Because the Mass prayers are so familiar, I’m sad to say that once in a while I go on autopilot during the Liturgy. That will end in just over a week when English-speaking Catholics first bring the new translation of the Roman Missal to life at Mass. Many of the responses will be new and we’ll have to pay closer attention.
With the help of theologian Dr. Edward Sri’s book “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass,” and Father John Paul Erickson, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Worship, I’ve tried to show how the new translation brings the Mass text closer to the scripture it’s founded upon. Whether or not you’re ready for the transition, this post provides something to reflect on during Mass and after. The new responses are in italic, followed by the old text in parentheses.
1. The Lord be with you
...And with your spirit. (And also with you). Instead of the polite response we’re used to, this one sounds almost New Age until we discover that St. Paul said it in Gal. 6:18, Phil. 4:23 and 2 Tim. 4:22. The new response acknowledges that through ordination and the Holy Spirit the priest represents Christ in sacred duties. We address the priest’s spirit, the deepest part of his being, where he has been ordained to lead us in the liturgy.
2. The Confiteor
…through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. This prayer, which starts with “I confess,” doesn’t change much in the new translation except for this line and one other word. The new words, taken from 1 Chron. 21:8, sounds repetitious but in praying them we more accurately convey our true sorrow for our sins.
3. The Gloria
The previous prayer won’t work because more than half the words are different in the new translation. One difference is that Jesus is identified as the “Only Begotten Son,” which reflects his unique relationship with the Father as described in St. John’s gospel. (Jn. 1:12, 1 Jn. 3:1)
4. The Nicene Creed
There aren’t a lot of changes to the Creed but here are a few of the most significant ones.
…all things visible and invisible (seen and unseen). This phrase is a more precise translation of St. Paul’s reference to all created things. (Col. 1:16)
… consubstantial with the Father (one in being with the Father). Here’s a big new word that will take a while to get used to. It’s the right word because It’s closer to the theological language of the Council of Nicea held in 325 AD where the Creed was developed in response to a heresy denying Jesus’ divinity. The new word means that the Father and Son are of the same substance.
…was incarnate of the Virgin Mary (born of the Virgin Mary). Another big word, consistent with the Latin text of the Mass, emphasizing that Jesus took on human flesh (Jn. 1:14), not just that he was born of Mary.
5. The Sanctus
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. The last three words of this line are the only changes to this prayer that comes right before the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer. The new words are taken from Is. 6:3 where the prophet Isaiah received a vision of the angels praising God. “Hosts” refers to the angels in heaven.
6. Consecration Prayers
…Chalice of my Blood (Cup of my Blood) What’s the difference between a cup and a chalice? A chalice is associated with the liturgy–it’s a special Eucharistic cup that the Lord uses at the Last Supper. (Lk. 22:20, I Cor. 11:25)
…for you and for many (for you and for all) The word “many” is closer to Jesus’ actual words at the Last Supper (Mt. 26:28) and more accurately reflects the Latin text. The addition of this word shows that Jesus died for all but not everyone chooses to accept the gift of salvation. The prophet Isaiah also speaks of how Christ’s suffering justifies many in Is. 53.
7. Prayer before Communion
Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof (Lord I am not worthy to receive you). The new words better represent the centurion’s request of Jesus in Mt. 8:8 and Lk. 7:6-7.