I’m talking about part of the Mass, specifically the words we pray before reception of the Eucharist.
Previously – before this “new translation of the old Latin” – we said the following:
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
We now pray:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Ask any practicing, Mass-attending Catholic how this went over the first few weeks after the implementation of the new translation here in the US. At my parish here in NY, St. Daniel, there were some interesting variations, to say the least. I’ll admit to even wanting to laugh at the imagery/wordplay inherent in the use of the word ‘roof’.
Oddly enough, this was one of the first “new translation” prayers that was picked up easily by the congregation (again, using my parish as the example). Perhaps it was just tricky enough, with the changed terminology, to encourage participants to read the pew cards instead of stumble-mumbling through it. I’m not sure the reason; all I know is that we’re back in unison again just a few short months after the big switch.
Today, it hit me, in a special way, why I love the new translation (of the old.)
1.) The parallel to the scripture is all the more apparent.
Matthew 8: 5-8, RSV (for brevity; I recommend verses 5-13 for the whole ‘picture’, but I don’t want to take up too much space. )
(5) As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him (6) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” (7) And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” (8) But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
2.) When I think ‘receive’, I tend to think ‘passive’. There is an action – the giving – and the counteraction is to receive the gift. But the Eucharist is much more than just a gift to be received. Yes, it is that, but it is more.
My thoughts turned this way: when I receive a gift, I take it, and I do something with it. Depending on the manner of the gift, I may place it on a shelf, hang it on a wall, set it on a table to be looked at later, shelve it among the many items on my bookshelf, wear it, eat it, or spend it.
When I receive the Eucharist, I answer an invitation, I sign the RSVP card to attend the party and the reception, and I promise to do my best to be worthy of such an invitation. I state with the entirety of my soul that though today I am not worthy, I will accept, internalize, and cooperate with grace. I won’t use my unworthiness as an excuse; rather, I sign an agreement to be greater than what the world sets as expectations.
That’s not just receiving a gift. That’s more.
If someone knocks on your door – friend or stranger – and you let them in your house, they will stay until one of two things happens: they need to leave and go elsewhere, or you ask them to leave.
If there’s one thing I know, and just one thing, it is that Christ doesn’t abandon us. Ever. Even when the world eclipses us and it would appear there isn’t a single beam of light to bring us out of darkness, He is there. We need but turn our heads to see the light. So knowing this, I know that accepting the invitation of the Eucharist by offering our own invitation to Christ to enter under our roof, is to invite a guest into our very soul. And not just any guest – the kind that doesn’t leave until we kick him out. And let’s face it, even then, he will not abandon us. A God of love does not abandon his children.
And then I realized just how great the Father’s love is for his children. We’re not lucky, but we are blessed – continually, unfailingly, blessed – with an absolute gift.