The VerbumQUO for today is "missus", which in English is the past tense verb "was sent". It is taken from today's Gospel of Luke 1: 26-38 regarding the chosen Messenger of God - the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent to announce to the Blessed Virgin Mary God's will for the salvation of mankind. This was a mission carried out so well by the heavenly being, known as the strength of God.
Editor, The Daily Catholic
This series for Lent highlights one word from the Proper of the day's Mass. Taking the Latin Verbum and Quotidianum, which mean respectively "Word" and "Daily", we have coined the word "Verbumquo" by contracting quotidianum to quo and running it together as VerbumQUO for this feature series, thus "The Daily Word," as in the sum of the message, the 'quotient', if you will. It is also our hope that in choosing the Latin word with its meaning and etimology more will be attuned to hearing the word read at the altar and better comprehend the beauty of the Mother tongue. Hopefully in this Time of Passiontide we can gain a higher appreciation and contemplation on how the Daily Proper of the Holy Mass applies in our lives in alignment with the will of Christ and His Blessed Immaculate Mother and His Mystical Bride, His Holy Roman Catholic Church.
for today's Proper of the Greater Double Feast of the Archangel Gabriel
is a simple verb that speaks volumes as to this heavenly angel's role in salvation history: Missus
which translates to "He [the angel Gabriel] was sent"
and it encapsulates the mission of this powerful archangel who God chose to announce through the holy Prophet Daniel
the Coming of Jesus Christ: Consider the total accuracy of Daniel's prophecy as given to him by the Messenger of God, Gabriel which means "strength, or power of God." Marvel at the following taken from today's Epistle of Daniel 9: 21-26 and you will see how blind and stubborn the Jews were to reject the Promised Messias:
Lectio Danielis prophetae. In diebus illis : adhuc me loquente in oratione, ecce vir Gabriel, quem videram in visione a principio, cito volans tetigit me in tempore sacrificii vespertini. Et docuit me, et locutus est mihi, dixitque : Daniel nunc egressus sum ut docerem te, et intelligeres. Ab exordio precum tuarum egressus est sermo : ego autem veni ut indicarem tibi, quia vir desideriorum es : tu ergo animadverte sermonem, et intellige visionem. Septuaginta hebdomades abbreviatæ sunt super populum tuum, et super urbem sanctam tuam ut consummetur prævaricatio, et finem accipiat peccatum, et deleatur iniquitas, et adducatur justitia sempiterna, et impleatur visio, et prophetia, et ungatur Sanctus sanctorum. Scito ergo, et animadverte : Ab exitu sermonis, ut iterum ædificetur Jerusalem, usque ad Christum ducem, hebdomades septem, et hebdomades sexaginta duæ erunt : et rursum ædificabitur platea, et muri in angustia temporum. Et post hebdomades sexaginta duas occidetur Christus : et non erit ejus populus, qui eum negaturus est. Et civitatem, et sanctuarium dissipabit populus cum duce venturo : et finis ejus vastitas, et post finem belli statuta desolatio.
Lesson from the Prophet Daniel. In those days
As I was yet speaking in prayer, behold the man, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly, touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice.
And he instructed me, and spoke to me, and said: O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee, and that thou mightest understand. From the beginning of thy prayers the word came forth: and I am come to shew it to thee, because thou art a man of desires: therefore, do thou mark the word, and understand the vision.
Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the Saint of saints may be anointed.
Know thou, therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ, the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls, in straightness of times.
And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people, with their leader, that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation.
There are several words that could have been used as today's VerbumQUO such as locutus meaning "he spoke", or visione as in "vision" which approximates with Gabriel's several appearances. But we chose Missus because it embodies not only the fact that the angel was sent by God, but that this "mission" carried through from the Old Testament to the New, being the very bridge with the Annunciation which we shall treat tomorrow on that joyful Double of the First Class Feast. It is proper that St. Gabriel's feast prefaces the Annunciation to emphasize that it could only be carried out by God. The term Missus also assimilates with the perpetual reminder given to us by Jesus Christ in continuing His propitiatory Sacrifice carried out continually in an unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Missa is the Latin noun for "Mass" which means "to send" from the Latin missum. From this Latin root also come "messenger", "message", "mission", and "missionary" - one who is sent as a messenger from God. Since "send" is an Anglo Saxon word that comes from sendan, we will focus on the etimology of the Latin word mitere which means "to send". Thus the balanced word that equates send with mittere would be "transmit"; thus let us see how Webster's defines it:
"send", "transmit" - verb, [From the Latin mittere to send trans before + mittere to send; ergo: send before.] 1. To send or transfer from one person or place to another; to forward by rail, post, wire, etc. 2. To pass on or down to others; specif., to impart hereditarily. 3. To cause (as light force, etc.) to pass or be conveyed through space or a medium. 4. To send out (a signal) by means of radio waves."
That, of course, for the most part is the technical term, but we all know what was conveyed through space came from heavenly regions as in the Angel sent by God. He transmitted to man the hope of salvation through Gabriel to Daniel, then Our Lady as we see in today's Gospel from Luke 1: 26-38:
In illo tempore: Missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David, et nomen virginis Maria. Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit : Ave gratia plena : Dominus tecum : benedicta tu in mulieribus. Quæ cum audisset, turbata est in sermone ejus, et cogitabat qualis esset ista salutatio. Et ait angelus ei : Ne timeas Maria, invenisti enim gratiam apud Deum : ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium, et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum : hic erit magnus, et Filius Altissimi vocabitur, et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patris ejus : et regnabit in domo Jacob in æternum, et regni ejus non erit finis. Dixit autem Maria ad angelum : Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco ? Et respondens angelus dixit ei : Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi. Ideoque et quod nascetur ex te sanctum, vocabitur Filius Dei. Et ecce Elisabeth cognata tua, et ipsa concepit filium in senectute sua : et hic mensis sextus est illi, quæ vocatur sterilis : quia non erit impossibile apud Deum omne verbum. Dixit autem Maria : Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Et discessit ab illa angelus.
At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
And of His kingdom there shall be no end.
And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.
Because no word shall be impossible with God.
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
The noted and orthodox Abbot Dom Gueranger writes in Volume 5 of The Liturgical Year for this feast:
"Gabriel is one of the first of the angelic kingdom. He tells Zacharay that he stands before the face of God (St. Luke 1: 19). He is the angel of the Incarnation, becaause it is in this mystery, which apparently is so humble, that the power of God is principally manifested: and Gabriel signifies the strength of God. We find the Archangel preparing for this sublime office, even in the old Testament. First of all, he appeared to Daniel, after this prophet had had the vision of the Persian and Grecian
empires; and such was the majesty of his person that Daniel fell on his face trembling (Daniel 8: 17). Shortly afterwards, he appeared again to the same prophet, telling him the exact time of the coming of the Messias."
Gabriel was truly the seraphic bridge between old and new for he was sent to announce the birth of the last Prophet Saint John the Baptist, the precursor to the Messias. We resume Gueranger's meditation:
"Angel as he is, he reveres the humble Maid, whose name is Mary; he has been sent to her by the most high God, to offer her the immense honor of becoming the Mother of the eternal Word. It is Gabriel that receives the great Fiat, the consent of Mary; and when he quits this earth, he leaves it in possession of Him, for whom it had so long prayed in those words of Isaias: Drop down, Dew, O ye heavens! (Isaias 45: 8).
"The hour at length came, when the Mother of the Emmanuel was to bring forth the blessed Fruit of her virginal womb. Jesus was born amidst poverty; but Heaven willed that His crib should be surrounded by fervent adorers. An angel appeared to some shepherds, inviting them to go to the stable near Bethlehem. He is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly army, sweetly singing their hymn: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will!' Who is this angel that speaks to the shepherds and seems as the chief of the other blessed spirits that are with him? In the opinion of several learned writers, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who is continuing his ministry as messenger of the good tidings (St. Luke 2: 10)."
It is interesting to note that Gabriel was the one whom the Father sent to the Mount of Olivet to comfort our Lord in His time of Agony. The Abbot reveals this:
"Lastly, when Jesus is suffering His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, an angel appears to Him, not merely as a witness of His sufferings, but that he might strengthen Him under the fear His human nature felt at the thought of the chalice of the Passion He was about to drink (St. Luke 22: 42,43). Who is this angel? It is Gabriel, as we learn not only from the writings of several holy and learned authors, but also from a hymn which the holy See has permitted to be used in the Liturgy: 'As Jesus was in prayer on that last night, when a bloody sweat bathed His limbs, thou didst leave Heaven to be near Him, and offer Him the chalice that His Father willed Him to drink. O blessed Trinity! strengthen Catholic hearts with the heavenly gift of faith. Give us grace, as we to Thee give glory for ever. Amen.'"
Here we see the beautiful use of Tradition that has passed down to us that the strength of God that helped strengthen the humanity of Christ was the Angel who represents the strength of God - Gabriel. While Traditional Catholics most often call upon Gabriel's counterpart Saint Michael to protect us, alas we forget the power of Gabriel's prowess. And their peer Saint Raphael is also often lost in the background. We have a traditional custom we do whenever we get in the car to go somewhere. We pray for St. Gabriel to be in front of us, announcing to all 'get out of the way' so to speak, St. Michael above to protect us in all directions, and St. Raphael behind to cover our backs and clean up our oil spills, if you will. It works; that and a prayer to Mary, Our Lady of the Highways. But back to St. Gabriel: Dom Gueranger provides a prayer entreating Gabriel in our struggle that is most appropriate:
"Angel of strength, friend of mankind! continue thy ministry of aiding us. We are surrounded by terrible enemies: our weakness makes them bold; come to our assistance, procure us courage. Pray for us during these days of conversion and penance. Obtain for us the knowledge of all we owe to God in consequence of that ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, of which thou wast the first witness. We have forgotten our duties to the Man-God, and we have offended Him: enlighten us, that so, henceforth, we may be faithful to His teachings and examples. Raise up our thoughts to the happy abode where thou dwellest; assist us to merit the places left vacant by the fallen angels, for God has reserved them for His elect among men.
Pray, O Gabriel, for the Church militant, and defend her against the attacks of hell. The times are evil; the spirits of malice are let loose, nor can we make stand against them, unless with God's help. It is by His holy angels that He gives victory to His bride. Be thou, O strength of God! foremost in the ranks. Drive heresy back, keep schism down, foil the false wisdom of men, frustrate the policy of the world, aruse the well-minded from apathy; that thus the Christ Whom thou didst announce may reign over the earth He has redeemed, and that we may sing together with thee and the whole angelic choir: 'Glory be to God, peace to men!'"
In understanding salvation history it would be incomplete without the contributions and fiat of the Archangel Gabriel. Thank you, holy Gabriel, for blowing your horn. For the many - pro multis - who are faithful, the message is heard loud and clear: Mission accomplished!
Michael Cain, editor, The Daily Catholic
VerbumQUO for the Feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel