"Pray brethren..."

Why do some priests say ‘Pray brethren…that my sacrifice and yours…’ while others say ‘…our sacrifice…’?

Well, if one thinks practically, saying “that my sacrifice and yours” is only emphasizing, in the English vernacular, that the priest is the one offering the primary sacrifice at the altar, but by saying “and yours” he is also including the faithful attending the Mass, as we, the laity, participate in the sacrifice we witness at the altar. To say “that our sacrifice” has the same meaning, because it is meant to be all-encompassing in terms of the laity and the faithful, it just excludes any separation in emphasis between the priest’s sacrifice and the laity’s sacrifice. In short, it’s a matter of personal preference for the priest, I conjecture, since the teaching of the Church is, essentially, that the Mass is one sacrifice, not “belonging,” necessarily, more to the priest or the attendees.

They’re jumping the liturgical gun. The present English translation says “Pray brethren that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God…” and this is what a priest should say if he is speaking in English.

In a couple of years, this will change to the more accurate “Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God…” Here’s a brief explanation:
The priest speaks of “my sacrifice and yours” (meum ac vestrum sacrifícium). In the older translation, this was rendered as “our sacrifice,” but it is clear in the Latin that two sacrifices are referred to: that of the priest and that of us. The priest’s sacrifice is the bread and wine (and the Eucharist); we participate in the offering by the priest and join to it our very selves.

Both sacrifices – the bread and wine (and afterwards, the Eucharist) and ourselves – are united as one at the hands of the priest. Our very lives are represented by the bread and wine which the priest holds during the words of consecration. Immediately afterwards, when the Eucharist is present on the altar, we join our very lives – all of our worries, cares, sufferings, and prayers – to the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. It is only by joining ourselves to Christ, the perfect sacrifice, that our own sacrifice can truly be acceptable to the Father. (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5)

Because Christ is both priest and victim, our share in his priesthood (exercised in intercessory prayer, as well as in this offering of ourselves as living sacrifices of praise) must also include a share in his victimhood. This does not mean that we should expect to undergo a persecution and death as grievous as his, but we should unite the suffering we encounter in our lives to the suffering that Christ endured for our sake. The words of St. Paul to the Colossians are particularly meaningful in this regard: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” (Col. 1:24) St. Paul is not saying that Christ’s sufferings were imperfect or incomplete, but that our participation in Christ’s sufferings has yet to be fulfilled; in St. Paul’s suffering for the sake of the Church, he is completing his participation in Christ’s life, which he began in his baptism.

We must accept these words which call us to a life of self-offering: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me.” (John 12:24-26) Jesus is the true Bread from Heaven, the very “grain” of Heaven. The model he gave us is one of voluntary sacrifice for the good of others. That concern for the good of others is the motivation behind the words we say.
[RIGHT]Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, pp. 99-100[/RIGHT]
Long story short, priests shouldn’t say “my sacrifice and yours” yet, although they are perfectly free to explain (in a homily, preferably) that the words will change in the near future and how the present words, while not wrong, don’t as accurately convey the reality of the sacrifice of the Mass.

They’re jumping the liturgical gun. The present English translation says “Pray brethren that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God…” and this is what a priest should say if he is speaking in English.


**I have heard on these fora that there are some few places and/or priests who have been given an indult to use the revised translation to see how it works in practice.

Otherwise, you’re right. He should not be anticipating the official introduction of it.**

To avoid confusion or, worse, scandal, I think such priests should make that known to their parishioners, either through the bulletin or an announcement at the end of Mass or even in the homily.

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