Todays prayer over the gifts question

Epiphany of the Lord - January 2nd

accept the offerings of your Church
not gold, frankincense, and myrrh
but the sacrifice and food they symbolize:
Jesus Christ, who is Lord for ever and ever.

What is the meaning of the word symbolize in this prayer?

make present and real even though they are not identically the same reality

“Symbolize” is a bad translation:
Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, dona propitius intuere, quibus non iam aurum, thus et myrrha profertur, sed quod eisdem muneribus ***declaratur, ***immolatur et sumitur, Iesus Christus. Qui vivit et regnat…
Fr. Z’s translation (
O Lord, look favorably upon the gifts of your Church,
from which we now offer not gold, incense, and myrrh,
but the one who, in these very gifts,
is ***proclaimed, ***sacrificed and consumed:
Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns…
This sort of problem happens all the time with the 1973 translation, so I’m not going to explain what “symbolize” is supposed to mean in the rendition you heard. I don’t know what the translators had in mind.

That prayer you used definitely falls in tune with what I believe as a Catholic. I just copied it directly from my Sunday Missal. After hearing it at Mass, I came home and got out my book and saw that it was there. I was confused thats for sure.

That prayer you used definitely falls in tune with what I believe as a Catholic. I just copied it directly from my Sunday Missal. After hearing it at Mass, I came home and got out my book and saw that it was there. I was confused thats for sure.

I think the “they” in “they symbolize” is referring to the gold, frankincense, and myrhh, not the food and sacrifice. :thumbsup:

The gifts of the Magi are mere symbols of the one true acceptable sacrifice - that of Our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. That is what is meant in regard to the word “symbolize” that was used.

The Divini Redemptories gives a possible acceptable meaning to this (otherwise mis)translation “symbolize”.

They are two levels of the offering.

  • the offering of the laity which only remotely symbolize the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

  • the offering pf the priest who represents Jesus Christ and offers the reality of the sacrifice and distributes the real food: Christ’s body.

Still the mistranslation, regardless that it could have sense, is bad and hopefully will be corrected soon.

This above-quoted prayer appears word for word in the (Canadian Catholic Conference,© 1974) Sacramentary . Despite its apparent inferior wording compared to Fr. Z’s translation, it’s meaning is still clear:

The colon indicates they - (the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the *food *-bread and wine which will be consacrated symbolize/ signify Jesus Christ, who is Lord… . An acceptable synonym for symbolize or signify is represent (in other words a sign which will point to/indicate for our senses Jesus Christ, truly present)…

A sacrament is a sense-perceptible sign which effects what it signifies. The bread and wine, once consacrated, retain their physical appearance of food for the body - bread and wine, but become the Bread of Life [John 6:48] - Jesus Christ Himself, who is Lord.

The sacrifice is the offering of Jesus’ Passion and death (which only see their completeness in His Resurrection) which is made present again at the Mass and offered to the Father. Notable here, is that the Church does not consider the Sacrifice to be complete until the priest has received Holy Communion - until he has consumed, the Body and Blood of Christ (who is Lord)…

By the same token, maybe the word “symbolize” is intended to downplay the Real Presence. If the translation as it stands did NOT line up so perfectly with Protestant doctrine - that the bread and wine never get transubstantiated but only remain mere symbols - I would dismiss it as an unintentional mistake. At the same time, however, this prayer is supposed to be said BEFORE the consecration, so … I guess we just have to tolerate the numerous levels of ambiguity for now.

I did see the word symbolize and I know the meaning in context, but we US Catholics because we are surrounded by protestantism that sees communion as a symbol are very sensitive of that word even when used correctly. The magis’ gifts symbolize ultimately that which are the gifts we present to the Lord which are bread and wine.

I run a bi-lingual parish (English and Spanish) so I looked at the Spanish prayer. (In the US we usually use the translation that comes from Mexico.) That said, here is the original Spanish and its English translation (by yours truly):
** Mira Señor, con bondad los dones de tu Iglesia, que no consisten ya en oro, incienso y mirra, sino en tu mismo Hijo, Jesucristo, que bajo de las apariencias de pan y de vino, va a ofrercerse en sacrficio y a dársenos en alimento y que vive and reina por los siglos de los siglos **

*Look upon, Lord, with kindness the gifts of your Church, that do not consist now in gold, incense and myrrh, but rather in your own Son, Jesus Christ, who, under the appearances of bread and wine, is going to offer himself in sacrifice and give himself to us in food and who lives and reigns for ever. *

Does anyone have the actual Latin text of the prayer from the Novis Ordo available to post?

In post #3 above.

Thanks … I missed it first time around. :o

My apostolate as a lay assistant to the chaplain (long term & palliative care institution) is 90% in french but my first language is english. The french wording of the prayer is a little different and translations from french to english usually need to be made in some type of context rather than literally word for word. What I found most striking in french was that instead of the word “symbolize” they use the word “reveal” and it (“reveal”) clearly refers to the gifts of the Magi (Genesius [re post# 5] all the french agree with you- :thumbsup: :).)

A couple of primers beforehand:
In french s’immoler means literally to immolate oneself. But the correct translation within context is to sacrifice oneself ( if we were to complete the sentence, we would say “for the many” which concurs with Mark 10:45 ). Furthermore usually we would say that the priest immolates the victim and offers the victim, but because Christ is both Priest and Victim, it is both common and proper in french to use the reflexive form of the verb immolate for Christ’s Offering.

The etymology of the word immolate says it comes from the Latin ***immolare ***meaning to sacrifice, sprinkle with sacrificial meal. That takes on a further significance due to the Old Testament first chapters of Leviticus ] requirements that the blood from animal sacrifices to God had to be sprinkled and all cereal offerings had to be sprinkled with salt. Immolare also ties the two words from the prayer in the Missal “sacrifice” and “food” together, doesn’t it ?

I believe I can offer a good informal interpretation of the French prayer , but it is the idiom rather than the literal word which gives meaning. An example would be the french expression "pour les siècles des siècles" which literally translates “for centuries of centuries” or “centuries upon centuries” but actually expresses, “forever and ever”. The prayers used in French-speaking parishes of Canada today is identical to those used in France

We often say, in order to translate , that Christ gives himself as food. But as in FrRobertJCarr’s translation from Spanish, the French prayer also has a stronger sense than “as” (“comme” in french) . Instead, the word “en” which commonly implies in this sense, “in” is used. So literally and identical to the Spanish translation, “who gives Himself in food” .The meaning would end up being diluted if we were to use “as food” instead for the sake of being just slightly more coherent in english.

All of that being said, the prayer over the gifts for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in French today was :

Prière Sur Les Offrandes

Regarde avec bonté , Seigneur, les dons de ton Église qui ne t’offre plus ni l’or, ni l’encens, ni la myrrhe, mais celui que ces présents révélaient, qui s’immole et se donne en nourriture: Jésus, le Christ, notre Seigneur. Lui qui règne avec toi pour les siècles des siècles— Amen.

(my informal translation)

Prayer Over the Gifts

Look with kindness, Lord, upon the gifts of your Church who no longer offers you gold, nor incense, nor myrrh, but He Whom these presents reveal, who sacrifices Himself and gives Himself in food: Jesus, the Christ our Lord. Who reigns with you forever and ever. Amen

Wow. What were the translators of the English thinking?

Considering all the other translations, including Fr. Z’s, it does make one wonder. If it were simply a linguist who did the job instead of someone with a vibrant faith, that might be one possible explanation - they wouldn’t have had much hope of getting it right.

  • Note : Sorry guys. I made a typo in the informal french translation and didn’t have time to edit it. The word is “reveal” but it is in the imperfect tense ( a past tense). So the prayer should read :

“…but He Whom these presents revealed, who sacrifices Himself and gives Himself in food: Jesus, the Christ our Lord. Who reigns with you…”

It’s worth pointing out that the “gifts” of bread and wine, at that point of the Mass, symbolize Jesus Christ. Later, they will be more than mere symbols.

I agree. When I read this thread yesterday, it all seemed horribly wrong. Then when I went to Mass in the evening and heard the prayer in context, it made perfect sense: it really is just bread and wine that is being spoken of.

I also was confused and greatly troubled the first time I heard the Offertory prayer for Epiphany in the OF. I had gone to a Mass at a parish I don’t normally go to, which wasn’t as traditional, and I prematurely jumped to the conclusion that it was a liturgical abuse. However, the people here on this site did an excelent job explaining what happened. Please see the thread below.

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