This prayer is inspired by Matthew 8:8 where a centurion asks Jesus to heal his seriously ill servant. The servant tells Jesus that he (the centurion) is unworthy that Jesus should come under his roof (enter his home) and that Jesus should, “Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed.” The ‘word’ is the command for healing.
When the Mass was first said in English we used the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed.” (We repeated it three times. I believe this wording corresponds closely to the Latin.
This prayer is intended to state the obvious. None of us can ever make ourselves worthy enough to receive Christ. By acknowledging that our fitness to receive Him can only come by virtue of God’s Grace, we humble ourselves. The “word” that God speaks to heal us is not some specific word. When we speak of the Word of God, we are really speaking of the Holy Spirit, who has spoken through the prophets and has inspired Scripture. To send this word is to send the Grace of God’s healing. Knowing that God desires our salvation more than we ever can ourselves, we have faith that the Grace has been sent and approach the altar to receive.
SMHW has it correct, except I believe he mis typed [inadvertantly] It was the Centurion who said he [the centurion] was not ‘worthy’ not the servant.
When he entered Capernaum, 5 a centurion approached him and appealed to him,
6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” 7 He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8 The centurion said in reply, 6 “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel 7 have I found such faith. 11 I say to you, 8 many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, 12 but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour (his) servant was healed.
I knew what you meant and knew you also knew [contextually]. I was just afraid a less familiar reader would get the wrong impression or I would not have corrected it. The Lord knows that I type lousy, and sometimes look at words that ‘just don’t look right’ but can’t come up with a different spelling…
Also, writing off the cuff, well sometimes I know what I mean but I can;t seem to get it on the paper [or computer screen] so that it is clear…:rolleyes:
please know that I meant no offense nor think my abilities any better…
To add a little bit to what is an absolutely correct post…
The reason the centurion knew he was not worthy and suggested that Jesus just say the Word also has to do with the fact that he wasn’t a Jew and Jews of that time would not have entered into the house of a Gentile because it was ritually unclean to them. Of course the big picture is that the Centurion had faith that Christ could cure his servant just by the Word and didn’t need to lay hands on him.
Nothing is being healed at that time in the Mass. Rather we are expressing confidence in Jesus – he has healed us, made us worthy. We are doing so by quoting a part of Scripture, Matthew 8:8, but applying it to ourselves.
The correspondence to Scripture is clearer when Mass is celebrated in Latin. Matthew 8:8 in the Latin Vulgate translation has:
"Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur puer meus"
At Mass, the Latin response is:
"Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea."
Only the two words at the end are different.
“Take this and eat it, all of you”: communion
1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”[footnoe 215: Jn 6:53]
1385 To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."216 Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.
1386 Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: “Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea” (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”).217 And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:
O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas’ kiss. But like the good thief I cry, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
1387 To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church.218 Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.
1388 It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions, receive communion when they participate in the Mass.219 As the Second Vatican Council says: "That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended."220
You believe correctly. In the TLM, the “Domine, non sum dignus…” is said three times in a row. I take it you’re referring to the 1965 missal when you say when Mass was first said in English? I don’t know how that was done, exactly, because I’ve never seen a 1965 missal and I’m much too young to have been around then, but for the TLM, you are certainly correct.
Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Yes, it’s too bad that the current English translation completely lost the biblical reference.
For decades, the biblical reference was clear, but when “not worthy to receive you” replaced “not worthy that you should come under my roof,” the biblical context was lost. Seems that ICEL missed the point.
I can see why they would have changed it to “not worthy to recieve you”–even though I would rather the accurate translation with the biblical reference–if they are trying to tie it into recieving Christ in the Eucharist. But as to why they would have changed the second part from "my soul shall be healed to “I shall be healed” I have no idea. I am just looking forward to the new English translation so we can get everything accurate.
The Tridentine Mass was in effect during all my years of grade school, so it seems that all of these phrases became ingrained into our psyches. While the English sounds a little clunky, I liked the way the Latin rolled mellifluously off my tongue, even when I only prayed it mentally: Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Of course we had the English translation in the Missal, and everyone recognized the reference to the centurion who felt himself unworthy to receive Jesus into his home. That made for a context and a biblical connection which is proper at that point of the liturgy.
The ICEL mistake, I believe, was in thinking that every word of the liturgy must be so direct, unnuanced, and relate specifically to ME the worshipper. As a result, their translations ended up taking some of the subtlety, biblical context, and mystery away from the liturgy. I guess that’s why they translated “Dominus vobiscum; Et cum spiritu tuo,” as “The Lord be with you; and also with you,” instead of “and with your spirit.”
It is as though someone were to try to “translate” the poems of T.S. Eliot into spare and direct English. The result would surely lose everything that Eliot was really trying to say!
Pardon the mini-rant. I really do like the Novus Ordo Mass; I just think the translation could have been done better!