Homily from the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A
Why this change?
Why, beginning on November 27th, the First Sunday of Advent, will we begin using a new translation of the Roman Missal? All the parts of the Mass come out of Scripture or ancient texts that have been part of our Church for hundreds and hundreds of years. Those texts are originally written in Latin. The Church wants to make sure the words we pray in English every week is the best possible translation we can get.
In the late 1980’s, Blessed Pope John Paul II recognized that the English translation of the Roman Missal should be better. As you know, John Paul II spoke several languages and traveled the world. So, the first reason why we’re using a new translation is so we can use a more exact translation of the Latin into English.
Another reason we’re using a new translation is so that we here in the United States and other English speaking countries will be saying the same thing the rest of the world has already been saying in the Mass for over 40 years. With this new translation, we’ll, in a sense, be catching up with what everyone else in the world is already doing.
"And with your spirit."
Well, the original text in Latin is “Et cum spiritu tuo” which literally means, “And with your spirit.” For the last 40 years or so, when we’ve said “And also with you” we’ve been saying an interpretation of the Latin instead of the best translation possible.
When I was in the seminary, we would have Mass in Spanish every Wednesday, and this response was “Y con tu Espiritu” which literally means “And with your Spirit.” So, we’re merely joining what the rest of the world is already saying and thereby, will be more unified in our prayer with the rest of the world.
But there’s another reason why this translation is better. Not just because it’s the correct translation, but also because it brings out deep spiritual meaning that’s been lost for the last 40 years. The reason why you’ll say “And with your spirit” is because you are acknowledging the unique activity of the Holy Spirit working through the priest during Mass.
Now, perhaps “And with your spirit” sounds like you’re putting the priest on a pedestal. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. “And with your spirit” is a humbling reminder to Monsignor and I that what we are about to do is not about us, but about the Holy Spirit working through us. We can do nothing on our own. So, unlike “And also with you” which puts the emphasis on Monsignor and I, “And with your spirit” put the emphasis where it belongs: on the Holy Spirit working through us.
"Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."
Perhaps your thinking, “Why such an emphasis on our fault?” Do we have to say it three times? Well, just think about how you already say your sorry when you’ve offended someone. Let’s say I took this book and hit Monsignor over the head with it. Then let’s say I wanted to apologize and let him know I was truly sorry. If I said, “Hey, sorry” and then walked away would you believe me? No, when we’re really sorry for something, we always apologize more than once. We say something like, “Monsignor, I’m so sorry I did that. I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me.”
Plus, we’re not only going to use new words, but we’re also going to add new gestures. When we say “through my fault” three times, we’ll tap our breast with our fist.
Why? A couple of reasons.
Second, we’re sacramental people. In the sacraments, we use all our senses in our worship of God: we use sight to look upon beautiful art, we use hearing to listen to the Word of God, we use our sense of smell when we smell incense, we use our sense of taste when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We also worship through the gestures we make. We make the Sign of the Cross... we also trace the Cross on our foreheads, our lips and our hearts before we hear the words of the Gospel… we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer… we bow right before we receive the Eucharist. We associate physical actions and make use of our senses with our words to give our worship fuller meaning.
And lastly, we sin in bodily ways don’t ways don’t we? Ever wave high to someone and use only one finger instead of all five? Well, were showing ourselves and one another that as we sin in a bodily way, we repent in a bodily way too.
Those words come from the Gospel of Luke. They’re the hymn the angels sang on Christmas morning when angels announced to shepherds the birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people on whom his favor rests.”
Why wouldn’t we want to use the most precise translation of Scripture, the inspired Word of God? If we, as Catholics, take this seriously, the new translation can lead us to a new understanding of the Mass and Scripture than we’ve ever had before.
Read New Roman Missal Part 2 - The Liturgy of the Word.