For Some

One of the antipope blogs is bothered about the variety of Eucharistic Prayer translations. Pope Benedict XVI supposedly settled it:

The original words of consecration by Benedict XVI., the faithfully arranged transmission of the words of consecration in the vernacular languages, ​​is based directly on the official Latin formula.

Wait, what? Pope Benedict’s words? Admittedly, I don’t have a high opinion of some of the previous pope’s liturgical tinkering. “For many” struck me as vaguely Calvinist. At the Last Supper, Jesus clearly came to save “all,” at least all those willing to follow.

Granted, we are not talking about historical reconstructions of the cenacle, but the exaggerated emphasis on “for many” seemed like a *wink-wink* Jesus-didn’t-save-all-of-you-pretenders moment.

I’ve also seen a few blogosphere comments the past few days about the Jesus-content of Pope Francis’s words–the encyclical and all that. Not a single mention of Jesus at the Eponymous Flower posting. Which is curious, given that the words were his, not a modern pope’s. And they most certainly weren’t a Latin formula.

(Pope Francis) doesn’t exactly reverse the efforts of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. for a liturgical renewal, but freezes halfway.

A reversal would give it too much attention. I’m in favor of ars celebrandi, putting the onus on local quality rather than a futile top-down attempt to impose a comfy uniformity.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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12 Responses to For Some

  1. Liam says:

    I was for “for the many” but frankly, I have a hard time summoning up much energy to oppose “the many” merely because it turned into a shibboleth by some (as the other could as well). It’s consistent with Matthew and Mark’s Gospels. I think “for all” was *valid* but I don’t see why progressives should make this any sticking point. “But they are crypto-Calvinists” is not a very progressive justification (rather, it’s more like “But he hit me first, Mommy”).

    • Todd says:

      Maybe. Less a justification than an observation.

      I read some comment about “for the many” being a counterpoint to some notion of universal salvation. That struck me as a weird justification to go back to the Latin. Anybody that wants to get on the Jesus train and be saved: listen and follow. That even holds for liberals. Anybody else? Not up to me to decide.

      I suppose I’m more against the energy the debate sucked away from the more important issues in liturgy. And since clearly, Pope Francis is more attuned to evangelization and discipleship, I suppose I’m happy with liturgy with bits of semi-reform2 ice cubes. When I hear “for the many” at Mass–and I don’t always hear it–I know what the saving act of Christ means, even if the liturgy doesn’t express it accurately.

      • Liam says:

        Do you hear “for the many”? Or “for many”? The latter is what’s in the English missal. The former is what some of us supported to render the Greek and/or Latin (take your pick), but we was ignored. (I am not addressing the odder suggestions to encourage celebrants to revert to Latin for the Institution Narrative in order for maximal protection of sacramental form…)

        I was also OK with the former “for all” precisely because the Divine Liturgy is not a re-enactment of the Last Supper, et cet. and the Church had already pronounced on its sacramental validity. On the other hand, I don’t think there was a conclusive basis to render it that way, so I don’t find all objections to it unreasonable or cramped – nor was it trivial (if it’s trivial , when we shouldn’t bother to defend it, either – that cuts both ways). (I feel the same way about the Memorial Acclamation; not a hill to struggle to save let alone die on.)

  2. Stephen says:

    “for many” is scriptural and more in keeping with the vernacular translations of the text into other languages (just as “and with your spirit” is more harmonious with the Mass in Spanish and a host of other languages, not to mention traditional Anglican usage, for example). It doesn’t change the fact that Catholic doctrine always has been and always will be that Jesus’s actions were undertaken for all people (though not all will necessarily accept the fruit of those actions).

    I myself liked the idea of “for the multitudes,” which strikes me as a perfectly accurate rendering of both the scriptural text and the text of the Mass, while conveying in English more close the meaning thereof. But “for all” is simply a greater distortion of the Gospels and the Mass texts than “for many.” If that makes it Calvinist, then you need to take it up with Mister Matthew and Mister mark, or perhaps Mister Jesus Himself.

  3. Chris says:

    The liturgy ought to clearly reflect the teaching of the Church: Christ died FOR ALL. Most of the faithful are not scripture scholars and many hear “for many” as excluding whetever segement of humanity they want to exclude from Christ’s saving grace. Not a good way to design liturgy or to inform theology.

    God Bless

    • Liam says:

      How many? Are there no alternatives? Like teaching? Do they need to be protected from Matthew and Mark’s accounts of the Last Supper?

  4. Devin says:

    During Eucharistic Prayer I at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Triduum, there is special insert prior to institution/consecration: “On the day before he was to suffer
    for our salvation and the salvation of all, that is today….”. My idea is just this sentence, sans “that is today”, prior to the concentration in all the Eucharistic prayers on all occasions. You have a literal translation of the Greek and Latin with a statement about the universal salvific will of Christ.

  5. Todd says:

    “On the other hand, I don’t think there was a conclusive basis to render it that way, so I don’t find all objections to it unreasonable or cramped.”

    I would disagree on this point.

    First, the theological reality of salvation is that it is offered to all. And the point of the Eucharist is the offering of Christ to the Father. There was a strong basis to change the Latin, if that is what is needed.

    Second, the fact that only “many” actually embrace the Lord is not essential to the Eucharistic celebration or the narrative of institution. If we are focused on Christ, anything peripheral is just a distraction. And the fight about universality is very much a distraction. In that sense, the extreme objections (the ones that accuse politics or heresy) are not only unreasonable and cramped, but just silly.

    Last, Pope Benedict had a long habit or custom of narrowly consulting theologians. Some of his theological initiatives lacked any kind of pastoral depth or experience. In other words, they lacked catholicity. The man would have benefitted from receiving voices that dissented from the echo chamber magisterium. And we know his aides explicitly instructed bishops (!) not to raise troublesome issues.

    Is many/all worth revisiting? I’m inclined to say no. Leave it for another generation to deal with the idolatry of Latin originals. Welcome, preaching and music: enough horizons for the moment.

  6. Liam says:


    It’s not just the Latin. It’s the Greek.

  7. Todd says:

    Sure, but the near universal commonality is “This is my Body. This is my Blood.” Some of us cite those words easily. But the focus on many versus all might suggest we’re not totally comfortable with that kind of sacrifice, and that fullness of offering.

    I don’t believe the CDWDS has been concerned about Greek. Only Latin.

  8. Liam says:

    That’s pretty weak, Todd.

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