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Triple My Non Sum Dignus, Please

Sunday, November 27, 2011 11:02 PM Comments (22)

Its official, we are now blessed with the new English translation of the Roman Missal which went into effect this past weekend.  By way of reporting, all went very well in my parish.  The people seemed ready, they payed attention more than usual, and hit all changes well.  Our priest had a tougher time of it.  He caught himself falling back on old habits more than once, correcting himself by reading veeeeeerrrrrryyyyy slooooooowly.  It made me smile.

But now a little confession. For the first time in years I actually said the “Lord, I am not worthy….” Actually, for the first time in years I actually said it in English.  The translation of this particular line of the liturgy was so off, that I preferred to say it in the original Latin “Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea,”  now properly rendered as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

With all the poor translations in the mass, why is that this particular line brought out the closet sedevacantist in me?

Some history, I have for years attended the Traditional Latin Mass when my schedule would permit and will admit that I am fond of it.  I won’t get into the whys, but suffice it to say that certain elements appeal to me.  One of the things that so grabbed my attention those years ago (back when we needed an indult?  What’s that?) was the non sum dignus.  What really got my attention was the fact that faithful said that prayer not once, not twice, but three times.  When you say something three times in a row, you get the message, this is important.

Saying that prayer three times really focused me on the great gift I was about to receive and my complete unworthiness of it.

“Lord, I am not worthy…”

“Lord, I am not worthy…”

“Lord, I am not worthy…”

That recognition of my own unworthiness back then and the great gift bestowed upon me nevertheless stuck with me.  Ever since then I have focused myself on saying it properly (in Latin) in the new mass as a way of keeping that focus.  I am grateful that I can now say it properly in English.

But one thing I would really love to see restored in the mass is the triple repetition of this prayer as I am sure that it might then have the same effect on others as it had on me.  Saying it just once seems like pauper’s gruel when there is really a great feast to be had.

So, in the immortal words of Dickens placed into the mouth of that famous orphan Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Triple helpings if you please.

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About Pat Archbold

Pat Archbold
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Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company. Patrick, his wife Terri, and their five children reside in Long Island, N.Y.