Learning a New Word

Yesterday I said Mass for our school children for the holy day, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  As I always do, and especially with the new translations, I looked over the prayers before Mass.  Or at least I thought I looked them over but later discoverded I missed a word. 

During the Mass, we came to the Prayer over the Offerings and came upon a word I hadn’t noticed before Mass.  I don’t know if I had ever seen the word before and I didn’t know how to pronounce it.  To add to the mix, I spent seven years in speech therapy in elementary school.  Generally I am ok but new words are a challenge for me.

So I stumbled through the word as “pre-pre-ven-ve-ant.”  That’s not how the word is really spelled but rather the way I stumbled through it.  The word is prevenient.

After Mass, I made a point to go look the word up in the dictionary.  I had another Mass to say later in the day and wanted to know how to pronounce the word.  I also wondered what the correct meaning of the word is.

Let me share the entirety of the prayer with you

Graciously accept the saving sacrifice
which we offer you, O Lord,
on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and grant that, as we profess her,
on account of your prevenient grace,
to be untouched by any stain of sin,
so, through her intercession,
we may be delivered from all our faults.
Through Christ Our Lord.

Now, let us take a look at the definition of the word as found on www.infoplease.com.

1. coming before, antecedent
2. anticipatory

While this solemnity is about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the gospel we read is the story of the Annunciation where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  Mary says yes to the will of God.  Because God transcends time, God already knew Mary would say yes, so in her own conception in her mother’s womb, Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin so that she would be worthy to carry Jesus in her womb.

This is prevenient grace.  In anticipation of Mary saying yes, God gave her the grace of being immaculately conceived before she said yes.

I believe a positive effect of the new translations is to make us think about the words we pray.  This prayer certainly caused me to think about the word prevenient.  I took the initiative to look the word up in the dictionary.  Learning that definition then led me to think about how Mary was immaculately conceived before she said yes.  God has a plan.  God knows us better than we know ourselves.  Let us always place our trust in God.


Fr. Jeff


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.