As is customary, the perspicuity of Dom Anscar J. Chupungco, OSB enables lay persons to appreciate the mystery of the Holy Eucharist:
For you and for many
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”.
1. What it is. The phrase “for many” is the literal translation of the Latin pro multis. The phrase is found in Mt 26:28 and Mk 14:24 with possible reference to Is 53: 11-12 (“Through his suffering my servant shall justify many... and he shall take away the sins of many”). The 2010 English translation points out that salvation is not automatic: it requires faith and acceptance on our part. It is a collaborative work in which God offers salvation and the grace to welcome it and we make the necessary effort to respond to the offer. On the other hand, the 1973 translation affirms that Christ’s salvation is universal: he died for all.
On October 17, 2006 Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship sent a letter to the presidents of the conferences of bishops regarding the translation of pro multis. He directed them to correct the current translation “for all”, because the Latin text says “for many”. He affirmed that the phrase “for many” is the exact translation, while “for all” is not a translation but a catechetical explanation of the words Jesus pronounced over the cup.
2. What it is not. The phrase “for many” should not exclude anyone. Christ died for all and offers salvation to all. This is the underlying theology of the 1973 English version that translated pro multis as “for all”. The 1973 version is not a literal translation, but it expresses the universality of Christ’s work of redemption. On the other hand, “for many” reminds us that we must personally accept Christ’s offer of salvation.
In his book God Is Near Us. The Eucharist at the Heart of Life (Ignatius Press 2003, pp. 34-38), the future Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger explains that “both formulations, ‘for all’ and ‘for many’, are found in Scripture and tradition. Each expresses one aspect of the matter: on one hand, the all-embracing salvation inherent in the death of Christ, which he suffered for all men; on the other hand, the freedom to refuse, as setting a limit to salvation”. He firmly reminds those who oppose the translation “for all”: “It is a basic element of the biblical message that the Lord died for all—being jealous of salvation is not Christian”. Since neither translation can fully express at one time both the universality of salvation and the freedom of each person, “each needs correct interpretation, which sets it in the context of the Christian gospel as a whole”.
Thus, while “for many” is the literal translation of the Latin pro multis, “for all” is its correct theological interpretation. One does not exclude the other; rather they complement each other. “For many” and “for all” are both essential to the theology of salvation.
To be in your presence
“Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection,we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you”.
1. What it is. The Latin text says: astare coram te (literally: to stand before you), which is the wording of the third-century Apostolic Tradition. The 1973 translated it literally. The 2010 version, however, changed it.
There is an interesting background to this. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (no. 43) directs the faithful to kneel during consecration. It adds that the practice in some places to remain kneeling until after the doxology may be kept. This is the practice observed in the United States. Cardinal Arinze had the 1973 literal translation “to stand in your presence” changed to “to be in your presence” in order to suit the kneeling position.
2. What it is not. In the Philippines the Catholic Bishops’ Conference laid down the rule that the people should kneel for consecration and rise for the memorial acclamation, if this is sung. Otherwise they stand only at the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. The practice has developed that all stand at the memorial acclamation, whether or not it is sung. This is the new rubrical adaptation that the Bishops’ Conference approved and sent to Rome for confirmation.