Sub Tectum Meum

With the Vatican having approved new English translations of prayers for the Mass, some changes are certainly afoot. And while the changes aren’t as drastic as they were when the first English missal emerged, there are certainly a few spots where many of us will have to use cheat sheets. For instance, we know that the response to “the Lord be with you” will now be “and with your spirit,” which will reflect more accurately the original Latin.

One piece that doesn’t appear to be changing is the prayer before communion, “Lord, I am not worthy to recieve you…” I myself am an English speaker, but this is one of the select cases where I appreciate the Latin more than my own language. In the Latin, this prayer begins, Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, which is translatable as, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” This piece of the liturgy comes from the parable of the centurion, who gave this response to Jesus, who in turn healed his daughter.

Many Catholics over the years have reflected on the Latin version of this prayer with an extra layer of mystical meaning, discerning the “roof” spoken of in this prayer as the roof of the mouth. I find this a valuable way to reflect when it comes to this particular part of Mass, when I prepare to recieve the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ under the roof of my mouth.

Update:According to the USCCB press release, the new wording for this prayer reads: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I welcome the change!

-Matt Swaim


3 responses to “Sub Tectum Meum

  1. I have to admit that I say either the Latin or the German whenever I can, as I like the image conveyed in the more direct translation as well.

  2. I don’t know, I like “I am not worthy to receive you,” I find it more poetic. But I guess I’ll learn to live with it.

    What I would like to know is what the new translation for the Gloria will be like. Do you know? What I remember of the press release promised a pretty big change. Think of all the musical settings that will have to be redone! I bet Marty Haugen is already hard at work, ha ha.

  3. I’m so grateful for the more accurate translation!

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