Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition at a hospital Jan. 20 in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan's Catholic bishops asked for the world's help to p...

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Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Representatives from small groups give the final message from the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements Feb. 19 in Modesto, Calif. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski) MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Affi...

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Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope Francis greets a new priest during the ordination Mass of 11 priests in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 17, 2016. The pope warned against using the church in pursuit of personal ambitio...

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Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope Francis delivers his blessing to an overflow crowd gathered outside St. Mary Josefa Church after celebrating Mass at the parish in Rome Feb. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) ROME (CNS) -- A practica...

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Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Written by Shelley Wolf
Alicia Fleming, sales assistant for the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, laughs with a client while serving desserts at the South Park Inn in Hartford.(Photo by Shelley Wolf) ...

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Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Pope receives a stuffed animal from a participant in the Special Olympics during a meeting Feb. 16 at the Vatican. The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Austria March 14-25. (CNS pho...

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South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says

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MsgrLiptak_TNOf all the "modifications" in the recently introduced English Missal, the most discussed word among laity and clergy seems to be the reference to the "dewfall" in Eucharistic Prayer II.

The irony of this situation is that "dewfall" is not simply a poetic term inserted by the recent translators. It is, in fact, the very word, correctly translated, for the authentic Latin of Pope Paul VI’s 1969 Missal; namely, rore. (The nominative is ros, used by both Caesar and Vergil.)

My edition of Pope Paul VI’s promulgation of The Order of Mass, The Roman Missal, dated 6 April 1969, reads as follows in the above context: Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica…(No. 74, Prex Eucharistica II). The accompanying rubric directs the priest to extend his hands over the bread and wine: Iungit manus, easque expansas super oblata tenens

Somehow, the 1973 translation of the 1969 Missal totally ignored the original text in this regard. Thus, the 1973 English Mass read: "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy…" Accurately rendered into English, the 1973 Mass text should always have read: "Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall…"

This mistranslation is especially puzzling because it occurs in the section of Mass that is technically known as the epiclesis. The term, epiclesis, borrowed from the Greek, means a "calling upon the Father to send the Holy Spirit" (i.e., to sanctify the offerings of bread and wine).

Why was the word "dewfall" used in the 1969 Latin Missal, and why was it ignored (apparently) by the English translators in 1973? I readily admit that I cannot find the definitive answer. Although I have put together an enormous theological library over the past 50-plus years, I cannot possibly retain copious source materials that haven’t even been published, such as the minutes of meetings and fragments of correspondence collected by committee members – data that may be stored somewhere in Vatican archives (or perhaps not). What I can write, to move this study toward some resolution, is to emphasize that, in the final analysis, the focus should be on the Church’s official approval. In this case, the Church did ratify the 1973 English version of the 1969 Latin Missal.

But, at least one other key question remains; specifically, why the metaphor "dewfall"? From the published sources that I do have in my library, "dewfall" calls to mind several well-known Biblical references, especially the story of Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6:36-40). Indeed, Gideon’s miracle, which pales before that of transubstantiation, mysteriously points to the Mass. (See A Commentary on the Prefaces and the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal by Msgr. Louis Soubigou; trans. Rev. John A. Otto; Liturgical Press, 1971. I have found this volume most helpful in trying to understand the revised Missal.)

Of course, this whole discussion of "dewfall" occurs in a study of Eucharistic Prayer II. But Eucharistic Prayer II (or Anaphora II, Canon II) is fascinating for other reasons. One is that it is inspired by the historic Canon of St. Hippolytus of Rome, who died a martyr in the lead mines of Sardinia. Dating from the beginning of the third century, it was originally composed in Greek, and is readily available as such on the Internet. It is so ancient, in fact, that it takes us back to a time when even in Rome the Mass of the Roman Rite was offered not in Latin but Greek.

Ironically, St. Hippolytus is sometimes referred to as the first "anti-Pope" – an anachronism, surely. Somehow he allied himself with factions in the early Church that could be described as ultra-restrictive – "more Catholic than the Church" is the contemporary description. But he was a Christian at heart, and was eventually arrested by the Roman authorities for his faith. The sentence pronounced by a judge was the terrifying Ad metalla – literally, "to the lead mines" [of Sardinia]. There, enclosed in darkness and forced into heavy labor, he met the authentic Pope, likewise condemned to die, and was reconciled with the Church. My recollection is that Blessed Pope John XXIII noticed St. Hippolytus’s statue outside of Rome, and ordered that it be returned there.

The original Canon of Hippolytus, which, like other ancient documents, appears with some textual variations (even Shakespeare’s dramas do the same), serves as a significant ecumenical medium today. For example, it has been introduced into college courses studying the history of religions, and is used by some churches as a basis for prayer.

Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of

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