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What does the Catholic phrase “world without end” mean?

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Philip Kosloski - published on 08/19/21

The phrase "world without end" at the end of Catholic prayers, is a translation of the Latin words, "in saecula saeculorum."

Many Catholic prayers in the English language conclude with the phrase, “world without end,” or alternatively with, “forever and ever.” The “Glory Be” is one prayer that concludes in this way.

The phrase is repeated so much that many Catholics may not even notice it.

Yet, for some it is a confusing phrase, especially when considering the idea that this world will end, paving the way for a new Heaven and a new Earth.

This phrase is an English translation of the Latin words, “in saecula saeculorum.” It appears in the Latin Vulgate a number of times and also has a Greek equivalent in the New Testament.

According to A Dictionary of the Bible, the phrase refers to “A certain specified period of the history past or to come … More frequently it signifies indefinitely long period of time, eternity or to come; ‘unto the ages‘ being equivalent to ‘forever’ or ‘for evermore.'”

In Eastern Orthodox prayers it is translated as “unto ages of ages.

Fr. Kenneth Doyle explained for Catholic Philly that the phrase is “a poetic way of expressing the notion of eternity. What we are really saying is that the glory of God and the praise owed to the Trinity are endless. The phrase attempts to translate the Latin ending of many Mass prayers, ‘per omnia saecula saeculorum,’ which means, ‘through all ages upon ages.'”

The phrase has a rich history and is meant to express the glory the God that has no end, but endures throughout all ages.

Tags:
Catholic PrayersLiturgy

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