Wording change for Opening Prayer at Mass

After receiving a letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have decided to make a small change to the wording of the Collect prayers said by the priest near the start of most Masses during the year.

In a letter sent to New Zealand priests dated July 10, New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference president Bishop Patrick Dunn said the New Zealand bishops had decided that the phrase “ . . . one God for ever and ever” would become simply “. . . God for ever and ever”, leaving out the word “one”.

Bishop Dunn noted that a letter from CDW Prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah, sent on May 13 to presidents of bishops’ conferences which are members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), called for the change, “asking us to alter the wording of the conclusion used for the Opening Prayer (Collect) for most days of the year”.

Bishop Dunn added that Cardinal Sarah “points out correctly that the underlined word ‘one’ does not actually occur in the Latin (. . . Deus, per omnia Saecula saeculorum) and has asked that we remove it from these Collects”.

This alteration “changes the conclusion of our prayers from being simply an affirmation of the Holy Trinity (‘in the unity of the Holy Spirit’) to being also an affirmation of the divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, (‘God, for ever and ever’)”, Bishop Dunn wrote.

The NZCBC recommends this change be implemented at all Masses from August 1 this year onwards, or earlier if priests prefer.

So the Collect conclusion will read: “We ask this in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.”

Bishop Dunn noted that this change is now being implemented in other English-speaking episcopal conferences and will be incorporated into liturgical texts being published from now on.

In his letter, Cardinal Sarah noted that the CDW has, for some time, seen the addition of the word “one” as problematic and mistaken.

“On the one hand, it can serve to undermine the statement of the Son’s unique identity within the Trinity, which the Latin formulas so strongly convey and, on the other hand, it can also be interpreted as saying the Jesus Christ is ‘one God’.

“Either or both of these interpretations is injurious to the faith of the Church.”

Cardinal Sarah added: “This is of particular import in this time when many people see Jesus simply as a good man or moral teacher, akin to Socrates or the Buddha, but they fail to recognise him as the incarnate Son of God and Second Person of Trinity.”

Cardinal Sarah noted that the use of “one God” in English is an “outlier”, which is not mirrored in any of the other main language translations.

Since the English translation of the Roman Missal is often used as a guide for translations into other languages which are “less diffuse”, the risk of unauthentic interpretation is increased.

“Where this has previously come to our notice, we have corrected the translation,” Cardinal Sarah wrote.

The cardinal’s letter also stated that the CDW had previously raised the matter with ICEL informally.

The letter said it would be up to English-speaking episcopal conferences, through ICEL, to decide “how best to translate these formulas in order to safeguard their Trinitarian shape as well as their profession of the Son’s divinity”. Models in other languages were suggested.

The New Zealand bishops decided the simplest option would be to leave out the word “one”.



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