Monday, January 27, 2014


Yesterday I had all three of our morning Masses. One parochial vicar is out of town, our priest from Ghana and the other, our priest from Poland was filling in for the pastor at our neighboring parish who had knee surgery and he is from Nigeria! But I digress! (Of course I'm from Italy, with a Canadian father, but thoroughly southern having grown up in Georgia.) But I digress!

Our first two Masses, the 9:30 AM what I would consider our principal Mass with full choir, are the same in terms of music, although the 7:45 AM Mass has cantor only to lead our congregational singing. Both these Masses and our 5:00 PM Sunday Mass as well as our 4:30 PM Saturday, Sunday's Vigil Mass are celebrated toward the congregation. We have the modified pre-Vatican II altar arrangement, not as strict as what Pope Francis has in Rome.

Our 12:10 PM Sunday Mass for the past two years now has the exact same music/chants as all our other Masses. The only difference is that the Liturgy of the Eucharist, beginning with the Preparations of the Offerings is ad orientem.

While there may have been some who dislike this arrangement, when we instituted it two years ago, I had only one person, who doesn't attend this Mass but went to experience it, who wrote to me that they did not like it. No one else has complained and there is not  been any noticeable decline in attendance at this Mass.  In fact at yesterday's Mass I was quite impressed with the number of young people there and young families who far outnumbered those approaching the grave, my age and older.

But I digress. I love celebrating Mass in either direction as well as the Extraordinary Form, although as I have stated before, while I love Latin, I love the vernacular and wish we could use the amount of English used in the 1965 Missal for the 1962 missal. I find it ridiculous that we can't.

But let's get back to our normal ad orientem 12:10 PM Mass. The Introductory Rite as well as the Concluding Rite are at the chair as is every other OF Mass we have. The Liturgy of the Word is identical. We have Holy Communion under both kinds and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to allow for this and the various stations we need, six chalices and four Host stations.

But for me personally (I can't speak for those in the congregation) I find the Liturgy of the Eucharist to be more solemn and more devotional for me. It also emphasizes better the two aspects of Holy Mass, the Sacrifice and the "Supper" or the Banquet of the Holy Eucharist in the Rite of Holy Communion.

Let me explain. Liturgical progressives formed in the deformed theology of the Mass in the 1970's, forgot or denigrated or ignored the sacrificial aspect of the Holy Eucharist and especially that of the Eucharistic Prayer, which actually begins with the Preface Dialogue and all that follows through the Great Amen and no matter the Eucharistic Prayer that is chosen.

Some progressives believe erroneously that the Eucharistic Prayer in its entirety is consecratory of the bread and wine which become the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our gloriously risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is simply false!

The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ at the consecratory words, the words of institution.  Each at their separate consecrations, but both are completely the Risen Christ albeit in a sacramental mode of presence.  So, if the priest dies after the consecration of the host prior to the consecration of the wine, or he dies after the consecration of both, but before continuing with the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer, are the "accidents" consecrated or not? As far as I understand it, YES!

But the Mass as a sacrifice is not completed and if not completed would be invalid as a sacrifice, but the hosts or the hosts and "Wine" would nonetheless be consecrated. Technically another priest should conclude the Mass in the event that the celebrant dies prior to doing so to make the sacrificial part of the Mass valid, meaning that the Risen Lord in the Offerings is then actually offered to the Father!

And thus my point about the Eucharistic Prayer no matter which one. The entire prayer is needed not for consecration, but for Sacrifice. Progressive theologians and rank and file clergy and laity are completely oblivious to this since they only focus on the "meal" aspect of the Eucharist and not on the sacrificial.

The priest acting in the person of Christ, must offer the risen Lord, in an unbloodly, sacrificial way to the Father, he isn't offering unconsecrated "accidents." The bread and wine must be the Risen Lord to be offered to the Father. When does this take place? At the preparation of the offerings? No! During the Preface, Sanctus and first part of the EP after the Sanctus but prior to the words of consecration to include the calling of the Holy Spirit upon the offerings known as the Epiclesis? No! At the consecration? No!

The SACRIFICIAL OFFERING of our Risen Lord under the forms of "Bread" and "Wine" takes place after these become the Body of Blood of our Lord. It occurs during the "anemesis" which is the prayer immediately following the consecration but not the entire part of the EP following the consecration, but only that portion which the main celebrant either chants or says alone prior to any concelebrant taking over.

The reason why I think that the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharistic Prayers are best made clear in the ad orientem Liturgy of the Eucharist is that it is clear that this part of the Mass is sacrificial! No one is to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ prior to the Rite of Holy Communion which begins with the Pater Noster! And it is absolutely necessary for the completion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the priest to consume the Holocaust even if no laity receive Holy Communion.

Certainly the "Per Ipsum" makes clear also, the sacrificial aspect of the second part of the Eucharistic Prayer as the priest(s) offering our Lord to God the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, which we know and believe that God the Father accepts! But God the Father returns to us (in the resurrection and in each and every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) His Son whose Sacrifice He lovingly accepts for all eternity. Our "eating and drinking" of the Body and Blood of Christ is for us and our salvation but not independent of the Sacrificial aspect of the Eucharistic Prayer and the Offering of our Lord on the Cross, the Father's acceptance of this and His return to us of His Son in Holy Communion, meaning the Rite of Holy Communion, not during the Eucharistic Prayer!!!!!

Howe many of you know this? How many Catholics after Vatican II until today really know and believe this? Even if the laity do not receive Holy Communion at a particular Mass (the celebrant must though to complete the Sacrifice) the Sacrifice of the Real Presence of Christ after the consecration is what is necessary for us to see and hear! As well as the self-offering of the Risen Christ to His Heavenly Father which the Father accepts and returns our Risen Lord to us in the Banquet part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Do you know this and has the Liturgy of the Eucharist facing the people with the priest proclaiming the prayer in such a fashion as it makes it appear to being read or proclaimed to the congregation????? Tell me about this. (BTW, I am not calling into question the sacrificial aspect of any Mass celebrated toward the congregation, but only the "sign" value of such and what this has done to rank and file clergy and priests and not for the better in the last 50 years!

So when I turn away from the altar and toward the congregation prior to my receiving Holy Communion to complete the sacrifice and the laity being allowing to receive the same Offering after me at their Holy Communion, it is clear at that point, when the priest says, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world, Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb, followed by all saying "Lord I am not worthy..." this is the point of the supper or banquet of the Mass and certainly the priest should be gesturing toward the congregation, not during the Eucharistic Prayer and certainly not at the consecrations which too many priests and bishops actually do!

That's why I think ad orientem is the best posture for the priest at all Masses and specifically for the Eucharistic Prayer!


Pater Ignotus said...

"The reason why I think that the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharistic Prayers are best made clear in the ad orientem Liturgy of the Eucharist is that it is clear that this part of the Mass is sacrificial!"

Can you say, "circulus in probando"?

Circular reasoning is a common logical fallacy.

Anonymous said...

I heard of a priest who went to the ambo for his homily and delivered it with his back to the people. Afterward, he asked the people to consider how they liked that. Then he explained to them this is what versus populum does to God.

Henry said...

Right, PI, re circular reasoning. But I believe Fr's intent was to allude to the plain fact that ad orientem celebration leaves no doubt in anyone's mind as to the sacrificial aspect of the Mass in the Eucharistic prayer--that, in the words of John Paul II's Eucharistia de Ecclesia--the sacrifice of the Mass is "the sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated through the ages".

Whereas prevalent versus populum celebration in our time has--according to all surveys and indications--left considerable doubt in many Catholic minds.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Apart from ad orientem the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharistic Prayer as been so neglected by clergy in doctrine and style of liturgy when facing the people that it is no wonder the laity like communion services better than the Mass!

rcg said...

FrAJM, I don't recall if you ever told us: do you kiss the altar before turning to face the congregation?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No, but I do bow.

John Nolan said...

Re kissing the altar:

This was restricted in 1967 to the beginning and end of Mass. The same decree (Tres Abhinc Annos) suppressed most of the ritual gestures of the Tridentine Mass, reduced the number of genuflexions to four (subsequently reduced to three) during the celebration itself, and introduced some rubrical features which were to be incorporated in the Novus Ordo, the most significant being the change to the Communion Rite.

The question is, was TAA superseded by the GIRM? And does GIRM 42 allow for the optional reintroduction of traditional rubrical gestures removed in 1967? It's necessary to look at the original Latin, since it has been deliberately mistranslated. Under the heading "de gestibus et corporis habitibus" it has the following:
"Attendendum igitur erit ad ea quae a lege liturgica et tradita praxi Ritus Romani definiuntur ..."

"Attention should therefore be paid to what is determined by the liturgical law and traditional practice of the Roman Rite ..."

This is telling all participants that they should not invent new gestures out personal inclination (holding hands during the Our Father would come into this category). But using traditional ones is another matter, and since Summorum Pontificum what constitutes the Roman Rite cannot be simply understood as the Paul VI Missal.

Incidentally, in the Dominican Rite the celebrant does not kiss the altar before turning to the people.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - Serious question. How does the ad orientem celebration emphasizes the sacrificial nature of the mass? What is it about that posture that leaves no doubt in people's minds that the mass is a sacrifice?

Henry said...

PI, I think that ad orientem posture of the celebrant during the Eucharistic prayer leaves little room for doubt that the Eucharistic prayer is addressed to directly God rather than to the people, and that this reinforces the actual intent of the sacrificial language that is explicit (except perhaps in EP II), as well as the view that the real actor in this is Christ rather then the priest himself.

Whereas in a versus populum celebration, it is not uncommon for the priest to give, and/or for the people to get, the impression that the Eucharistic prayer is direct to them, and therefore to suggest that his activity is directed primarily (or solely) to preparation of the sacred elements for offering to the people in holy communion (rather than for offering them to God in sacrifice), and thus he perhaps acting more in service to the people rather than to Christ as his agent.

Of course, it is quite possible for a priest to celebrate versus populum in a consciously and explicitly sacrificial manner, and I know ones who so so (but difficult for him to celebrate ad orientem in a manner that communicates a non-sacrificial intent).

Several priests I've known personally, who celebrate both the OF versus populum and (much less often) the EF ad orientem, have suggested that a significant effect of their EF ad orientem experience has been to emphasize to them their role as a priest offering sacrifice for the propitiation of sins, and that this deepened priestly spirituality has affected their versus populum OF celebration as well, and has also caused them to wish to celebrate the OF ad orientem more often than they can at the present time.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Absolutely Henry! I think Popes Benedict and Francis do it. Most priests, though, proclaim the EP in a proclamation voice as though God really needs this for Him to take the prayer seriously, so the only other reason is that priest use the proclamation voice is to proclaim to the people the prayer as they would the Gospel or their homily. Prayer is not a proclamation either to God or to the congregation. And yes, for priests who regularly gesture to the congregation during any prayer, but especially the EP as though it is being directed to them and use gestures, especially at the words of institution, it would be extremely difficult for them to do such a silly thing ad orientem.

rcg said...

Whose sacrifice? Our meager and inadequate offering, or the ineffable sacrifice of Our Lord?

John Nolan said...

Given that modern scholarship maintains that the earliest Christian tradition was for a common orientation, it is not necessary for those who favour ad orientem (ad apsidem) celebration to argue a case for it. It is rather incumbent on those who favour "over-the-counter" Masses to make case for them, since the archaeologism of the early-to-mid 20th century is now discredited.

One puzzling feature of the Pope's Sistine Chapel Mass was that he turned to the people for the Oratio super oblata, and then turned to the altar for the Preface dialogue. There might be some justification in facing the people for the latter in the Novus Ordo, to bring it into line with the other dialogue parts, but surely not for the former, which does not begin with "oremus" and surely should not be said with his back to the offerings.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Fr. McDonald opines: "Most priests, though, proclaim the EP in a proclamation voice as though God really needs this for Him to take the prayer seriously, so the only other reason is that priest use the proclamation voice is to proclaim to the people the prayer as they would the Gospel or their homily."

The GIRM directs: "218. The parts pronounced by all the concelebrants together and especially the words of
Consecration, which all are obliged to say, are to be recited in such a manner that the concelebrants speak them in a low voice and that the principle celebrant's voice IS HEARD CLEARLY. In this way the words can be more easily UNDERSTOOD BY THE PEOPLE."

GIRM continues: "220. It is appropriate that the commemoration of the living and the "Communicantes" be assigned to one of the other concelebrating Priests, who then pronounces these words alone, with hands extended, AND IN A LOUD VOICE."

GIRM continues: "223. It is appropriate that the commemoration of the dead and the "Nobis quoque peccatoribus" be assigned to one or other of the concelebrants, who pronounces them alone, with hands extended, AND IN A LOUD VOICE." (CAPS mine)

Etc etc etc...

Yes, the words of the Eucharistic Prayers are to be spoken in a voice that can be clearly heard and understood by the People of God.

Henry said...

I interpret the term "proclamation voice"--in description of what some priests use in the Eucharistic prayer--as something quite different from merely a voice that is clearly audible or even loud. The behavior it connotes to me is more like a "stage voice", an exaggerated voice that might be and often is accompanied by exaggerated gestures.

I myself (at least in the OF) like to hear the canon in the vernacular (preferably chanted) as I follow it in the Latin column in my Latin-English OF missal. But with the words pronounced with dignity as actually addressing God, rather than with flamboyance as addressing a stage audience.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course PI as usual is being antagonistic knowing quite well that he is called to model his prayers not in a proclamation format, but one that is noble in it quietness, but still heard by all, especially if a microphone is used. I would, of course, urge him to model his praying after that of Pope Francis, who is very low key in how he prays and quiet too, but because of the sound system heard. It is not a low voice but a subdued voice.
I fear, as I have seen and heard him, that PI prays all prayers in a loud proclamatory voice and does so as he looks at the congregation just as if he were proclaiming the Gospel to us or the Gettysburg Address. So sad.

George said...

Given that many Churches today are equipped with amplification systems
and the celebrants of the Mass don wearable microphones means that (at least in those Churches so equipped) a proclamation in a loud voice is unnecessary. It in fact enables and makes possible a low and reverential tone which can still be distinctly heard by the congregation.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father, I speak the prayers so that they can be heard and understood. Having had good vocal training, I know that I speak clearly and am understood.
That's what the GIRM calls for - that's what I do.

Unlike you, I am not looking to popes as "models" for individual liturgical behavior. It seems I have the distinct advantage over you of knowing who I am and not having to imitate others who may or may not be worth imitating.

Joe Potillor said...

Of course isn't the idea for priests to "disappear" and so make Christ present by taking themselves out of the picture? Popes Benedict and Francis both do excellent jobs at this.

Pater Ignotus said...

There are four actors in the mass: Christ, the Church, the priest, and the congregation. None of them must "disappear," but each must be wholly and actively present according to his\her role. Christ is present - mediated - in and through the human actors.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus claims GIRM 220 and 223 refer to "in a loud voice" and uses capitals, the internet equivalent of shouting. Now my translation simply says "aloud", so we must turn again to the Latin. Both paragraphs refer to those parts of the Canon which are said (or sung) by one of the concelebrants. It says "elata voce", in a raised voice, in contrast to the very low voice, "submissa voce", which they are enjoined to use when they speaking with the principal celebrant. ("Elatus" can mean "puffed-up" or "arrogant" - is PI a more accomplished Latinist than we think?) "In a loud voice" would be "magna voce" (are you listening Ignotus? Or are you having an onset of selective deafness?)

Now why is PI quoting from the rubrics for a concelebrated Mass? Simply because the rubrics for the normal "Mass with a congregation" are not very specific when it comes to the tone of voice to be used for the Eucharistic Prayer. Certainly, the orations (Collect, Super Oblata and Postcommunion) alias the "presidential prayers" are directed to be said "clara et elata" (cf GIRM 30 and 32) but in GIRM 38 it says clearly that the tone of voice should correspond to the genre of the text itself. No less an authority than Benedict XVI suggested that it might be appropriate to recite the Eucharistic Prayer in a low voice, raising the voice slightly at the beginning of each section, to capture something of the "filled silences" so characteristic of the old rite, and whose absence in the Novus Ordo is all too obvious.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Amen John, your arguments and sources are very cogent and non antagonistic to tradition. PI could learn a lesson. If he'd only learn how to pray the EF Mass he would.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The English text I am reading says, "a loud voice." Take all the exception you want, offer alternate translations as you will.

The clear intent is for the words to be spoken in a clear and audible voice in order that they may be heard and understood.

No one thinks it means shouting or puffed up or arrogant. That's just plain silly.

Henry said...

This brings to mind the notorious published English translation of Sacrosanctum 116 as giving Gregorian chant "pride of place" in liturgical services.

Which appears to be a deliberate circumlocution to avoid an accurate translation of the official Latin in SC 116, which assigns to Gregorian chant "principem locum"--that is, the "principal or chief place". Nowhere in the Latin of SC 116 is there a word that suggests "pride" of place or anything else.

So perhaps the question is--now we have an English translation of the OF Roman missal that will serve for another 40 years . . . When will we get equally reliable English translations of the documents of Vatican II, the GIRM and other Vatican documents, whose inaccurate translations have caused confusion (like that in this thread) in recent decades?

John Nolan said...

Henry, the term "pride of place" also made it into the English translation of GIRM 41. However it has recently been retranslated (at least in the USCCB version) as "first place". However, the new text goes on to mistranslate "ceteris paribus" as "all things being equal" rather than the correct "all other things being equal". It is this version that PI was using when he quoted "in a loud voice" rather than simply "aloud", as in the previous version.

In the Passion narratives of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Our Lord cried out "with a loud voice" before He died. In each case the Vulgate has "voce magna".

I had to point out earlier that in GIRM 42 there is a serious and (I believe) deliberately misleading translation. "A lege liturgica" is rendered as "by this General Instruction". PI has made it clear on numerous occasions that accuracy in translation is of no importance as long as the "People of God" understand what is being said. Well, they would understand a laundry list, but even Ignotus wouldn't read one out as a Collect. I hope.

Henry said...

Also, John, Father Z has mentioned that in legal Latin, "ceteris paribus" has a connotation that strengthens (rather than weakens, as the English translation appears to do) the assignment of first place to Gregorian chant. Something like all other things being equal in the sense that they all are inferior to Gregorian chant.

John Nolan said...

Quite right, Henry. 'Ceteris paribus' is a phrase used by economists and others to strengthen a connection by 'corralling' other variables. It is usually left in Latin. The wording is very similar in SC 116, MS 50 and GIRM 41. Gregorian Chant has first place by virtue of the fact that it is proper (proprius) to the Roman Liturgy. The word 'proprius' means more than 'suited to' or even 'best suited to' which would be rendered by the Latin 'aptus'. It has more the sense of 'owned by', or 'belonging to'. This gives it 'principem locum'. Yes, it has antiquity, yes, it has great beauty, yes, it stresses the primacy of the text, but as important as these attributes are, the key word is 'proprius'. That is why all three documents have 'ceteris paribus' - all other things being equal.

To say 'all things being equal' is a nonsense, as well as a mistranslation - all things cannot be equal. And to say, as the liturgical apparatchiks of the USCCB did some years ago, that 'ceteris paribus' meant that "we don't have to give first place to Gregorian Chant if for pastoral reasons we decide that it isn't suitable" shows either abysmal ignorance or bare-faced dishonesty (or maybe both).

Pater Ignotus said...

John - There are no laundry lists in my Roman Missal, so you can rest your little non-philistine head about collects here.

I will continue make the presidential orations in a voice that can be heard by the People of God with my usual excellent diction and enunciation.

I will do this because it is what the Church expects and directs priests to do. The reason the Church expects this is that it is one of the two goals of the liturgy. Those who think the Church wants mumbling and/or inaudibility are simply wrong.

Another paradox has arisen: You find the translations of the prayers of the missal to be the best thing since sliced bread, yet find the translation of the GIRM contains "serious and deliberate mistranslations."

John Nolan said...

PI, I never said that the new translations were perfect. I did ask you to provide an example of (say) a Collect, explain what you thought was wrong with it, and what (illicit) changes you make. You signally failed to do so.

I actually criticized some aspects of he new translations, notably the Confiteor which has retained too many of the circumlocutions of the older version and sacrificed elegance and concision to familiarity. This was not the translators' fault - the bishops wanted as little change as possible in the people's parts. Parts of the Creed still jar - "passus" refers to Christ's suffering on the cross; it doesn't mean "suffered death" which can be relatively painless. The phrase is also redundant, since no-one survived crucifixion. Some of the "we pray"s in the orations when there is no equivalent in the Latin should be removed, and I am not entirely happy with "acclaim" in the Prefaces. But I can live with these things.

However, scholars are in agreement that using the vernacular versions of Vatican documents is not always reliable, since at certain points the meaning has been deliberately changed to fit a particular agenda.

The former Mass "translations" were an even more serious matter since under the guise of dynamic equivalence the redactors ignored, and in many cases changed, the theology contained in the original texts, as well as chopping them up with the effect of destroying internal connexions and overall cohesion. The fact that this has been put right at long last more than compensates for any niggles about the new English text.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I never said you thought the prayers were perfect. And you did not ask me what I thought was wrong with a particular collect, but which collect(s) I thought were mistranslated. There's a big difference.

I have said repeatedly what I think is wrong with the translation regulations in LA. If your question now is "What's wrong with this or that collect?" then go read what I said was wrong with LA's guidelines.

And, how DO the GIRM translations come out with so many "serious and deliberate mistranslations" while the texts of the mass are so exceedingly fine?

John Nolan said...


No, you tried to suggest that LA guidelines resulted in Latin syntax being imposed on English. I said that was nonsense, and gave concrete examples, with full analysis; your reaction was a comment that you needed no lessons in syntax, followed by some rather pointless word-games and (predictably) a reiteration of your original assertion but again with no supporting evidence or concrete examples.

What are you afraid of? Had you provided the evidence I would have given it my attention and treated it seriously. Saying things repeatedly is not the same as making a cogent argument.

The only serious and deliberate mistranslation of the GIRM I referred to was in #42, and I gave a full explanation. The misunderstanding of 'ceteris paribus' in #41 may have been the result of ignorance and it was correctly translated in all but the most recent version. Why 'aloud' was changed to 'in a loud voice' is anyone's guess - perhaps it means the same thing to some people.

These are isolated (though important) examples. The English translation of the GIRM and other Vatican documents is generally accurate.

GIRM 299 has been problematic. "The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible". The last five words were added only in 2002 and were seen by many to be practically mandating versus populum, something that had never been done before. Approaches were made to the CDWDS who ruled that the offending words related to the desirability of having a free-standing altar, not to the desirability of celebrating versus populum. This was not the translators' fault, since the same inference could be drawn from a reading of the original Latin.

I asked you to provide one example of a Collect to serve as evidence for your assertions. You are fond of making sweeping generalizations but when it comes to providing evidence you invariably back off. You did make me chuckle with one of your remarks. When you spoke of "presidential orations" I had visions of a South American dictator in a comic-opera uniform haranguing the crowd from the balcony of his presidential palace.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - LA states that Latin syntax is, as far as possible, to be maintained. LA #20: "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."

The syntax of Latin and the syntax of English have very different characteristics. The languages are spoken and heard in different ways. Maintaining the Latin syntax in spoken English makes for "authentic" translations that are, in English, difficult to proclaim and to understand.

Latin syntax uses inversion, placing the emphasis on the last word or phrase of a sentence. English does not do this - we place the emphasis earlier in the sentence. Speaking English sentences that include the Latin syntactical practice of inversion is an unhelpful imposition.

I don't think that there is any functional difference between "in a loud voice" and "aloud." The context of the instruction makes the meaning of "in a loud voice" entirely clear and the purpose of proclaiming the prayers "in a loud voice" is the same as proclaiming them "aloud."

That purpose is so that the prayers can be heard and understood.

Here's an example of an awkward collect (15th Sunday Ordinary Time): "O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that would do it honor. Through our Lord..."

Why not render it, "O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who profess the Christian faith the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. Through our Lord..."

I suspect the former is a much more accurate translation, but the construction, "... give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians..." is simply overly wordy and unnecessarily clumsy. It is also not the way English is spoken and understood.

And there are many others.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus,

At last, a concrete example! and I am happy to say I agree with you. It's not a question of syntax, but rather a desire on the part of the translators to include the Latin verb 'censentur', 'are accounted' (cognate with the English word census). Your suggested change does not alter the meaning but is better English. In the EF this is the Collect for the Third Sunday after Easter, and my Saint Andrew Missal (1945) renders the passage as "all those who profess themselves Christians", which does not attempt to translate 'censentur' and like your version is better than ICEL's current version.

That said, ICEL 1973 is both wishy-washy and inaccurate - no mention of grace or the name of Christ, and a spurious reference to the Gospel - quite disgraceful, actually. As I said earlier, translation by a committee is always problematic and some of the later Vox Clara alterations were not an improvement. Had the vernacular Mass been introduced 100 years ago, the task would have been given to someone like Adrian Fortescue and the resulting translations would have been memorable, accurate, poetic, readable and singable.

Pater Ignotus said...

Not altering the meanings while achieving better English is all I ask.

(PS. "demoniacal" was one of me captcha words for this post. YIPES!)

John Nolan said...

PI, I still think that you misinterpret LA 20. Its only reference to syntax concerns the syntax of the vernacular language in question. An integral and exact translation (insofar as this is possible) cannot mirror the syntax of the original. Latin is very terse, and needs to be "fleshed out". The famous memento mori "Et in Arcadia ego" puzzles many; It means "I, too, was once in Arcady" in other words I was once as you are now. "Quod es, eram" with the implied corollary "quod sum, eris".

In fact your Collect is a case in point. The English (incorporating your sensible alteration) has 51 words, the Latin 32. (ICEL 1973 has a mere 26 which would be a miracle of concision were it not for the fact that it isn't a translation).

Your point about inversion is quite correct. The Latin has "Deus, qui errantibus, ut in viam possint redire, veritatis tuae lumen ostendis". Putting the main idea last gives it a lapidary quality which is even more marked when it is sung. But, as you say, in English we usually put the main idea first, and this is what the translators have done.

"Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis, post hoc exsilium, ostende". A good example of Latin syntax; the verb can be left to the end since "Jesum benedictum fructum" are all in the accusative case and must therefore be the object. But English has no case endings, so it becomes in Fortescue's translation "And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

LA 20 is basically what I was encouraged to do at school when translating French and German into English, not to mention Latin. If I had tried it on with dynamic equivalence ("well, it's roughly what it means, but I've left quite a lot out to keep it simple and added a couple of ideas of my own") I can assure you that I would have failed my exams.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - LA requires translations into the vernacular to maintain of the "style and structure" of the Latin in the Roman Missal.

"Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet."

The reference to syntax - the structure - is to maintaining the Latin syntax as integrally as possible. This would include, as you note, inversions which, while common in Latin syntax are not used in English.

John Nolan said...

Sorry, PI, you're plain wrong. Style and structure are not the same as syntax, and there has been no attempt to impose Latin word and phrase order on English; it simply doesn't work, as I have shown. Of course, as English developed as a literary language from the 14th century onwards (think about that, it was a millennium after Latin became the liturgical language of the western Church) it took on a lot of Latin syntax, and even more Latin vocabulary, making it the most consciously Latinized language in the world; because those who wrote in the new language had Latin as virtually a first language. Shakespeare as a boy would have been beaten for speaking English in school.

Long before Vatican II there was a vernacular prayer tradition which is part of English heritage, and owes something to Thomas Cranmer, heretic though he was; it is still ingrained. Over here we still pray the 'Prayer for England' which is not a translation but was written in English by Merry del Val, or to give him his splendid full monicker Rafael Maria Jose Pedro Francisco Borja Domingo Gerardo de la Santissima Trinidad Merry del Val y Zulueta.

"O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down with mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope and trust still more. Plead for us, thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the chief shepherd, the vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen."

Only someone with no ear for language could find fault with that. By the way, England was known as the Dowry of Mary from the reign of Richard II (1377-1399) and on the eve of the Reformation was the most devoutly Catholic country in the world.

Pater Ignotus said...

john - Yes, syntax is structure. "(n) syntax the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences" is the definition I am using.

The arrangement of words is structure.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh, you are far too literal! I have met both Bruce Harbert and Andrew Wadsworth, who are mostly responsible for the new translation, and I can assure you that they are at least as literate in English as you or I.

There are problems with translation, especially when translating ancient texts when what was obvious to the authors might not be so obvious today, even for accomplished Latinists.

But this cannot be an excuse for paraphrases in baby-language which duck theological issues and insert ones of their own; you as a priest were perfectly happy with them, and only decades later start carping about more-or-less accurate translations.

Which is why I have for 40 years gone for the Latin every time.

Pater Ignotus said...

" as a priest were perfectly happy with them,...

To what does "them" refer.

And please remember that I said "Not altering the meanings while achieving better English is all I ask."

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Latin syntax is imposed in the new translations.

"First, the new translation will correct the present texts that do not follow the style and syntax of the Latin original." - Bishop Serratelli

One can conclude that the new translation will follow the style and syntax of Latin.

From the USCCB website: "Some of the most significant changes to the assembly’s responses in the Order of Mass are found in the Profession of Faith (the Nicene Creed).Changes to this text fall into two categories: preservation of the syntax of the original text and ..." (

I am glad you know Harbert and Wadsworth - I think they would be immense fun to talk "words" with.

But among the goals of LA is to maintain Latin syntax in the English translations . . .

John Nolan said...

"Them" refers to the corrupt and jejune texts which those unfortunate enough to have to endure Mass in English were subjected to for four decades. Did you complain that what you were asked to pray was not in fact a translation of the Latin? I guess not.

Latin syntax is grounded in the fact that it is a highly inflected language. English is distinguished by its lack of inflections. So it is quite impossible to make English conform artificially to Latin rules. I have given examples which demonstrate this.

There were no significant changes to the translation of the Nicene Creed - just a word here and there - and no grammatical or syntactical changes whatsoever. In fact the Latin style of the Credo does not pose many problems for the translator, since it a list of propositions (almost bullet points) to which we assent. Come to think of it, the translation I learned as a child pre-V2, the liturgical translation used from 1964 to 1975, the one in use from 1975 to 2011 and the one used now are strikingly similar.

John Nolan said...

One example of an attempt to impose Latin syntax on English (nothing to do with LA) was the quite erroneous idea that you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, which originated in the nineteenth century and is still repeated in some quarters. The existence of a large number of 'phrasal verbs' (verbs followed by one or more prepositions) is a distinctive feature of English, and the most difficult thing about English syntax for those learning the language. "Up with which I will not put" was a Churchillian joke. To alter "more than he bargained for" to "more than that for which he bargained" would be ludicrous.