Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘New Translation’

The Four Liturgists of the Apocalypse

November 28th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

The following appeared in the National Catholic Register. It’s worth the read, I guarantee it!

By Jimmy Akin

The Register recently asked me to do a post on what I saw at Mass this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday using the new translation of the Roman Missal.

Happy to oblige! So here’s what happened . . .

I arrived at Mass a few minutes early and took my seat in the pew. The particular parish I was attending had not done a lot of prep work for the new translation.

In fact, I saw that the Roman Missal they had was still in its shiny, new shrinkwrap.

And behold, there were seven seals upon its shrinkwrap.

I heard the cantor proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the Missal and break its seals?”

And no one in the parish was able to open the Missal or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was able to open the Missal, for I was really looking forward to the new translation.

Then the pastor said, “Weep not. This will only take a moment.”

And when the pastor opened one of the seven seals, I heard one of the four living choir members say, as with a voice of thunder, “Come!”

And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider was a liturgist; and a crown was given to her, and she went out conquering and to conquer.

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living choir member say, “Come!”

And out came another horse, bright red; its liturgist was permitted to take peace from the parish, so that people should form factions and grumble against one another; and she was given a great sword.

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living choir member say, “Come!”

And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its liturgist had a set of political talking points in her hand; and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living choir members saying, “A dearth of jobs in the economy; but do not harm the taxes or the new medical care program!”

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living choir member say, “Come!”

And I saw, and behold, a green horse, and its rider’s name was Envy, and Bitterness followed her.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of the parishioners who had been slain for complaining about liturgical abuses and for the witness they had borne.

They cried out with a loud voice, “How long must we suffer this squishy, 1970s translation?”

. . .
Read more:

Roman Missal Implementation is Soon Upon Us

November 18th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

I thought it might be interesting to have you comment on this post with anything your parish might be doing to get ready for the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. Please tell us what’s going on in your church, whether or not the priest(s) or administrator(s) is (are) enthusiastic about this – names aren’t necessary. I myself have heard some very entertaining, insightful, and thought-provoking comments, so I’m sure you have as well. One of the best lines I’ve heard:

“Well, we’re getting ready for this new missal, whose translation is much more in keeping with the true Spirit of Vatican II. We’ve got to remember that the edition we use now, as venerable as it may be, came out of an era of ‘free love’ and free translation.

Counter Courier

September 10th, 2011, Promulgated by JBCatholic

As many of you are well aware we await the coming of the new translation of the Roman Missal this coming Advent season.  This has prompted the Diocese of Rochester (DOR), which is to be expected, to issue several statements concerning the roll-out of the changes which are at hand.

While this  article from the Catholic Courier is a month old, I would like to begin a series of articles loosely titled “Counter Courier.”  In them, as you can well gather, I will examine a given article pointing out errors, and filling in data that might prove enriching to you the reader.

In the article listed at the bottom of this text, Mike Latona, the author, speaks about the efforts of Father Robert Kennedy (chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission) in preparing the priest of our diocese to implement the new translation. He begins, (all italics are my own)

“It might not seem that speaking from prepared text could be a daunting task. Yet when the words have been crafted to lead people toward deeper relationships with God, it’s crucial they be uttered with clarity and conviction rather than monotones and hesitations.”

Father Kennedy further questions the priests,

How can I (we) pray this with some kind of meaning?”

And goes on saying,

“(The) priests’ responsibilities will go beyond simply reciting words while leading their congregations in prayer.” And, “My concern when we do this all new is (that) we’re going to sort of be glued to the page. But what we do at liturgy is more than just reading liturgy.”

What then are we to gather the priests’ role or responsibilities are within the context of the Mass?  Is their chief purpose to inspire the laity who has gathered for Mass?  Or perhaps to sell the prayers with conviction?  Or maybe his job is to convince God that they really mean the prayers they pray?  With all candor, the sentiments conveyed in the above quote are not done (more than likely) out of malice or ill will, but rather, from a desire to instill in the faithful belief in the prayers and to convey in the hearts and mind of the gathered community a deep love for God.

However, we must ask, is this really the point of the prayers, or for that matter of the Mass? The answer is simple, “No.”  Priests fill both an awesome yet simple role, to be an alter Christus, another Christ. It is within this role that the personality of the individual must be absorbed into the person-hood of Christ.  It should not matter where you go to Mass, or who the priest is, the Mass and the prayers are the same.

The message from Fr. Kennedy seems quite different.  The personality of the priest and the personal touches he will add to the prayers is what, “give(s) it some kind of meaning.”

I have posted two different pictures just to make a visual of a point I’d like to make.

In the first we see a priest offering an Extra Ordinary form Mass in a fiddleback style chasuble.  In the traditional rite, each priest while receiving their training in seminary was taught very precise gestures and how to perform them.  For the most part the lay faithful present at the Mass, except those who view the priest at an angle, were unable to see the gestures and movements of the priest which are by–in-large out of view.  The priests’ words and movements , while hidden from the ears and eyes of the faithful, are directed toward their intended “audience” or object of the Mass, namely Almighty God.

In contrast, the above picture shows a Catholic priest offering an Ordinary Form Mass where his arms are extended in an exaggerated orans position.  Every movement, gesture and word being watched and heard by his intended “audience.”

In the first picture, the notion of the priest praying the words of the prayers with an audible or outward conviction seems almost absurd.  God desires His priests to come before Him inwardly disposed with hearts, minds and souls which have been shaped through living the Liturgy in the Mass and the Divine Office.  In the second picture the priest has become a conductor, leading the faithful in praying the prayers “with clarity and conviction.”  Without this role being filled the prayers would apparently have no  meaning according to Father Kennedy.

The issue, really, is not how the prayers are said, but to whom they are said.  For whose benefit are they being spoken? In the article Fr. Mull says,

Despite the many adjustments in store, Father Mull said he feels his challenge isn’t as steep as the one priests confronted immediately following the Second Vatican Council: “Those changes were much more difficult,” he remarked, noting that it was much harder to adapt “if you faced the wall for 25 years and now you were facing the congregation, if you said the Mass in Latin and now it was in English.”

This is an interesting statement, and by the word interesting I really mean appalling.  For, I would not call the Eucharistic presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Tabernacle, “the wall”!  As crazy as this statement may be, it is reflective of where this diocese currently is, and the long road ahead of us.  This road will be marked by small transitions like the one we will receive this Advent.  The gift by the way will not come via a flawless and impassioned recitation of the prayers, but rather, because the words of the mass are fitting for that which they convey and the Sacrament it confects.

Sentire Cum Ecclesia



Link to article: Catholic Courier

In case you’re interested: To aid in the adjustment process, Father Kennedy said he’s referring priests to a special area of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at, which includes the updated Eucharistic prayers as well as prayers for the Advent and Christmas seasons.






On the Cusp of a Liturgical Revolution

June 21st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Since the often-sloppy implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s decrees regarding sacred liturgy, the English-speaking world has been subjected to a Mass devoid of any depth of language and vocabulary. Many nations and peoples adopted vernacular Masses, but did so with proper attention to the original language of the Roman Missal, and wrote their own orders of worship using appropriate language. Indeed, when considering all the languages in which the Mass is offered, it is baffling to see that English stands out as being the most poorly-translated of all of them. There is no possible way that “et cum spiritu tuo” can be translated as “and also with you.” Whenever I say that response, all I can imagine is some slovenly wretch with a chili-dog in his hand saying “and wit’ you too, fadda.”

However, thanks be to God, the USCCB has decided that we may embrace the new translation of the Roman Missal two months earlier than originally thought. The following comes from their website:

BELLEVUE, Washington—Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Divine Worship, announced that diocesan bishops may permit the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people’s parts of the Mass from the new Roman Missal in September. Primarily this affects the  the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the Memorial Acclamations.

This variation to the implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, set to take place all at once on November 27, was authorized by USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translation “in a timely fashion and an even pace.”

The Committee on Divine Worship made the decision in response to requests from several bishops, echoed by the National Advisory Council. Some suggested that the various acclamations could be more effectively introduced throughout the fall, so that when the full Missal is implemented on the First Sunday of Advent, the congregation will have already become familiar with the prayers that are sung.
“I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation,” Archbishop Gregory told the bishops. The announcement took place June 16, during the U.S. bishops Spring Assembly near Seattle.

This is a very wise decision. One reason is that the Gloria, one of the “ordinaries” of the Mass (along with the Kyrie, Sanctus, Credo, and Agnus Dei) will now be experienced before Advent’s arrival and the dropping of the Gloria until Christmas. By granting permission to implement the new translation this early, the United States joins several other areas in the English-speaking world that have already begun to use it. England and Wales have also decided on the September start date, as opposed to the Advent one.

Something that will be seen in the new Roman Missal is increased attention paid to the “propers” of the Mass. “Propers” are scriptural extracts that are proper (thus the name) to the specific weekend or feast on which they ought to be recited. There are several different places where propers are to be used:

  • Introit – basically an entrance song, chanted or sung as the priest and other ministers enter the sanctuary
  • Gradual – this was the predecessor of the Responsorial Psalm. The option exists to chant this in lieu of the Responsorial Psalm, something wholly advisable given the fact that many psalm settings are abusive to the ear and the soul.
  • Alleluia – if using the propers, as found in the Graduale Romanum, you will note that every Sunday has its own setting of the Alleluia.
  • Offertorio – oddly enough, sung during the Offertory of the Mass when the gifts are prepared.
  • Communio – sung during the distribution of Communion. Baffling naming system, isn’t it?

The use of propers is encouraged by the Holy Father and the documents of Vatican II. Unfortunately, most parishes opted for communally-sung hymns instead of the specified propers of the Mass, seeing as how Gregorian Chant is seldom something that one can pick up with ease. Also, the use of hymns was allowed in order to draw the faithful into a more active and conscious participation at Mass. But ask yourself the following questions: 1. At your church, does the entire congregation actually sing the hymns? 2. Do your hymns actually reflect the total message of the Mass on any particular weekend? 3. What do you take away from singing a “hymn sandwich,” with a processional, an offertory hymn, a communion hymn, and a recessional? 4. While singing these hymns (doubtless they’ve been picked by your parish’s liturgy committee), do you actually feel edified and prayerful, or does it strike you as liturgical busy-work?

The use of propers answers all of these questions, seeing as how for the vast majority of the Church’s 2,000 year history, the propers were sung at Mass instead of hymns. They have their roots, not in some Medieval or Renaissance council or synod, but in the songs sung in the Temple in Jerusalem, songs sung by Our Lord Himself. The richness of these propers is really quite stunning, and I firmly believe that if they are reintroduced into our Masses, we will find ourselves tremendously more engaged in the Sacred Mysteries. After all, no matter how well you sing “All Creatures of Our God and King,” it’s still just a hymn that may or may not have a similar theme to the readings of the day. I am not denying that hymns can mirror and magnify the prayerfulness of Mass through interpreting the readings, but they will always be the option less-preferred in the eyes of the Church. Indeed, Vatican II asked for a revival of Gregorian Chant (see here).

But, alas, the propers are probably too daunting for any parish to just pick up and start singing this Sunday. After all, they’re in Latin, and have all these dots and squiggles and zigzags that don’t seem to make much sense. If only there was a simpler option, one that would couple nicely and naturally with the new translation of the Roman Missal . . .

Oh, that’s right. There is!

The Church Music Association of America has just published a book called “Simple English Propers,” which contains the propers of the entire year in English. The Catholic Phoenix reports on this publication:

A parish music director in Phoenix has recently completed a major project in the renewal of sacred music, one that could have a revolutionary impact upon the celebration of the Ordinary form of the Mass all over the English-speaking world, as the latter prepares for the renewal of sacred language on its way this winter, courtesy of the new translation of the OF Roman Missal.

Adam Bartlett, director of music at St. Joan of Arc parish, is the composer and compiler of the Simple English Propers, an anthology of music for the Mass that is unlike anything else available in English today.  The book, a 500-page hardback, has just been published by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA); in keeping with the radical and principled open-source, creative-commons intellectual-property-libertarianism of the CMAA and its tutelary genius Jeffrey Tucker, the entire “Simple English Propers” corpus is also available for free download.

In order for readers to understand why the Simple English Propers are so important, a brief introduction to some technical aspects of music in the Catholic Mass is in order.

The experience of most  Sunday massgoers in America has for decades been one of music as something added to the Mass but not integral or essential to it—so while the words of the liturgy itself are prescribed by the Missal, and the psalms and readings for every day of the three-year cycle are dictated by the Lectionary, one generally gets the sense that when it comes to music, the Catholic Mass is a blank canvas, an empty decorative space to be filled up by the wits and talents of the parish music ministry.

With four such hymn “slots” to be filled each Sunday—from the entrance and offertory, through the communion to the recessional—American Catholics’ experience is that songs at Mass are something freely chosen by the music director.  From choir-and-organ arrangements of “Soul of My Savior” to rockin’ Matt Maher tunes to “Gather Us In” to “God Bless America” or other special numbers on holidays, what we get week in and week out can be, like radio programming, interesting, varied, eclectic, coherent, or not.  This programming model of music as a freely chosen, extraneous addition to worship is nearly universal, and, from what authorities like Thomas Day, author of Why Catholics Can’t Sing, tell us, it is deeply rooted in pre-Vatican II American Catholicism.  We might have a lot more choices now than we did in 1959, but the model is the same—picking tunes off the nickel jukebox, downloading the playlist.

If American Catholics have had any Sunday experience of Gregorian chant, outside of chanted “ordinary” texts like the Sanctus or Agnus Dei, that experience has likely been within the same model of freely chosen music inserted into the liturgy, as one option selected from among others: perhaps one special week out of twenty, the choir chants an unaccompanied Regina coeli for the “meditation” piece after communion; or, if it’s Pentecost, maybe Veni Sancte Spiritus in the same slot.  But not too much chant: back to “Faith of Our Fathers” or something else rousing for the recessional.

While the music-as-choice model is ubiquitous, and technically “allowed” according to the General Instruction for the Roman Missal, a different and much older model of Catholic sacred music is the ideal, described and advocated in all Roman magisterial documents on liturgy in the 20th century, including Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. The model is simple: just sing the integral proper chants of the Mass, the prescribed Latin texts and ancient Gregorian melodies contained in the official music book of the Catholic Church, the Graduale Romanum, or “Roman Gradual.”  No choices needed:  4 different Gregorian chants for every single Mass of the entire year, with words and music compiled in a normative Roman liturgical book.

Most lay Catholics, not to mention parish musicians and clergy, are not even aware of the existence of the Roman Gradual—but even if there were two dozen copies of it in every choir loft (or “musicians’ space” at the front of more progressive churches), learning to sing these ancient Latin texts and intricate, exotic melodies would be an extremely daunting task for even the most healthy of parish music programs.  There is simply no living tradition of Gregorian chant to be found anywhere near all but a handful of our parish churches.  Without it, the Roman ideal remains a dream for some and simply inconceivable for most.  Wishing it were otherwise—that there was a culture of Latin chant in our parishes just as vibrant as you’d find in a French Benedictine monastery—isn’t enough to conjure it up.  What, then, is to be done?

This is where the Simple English Propers come in.  This revolutionary anthology, the first of its kind, contains English-language translations of all the ancient Latin liturgical chants of the Roman Gradual, set to simplified melodies adapted from the originals; unlike the daunting, technically complex lines of the Gregorian chants, a week’s worth of these adapted melodies can be easily mastered by a parish choir of average competence in a week’s time, and new ones sung with confidence and clarity in the assembly Sunday after Sunday.

What is most revolutionary about the Simple English Propers anthology is that it offers a way to a different model of sacred music, one in which there are no “songs”, no extraneous, independent musical compositions stuck into the silent slots in the liturgy, no need for a music director to program the week’s playlist according to his wits or whims.  Instead of our own choices and preferences, the SEP gives us a way to sing the Roman Church’s ancient songs, texts that have been fully integrated into the Roman Mass for centuries–unlike, say, “Amazing Grace,” “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” or “America the Beautiful.”

As one liturgist recently put it: truly sacred music means not singing “at” Mass, but singing the Mass itself. The Simple English Propers present a comprehensible and technically feasible way for the average American parish to move off the beaches, where previously there had existed only the sheer cliffs of the Graduale Romanum. Thanks to Adam Bartlett and the CMAA for making this possible.

And With Thy Spirit: The New Translation of the Roman Missal Part III

April 2nd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Parts I and II.

For those who are unaware, when one looks at the missal, it contains two kinds of text: rubrics (stuff the priest does), which are red, and the actual words of the Mass (stuff the priest reads), which are in black.  (Hence Fr. Z’s famed “Say the Black-Do the Red”)  One reason so many liturgical abuses have cropped up over the years is the wording used in the rubrics of the 1973 translation of the Missal.  Often times, it improperly allows a bit of leeway around the wording, by saying something like “He may use these or similar words.”  What is similar? Where can a line be drawn? Can you say “friends” instead of “brethren”? Why not just say “everybody” or “y’all”?   You can see how quickly this turns into a circus.  The new translation’s rubrics do not do this.  They are very specific.  That same rubric in the new translation says, “Then follows the Penitential Act, to which the Priest invites the faithful, saying:”  No ambiguity there!

You will recall some of the complaints about this new translation: it’s not “good English,” or “it’s too confusing,” or “it doesn’t flow, it sounds like a translation!”  Allow me to say, I think it’s quite alright if a translation sounds like a translation. It is one!  We must always remember that we are the Latin Church, and we are praying the Roman Missal, not the English Missal.  Fundamentally, we are praying in a translation that must be unified with those other translations of the same text.  Priests, if you don’t like it, just use Latin!  Laity, if you don’t like it, ask your priest to use Latin!

One wonderful aspect of this new translation is the re-emphasis on chant.  Right along with each line in the missal will be the chant intonation.  An example of what this will look like appears here. I would expect that, as our priests become more familiar with this new, corrected translation, we will start to see a general shift in liturgical music.  Instead of Marty Haugen, David Haas, and other such composers of liturgical showtunes, ICEL and the USCCB have re-emphasized the importance of chant in the Church.  Just as we are not called the pray at Mass, but rather to pray the Mass, I believe that we will shift from singing at Mass, but rather singing the Mass.

Often times, people think they understand things they do not truly understand.  Since they understand each individual word used, they assume that they grasp the concept expressed by those words.  When big, scary words are used, many people become somewhat agitated.  (I will point this out as we go through the translation in a number of places.) Rather than using them as an opportunity to learn, some run away screaming with their fingers firmly placed in their ears.  Did I know what ineffable meant the first time I heard it? No, of course not!  Once I looked it up, I understood.  Approachable does not need to mean “dumbed down to a 4th grade level.”

Fr. Bausch griped about the new translation last year, saying:

“From my experience of 61 years of speaking the English language these phrases and words are not familiar to my ear in my daily conversation with people.  I assure you, I am not opposed to learning, but our Church’s liturgy is often accused of being out of touch or boring. Now we may further complicate the liturgy by using words and phrases that are not part of our common language.”

I would argue, rather, that one of the reasons people find Mass to be boring is that it IS boring to the uncatechized.  “Mass is boring, it needs to be more approachable” is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When the Holy Mass is just seen as another prayer service with boring music and uncomfortable seats, it’s BORING.  When the Holy Mass is treated as if it’s one big family meal, it seems like the food and dinner table conversation are both lacking. That’s BORING.  When we hear some warbly old alb-wearing nun singing Kumbayah, it IS boring.  I assure you, however, that when one understands the sacrificial and sacramental nature of the Mass, it is anything but boring.  When one hears turns of phrase that bring Bible stories to mind, he recalls those stories and puts himself in them.

Even my most liberal friends do not find chant boring, but rather calming and peaceful.  No one who has ever heard a Mozart Mass has ever found it “boring and out of touch.”  When a teen hears the “contemporary choir” (made up of sexagenarians) singing “contemporary worship music” that is 2 generations removed from being “contemporary,” he is very easily bored.  So, I am not surprised that people find the current translation and music of the Novus Ordo at most parishes to be boring and out of touch.  It is.  It’s bland and uninspiring, it challenges neither the intellect nor the heart.

In the end, we should look back to one of the greatest axioms of the early church: Lex Orandi, Lex Vivendi.  The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief.  That is to say, in essence that what we hear, and say, and pray DIRECTLY IMPACTS what we believe.  If one hears only of God’s mercy, and of heaven, and sunshine and butterflies, he often is blind to God’s justice.  Suddenly, after never hearing mention of sin or evil or the devil, people no longer believe in hell, no longer believe the father of lies exists, no longer believe in purgatory…and eventually, they no longer see a need for a redeemer.  If there is no hell from which to be saved, there is no need for a savior.  Just like that, Our Lord is relegated to the outskirts of our lives…perhaps simply as a model of being a “good person,” or a “nice guy.”  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

There’s a third aspect of that ancient axiom, though, perhaps the most important logical conclusion…in total, it is Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of life.  What we pray impacts what we believe, and what we believe impacts how we live.  Informal, limited prayer leads to a very limited faith, and we’ve seen the results–lapsed Catholics, closed parishes and schools, decreased confessions, and an incredibly profane society.  My sincerest prayer is that this new, corrected translation will be the first step to reversing this half-century long trend towards atheism.  Lofty goal? perhaps.  Unattainable? Absolutely not!  As Fr. Z. says, Save the Liturgy, Save the World!

And With Thy Spirit: The New Translation of the Roman Missal Part II

March 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Part I here

The Translation Process

After the releases of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal and Liturgiam Authenticam, a number of steps were taken to bring us a new, authentic, corrected translation of the Mass.  Blessed Pope John Paul II established the Vox Clara Committee (Clear Voice) to work with the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) in providing English translations of liturgical texts.  This, coupled with a new set of statutes for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) set forth the oversight for the translation project, which, in itself was long and arduous.

ICEL worked to translate, section by section, the Missale Romanum, which were then sent to each individual Conference of English-speaking Bishops, called “green books.”  The Bishops then would study the green books, ask for input from whomever they desired, add their suggestions and commentary, and then return the green books to ICEL.  There were a total of sixteen green books issued between 2004 and 2009.

After the green books, with their comments and suggestions, had been reviewed, a “gray book” was issued for each part and sent to the Bishops’ Conferences for an approval vote.   By the November 2009 USCCB plenary meeting, each part had been approved and sent back to the Vatican for final approval.  The final edition, called a “white book,” would then be issued by the Vatican.

It is clear to anyone who realizes the painstaking lengths taken in this translation process that there was ample time for anyone with an opinion to voice it, and for input to be sought.  This has not stopped rabble-rousers in certain circles from noisily complaining about every aspect of the new translation.

What if we just said, “Wait!”

Not least among these rabble-rousers is Fr. Michael Ryan, rector of the Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Seattle, who created the What if We Just Said Wait petition, and penned this article of the same title in the notoriously heterodox America Magazine.  Our own Dr K kept tabs on the signees of this petition from here in Rochester.  They included eighteen priests, over 20 religious sisters, and nearly 30 lay “ministers.”

The authors have this to say:

We are convinced that this approach will address the concerns of those many bishops who feel that they have lost their voice in this matter.

Fr. Ryan clearly fails to understand a basic point: being outvoted is not the same as “los[ing] their voice.  Every Bishop in every English-speaking country had time to review these texts, contribute to them, raise concerns, etc.  The fact of the matter remains, however, that the Church is Catholic, that is, universal.  We are not congregationalist protestants, and thus, any priest or bishop who feels the need to break with the universal Church clearly has his head where it does not belong.

Many a priest (and layperson) has complained that, even though the Bishops had a chance to say their piece, that opportunity was not granted to the rest of us.  To them, I ask: “Why should you be consulted?”  It is nothing if not prideful to claim that Fr. Vernacular or Pewsitter John has anything meaningful to contribute to a complex translational process.  How many of these complainers have a working knowledge of the original Latin?  At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I answer, “very few!”

This has not stopped dissenters like Fr. Bill Spilly, Fr. Joe Marcoux, Fr. Ed Palumbos, Msgr. William Shannon,  Barb Swieki, Fr. Robert Kennedy, Charlotte Bruney, and SSJ President Mary Louise Mitchell from loudly voicing their complaints.  Fr. Bausch and Fr. Spilly even spent bulletin articles complaining about it.

Bishop Trautman

Another major complainer in this ordeal is Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, PA.  Bishop Trautman led the charge against approval at the November 2009 plenary meetings, and in subsequent months.  I watched the November 2009 plenaries in their entirety, and can assure you that Bishop Trautman’s complaints reminded me of those often made by petulant children.  Even Club Jadot Archbishops Pilarczyk and Mahony essentially told Bishop Trautman to stop whining.  Trautman went on to pen an article in the notoriously heterodox US Catholic Magazine, entitled Lost in Translation. In this article, His Excellency complains that people will fail to understand such difficult concepts as “dewfall” or “incarnate.”  Apparently, Bishop Trautman thinks we are all idiots.

I can only speak for myself, but I contend that people ought to be able to master a new word here or there.  Perhaps in praying the Mass and finding their own knowledge lacking, ignorant pewfolk might perchance open up old Mr. Webster, and understand “incarnate: adjective; made manifest or comprehensible, embodied.”

Bishop Trautman, and those of his ilk, also like to argue that this will “roll back the reforms” of the Second Vatican Council.  As has often been stressed on these pages, Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, states:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

54. (…) Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things

And…correctly translating the Latin is…against…the reforms of Vatican II?  I beg to differ!

Part III will be the last introductory chapter in this series.  It will explain a bit of the “meat and potatoes” of the new Missal translation.  Part IV will begin to look at the Missal itself.

And With Your Spirit: The New Translation of the Roman Missal Part I

March 18th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

We’ve mentioned the new, corrected translation of the Roman Missal into English on a number of occasions here at Cleansing Fire.  Two of our seminarians have taught classes on the Mass, the diocese insisted that your priests spend the month of February discussing the Mass in their homilies, and every heterodox group has found some reason to gripe about it.  Through all of this, the fact remains that in 254 days, the words of the Mass will set a drastically different tone than they have since the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI in 1970.

This will be the first in a lengthy series of posts discussing these changes, and showing you what to expect come November 27.  First and foremost, we must discuss a bit of history.

Liturgiam Authenticam

In 2001, the Vatican’s worship committee, the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) issued a text entitled “Liturgiam Authenticam,” which, among other things, set forth the principles that are to be used when translation liturgical texts.  There are two basic schools of translation:

  1. Formal Equivalence, which strives to render, verbatim, the original text into the target language.  This is often difficult, as it may obscure some idiomatic references that are “lost in translation,” so to speak.  Furthermore, as many words can take more than one meaning, a formal equivalence translation must be careful to use proper context in order to select the correct meaning.   Furthermore, formal equivalence translations can at times sound “clunky” and awkward.
  2. Dynamic Equivalence, which ostensibly strives to render the original meaning of the text in its translation into the target language.   This can often lead to an easily readable text, but also one that can miss layers of meaning.  Furthermore, this approach can be dangerous, as a translator’s bias can easily shine through, obscuring the actual text.

Many popular contemporary Protestant Bibles use Dynamic Equivalence, while the New American Bible (used at Novus Ordo Masses) uses some combination of Dynamic and Formal Equivalence.  The Revised Standard Version and the Douay-Rheims use Formal Equivalence.  For comparison’s sake, let’s look at Psalm 23:4

NAB: Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.

The Message:(Dynamic “Equivalence”) Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

Challoner-Rheims: For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.

RSV: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Liturgiam Authenticam calls for translations of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages that are true to the Latin originals, that is to say, a formal equivalence translation.  The current translation is much more “dynamic equivalence,” though I’d argue it’s hardly equivalent.

“While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet” (Emphasis mine)

Liturgiam Authenticam, coupled with the 2002 release of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal made it clear that a new translation of the Mass into English was necessary.  As I alluded above, the current translation, released in 1973, is perhaps more of an adaptation than it is a translation.  There is no possible way to translate “Et cum spiritu tuo” (literally “and with your spirit”) as “And also with you.”  This sort of adaptation can be seen in literally thousands of instances throughout the current lame-duck translation.

Liturgiam Authenticam also puts forth certain translational norms for the whole Church, such as the requirement to use the original pronouns, rather than switching to gender-neutral language.  Specific instances of this include:

  1. The feminine pronoun (rather than the neuter) referencing the Church
  2. Jesus as the “Son of Man”
  3. The proper rendering of the word “fathers”
  4. Splitting a collective term into two gendered terms

There is certainly more to this document than I have summarized above, as it is a lengthy 15,000 words, but this should give a touch of background.

Since the release of Liturgiam Authenticam and the subsequent release of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other English-speaking Bishops’ conferences have been working with the (CDW) to provide a translation that fits within the norms set forth in Liturgiam Authenticam.  In Part II, we will examine this process of translation, and discuss the objections to (and support for) the forthcoming text.