QUAERITUR: Saying “for all” even after the new translation is in force.

From a reader:

I was wondering what the mind of Catholics ought to be toward the validity of Masses which are celebrated after the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal by certain Priests who may dare to continue using the Second Edition. [I think what we are talking about is the new, corrected translation v. the 1973 ICEL version.] Namely, in view of the new (happily, more accurate) translation of “pro multis,” and the opinion of some theologians that the only thing which has saved Masses said in English with the “for all” translation of “pro multis” is the virtual intention of the celebrant to said what the Latin says, can Catholics safely judge as valid Masses said by Priests who defiantly continue to use this translation?

No, I don’t think the “virtual intention” argument is the best approach.  I think the truth of the matter is that saying “for all” was valid.  I don’t think a priest had/has to have the intention along the lines “Lord, I know that I am about to say ‘for all’, but I really mean ‘for many’.  Thanks, Lord, and let this be my virtual intention in case I forget to remember.”

Saying “for all” before the implementation of the new translation was valid.  The priest says, “This is my Body… this is my Blood”.  Saying “for all” after the implementation of the new translation would be valid.  I hope no priest does that, but I am sure there will be a few malcontents.  I don’t like the focus on the bare minimum for validity, for I think it leads to other abuses.  However, when malcontents and dimwits screw around with the form of sacraments and leave people wondering, we have to consider what the bare minimum is for validity.

Were a priest to do this, were a priest to refuse to implement the new translation, I would write a short and polite note to him that his choice not to follow the text of the Roman Missal disturbs and distracts you.   Send a copy of your note to the local bishop.  If that doesn’t produce results, then send copies to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. michelelyl says:

    And, so…what about the people who refuse to use the new language? The ‘crossed arms, loudly proclaiming the 1973 language.’?
    We’ve already had this brought up in the ‘practice sessions’. They are ‘loud and proud’ and very distracting. Any comments?

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Excellent post. I am very curious to see if the same crowd (liberals in the pews, some on the altar) will continue tossing in gender-neutral language and the like, taking it upon themselves to change the texts of the liturgy. Sadly, I think we all need a good “battle plan”, so that we can take the appropriate steps to counteract this as soon as possible. I am praying for a miracle: that everyone will just say the black and do the red!

  3. Blaise says:

    Since September we have been using the new translation in England; it is taking a while for congregations to get used to the responses (particularly “and with your spirit”). There are quite a number of times when part of the congregation through habit comes out with the old words. This must be a risk for many priests as well who will have been saying mass with the old translation for a long time. Of course in an ideal world they would never slip back into the wrong words (maybe because they would be saying it in Latin) but some benefit of the doubt as to intention or error should be given them.
    That said, I think it behoves the priest saying mass with the new translation to set an example in terms of correctness and he does have the text in front of him.
    I have found that the new translation appears to have reined in a little priests’ tendency to ad lib extra bits or varations at certain parts of the mass (e.g. the ecce agnus dei). Of course Latin would also make this less likely, given many of the priests would struggle to ad lib in Latin.
    However, it does irritate me when a priest gets annoyed by the congregation’s failure to use the new translation and then they apparently deliberately use words not in the new tranlsation. We don’t seem to suffer much from that in my parish (we have other things to suffer) either from the priest or the congregation but I have experienced it elsewhere.

  4. BV says:

    As soon as the new translation was announced, the pastor at my parish started saying, “For the many”. Not all of the time, but he has said this on and off for the past year or so. Was it appropriate for him to have done so?

    He has very traditional leanings and has done much to turn a rather boring modern church building into a more “visually traditional church” – as much as is possible. He has faced his fair share of opposition, especially in the schools (we have a grade school and a high school as well).

  5. Blackfriar says:

    Just the other day I prayed for “John Paul, our Pope” … and I assure you I was not defiantly living in the past. Please remember that we priests are human, and some of us have “senior moments”, as someone kindly called them. We make little slips of the tongue – and after years of “for all”, I am sure we will occasionally let it slip out despite ourselves. It does not make us heretics, reprobates, radicals or recalcitrants – just human. And it does not invalidate the Holy Mass, you can be sure of that.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    Honestly, while I agree with Father’s post…I think that I need to remind myself that this is just a translation. The Editio Typica is the Latin. So, if a priest “forgets,” he forgets. I’ll just chalk it up to being rigid and not accepting of the changes of Vatican Council II and the authentic application of the wishes of the post-Conciliar Church.

    That being said, this is my 9992348023947209347203473207342nd request that we just bag the whole of translations and move forward with what the Council Fathers wanted and have the priests offer the Mass in Latin. It solves the translation problem and eventually it would solve the inculturation problem from a linguistic point of view…

    Next week on the Hermeneutic of Conituity Show….the Rubrics.

    Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next time.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    The distinction between “invalid” and “illicit” is helpful here.

    There can be degrees of liceity, from very minor to delicts (the worst).

    Validity / invalidity is a bit like pregnancy / no being pregnant. An action can’t be “a little bit invalid.”

    It could be argued that changing just one word, or adding one teeny weeny definite article (e.g., “the” many) is illicit. But at what point does an anaphora become invalid?

    The anaphora of Addai and Mari lacks the institution narrative but is widely considered to be a valid.

    So at what point does an anaphora become invalid? Given the intention of the presider to confect the elements, you’d think it would take a LOT to invalidate an EP.

  8. Rich says:

    What’s about to go into force is actually the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, and we have been using the Second for decades. The First Edition actually said “for all men”. Let’s suppose a priest still has the virtual intention of saying “for many” but still says “for all men”. Haha.

  9. Ralph says:

    Thank you Father Blackfriar for your post. You remind us all that we must first look at any of the mistakes made by others with charity. Sometimes we are so “battle weary” that we find conspiracy behind every fault. We need to “chill” and give folks (priests and lay) time to get the new translation firmly implanted in the brain before we start getting too upset. In time, all these nrew changes will become second nature for all of us.

  10. AnnAsher says:

    Michelelyl- May God bless you in your struggle.
    You’re comment reminds me why I scrutinize carefully where and if I attend NO. How painful your experience must be.

  11. chloesmom says:

    As my British friends say, it may not make a blind bit of difference to my pastor, who ignores just about everything coming from Rome. Neither he nor our other priest has said a single word about the implementation – maybe they’re hoping it will just go away. Given the general level of liturgical clueslessness at our parish, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. At the moment , our diocese is between bishops, so there’s no local authority to notify about this matter. My parish is a bilingual French/English one, just outside Montreal. The town we’re located in is very affluent, the thinking quite “country-clubbish”- and the pastor fits right in. Everyone loves him … I respect his priesthood, but OTOH he has closed his eyes to all kinds of liturgical abuses. Also, he has no spine – anyone can and does book their wedding in our church, for instance, because it’s so “quaint” (gag!). I was once very involved in the music programme, but no longer attend the choir Mass because I got fed up w/the politics involved in choir membership. So, given all these circumstances, I would be very surprised if the new translation was implemented any time soon. Please pray for us.

  12. ContraMundum says:

    Fr. Blackfriar is dead-on. I’ve seen good priests make obvious mistakes, usually without noticing them. The monsignor here accidentally omitted the Creed one Sunday. A priest at the cathedral used the same words of institution to consecrate the bread as the wine. (No one else seemed to notice, which may be a good thing, since everyone I’ve asked who might know says the consecration was still valid.) One of the best priests I’ve known regularly made the mistake of saying “Creator” rather than “Maker” in the Nicene Creed, no doubt because he said the Apostle’s Creed more often when saying a rosary.

    We in the congregation are going to make mistakes with the new translation. We shouldn’t be too surprised when priests do, too, and we shouldn’t assume it’s a matter of defiance, especially in the first year after the change.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s tape recorder and video to the bishop, then the CDF time again. The good news is that the technology has improved. Maybe you can even use your cell phone.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    There’s a very real difference between accidentally slipping into a habit for a few seconds before you realize it and carrying on a sustained campaign to mess something up. Let’s be honest. It’s also the case that most laypeople are smart enough to tell the difference between the two. Let’s be honest about that too. The first is probably excusable and should improve with time; the second is despicable and deserves comments, complaints, and if it continues, it deserves to be documented and reported as a liturgical abuse.

  15. jhayes says:

    Frjim4321 said: “The anaphora of Addai and Mari lacks the institution narrative but is widely considered to be a valid.”

    They did suggest that it wold be nice if the Assyrian minister would add in the words of the Institution when Chaldeans are present, but allowed that it was valid even without them.

    the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on January 17th, 2001 concluded that this Anaphora can be considered valid. H.H. Pope John Paul II has approved this decision….

    1. When necessity requires, Assyrian faithful are permitted to participate and to receive Holy Communion in a Chaldean celebration of the Holy Eucharist; in the same way, Chaldean faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, are permitted to participate and to receive Holy Communion in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

    2. In both cases, Assyrian and Chaldean ministers celebrate the Holy Eucharist according to the liturgical prescriptions and customs of their own tradition.

    3. When Chaldean faithful are participating in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Assyrian minister is warmly invited to insert the words of the Institution in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, as allowed by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East.

    Full Text

  16. asperges says:

    The new translations will sharpen priests’ people’s awareness of the words in the missal but I doubt it will stop the “We believe this is the Lord who feeds a hungry world” brigade (for “Ecce Agnus Dei”) because they have no sense of liturgy and see it only as a metaphorical clothes horse to hang their own ideas on. But it’s a good start.

  17. Hidden One says:

    What sort of canonical medicine could a local bishop apply to a priest who refused to use the new translation or intentionally altered it when celebrating Mass? I’d be very surprised if such a priest, in dire need of prayer, could not be suspended or perhaps eventually even be excommunicated as required, but what does the Code say?

  18. jhayes says:

    This is a more general discussion from that same document – it points out that the Church could change the wording of he Institution Narrative:

    The Catholic Church considers the words of the Institution as a constitutive part of the Anaphora or Eucharistic Prayer. The Council of Florence stated “The form of this sacrament are the words of the Saviour with which he effected this sacrament. A priest speaking in the person of Christ effects this sacrament. For, in virtue of those words, the substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ and the substance of wine into his blood” (D.H. 1321). The same Council of Florence also characterised the words of the Institution as “the form of words [forma verborum] which the holy Roman Church […] has always been wont to use [semper uti consuevit] in the consecration of the Lord’s body and blood” (D.H. 1352), without prejudice to the possibility of some variation in their articulation by the Church. Although not having any authority as to the substance of the sacraments, the Church does have the power to determine their concrete shaping, regarding both their sacramental sign (materia) and their words of administration (forma) (cf. CCEO, can. 669). Hence the doctrinal question about the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, when used in its short version without a coherent Institution Narrative. Do the words of administration (forma) correspond to the conditions for validity, as requested by the Catholic Church? To answer this question, three major arguments have to be taken into due consideration.

  19. Patti Day says:

    I’m surprised how few complaints I’ve heard in our parish. We got the pew cards several weeks ago. We have sung the Gloria with the new music, prayed the new translation of the Credo, almost no one bowed at the incarnate. No Confiteor translation with breast striking yet. The priest has sung more of the mass on some Sundays, which seems to draw people’s attention.

    I’ve noticed fewer are holding hands and raising their arms at the Our Father; however, the Sign of Peace seems longer, louder, and rowdier than ever. I long to say something to father about this, but his answer to limiting the party atmosphere seems to be to hurry along at that point, which seems irreverent in itself, as the first several words of the Agnus Dei are lost, as people scramble back to their places. I guess there’s a long way to go. I am hopeful.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    I must be going to Masses where people are either not paying attention or like all the changes. In England, I did not hear one complaint, and the changes came in four months ago. Here, in Malta, as far as I can ascertain, no one is upset with any changes, which do not seem to be consistent church to church as of yet. I have heard only positive feedback from priests and very positive at that.

  21. Brad says:

    “…almost no one bowed at the incarnate.”

    This is so heartbreaking, pre-Advent 2011, and doubly so, post. I haven’t seen it written out anywhere where the physical instruction is not in red and bold, basically. Pew cards etc.

    We know that every knee shall bend to the Lamb, whether by hook or by crook (Shepherd’s crook!). But this line in the Credo is not only about Emmanuel’s deigning to become flesh but is also about the Immaculate Conception and her Spouse. The un-bowing pride we feel in our hearts against her and Him is…what’s the word for it…withering to even ponder. One day, perhaps in the corner of our eye at the particular judgment, if we are even graced enough to catch a glimpse of her and comprehend her as, for example, St. Kolbe, merely began to comprehend her, we will wail and beg to be allowed to bow. Wail and beg! To say nothing of begging to bow to the Holy Spirit, without Whom we would have never even been led to witness one Holy Mass’ celebration.

  22. rfox2 says:

    I agree with Father that focusing on the bare minimum regarding validity is a minimalist approach to the Mass. Changing these words, which are “preparatory” in the sense that they surround the essential words of consecration, is like any gravely sinful change to the prayers which are illicit on the part of the priest. It’s a good question to ask though, regarding the intent of the priest during the Mass, and whether he intends to do what the Church intends, if he is willing to fiddle with the words of the central prayer of the Mass. No matter what his intent, though, this sort of abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. I would recommend speaking with the priest in question, and if he refuses to listen, with the pastor, and if he refuses to listen, the local ordinary or regional vicar and go from there.

  23. APX says:

    Given that at the moment I attend the EF Mass exclusively, my first OF Mass with the new translation will be Christmas Eve. While I am fully aware of the corrections going on and will be prepared for the corrected translation, it keeps recurring to me that there are going to be quite a number of confused catholics at Mass on Christmas Eve who will still be saying the old responses.

    I just hope and pray that everyone won’t start laughing about it, as my home priest advised everyone to do when he was educating all the diocese’s liturgical committees, musicians, and clergy on the new translation (He’s the Director of Liturgy for the diocese).

  24. sawdustmick says:

    I have to report that at one Parish (not my own) in a diocese in the UK, one particular Priest is now saying “For everyone” rather than “for many” (New translation) or “for all” which he was saying before the new translation came in.

    I have been to two Masses with this Priest and his revised new translation and I have just wanted to cry !

  25. Centristian says:


    “I am very curious to see if the same crowd (liberals in the pews, some on the altar) will continue tossing in gender-neutral language and the like…”

    I’m not so sure it will be so easy to come across scenarios like that. If you think about it, most people who would describe themselves as “liberal” probably don’t go to church to begin with. The “liberals” who do go to church, who are what I’ll call “church liberals”, tend to join parishes that have…reputations.

    I think that in my very typical parish (it hasn’t got a reputation), it will be a matter of worshippers stumbling about, at first, accidentally using the “old” responses because they have always worshipped in a rote way without paying much attention. Even those who have their ear to the liturgical rail will flub it up once in a while. Eventually, it will work itself out, though.

    “Liberals” who are going to make a point of loudly clinging to the past and who will protest the new translation by defiantly responding the “old” way (how ironic) will for the most part be concentrated in parish communities that are known for being liturgically renegade or avante-garde or which fancy themselves more “socially aware” than other parishes. As long as you avoid parishes of that stripe, you’ll probably be safe, for the most part, from the “Occupy the Church” crowd.

  26. robtbrown says:


    I have dealt here many times with the question of validity.

    1. That which designates the matter is the Sacramental Form. Thus:

    a. “This is my Body” designates the bread as the Body of Christ.
    b. “This is my Blood” designates the wine as the Blood of Christ.

    c. In the same manner “I baptize thee . . . ” designates the matter, which is the pouring of the water on one being Baptized.

    2. St Thomas says that invalid Form fails to communicate the essence of the Sacrament (the designation of the matter). Thus, in the 2d consecration the substance of the Sacramental Form is more than the designation (consecration). And so, changing to “for everyone” has no effect on validity because it doesn’t fail to communicate the essence of the Sacrament.

    3.The decision on the Chaldean anaphora is fairly complicated. Some think that the words of institution are not found in books because every priest memorized them.

    That notwithstanding, there is a simple principle involved: The Church has the authority to change Sacramental Form (thus to say what is and is not valid). The Church has no authority to change the Sacramental Matter when it is indicated in Scripture.

  27. robtbrown says:

    The above should read:


    Para 2. . . . because it does not concern the essence of the Sacrament but rather its effect.

  28. KAS says:

    I already love the new improved translation so I hope that our Parish makes the proper efforts to CORRECTLY follow the new translation.

    I doubt it will be perfect since there are constant and persistent irritating abuses made by people who KNOW BETTER and do the wrong things anyway. Well… perhaps that isn’t completely true, the people in question are well educated and certainly capable of reading the proper documents and very likely even have read them but choose to do their own thing anyway.

    I know a gentleman who has written the bishop about the common abuses. He never gets a response and never sees anything improve; he is very well spoken, very well read, very good and clear in his writing and KNOWS the faith really well, so I doubt his letters were unclear or disrespectful (he is really very respectful which is amazing considering his unhappiness with the abuses) or difficult to understand but he is saddened because the Bishop makes no response that can be seen and he fears that the Bishop does not care.

    I like to think the Bishop cares but that well meaning secretaries make sure letters about abuses never see the Bishop’s desk because he is a busy man and they wish to spare him what they see as minor irritations.

    Does it make a real difference to write to Rome? If the local Bishop never responds, will a person in an office thousands of miles away do anything either?

    I’ve been in the same parish for years and am sadly considering switching parishes to some with fewer abuses if the new translation doesn’t get into place.

  29. leonugent2005 says:

    I attend a parish and we have a traditionalist priest who prays the Eucharistic prayer in a barely audible voice. How will I know if his mass if valid?

  30. Andy Milam says:


    If a priest is confecting a sacrament, one must assume that his intent is for the validity of the Sacrament, unless he does something which explicitly countermands that assumption. Remember the Church rarely teaches Sacremental theology in a negative connotation.

  31. As the one who submitted this quaeritur, I should point out that I by was referring by no means to Priests who out of habit accidentally say “for all” rather than “for many.” (Such Priests would still hold a virtual intention to say “for all.”) I am talking about only recalcitrant Priests who do it deliberately. Human errors are, of course, ultimately unavoidable and not cause for major concern.

Comments are closed.