“I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof...” - theology overload?


The USCCB website says that in this part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the celebrant and the assembly “acknowledge[s] their unworthiness to receive so great a gift.” That was easy enough to understand when the prior translation was “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but…”

But because the current formulation of the prayer calls to mind the Centurion’s servant who is healed…Am I supposed to think that there is more to this prayer than a profession of humility?

For example, the Centurion goes to meet Jesus and tells him to say the “word” instead of coming to the Centurion’s house. Besides saving Jesus the trip to his house, the Centurion seems to be aware that Jesus cannot enter his house without becoming ritually impure. Is this why the Centurion says “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…” The Centurion is showing great respect to Jesus and Jewish law. Given the Centurion’s position, this is also showing humility.

But in the context of Matthew, the “word” that this Centurion urges Jesus to give is the command that the servant be healed. And Jesus is struck by the Centurion’s faith. The faith of the Centurion is shown when he says that Jesus can give a command to heal and it will be done just as sure as if the Centurion told one of his soldiers to “Go”, and he goes. So in the scripture there is a heavy emphasis on faith.

If the meaning of “the word” is carried over to the prayer, then I would find myself asking whether “the word”, or command, is simply contingent upon my having faith in Jesus’ mercy to heal “my soul” without Him having to enter “under my roof”.

To make a long story short [too late], I cannot make sense of why a new formulation of this prayer was made. It seems to have just muddied the waters for me, especially today as I have reflected on it.


I think your understanding is spot on. Seems the new formulation worked.

Go with it.

Understand our faith is lacking, continue to ask for an increase in faith.


I have sensed a similar discomfort with this wording [“Unworthy that you should enter under my roof”]; true, “I am unworthy, yet I want You, Lord, under my roof!”.

Then I turned back, just last week actually, and paid attention to the remainder of the prayer: “Only say the word, and my soul shall be healed, Lord.”

So, with that prayer to Jesus, I progress up to commune, and what word do you think I hear from the Priest in Persona Christi? … He reaches out something to give me to eat and says, “The Body of Christ.”

“Only say the word…” and the Word is uttered, “Take and eat, this is my body.”
He said the word, and I am compelled to obey his command to take, eat.

I am not worthy, yet he commanded me anyway. Who am I to question his command?!

John Martin


Luke 7:2 A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him.

Matthew 8:8 The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.

Yes, there is more than humility expressed, the Centurion has faith in the power of Jesus to heal by giving the command, and he thought it superfluous to bring him (the servant), even though he was about dead.


Hopefully this doesn’t confuse you more: My 1957 St. Joseph Missal (Latin-English) has it translated “…come under my roof…” which is more true to what the scripture says. So the new version is really the old one!


@0331 I was racking my brain trying to find proof that years ago I remember hearing “come under my roof” in the mass. This was in the early 60s. I was quite young, but the thought of the Lord coming under my roof fascinated me. Especially since we lived on tne top floor in an apartment house. Thank you for validating my memory.


The Mass is truly beautiful. We start with the penitential rite, confessing our sins to God asking He forgives us that we may worthily celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Then prior to communion we thank God for holding us worthy to minister to Him.

& if you view the liturgy of the Eucharist as the new Passover… sprinkling the blood of the Pascal lamb over our hearts, the Angel of death passes over us as if we are worthy.



I’m not so sure my understanding is spot on. To me, the new formulation could be saying that the only thing that’s required for my soul to be healed is faith…without having to receive the Lord under my roof. The Lord under my roof being the reception of the Eucharist.


Could we perhaps look at it this way? Making an analogy that the body is the dwelling (house) in which the soul resides in. I humble myself by saying I am not worthy to receive you, and worthy I am not, except by the grace of God, the Word.

I don’t profess that this in the correct interpretation. Just another way of looking at it.


I look at ‘receive’ and ‘enter under my roof’ as synonymous. ‘Enter under my roof’ is what the centurion said where this story is recounted in scripture.


I agree, and this is how I always understood it. But if the change back to a more scriptural rendering is supposed to be somehow more theologically correct, then what else am I supposed to glean from it that wasn’t obvious from the previous formulation of the prayer. I don’t know why it was changed. Especially since the scripture doesn’t really match up with the prayer. That’s all I’m saying.


Yes, so do I. But Jesus never entered under the Centurion’s roof. The Centurion’s faith was enough.

That’s what I’m saying. It doesn’t really match up with the prayer.


That’s good. And the previous formulation of the prayer would probably give the same impression.

Why a new formulation?


The new translation is simply a more correct rendering of the Latin.

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.

I grew up hearing that Latin phrase and reading the literal English translation of it in my missal, which is the same translation we have now. The phrase is meant to recall the centurion to mind.



The Church says you are worthy to receive communion by being in a state of Grace. Do a thorough examination of conscience, go to confession, do penance, confess your venial sins at the penitential right at the beginning of Mass. Badda Bing, badda boom, you are worthy to receive our redeemer in the form of bread & wine.

But your soul is not healed at that point.

Jesus never enters under the centurians’roof, yet his servant is healed. My soul is not healed after receiving communion. It is nourished. I believe.

I believe we’re asking Jesus to heal our souls, making us saints, receiving Him in the Eucharist is part of the asking. If that makes sense.


This may help:


Why the change? This is excellent:



It is a dialogue, this prayer.
The Centurion had a dialogue with Jesus and the word of Jesus in his part of the dialogue to the Centurian was, “GO”.

We ask Jesus to “only say the word,” and his a part of the dialogue with us shows him saying the word, “Take and Eat.” “The body of Christ.”

The Centurion believed and obeyed Jesus and went home.
We believe Jesus and obey his word and we take and eat.


Okay. It more accurately reflects the Latin.

I still don’t understand why it’s used. It seems to imply that faith alone is enough to heal “anima”. Whatever “anima” means I don’t know. I’ve read that “I” and “soul” are inadequate translations, but are the best practical translations.

I also don’t know what is meant by “healed”.


Well, as I said before, the Latin has been consistent through both the old and the new translations, and the Latin uses the words of the centurion to reflect our unworthiness and the Lord’s ability to both heal and impart grace.

Why does the Church wish to recall the words of the centurion at this point in the Mass? I can’t say for sure, but the Mass is not a theological presentation or a textbook. There are a lot of biblical references.

Whenever I read or hear the words of the centurion, I am reminded of T.S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday.” Maybe reading the poem can explain things better than I can, although Eliot, I think, did not use the words of the centurion to refer specifically to healing of the soul or the body, but perhaps the healing of civilization. But that’s a matter for an English Lit prof to use in a lecture.


I don’t understand why this scripture has been put into the Liturgy at that particular place. I don’t see any relevance between this scripture passage and the Eucharist.

As I said before, the phrase “say the word” refers to Jesus’ command to heal a person. And the phrase “under my roof” refers to a situation where Jesus in fact never entered under his roof.

I don’t see how either can be tied to receiving the Eucharist.

Surely the Latin in the Liturgy is more carefully considered than to use a scripture passage that doesn’t match what is actually happening right then in the Mass.

That particular prayer must have been important for it to have been changed. I must be missing something.

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