January 18, 2010


For someone who makes a sincere effort to "Say the Black and Do the Red," I made an interesting error at Mass this morning.

I was preaching on the sin of Saul, on God's right to the spoils of war, and what it might look like to examine our consciences on the issue of sins against the sovereignty of God. (Obviously, I got up too early.)

In the course of this I had a parenthesis on the heavenly armies: 'Sometimes we don't think about this too much, and yet we acclaim God as the leader of the heavenly armies in each Mass when we pray the Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." The hosts, of course, are the angelic armies.

Trouble is, we don't say this in the Mass at all!

Our American English Sanctus says instead, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might," our current rendering of the familiar Latin text Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth from Isaiah 6:3. In translating this divine title, "Lord Sabaoth" the LXX transliterates it, and so too the Roman rite in its ordinary language. We should note, however, that St. Jerome did translate it, as his rendering of Isaiah 6:3 is sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus exercituum, "holy, holy, holy Lord of armies." (Now you know I got up too early. Something is up when both LXX and Vulgate are off the shelf already.)

So what was I thinking? Do I not know the texts of the Mass which I sing and pray each day? Am I reflecting across languages at some deeper level? Was I looking forward to the forthcoming new translation in which the "hosts" will be restored? (Among many other good things.) It's a funny thing I did. Luckily, nobody called me out on my error after Mass!


Adoro said...

And that's exactly why the new translation is going to be such a blessing when we get it! As I recall, that is one of the passages that was corrected!

Seems to me, Father, you're just responding proleptically in the timeless transcendance of the Mass....

Brother Charles said...


Qualis Rex said...

Fr Charles - you may indeed have been temporarily linked into the time-space continuum and read what will be the verbage in two years to come. Or it could have just been lack of caffein. Your choice.

As far as errors are concerned, this one was far from egregious. During midnight mass (at 9:00pm) on Christmas Eve, the YOUNG novus ordo priest gave his homily about why the Jews throught a census was so evil. He said, "here the evil Holy Roman Empire was telling the Jews to do what God had forbade." I think he saw me shake my head from the pew, and then corrected himself saying, "That is, THE Roman Empire, which was not very holy at the time."

Hidden One said...

I think that Father could be especially cunning and point out his own earlier error in the next daily Mass and use it as an excuse to promote the new translation and to have the Sanctus in Latin that day.