a crucial missing word

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 14, 2005

These days I'm dividing my time between two projects: plowing through reports from the Synod on the Eucharist, and organizing my thoughts on how the Boston archdiocese collapsed. This morning the two threads came together.

The Synod is tackling very important issues, because if you don't understand the Eucharist, you can't understand the Church. The Eucharist is what makes the Church different from any other religious body. The Eucharist is what makes the Church, period.

Now it strikes me that for the past several decades, Catholic leaders in Boston have been doing their best to assure the surrounding society: "Don't worry about us; we'll fit right in; we're just like you." (From a sociological point of view, by the way, that's an odd position for a majority group to take.) But as a Church we are not like the rest of society. Insofar as we are Catholics, defined by the Eucharistic bond, we are something different from the rest of the world: something other. That's one of the marks of the Catholic Church; she is holy.

Then I recalled one of the more glaring errors in the English translation of the Mass: in the Suscipiat. The Latin reads:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque ecclesiae suae sanctae.

And every day we say:

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church.

If you were teaching a high-school Latin class, and a student submitted that translation, you might think that he had carelessly forgotten the last word: sanctae. But here it's not a careless error; it's a deliberate choice not to proclaim that the Church is "holy."

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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