Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris; ut cum exsultatione recipiam mercedem laboris.
May I be made deserving, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow, so that I might receive with exaltation labor’s reward.
The point of the syntax here is that one is made to be deserving by the Lord, not by any action on our part, and this not so as to escape the maniple of weeping and sorrow, as one might think, but rather so as to have the unmerited joy of having such an office in the vineyard of Holy Mother Church, thus receiving with exaltation, again however much in an unmerited manner, labor’s own reward.
Rather catches one off guard, no? It is the Lord who is working for us in the supreme work of His passion and death, now having us work with Him, having us march up to the tabernacle of God, to the Cross at the Holy Sacrifice. What was a vocation, a joy, to be a co-worker with God in creation, became, as a punishment, agonizing labor of tears and sorrow. These prayers have everything to do with original sin and redemption as recounted in Genesis 2,4–3,24. This prayer is lifted right out of Genesis.
It is, ironically, a great joy to be able to have the unmerited grace to willingly take up the just punishment/consequences of original sin, including the morphing of work into labor, so that we might know something of the labors of our Lord in working for us while we were yet sinners, yet the enemies of God. And now He has us working with Him, acting in His Person, during His Sacrifice, His work for us? That’s how good and kind He is to us, His priests, His bishops, gentlemen.
The maniple, of course, is the symbol of labor, being a work towel. It’s usually embroidered and quite magnificent, demonstrating the joy we have in the irony of ourselves working with the Lord as He works for us to have us work with Him. How great is that! And to think that some think the maniple is useless! No! What a great preparation for Holy Mass to remember that this Sacrifice is the work of the Lord for us, and now, with us, who act in His Person.