“Ask a Priest: Can a Priest Change the Words at the ‘Behold the Lamb of God’?”

Q: There is a retired monsignor who offers Mass at my parish, and at the part of the Mass when the Host is held up and the priest should say, “Behold the Lamb of God”, the monsignor says, “This is Jesus ….” I find this very distracting and annoying since he’s the only one who says it this way. Is it OK for him to change this? I think while we do receive our Lord in the Eucharist, the Church decided that the priest should say what the Church decided he should say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this. I don’t want to bring this to the pastor if I don’t have to. – E.B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: A priest shouldn’t change the words of the Mass arbitrarily. Some parts allow for flexibility, but the missal doesn’t suggest any changes at the “Behold the Lamb of God.” This change is illicit but doesn’t make the Mass invalid.

But … given all the problems in the Church today, and given all the concerns your pastor is already dealing with, you might ask whether it’s worth bringing up this point.

The parish is probably lucky that it even has a retired priest who can help with Masses.

My guess is that the pastor wouldn’t relish the idea of having to correct a retired monsignor about how to celebrate Mass … if you get my drift.

Besides, if the monsignor made it to retirement, that is a sign that he is a survivor. He likely served the Church during many difficult decades. If changing a few words at the Behold the Lamb of God is his greatest fault, he might be a saint.

I hope some of this helps.

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