “priestly magnitude.”
Unfortunately, that sense does not come through when we translate “Sacerdos Magnus” literally into English as “Great Priest.” Therefore, in reading or hearing these words, we should associate them with our concept of “Bishop,” and ignore whatever “Great Priest” might suggest to our English-oriented minds.
Here’s another example of the dangers of literal translation without regard for intent. This one was deliberate and had humorous, if slightly irreverent, intent: Back in the good/bad (your choice) old days before the Church’s most recent Ecumenical Council, when seminarians heard their choir intone, “Ecce! Sacerdos Magnus!”, a few scattered individuals would whisper to those around them in church, “Lookee! A big priest!” And all hands would try to suppress their mirth. Actually, that translation is correct, literally speaking, although it is about as far as possible from the original intent of the Latin.
The hymn in Latin & English:
“Ecce sacerdos magnus, qui in diebus suis placuit Deo, inventus est justus. Non est inventus similis illi, qui conservaret legem Excelsi. Ideo jurejurando fecit illum Dominus crescere in plebem suam. Ecce sacerdos magnus.”
In English [from the Angelus Press missal (its larger print appeals to my aging – make that aged -- eyes)]:
“Behold, a great priest (= bishop) who in his days pleased God and was found just. There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most High. Therefore by an oath did the Lord make him to increase among His people. Behold, a great priest (= bishop).”
Incidentally, this hymn is an adaptation of certain lines in Chapter 44 of the Book of Ecclesiasticus.
If you use the Baronius Press The Roman Missal (1962), you can find it in both languages on page 1030, where it is also the first three antiphons for First Vespers of the same Divine Office.
With either of these missals, you can follow the Choir in either Latin or English as they fill the Church with the electrifying sounds and energetic rhythm of this magnificent hymn when Bishop Gerber (or any other bishop) enters St. Anthony’s to say our EF Mass.
Such shall be my motto in life and death.
His story is one of great normalcy, but also immense heroics that people of his generation would chalk up to everyday life. I will remember Father as a "man's man"...tough, responsible, Catholic, with a military mind set and, did I say, tough?
Father was born in Mexico and was brought to the States shortly after birth. The family came to Kansas, specifically the area between Newton and Emporia, to build and work on the Santa Fe railroad. His stories of traversing the Flint Hills in his Model T (having to go up the steep hills in reverse) and nearly drowning in the Cottonwood River regailed us for hours.
In the midst of the Great Depression Father, at 16, travelled alone to California to pick fruit and send the money home to Kansas. Shortly after this and still a teenager he came home and went to work on the railroad where his youngs hands opened with blisters and sores from swinging picks and shovels.
In Peabody father met and married Marianna Nunez Saenz and was quickly drafted by the US Army, which is how he gained his citzenship. He was slated for the planned invasion of Japan (are my historical facts correct?) but was given a deferral because of his many children (I am told), and also fought in the ring as a boxer for the army. Once home the couple raised seven children, finally perfecting the process on the last try...me! :)
After the war, in an age of social hostility and prejudice, Father managed to work as a police reserve for the City of Newton, attend and play football for Bethel College (a decidedly all white and Mennonite school), served in the National Guard and as an MP in the Air Force, help build (hands on) a brand new house for his family, ran his own gas service station as he worked on the railroad (sometimes getting as little as 3 hours sleep) and managed to put in 45 years with the Santa Fe.
In his prime Father was a devoted Catholic, hard working, breathtakenly handsome, dashing, very hard, intimidating, demanding and just plain tough as nails. In later life he was humourous, very fit, softer, more mellow and forgiving.
It's been three years now Dad, it seems like yesterday and yet so far ago. It's harder now to hear your voice in my head but I still need your approval... and your guidance. I miss you so very much.
Blast from the Past
Old Photos of Croations
I was Googling photos of St. Joseph when, quite by accident, I ran across these fantastic old photographs of a Catholic Croation community in St. Louis, MO. Enjoy!
If you have any old photos you would like to post, scanned or copied, please feel free to mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org , and I would be so happy to post them. I would love to see your hometown parish, or your first communion or even you falling off your bike (if done in a proper Catholic way :-)
On second thought, if you have any photos at all you would like to share, please do! Marriage, baptism....please send them in.