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CNP Feedback -
Mystery of Faith

Q. Dear CNP:

I was bothered by this congregational mystery of faith acclamation at Sunday's Mass:

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.

  1. It's after the consecration. The bread has lost its "breadness" and become the body of Christ.
  2. No one drinks a cup! It's the contents. However, no mention of the blood of Christ.
  3. It's okay to proclaim Christ's death, but it seems an egregious omission to not also include his resurrection.

The other two Mystery of Faith acclamations seem to me much more orthodox. This one much less than orthodox.

A. Clem Ashunn

A. Dear Mr. Ashunn:

You've discovered an interesting issue in the Roman Rite liturgy.

The second option for the Mystery of Faith is indeed translated:

When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

The added capitalization is insistently required by the ICEL translators, and may have bearing on differentiating the status of these elements. It is a very faithful and accurate translation of the Latin edition typical:

Quotiescumque manducamus panem hunc et calicem bibimus, mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, donec venias.

The liturgists who assembled the Novus Ordo Mass in the late 1960s drew this acclamation almost directly from Saint Paul [I Corinthians 11:26].

After his description of the Last Supper (from which much of our Institution Narrative is drawn), Saint Paul admonishes:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes [NAB].

While the clarity of the Real Presence of Christ is paramount not only in Saint Paul, but elsewhere in Scripture (see John 6), in verse 26 Saint Paul is speaking poetically, since obviously no one can "drink a cup." Neither, too, is the Sacred Body of the Lord mere "bread."

We may question the wisdom of the post-Vatican II liturgists in including this particular citation from I Corinthians as a Mystery of Faith acclamation, since it could perhaps lead to confusion about what was bread but is now Christ on the altar. This period of Church liturgical history is not known for being beholden to traditional, faithful and orthodox views on liturgical texts. "Dynamic Equivalence" was the translation style promoted then and many English translations veered quite far from what was contained in the official Latin edition. This led to an updated English translation in 2010, using "Formal Equivalence," giving text much closer to the Latin original. Many songs from this period also spoke of "bread broken" and "wine poured," and this may have led to confusion in the minds of even Catholics as to the reality of the Lord's actual presence in the Eucharist. Recent surveys have verified that a correct understanding of Eucharistic theology is not universal among professing Catholics.

Being a humble Christian, I'm not willing to reprimand Saint Paul on his choice of words. Being an obedient son of the Church, I'm content to use the official, authorized texts that are given to us.

You do raise a valid point about possible confusion, though. I hope this little essay has helped the overall understanding of the issue. Catechesis on this acclamation (particularly the Scriptural roots in Saint Paul) would be helpful.

Thanks for your interest in matters liturgical!

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications
Article written 12 May 2017

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