Hanc Igitur

Hanc Igitur – English
Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen)

Hanc Igitur – Latin
Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab aeterna damnatione nos eripi et in electorum tuorum iubeas grege numerari.

Hanc Igitur, Part 1

Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen)

At this point in the Roman Canon, we have asked our Father in Heaven to accept and bless the gifts we offer, to grant the Church and all of us peace, unity, and governance, and we have commemorated the living in communion with the Apostles and Martyrs. In the Hanc Igitur, we are making our request known to God, rendering to God what we owe Him, finding peace in the ordering of God, asking for deliverance, and acknowledging that we are the sheep of His flock.

In this first section of the Hanc Igitur, we hear a very rich translation of the original Latin text in English. The translation from 1970 read, “Father, accept this offering from your whole family.” This is direct and sounds like a command. In the 2011 translation, which is in use as of this writing, we hear “graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family.” It is clear in the new translation that this is a polite request. We are to serve God, not command Him. Manners matter in human context, and so, they should matter when speaking to God.

By oblation, we can understand that something is solemnly being offering to God. We discussed what this offering is in much detail in the section on the Te Igitur. In service to God, we do as He has commanded us. We offer bread and wine, but we also offer our whole selves. This is the offering of the Family of God, which is His Church, comprised of all the baptized, who are adopted sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven.

Offering our service to God, we come into alignment with Him, right relationship and loving sonship or daughtership. Our Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (Jn. 14:15-17).”

We are not orphans, by the mediation of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. In offering ourselves to God in service, as Christ has commanded, we show our love for God, as son or daughter. The Holy Spirit guides and guards us in this endeavor, if we cooperate with the grace that we are given.

God orders our days in His peace. His commands keep us in the bounds of spiritual safety. Though there are many trials and sufferings in our lives, we can still have peace in Jesus Christ. Of course, orders must be followed. We must be willing in order to be formed to be more like Christ.

Hanc Igitur, Part 2

Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen)

In this next phrase of the Hanc Igitur, we are asking God for His grace to accept the gift of redemption, which is our salvation. We have already discussed this at greater length in the third phrase of the Commemoratio Pro Vivis. Redemption was won for us by Jesus on the Cross. Salvation is the gift of eternal life, flowing from that redemption, which we individually accept.

Our world so often down-plays the reality of sin and eternal damnation of Hell. But, Hell is real. Souls are damned. There are those who see Hell as something that is contrary to the infinite love of God. However, Hell exists precisely because God loves us. In Hell, the souls of the damned are subjected to eternal life devoid of love, goodness, beauty, and truth. The soul of the damned man or woman resides in this eternal abode of the dead because they chose it. They chose to reject God. They would rather live being their own “god.” Therefore, it is precisely God’s love which allows for the free choice to utterly reject Him.

God will not save us without our acceptance of this gift of love. Love does not force itself. Love that is forced is not love at all. Love requires a real decision. God’s mercy is bigger than any sin, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this well: “‘Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.’ There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss (CCC 1864).”

This request is asking that God continually command us to persevere in His grace and choose reconciliation with Him. We can lose our salvation by rejecting His love through sinning with full knowledge and full intent of the will on grave matters.

The gift of the Holy Spirit which we are invoking is fear of the Lord, which means awe and respect for the profound power of God. Pope Francis spoke well and simply on this topic: “[Fear of the Lord] does not mean being afraid of God: we know well that God is Father, that he loves us and wants our salvation, and he always forgives, always; thus, there is no reason to be scared of him! Fear of the Lord, instead, is the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we are reminded of how small we are before God and of his love and that our good lies in humble, respectful and trusting self-abandonment into his hands. This is fear of the Lord: abandonment in the goodness of our Father who loves us so much (General Audience, June 11, 2014).”

The root virtue of this gift is the love of God, the love which is His life moving within us. If we love, it is because He loved us first. From this love, we practice humility. Humility is knowing who we are before God. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us, no more and no less. Therefore, driven by the love of God, in true humility, we have a healthy fear of the Lord. We seek after the salvation He offers us because we dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but, most of all, because our sins offend God whom we should love above all things.

Hanc Igitur, Part 3

Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen)

Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, we are entered into the Family of God as adopted son or daughter. We are part of His whole Family. We offer Him the service and sacrifice of our life. In a respectful way, without presumption but rooted in His faithfulness to us, we ask that He order our days in peace. We renew our disposition towards Him and ask that He command our souls to the safe harbor of Heaven and away from eternal damnation. Then, finally we come to the final phrase of the Hanc Igitur, which is packed with rich meaning.

This phrase is a request that God command that we be “counted among the flock of those you have chosen” flowing directly from the command that we be “delivered from eternal damnation.” In the end, these are the two options: eternal life in Heaven or eternal life in Hell. There is no redeeming the damned. The souls of those who have unequivocally rejected God have permanently cut themselves off from God’s grace. There is no growth or change in Hell. There is only pain, isolation, and misery. The worst part of Hell is that it is chosen by the damned individual. As C.S. Lewis writes in the Problem of Pain: “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.” This is true on multiple levels of analysis.

On the one hand, the soul that is in Hell is there by their own accord and will remain there, as such. But, even now, here on earth, the gates of hell are locked from the inside. God’s mercy for the soul on earth is ever-present and gratuitous. As our Lord Jesus said, quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “… a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench… (Mt. 12:20; cf. Is. 42:3).” As long as there is breath in our lungs, then we can change our point of view, accept God’s grace, convert our hearts, and come back into communion with Him. This is because we are the sheep of His flock, which He has called and chosen by name.

We are called by our name at our Baptism. We are marked for Christ. Our Good Shepherd is willing to seek us out and draw us back: “If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray (Mt. 18:12)?” The distinction is drawn upon our bodily death, because once we have died we cannot choose differently. And, to be sure, we would not choose differently. The soul in Hell has chosen to spurn God. Upon their judgment, they would not repent because they did not repent on Earth. For this reason, we cling to God’s mercy and love. We ask to be counted among the flock that He has chosen. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 Jn. 3:1).”

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