Clergy, prepare to buy a bottle of Wite-Out and get to work. This change takes effect on Ash Wednesday.
In May of 2020 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops regarding the concluding doxology of the Collects in the Roman Missal (which also appear in other liturgical books).
Specifically, the Congregation pointed out that the current translation – which concludes “… in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever” – is incorrect. There is no mention of “one” in the Latin, and “Deus” in the Latin text refers to Christ. Therefore, the correct translation, which is already reflected in the Missal in other languages (including our own USCCB Misal Romano) is simply: “[…] in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.” The Cardinal Prefect has pointed out the importance of affirming this Christological truth amid the religious pluralism of today’s world.
A Brief History
English translations of the Missal for use by the faithful prior to the Second Vatican Council reflected the correct translation, as for example the St. Joseph’s Missals of the 1950’s. However, when the post-conciliar texts were published in English, the word “one” was added.
It should be noted that when the translation of the Missal currently in use was in progress, ICEL pointed out the discrepancy to the Congregation in Rome, but was told to retain the use of “one God” in the new translation.
In light of the Congregation’s most recent direction in this matter, the Latin Rite Bishops of the USCCB have voted to amend no. 54 of the U.S. text of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal to reflect the change, and the Congregation has confirmed this decision, as it already has for the Episcopal Conferences of England and Wales, Ireland, and Canada.
When should this change take place?
This change to the concluding doxology of orations is to be implemented on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The words “one God, for ever and ever” are simply replaced with “God, for ever and ever.”
Is there a need to purchase a new Missal?
No. It should not be difficult for the celebrant simply to omit the word “one” when offering the prayer. However, publishers are being informed of this change, and any reprints or new editions of the Missal will reflect the new translation. Other publications, such as participation aids for the faithful, will begin to carry the new text as soon as possible. Many of these are printed well in advance, however, so it will take some time for the change to appear.
Does this change apply to other liturgical books, besides the Roman Missal?
Yes. Any time the formula appears in a liturgical book the new translation should be used. Besides the Missal, the Liturgy of the Hours is the book where it is encountered most often. Note that the orations in the current breviary are an older translation than what is found in the Missal, but the final line is the same and the new conclusion is easy to apply.
When should this be communicated to our clergy?
The results were conveyed to the Bishops of the United States in a memo from Archbishop Leonard Blair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship. The memo was dated February 4, 2021 and is quoted in its entirety above. Your Bishop has certainly already conveyed this information to his presbyterate. Please share this information widely with all who prepare and celebrate liturgies in your parishes and institutions.