by Michael Sean Winters

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Here is another word in the new translation of the Roman Missal that has been causing some degree of consternation: "consubstantial." We received in our Sunday bulletin last week some information on why this word is replacing "one in being with the Father" in the Creed we recite at Mass on Sundays. The information is fine, even useful, pointing out that "consubstantial" is more precise than the phrase it replaces.
But, I would go further. It is true that many, perhaps most, of the people in the pews do not know the word "consubstantial" but I am also guessing that most people in the pews do not know exactly what is meant by "one in being with the Father." Unless you took a college course in Greek philosophy, such concepts may be opaque.
This is why the new Missal translation needs to be seen as an opportunity. I hope that pastors will preach on this new word and on what it tries to express about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. I hope they will preach about the history of Arianism, the study of which helped convince John Henry Newman to become a Roman Catholic. It will be an opportunity, among other things, to preach about the vital role of the laity in the fourth century, for many bishops were Arians but it was the people of God that refused to buy into the heresy. And, it will be an occasion to preach about why heresy is still a danger, why it is important that we get such matters right, why orthodoxy is important.

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