Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

“One God”

Posted by universalis on 7 October 2020

Many of the doxologies in the Mass collects and the Liturgy of the Hours include the words “One God, for ever and ever”.

This is now being changed, but different parts of the world are moving at different paces.

The background

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, has written to the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences, explaining why the Congregation has for some time seen the addition of the word “one” as problematic and mistaken.

“On the one hand, it can serve to undermine the statement of the Son’s unique identity within the Trinity, which the Latin formulas so strongly convey and, on the other hand, it can also be interpreted as saying the Jesus Christ is ‘one God’.

“Either or both of these interpretations is injurious to the faith of the Church.”

Cardinal Sarah added: “This is of particular import in this time when many people see Jesus simply as a good man or moral teacher, akin to Socrates or the Buddha, but they fail to recognise him as the incarnate Son of God and Second Person of the Trinity.”

Cardinal Sarah noted that the use of “one God” in English is an “outlier”, which is not mirrored in any of the other main language translations.

Since the English translation of the Roman Missal is often used as a guide for translations into other languages which are “less diffuse”, the risk of unauthentic interpretation is increased.

“Where this has previously come to our notice, we have corrected the translation,” Cardinal Sarah wrote.

Update: A full, nuanced and thoughtful explanation of the reasoning is provided by Father Paul Turner in his blog. And the National Catholic Register expounds the importance of keeping exactly in step with the Latin.

The response

The responses we have heard of so far are:

  • New Zealand has adjusted the doxologies by removing the word “one”. There is a clear and detailed article about this here.
  • Australia is doing the same, starting on Advent Sunday 2020. Here is the press release.
  • England, Wales and Scotland have made the same adjustment. On 9 November the Bishops decreed that the word “one” should be removed, starting on Advent Sunday 2020.
  • United States: the USCCB are applying the changes starting on Ash Wednesday 2021. They apply not only to the Mass but also to the Liturgy of the Hours.

What we have done in Universalis

After a couple of previous attempts to keep up with this complication, we have settled on the following in all the Universalis apps and programs:

  • Mass collects in Australia, New Zealand, England, Wale, Scotland and Ireland: “God, for ever and ever”.
  • Mass collects in the USA from Ash Wednesday 2021 onwards: “God, for ever and ever”.
  • Mass collects elsewhere: “(One) God, for ever and ever”.
  • Liturgy of the Hours in the USA from Ash Wednesday 2021 onwards, and in Ireland: “God, for ever and ever”.
  • Liturgy of the Hours elsewhere: “(One) God, for ever and ever”.

This will change as and when we get more information.

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