Mass - 'Lord I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof...'

Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but say only the word and my soul shall be healed

I find this the most moving part of the Mass personally whilst I am in my own process of discernment and inquiry. I really do not feel worthy for the Lord to enter into my life, into my own ‘reality’ as there is a lot of my life that is contrary to Jesus’s and the Church’s teachings, and so I really don’t feel worthy for God to come to me… and yet there is part of me that is even afraid of the idea of my soul being healed. I do believe that this discernment process is a slow slow healing of my soul, but I do feel really confused too, its not a comforting or happy process, it often makes me feel sad and out of balance.

How do you personally connect with these words in the Mass? Has the meaning changed for you over time?

I find this the most moving part of the Mass personally whilst I am in my own process of discernment and inquiry. I really do not feel worthy for the Lord to enter into my life, into my own ‘reality’ as there is a lot of my life that is contrary to Jesus’s and the Church’s teachings, and so I really don’t feel worthy for God to come to me… and yet there is part of me that is even afraid of the idea of my soul being healed. I do believe that this discernment process is a slow slow healing of my soul, but I do feel really confused too, its not a comforting or happy process, it often makes me feel sad and out of balance.

How do you personally connect with these words in the Mass? Has the meaning changed for you over time?

Hello Miranda,

Immediately following those words, we receive the Eucharist. These words prepare me for receiving the Eucharist which is the summit of Mass. When we say ’ that you should enter under our roof’ Catholics are referring specifically to the Eucharist as we believe it is the Body and Blood of Christ that we are receiving, therefore he is entering our ‘under our roof’ so to speak. We must Confess prior to receiving the Eucharist, which is a form of ‘sweeping out the dirt’ so our soul is ready to receive our Lord ‘under our roof’.

The Eucharist is what sustains us as we wander in the ‘wilderness’ similarly the Israelites had Manna to sustain them during their 40years in the wilderness.

It is normal to feel unworthy and confused, I feel that still today to an extent. The Saints are famous for proclaiming their unworthiness although I know they were less confused and unsure than you or I, the Saints faith was solid. Look at Mary who felt unworthy that she had been chosen for the task.

The Sacraments are what make our (Catholics) soul ready to receive Christ in the Eucharist.

I promise you that if you do RCIA, get Baptised and make your first Confession and Eucharist, the burden will be lifted, you will feel less confused and less sad. I emphasise the word 'less’ because the human soul will always be restless or sad because it is missing Christ. People try to fill that spiritual emptiness with cars, toys, drugs, alcohol etc, these* things* are temporary, whereas the spiritual and emotional fulfilment I get from Christ is eternal and nothing or no-one on earth comes close.

RCIA takes some time, a year or so depending on the history of the individual, this is also a time for discernment. I encourage you to contact your local parish and do the RCIA course, it is not binding, it is a journey of discovery, if during the course you do not want to go on that is fine.

These sad feelings you are having at Mass especially when you hear the highlighted verse above is the Holy Spirit calling you to the Eucharist. Let the Holy Spirit do it’s work. Your spiritual emptiness is being slowly filled up.

Good luck on your path :slight_smile:

I actually prefer the words from last year -

“Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

First of all, it just flows better. While we are engaged in group ritual prayer, I prefer more lyrical phrases. But that’s just me.

Also, the word “receive” has a broader, deeper meaning, especially in the context of the Mass. We are “receiving” Jesus, after all. But also, the word “receive” when used to describe someone visiting your residence implies hospitality and sounds much more comprehensive than having someone “come under my roof.” A Jehova’s Witness “came under my roof” the other day, but I didn’t “receive” him.

In addition, “I shall be healed” vs. “my soul shall be healed.” Yes the primary focus is spiritual, but we do have a dual nature (physical and spiritual), so both are relevant. Hence the “I” which encompasses all that. Plus physical healings have been known to happen, but that’s a side issue.

So basically during Mass I think of the deeper meaning and the lyrical sound of the old words while I mouth the new words like a good little Catholic.

I agree that this is a touching phrase from the Mass for me. Personally, I am a visual person. I see imagery in my mind, and that is how I relate to the Divine during my worship. When I say that I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, I can imagine Christ standing before me, asking to come into my home. He’s at the door, I am holding it open, and I am hesitating. For whatever reason, having that visual really helps me to open my heart and to simply say “Yes, Lord”. I can be healed at his command, and I am letting him command it.

I’m sorry if that didn’t really make much sense. I know that it is personal to each person, so my individual imagination doesn’t necessarily mean much to others. :blush:

“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul will be healed.” said three times is what we prayed at Mass when I was a child. It is also more true to Holy Scripture :

[6] And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. [7] And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. [8] And the centurion making answer, said:** Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.**[Matthew 8:8] [Latin] [9] For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.[10] And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.

Hello Miranda, and welcome!

I also am moved by this prayer during the mass, for the reasons you list. The prayer comes from the bible passage where the centurion is asking our Lord to come to his home to heal his servant. It is a testiomny of the Roman centurion (who was not a disciple) acknowledging the greatness of the Lord, and an act of humility that a powerful Roman would do this. We are the Roman. We think we are sooo great most of the time, but like you say…we are not worthy to have the Lord enter our homes.
This prayer is the prayer that brought me back to full communion with the church! When I would say it during mass and not be able to recieve communion due to an invalid marriage, it really brought me to tears, because Jesus could not ‘say the word’ under those conditions. I missed the eucharist terribly and made my marriage right! Happiest day of my life.

I am a new Catholic having come in during this year’s Easter Vigil and I confess that saying that part and the receiving (and I try to go every day- I have a lot of Protestant years to make up for-LOL!) of the Eucharist still brings me to tears most of the time I go. It seemed like an eternity waiting during RCIA, especially when I came to realize that the Jesus I loved since I was a teenager really is present in the Eucharist but in retrospect the 9 months of RCIA went fast. The wait is well worth it!



Loko - thank you for your post, as it is really good to hear such support. I am still thinking about the idea of RCIA, and the local parishes don’t run RCIA until september, so hopefully by then I’ll feel ready to make that formal step forward. At the moment I am just making my own baby steps in my own way.
I find praying to Mary with the rosary really helps me and gives me a peace that lasts all day, like she is being there and keeping a good eye on me. I really appreciate her presence in my life although I’m not the greatest ‘daughter’ to have!

This is an amazing image! I will definitely bring that into my mind on Sunday and although I can’t receive the Eucharist, I will hopefully try to let his love into my heart.

And thank you everyone else for your thoughts and ideas. I vaguely remember saying the ‘old’ version of this when I was a child at Mass, and I agree it is far more lyrical, but we have to work with what we got :slight_smile:

Thanks again for your gracious replies.

Your love for the Eucharistic Lord is a very special grace. Continue to pursue this exploration of your love of Christ through eucharistic adoration, whether it be at Mass, or praying quietly in front of the tabernacle. I had my moment of conversion at the consecration of a Mass, and I know that my Lord in the Eucharist sends many graces to those who keep him company while He is in repose in the tabernacle.

At the Extraordinary Form mass where I attend, the priest first strikes his breast three times and says the words “Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea”, which is the “Lord, I am not worthy” phrase in Latin. He then presents the host to those assisting at Mass, and we then repeat those words three times as we strike our breast. It’s a final act of humility and emptying of ourselves before we receive the Eucharist and fill our hearts with Him and His love in communion.


I am so glad that you are attending Mass. I know He is, too. :slight_smile:

Initially, I thought the “new” translation to be a bit awkward and…honestly, goofy. But now I get it.

Sometimes, I will say to my self the old words as I am standing in line.

I like that we have gone back to English that more closely resembles the Latin. But I agree that this latest translation doesn’t flow as well as it could. I think the version that we used back in the 1960s was easier to say.

Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed.

It’s a couple syllables less and I think the second part flows better. Actually now that I think of it, I find “under” to be an awkward word to say in general. I’m not sure why.

Yes, that second sentence does flow better than what we have now. There are tons more examples of how the new translation has irredeemably clunky language in place of what use to flow off the tongue so nicely. And it’s not just a matter of being used to saying it; the sounds in the words of the old translation require less contortion of the mouth and the pattern of accented syllables flows better. Generally, when syllables are accented every other syllable or every third syllable, that’s pleasing to the ear (think iambic pentameter). Also, when the calls and responses mirror each other in length.


Priest: The Lord be with you
Rest of us: And also with you
Priest: Lift up your hearts
Rest of us: We lift them up to the Lord
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
Rest of us: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

vs. It is right and just.

You see how the old version had symmetry from beginning to end? In the new version when we say “It is right and just,” it sounds so abruptly truncated. Again, just a personal preference for lyrical group ritual prayer.

I’ll stop here before I go too far off-topic, but I just wanted to clarify a little bit why I liked the flow of last year’s Mass better.

It’s a beautiful statement of faith.

I think that, for the laity, this is one of the most important changes in the new translation. Under the old translation, “I am not worthy to receive you,” the action is all about me. I’m in control, it’s my worthiness, my decision, my action.

With the new translation, “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,” the action is where it belongs, with Christ. It is His decision, His action, His grace. It doesn’t matter whether we are worthy or not, He has decided to give us His unending grace.

We don’t ever merit His grace. This change recognizes that. In the passage in scripture, the centurion recognizes it also. The centurion, though a man under authority, recognizes his unworthiness to receive Christ, physically into his home and spiritually into his heart. And Christ gives this gentile soldier the highest praise for faith anywhere in the Gospels. We would do well to learn from the centurion’s humble example of faith.

Flow isn’t what’s important here. The old translation may have “flowed” better, but the theology is backwards and the translation lost much of the rich meaning of the text.

I love those words. I just wished we were saying them sooner using the new translations. I also am reminded of the great faith of the centurion and that Jesus used him as an example of great faith.

I’ve not yet memorized the Latin version when I go to the EF, but I use my missal and do my best to say it right.

“Under my roof” makes me think of my responsibility to my family

Any translation (new or old) has difficulties.

Think of Shakespeare. How can any translation, say Chinese, possibly retain the poetry (alliteration, pentameter, meaning, affect, etc.) of the English, whose words were chosen carefully by the author? Even paraphrasing in English kills this word flow. The Mass was promulgated in the Latin and every word and phrase were chosen carefully by the Church for their beauty and theology. There’s definitely a problem when the translated text starts to develop a life of its own. So you can argue till the cows come home which is the better translation but it seems to be a moot point if the original is so undermined.

Hello Miranderriver
I am anglican and we moved away from the Missal so we still say “Lord I am not worthy of you but only say the word and I shall be healed”

Over 25 years or more this has grown in relevance for me. Initially I think as of any part of the service meant nothing to me. Then as we get more experience of the service and more life experience the two go together and bits speak out to you.

I find this part of the service most important of all when we look at all the general confession and forgiveness throughout the service. If somehow haven’t managed to seek forgiveness till now then this does it for me at least. Whatever struggle I am going through this puts it right for me and whilst many anglicans do have the same hang ups about receiving communion as similar to Catholics I am not one of them because of this sentence. This sentence puts it right for me, whatever frame of mind I might be in, I cling to this as such. It makes it all alright because I know he will heal me to make me worthy enough to receive communion. It doesn’t matter what I think of me. I put that in the hands of God at this moment and its all taken care off. I like this part of the service very much somehow. It makes us all equal and no differences in us. Whatever is happening to us, God forgives as he heals.

Its a very good sentence.

I’m sorry but I don’t see by saying “Non sum dignus” or “I am not worthy” it makes you any more worthy. In Catholic theology, confession does that.

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