A prayer for spiritual benefit from the new missal

O God,
who have reasons
for showing your people
pathways of understanding
in new words,
through these, we beseech you, lead it along them
toward this, O Lord, for those.
Through Christ our Lord.

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59 comments

    1. You, Jack, are right indeed. And your assessment of the new mass and translation, indeed are correct. Up with this, we should indeed not put. Fork over dollars in the thousands will our churches have to do in order that we should be blessed richly with hymnals reflecting the new mass indeed. Be among us and under our roofs, O Lord, when upon us this new mass is inflicted.

      Amen Jack. You said it best!

  1. BCP 1662:

    O God, in whose inscrutable wisdom thou hast deigned to disclose to thy people the pathways of instruction by the revelation of words made new: Grant, we beseech thee, that by the same words thy people may be led through them, thy pathways, to the purpose which thou hast intended; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Sorry… couldn’t resist.

  2. We’ll be using this prayer for our Liturgy cmte meetings to prepare for the new missal. We’d use one of the new missal prayers, but that would be unauthorized.

  3. Some tips from professional wordsmiths:

    1. Use small words.
    2. Use short sentences.
    3. Consistency matters.
    4. Sound and texture matter.
    5. Visual imagery matters.
    6. Get the order right.

    Maybe for the next revision.

    1. Please don’t try to lure the People of God with such ideas, lest they neglect the divine commandments of Liturgiam Authenticam.

  4. ICEL, 1998:

    Almighty God,
    you have reasons
    of which reason knows nothing,
    for the heavens are not high enough to contain you,
    nor the depths too deep to enfold you.
    You make plain to your people
    your pathways of wisdom,
    knowledge and understanding,
    by opening within us the great treasury
    of human vocabulary,
    unfolding in new words all that leads us to you.
    Give us grace to learn these words well,
    that we may be lead along your paths
    to the understanding that you desire for us to have;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord,
    who is alive, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
    God for ever and ever. Amen.

    This really is too easy.

    1. Ha!
      Antoine Saint-Exupéry, pray for us.
      But shouldn’t it be “nor the depths deep enough to unfold you”? A little Vox Clara backseat driving here!

    2. I need some help. Where is this text, “Almighty God, you have reasons, etc.,” found in the proposed ICEL Sacramentary of 1998? I am unable to locate it. Many thanks.

      1. The original prayer posted by the editor is something of a joke. Both of my expansions of it in the string of comments are also meant to be jokes — done in the very different styles of the Collects of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Alternative Opening Prayers of the 1998 ICEL Sacramentary. All three were meant to illustrate the very different styles that can be used to express the same textual themes… and I think all are just about on the money, stylistically.

      1. I had in mind Paschal’s line “le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point,” rendered into elevated but contemporary English and directed at the Almighty…

        Elevated contemporary English. ICEL was on to something. Give it 500 years?

        BTW, the Canadian Bishops adopted the ICEL collects from 1998 for their Sunday Celebrations book — which they don’t subtitle in a deliberately lay-demeaning manner… British Anglicans bit for some of the collects, offertory and invitations to communion, penitential rites and one of the alternate eucharistic prayers (Nathan Mitchell’s prayer, which the CDWDS jettisoned before “Sacramentary” stage). And some American Episcopalians are considering the possibility of adopting the alternative Exsultet. ICEL 1998 lives… just elsewhere.

  5. Right on! It took me three tries to read that little short prayer and read it correctly. It truly IS an example of the wordiness and terribly poor sentence structure in the new mass! The “new” Creed is written in first person (“I believe in one God” … can we turn to our neighbor in church and ask during the Creed … “I believe in on God” … “do you???”) and the Creed is one GIANT run-on sentence. It has the three parts of the Trinity addressed but without beginning each with “I believe in God” … “I believe in Jesus Christ” … “I believe in the Holy Spirit” — no, instead each begins with “and in …” What a joke!

    We need as Catholic Christians to encourage MORE people to join our church and to make our young adults WANT to attend church. It’s a constant struggle, but once they hear this often complex, wordy and sometimes just silly (“Lord I am not worthy that You should come under MY roof” — what?!?! — whose church is it anyway?), they will want to attend church alright — just NOT ours!

    There is a reason why praise music is being welcomed into our churches now — it’s fun, it’s spiritual and it’s appealing. Keeping bringing in praise music and enjoyable things to our churches — that way when this hideous new mass hits next year, we can still have fun and be spiritually fed during our liturgy. Amen.

    1. +JMJ+

      St. Thomas Aquinas explained why the liturgical Creed is in the first person, and that reason is mentioned in Liturgiam Authenticam (and the Catechism too, I think). Also, the 2010 text DOES begin each set of clauses with “I believe…” This was not the case with the 2008 text, but the 2010 text adjusted this.

      The “come under my roof” business is purely Scriptural and perfectly reasonably, see Matthew 8:8. (Of course, Edna Savage would probably disagree with me there.)

      1. As to ‘come under my roof’, it’s quite Scriptural, yes. But when trying to prepare second grader kids for Communion, I can pretty much guarantee that they’re going to be thinking about peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouths. . .

      2. I think some of you missed my points completely. “Come under MY roof” — whose church are we talking about? What was spiritually wrong with saying “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You”? That was right to the point. We are sinners and thus we are not worthy of any of the love and blessings our Lord grants us. It is through His Son Jesus Christ that we stand before our Father forgiven of our sins. This is basic Christianity 101. We are not in any way worthy of God’s love. Saying instead that we are not worthy that God should come under our roof while we are in church is not only weird, but also sounds like we are elevating ourselves to a status equal to or just under God. As a child, I was always taught and rightly so, that the church is God’s house. By saying “under my roof” or anything like that, it sounds as if we are stealing away God’s presence in our church building. It also neglects to remind us that we are sinners. We are going from saying “I am not worthy to receive You” (due to sin and impurity) to a level of talking about a building.

        As for the Creed in first-person … if I am sitting in my room quietly in prayer and want to focus on MY personal faith or am sharing that faith with another person, I can easily say “I believe.” If we are gathered as a COMMUNITY of believers, then it sounds like my brothers and sisters in Christ are being ignored … “I believe” OR “we [all] believe”? I cannot make this argument easier than this.

      3. +JMJ+

        What was spiritually wrong with saying “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You”?

        It’s not that it was “spiritually wrong”, but the liturgical response is a near direct quote from Scripture, and the current translation obscures it through interpretation (“you enter under my roof” interpreted to mean “to receive you”).

        Saying instead that we are not worthy that God should come under our roof while we are in church is not only weird, but also sounds like we are elevating ourselves

        I don’t follow your argument. It doesn’t sound that way to me at all.

        “Come under MY roof” — whose church are we talking about?

        We’re not talking about the roof of a church. There’s a spiritual building being spoken of here, I believe. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, no? My body is “roof” under which resides the Holy Spirit. When Jesus enters under my roof, into my dwelling, He abides with me.

        It also neglects to remind us that we are sinners. … from saying “I am not worthy to receive You” (due to sin and impurity) to a level of talking about a building.

        I disagree that it neglects to remind us of our sin. “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” says to me that the Lord is so much greater than I that I am unworthy even for Him to so much as “visit” me. And yet… I am a temple of the Holy Spirit!

        Jesus does come under my roof, something He did not do for the centurion in Matthew 8.

        As for the Creed in first-person…

        I’ve read your argument. Did you read Aquinas’s? In the liturgy, the Creed is prayed in the first person because “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith” (LA 65, cf. Summa Theologiae, II, II, I, 9)

      4. I wonder why these two things should even come under debate for the translation. If one dislikes “I believe,” or thinks the scriptural reference in the “Lord, I am not worthy” might seem odd, then the problem shouldn’t be with the English version, but rather the Latin from which it is translated.

        IMO, it’s legitimate to argue whether or not certain words or phrases are more appropriate when translating another language (like deciding to use “spirit” rather than “ghost” when translating “spiritu”), and it’s legitimate to debate what word order or sentence structure is best, but I honestly don’t get why it’s legitimate to debate whether or not the meaning of the Latin should be *changed* for the translation. “Credo” means “I believe.” In that particular particular case, it isn’t a matter of interpretation. Also, it seems to me that to translate the “Domine non sum dignus” without keeping the clear Biblical reference is to change the meaning and intent behind it. That sort of change shouldn’t be up for debate in a translation, IMO.

        I think there is legitimacy to some of the complaints about the new translation (like sentence structure, word order, and word choices), even if I disagree with some of them. However, I think critics of the new translation undermine their own argument when they also advocate for translations that are deliberately inaccurate to the point that some or all of the meaning is lost or changed

      5. The Centurion sought healing for his servant, not for himself. If we are going to retain “under my roof”, we should also retain “My servant shall be healed.” How are “roof” and “my soul shall be healed” connected? What are we trying to say?

        I am for using the scripture passage, or perhaps “so others may be healed.” That would be a worthy insight! But my roof and my soul together? I don’t get it.

        (This is of course an argument about the Latin text, not the translation of it. Is it the inscrutable quality of the Latin that leads to arbitrary translations? ‘We cannot give them what the Latin means, but let’s give them something that has some meaning.’?)

      6. +JMJ+

        The Centurion sought healing for his servant, not for himself.

        Yes, but the liturgical response is not a mere direct quote from Scripture, it’s a liturgical use of Scripture. Just like the “Ecce Agnus Dei” in the Ordinary Form includes a quote from Revelation, but not a direct quote (dropping the word “marriage” — which is unfortunate, in my opinion, because that word gives us a big clue about what we are receiving and partaking in: consuming and consummating!)

        If we are going to retain “under my roof”, we should also retain “My servant shall be healed.”

        I have this bizarre pseudo-memory (I was born in 1981) of saying “and your servant shall be healed.” If I could rewrite the Latin text of the liturgy, I’d add “marriage” to the Ecce Agnus Dei and I’d change the response to “your servant” instead of “my soul”.

        How are “roof” and “my soul shall be healed” connected? … Is it the inscrutable quality of the Latin that leads to arbitrary translations?

        I don’t perceive the Latin as being as muddled as some here might. I admit that certain typographical errors may have crept in (e.g. “In fractionem” –> “infra actionem”), but we shouldn’t be too hasty in considering the Latin phrases to be nonsensical or haphazard or arbitrary.

        The “Ecce Agnus Dei…” and its response appear to have been introduced to the liturgy no earlier than the 13th century.

      7. I’m sympathetic to Jeffrey’s position. There is a liturgical wayof reading Scripture, similar to monastic lectio divina, which is not literal but richly allegorical and typological. The Fathers are full of this. If you want to cut out allegory and typology (which is found already in the NT’s reading of the OT) and every “misquoting” of Scripture in the Fathers or in the liturgy, much of the Christian tradition goes down the tubes. Now I do affirm historical criticism, completely and totally. This complicates things and I don’t have all the relationship worked out yet to my satisfaction. But when people charge that the Latin missal misquotes or misuses the Bible, a red flag goes up for me.
        awr

  6. to the understanding that you desire for us to have

    Just a note that this is idiomatic American usage and would strike a jarring note in other countries. There, the correct usage would be “that you desire that we have” or, better, avoiding the two “that”s, “that you desire us to have”.

    While realizing that this is ICEL 1998, I wonder if there are going to be instances of this sort of thing in the text we finally get.

  7. May I be boring and ask to have the text in Latin, the approved translation that causes concern and whether there is an official suggestion?
    From my experience translating it is very hard to get everything right: the more one examines a text the more nuances come to light. Part of the challenge is that the meaning of words does not always tie in: a French view of pain / bread will differ from that of Anglo Saxon / English speaking countries. What do they mean when they talk about l’état hebreu as distinct from Israel?

  8. Lynn
    I gather that some of the texts are jokes. I had not gathered that the initial entry was also.
    Perhaps the Dominican Brother Ursus was involved.
    Ho hum
    Peter

  9. The fact that many contributors to this discussion failed to see that the original posting was a spoof surely tells its own story. There is a lamentable breakdown of trust in the competence of the translations. Let’s hope at least some bishops get that message.

  10. On an only semi-serious note:
    reading this reminds me a of favorite prayer of the Holden crowd that might just apply to the Missal roll-out. It comes from LBW vespers, possibly as a hold over from the predecessor books (don’t have them at work to check);

    Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.
    Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

    Perils unknown, indeed!

    1. Jacob … I think this prayer, regardless if I caught your meaning correctly, doesn’t sound too bad at all. I could live with this being prayed in church IF it was a priest/deacon saying it.

      “Perils unknown” … I think this new translation and forcing of Latin-based material down our throats will result in a lot of peril to the church. The media WILL pounce on our church once again for another poor decision. They LOVE to do that. In this case though, I cannot defend the actions of the people who made this decision WITHOUT our input. Papal infallibility is something that did not come from the teachings of Jesus. Seems He always warned against putting our faith in man. While He said “render to Caesar”, I think He meant the civil authorities. I think Jesus would be seeing this NEW mass translation as a stumbling block to the faithful in His kingdom because it was not divinely inspired. It was written to satisfy the desires of the Papal hierarchy. Nowhere has anyone shown that the translation was divinely inspired. In fact, if it was discerned as potentially a Divine inspiration, then they would be happy to share it with congregations and try it out before deciding it will be the LAW of the church that you WILL DO IT and you WILL LOVE IT. Anytime a church or political leader forces something at me, I rebel. If they offer it and ask for input — I am right there with it. I have a good feeling that I do not stand alone in my objections.

    1. “Oh please” to you too. Lighten up.

      I eventually figured out that it had to be a bad parody of the new translation when I remembered this was PrayTell and not Fr. Z.

  11. A colleague who hails originally from Scotland tells us that “Lord, I am not worthy … under my roof” has always been the vernacular prayer in his home country.

  12. OK – I have to ask, is there a copy or a book with Mitchell’s Eucharistic Prayer available somewhere?

    Cody C. Unterseher :

    I had in mind Paschal’s line “le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point,” rendered into elevated but contemporary English and directed at the Almighty…
    Elevated contemporary English. ICEL was on to something. Give it 500 years?
    BTW, the Canadian Bishops adopted the ICEL collects from 1998 for their Sunday Celebrations book — which they don’t subtitle in a deliberately lay-demeaning manner… British Anglicans bit for some of the collects, offertory and invitations to communion, penitential rites and one of the alternate eucharistic prayers (Nathan Mitchell’s prayer, which the CDWDS jettisoned before “Sacramentary” stage). And some American Episcopalians are considering the possibility of adopting the alternative Exsultet. ICEL 1998 lives… just elsewhere.

    1. Yes Sean: two, in fact:

      The prayer as originally composed (except for the epiclesis and anamnesis-oblation) appears as “Great Thanksgiving E” in the Presbyterian (PCUSA) service book, Book of Common Worship (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993), 142-145.

      The prayer was lightly revised by Mitchell together with Kenneth Stevenson for inclusion as “Eucharistic Prayer G” in Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (London: Church House Publishing, 2000), 201-203. The latter includes the original epiclesis “that they may be for us the body and blood of your dear Son” (as compared to “the communion of the body and blood of Christ”), and a modified oblation, “Father, we plead with confidence his sacrifice made once for all upon the cross… and later “we bring before you these gifts of your creation” in the epiclesis phrase (as compared to “we offer you our sacrifice of praise and thaknsgiving as we commemorate Jesus your son.”) “Bring before you,” and “set before you” and “present to you” are the euphemisms the English Anglicans seem to be using for “offer,” which tends to provoke a theologically neuralgic response in some circles. Of course, I know plenty of Anglo-Catholics who substitute “offer” — but then again, who ever makes substitutions in received prayer texts?

      It’s a lengthy, beautiful, poetic prayer… well worth examining — for scholarly purposes only, of course.

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