Expert Answer Forum

Change of wording in greeting QUESTION from Phillip January 22, 2000
Is it permitted for the priest (or the deacon, in the case of the Gospel reading) to greet the people by saying The Lord is with you rather than The Lord be with you? It seems to be substituting a subjunctive wish with a declarative assertion. The Latin reads Dominus vobiscum; while the lack of a verb makes the matter unclear, the alternate greeting for the beginning of Mass (i.e. May the grace... be with you...) contains a subjunctive (sit) rather than a declarative (ist) verb. This suggests to me that the same is most likely meant for the short greeting. Besides, the official English translation is clear: The Lord be with you (and the German translation also makes use of the subjunctive rather than the declarative, so ICEL does not seem to be the culprit here). The problem is complicated, however, since GIRM states that the greeting at the beginning of Mass declares the presence of God. I find the substitution jarring, particularly when it occurs in the greeting before the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on January 22, 2000
Dear Phillip Thank you for your interesting question. The short answer to your question is no, the priest / deacon may not change the wording of any part of the Mass. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #22] No doubt much thought went into exactly how to translate the texts into the vernacular languages. To change the wording, no matter what the motivation, can only lead to confusion, and that’s not just MY opinion. The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: 'No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority'. [Apostolic Letter on the 25th Anniversary of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pope John Paul II, April 17, 1980] You aptly point out just how such bewilderment can creep in just because of a ‘small change’ in how something is said. Thank you. In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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