An Omitted Word Makes a Difference


Whether we realize it or not one word can have a big effect. On February 4, 2021, the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship decreed that in the English translation of the conclusion of collects (opening prayers) in the Roman Missal, “one” is to be omitted before “God.” For example, at the end of the prayer the celebrant will now say: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.” This change took effect on Ash Wednesday this year.
There are a few reasons for this change. The USCCB’s Committee note said that “there is no mention of ‘one’ in the Latin, and ‘Deus’ in the Latin text refers to Christ.” Hence, omitting the word “one” more closely follows the wording and the grammar of the Latin text. Removing this word also avoids any connotation that Jesus is a distinct god. The word “one” tends to suggest that Jesus is one god among many. Christ’s divinity is identical with that of the other two persons in the Trinity. Finally, “one” is not used in the French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese translations of the Mass. So the English translation of the Mass now follows the practice of the universal Church.
The identity of Christ is an essential part of our faith. Many people today incorrectly think of Christ as one spiritual guru among many. By removing one word, the Church preserves the identity of Christ for her people.