Sunday, January 23, 2011


Prayer that "looks" like it is directed to God:

Prayer that "looks" like it is directed to the congregation:

By now you know that our current English translation of the Mass is a lame-duck. Actually it is paralyzed. It will be completely replaced the First Sunday of Advent which begins Saturday evening of November 26th.

I read other liturgical blogs. There is one blog where a good number of those who comment think that the new translation is clunky, too literal to the original Latin and will destroy the Catholic Church. In other words they think it is a disaster in the making and gives them the opportunity to bash the authority of the Church, that authority's secrecy and so on and so forth. So much for hyperbole. People that love the liturgy can be rather like cranks sometimes. They suffer from a psychological malady called hysteria. But I digress.

Please note the difference in the revised Collect for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. Realize that another translator could have translated the prayer in a more eloquent way, but the third prayer below is the one we're getting. What do you think of it when compared with what we now have?

Father Z's SUPER LITERAL TRANSLATION of the original Latin prayer:

Almighty eternal God,
direct our actions in your gracious purpose,
so that in the name of Thy beloved Son,
we may merit to abound with good works.

Paralyzed 1973 Translation (current one):

All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.

Very soon to be cured and walking upright revised translation:

Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.

One of the complaints that I read on other blogs is that people won't like or understand the new translation and that the translators could have done a better job given the sacred nature of their mission.

I think the fact that so many people were involved in the re-translating process and that there were probably too many chefs that had to be pleased that our new translation won't be as beautiful in some places of the missal as it could have been. I suspect if the Church had hired a committee of five translating experts, gave them the Liturgiam authenticam and locked them in a room until they gave us a good, beautiful English translation, that we would have had an exquisite translation. But since almost 7000 people had their finger in the pudding, we're getting what we get which is better than the old but not as good as it might have been if the number of people working on the translation had been much, much fewer.

So all I can say is the new translation will be wonderful compared to the old, but compared to what might have been it might be mediocre. Someone has described the new translation like an 8th grader trying to write Shakespeare! Yikes!

Finally, though, isn't prayer directed to God the Father from the people (clergy and laity) through Jesus Christ, the One Mediator, and by the power of the Holy Spirit? If so, isn't this prayer directed to God and not to us?

Yes, we want to give God our best and the best we have now is the current translation and the best we will have is the revised translation that only Rome has the ultimate authority to approve after a rather lenghty and arduous consultative process. But it is prayer directed to God, not directed to us. Does anyone misunderstand this or worse, have an erroneous understanding of this?

Yes, many Catholics and in high places either misunderstand or have an erroneous understanding of this because for over 40 years the prayers of the Church have been read and directed toward the congregation. That's a big problem and hopefully it will be resolved one day too by the only person that can really resolve it, the Holy Father, the pope.


Mackja said...

I find Fr. Z's literal translation to be quite beautiful, the current translation seems to be from a different planet, and the new while much improved lacks the beauty of the literal. The issue of ad orientum vs populum is something that will have to be addressed soon, their is no doubt that there are certain parts of the Mass that should be said ad orientum to give the faithful full and proper understanding of our relationship with God the Father. All this makes me wonder why we changed the Msss in the first place, would it not have been simpler to just have made parts of the Mass available for full participation by the congregation, looking at the EF it seems that would have been a sensible option. Thank you Bugnini...not.

Philibert said...

You say, "Many catholics in high places misunderstand this . . . "
Is it not possible that they have a different understanding, and not a "misunderstanding"?

Frajm said...

Philibert, that is very possible, a better description would be an "erroneous" understanding of prayer that evolves from the direction the priest faces. I'll change it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Father, I remember you praying the new translation twice before and you had said that your "higher ups" didn't care for it. I hope they now do; I enjoyed hearing you pray the new translation of the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass today.

I like the way you have been and are gradually introducing and integrating the new translation into the current mass and hope you continue to do this periodically. Thanks.

Frajm said...

I am really worried that if we implement the entire new translation all at once on the First Sunday of Advent that it will really be difficult for priests and laity.
My prayer is that bishops will allow pastors some flexiblity in implementing it in a piece meal fashion from now to Advent. Letting the congregation hear the priest's parts is a big step for them and it also help us as priests to get use to the different cadence and language translation. Thanks for the words.

Philibert said...

And what makes this understanding "erroneous"?

And who makes that judgment?

Frajm said...

When the priest faces the people to pray, when he makes gestures towards the people while praying the Eucharistic prayer, these actions make it appear to the laity as though the priest is speaking to them or to put it more heretically, it makes it appear as though the priest is praying to them. To say that the prayers of the Mass are directed to the people is heretical. These come from the people which includes the priest since he's a people too, and are directed to God the Father, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Since these prayers are offered by the Church and from the Church and through the Church to Christ the one Mediator, these prayers should be theologically and doctrinally sound, for the law of prayer is the law of belief.

pinanv525 said...

Fr., Many of Ignotus/Philibert's understandings are "erroneus." LOL:

pinanv525 said...

If people understand and are catechized about the history of Judaeo-Christian worship and the theology of why things are done as they are, then it is a no-brainer as to why the TLM/EF should be the norm. The OF should be the EF and the EF should be the OF!
Now, there are some things I like about the OF, and English is nice upon occasion. But, I am so damned weary of the "sign of peace," people making oracular gestures with the Priest (Sunday, there were several looking up to the ceiling and raising their arms like something out of a Pentecostal tent revival), and holding hands like ring around the roses. It is sad, but I believe the OF invites abuses of this sort.

Henry Edwards said...

Some of the discussion here is puzzling. Why would not every Catholic---lay or clerical, high or low---know that the sacrificial prayers of the Mass are offered TO the Father BY Christ THROUGH the Holy Spirit?

Surely there are not different understandings of this. Merely those who understand, and those who don't.

Frajm said...

Henry, that's my question too. Even in a Mass that is celebrated facing the people, the prayer is still offered by the Church, meaning clergy and laity through Christ, the one mediator to the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Facing the people though could give those who are familiar with the Church's teaching on how prayer is offered to God the Father, the wrong impression about the direction of the prayer. It's a visual thing, not really a doctrinal or theological question. But priest do look at the congregation when they pray orations and the Eucharistic Prayer. That is not a good symbol of our understanding of how prayer is to be directed.

Henry Edwards said...

Fr. McDonald: "But priest do look at the congregation when they pray orations and the Eucharistic Prayer. That is not a good symbol of our understanding of how prayer is to be directed."

To me, this is a symbol of a generation of priests who were ordained without receiving proper liturgical and theological formation.

Philibert said...

But, I ask earnestly, who decides if one Catholic's understanding is erroneous?

And is there the possibility of only one understanding when our liturgical theology and tradition is so rich? Witness the many and varied liturgies of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches.

pinanv525 said...

Ignotus, your question is a good one, even if I doubt its "earnestness." Erroneous means "based on error." Taking the TLM as a norm (and I believe that is the only way to proceed),Fr.'s and others statements regarding versus populum indicate both a misunderstanding in the laity and, apparently, in some Priests. That sounds like error to me.
Granted, this isn't science where there is a clear right and wrong way to do things, but at some point a quantitative difference becomes a qualitative one. I believe the OF has been so abused that it has become qualitatively a different liturgy in some Churches and in the eyes of some Priests and laity. I am laity and no liturgist, but that is my impression. Much of this "feeling of error" in many of our minds is partly impressionistic, however I believe it is valid. This is why I wish Pope Benedict would order this chaos with some kind of decree or at least very strong statement.

Anonymous said...

I am happy with that which is better than what we have used. Simply let's move forward with it and support our Holy Father and Church. I do hope that Latin will have its' place amongst the vernacular Mass.

Brian said...

Did I read correctly that you are using some of the revised texts during the liturgy? How awful.

Frajm said...

Oh heavens, only in practice sessions! :)

Brian said...

"I like the way you have been and are gradually introducing and integrating the new translation into the current mass and hope you continue to do this periodically."

How is this any different from liberal abuse of text? The Revised text is not approved for use in the Liturgy. Talk about confusing.