Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Cardinal George, outgoing Archbishop of Chicago gives a good interview in America which you can read HERE.

This is what he said about the inglorious English translation of the Mass in 1970 compared to the glorious new one we now use and are properly being formed in the Catholic Faith by it:

8. You were prominent in the work of  theInternational Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and the development of the new liturgical translations. Now that they have been in use for nearly two years, are you satisfied with the translations pastorally and theologically?

 It’s hard for me to give an unbiased judgment on the value of the new translations. First of all, the first full translation of the missal of Paul VI was ideologically charged. Since the liturgy, along with Sacred Scripture, is the primary carrier of the tradition that unites us to Christ, the loss of the theology of grace, the domestication of God, the paraphrasing that deliberately omitted nuances of understanding, the deliberate omission of biblical references in the liturgical text itself, etc. left the church for forty years without a way of worship that adequately expressed our faith. This was clear for those of us who used the Roman missal in Spanish during those years; their translation was far more adequate.

The bishops had the obligation to see that the translation into English of the third edition of the Roman Missal was faithful and also able to be used communally. I believe it has been well done. Some of the expressions in the Prefaces are a bit “clunky,” but the collects are truly beautiful if a priest takes the time to interiorize the structure of  dependent clauses and use his voice so that the prayer is comprehensible to the faithful. Normally, people paid little attention to the collect; they couldn’t tell you what the priest said as soon as they sat down. Hopefully, a more deliberate style of declamation with a more adequate text will help draw people into a climate of worship and prepare them to hear the Word of God in Scripture.

The canons are very well done, even the most difficult, Canon One, because it is a compilation from various sources. Criticism of the scientific inaccuracy of the word “dewfall” in Canon II is a bit absurd coming from those who easily accept and speak of “sunset.” Some of the criticisms have an extrinsic rationale. The bishops’ choice of experts meant that many who had been more involved in the work of ICEL previously were no longer engaged. The loss of a work to which one had given oneself is always hurtful. Some others just opposed any exercise of episcopal authority; in principle, the bishops were just supposed to rubber-stamp what the “experts” were doing. Some, surprisingly, objected to the re-introduction of the biblical metaphors and allusions, while others underestimated, I believe, the native intelligence of the average English-speaking worshiper. There were a few more justified criticisms of the process, which was open in places to accusations of last-minute manipulation. I have to say that I enjoyed going back and working through Latin texts, something I hadn’t done since minor seminary.


John Nolan said...

The Prefaces are not 'clunky'; they often convey many theological ideas in a short space of time so are probably too difficult for those whose command of language is limited - which is their problem, not that of the liturgy. Also, they should be SUNG!

Henry said...

I've long thought that the Latin prefaces constitute the very best contribution of the OF missal (and their lousy English translations the most disappointing part of the now obsolete ICEL 1973 translation). As I believe Card. Ratzinger mentioned somewhere, many of them would be worthy additions to the EF missal. As opposed to slightly over a dozen prefaces in the 1962 missal, the 80+ OF prefaces are arguably a welcome step back toward the luxuriant liturgy of the medieval church, when--prior to the austere pruning of Pius V--there was a proper preface for virtually every feast day Mass.

Joseph Johnson said...

I asked my pastor to use the Roman Canon for a change. Since the new translation came out it seems that all I hear is EPII or anything but the Roman Canon at Sunday Mass.

Not to change the subject but has anyone taken the time to read Fr. Richard Cipolla's excellent article on Rorate Caeli entitled "Surprise! No Vatican III!" ?

quicumquevult said...

Joseph Johnson, did he say he would/has he done it? I asked my parochial vicar to use it recently and he did (he's very traditional in outlook, but uses EPIII nine times out of ten, while my pastor uses EPII exclusively, so I never get to hear the Roman Canon). :(

On that note, Father McDonald, if you don't already, please use the Roman Canon very often in the Novus Ordo! Especially now that we have a solid, word-for-word translation of it!

Joseph Johnson said...


I just asked my pastor this afternoon by email. We'll see . .

quicumquevult said...

This situation makes me realize that perhaps the only way to bring the Roman Canon back into our liturgy as our primary anaphora will be to expressly ask for it. Amazing to consider that just 50 years ago, it would have been used every Mass!

Henry said...

I wonder--genuinely, not just rhetorically--whether anyone's ever heard of a priest changing his celebration of Mass (such as the EP he ordinarily uses) because of people's suggestions.

If not, perhaps it's more effective to choose your priest than to change him. A good pattern to look for is use of the Roman Canon on feasts and solemnities, EP III on memorial and ferial days, and EPs II and IV perhaps once each per year (e.g. for the memorials of Hippolytus and Basil). Though personally I've come to regard EP II as inoffensive on ferial weekdays (no saint memorialized), despite it's providing little opportunity to include personal prayer for both the living and the dead.

Joseph Johnson said...

It's not so easy to choose your priest when you live in a rural area (southern Georgia) where most Catholic Churches are about 45 minutes to an hour apart.

If you want to attend the EF, it means an hour and a half to two hour trip (one way) to Savannah, Ga. or to Jacksonville, Fla., from where I live. We need the EF available on some kind of regular basis in the Valdosta-Brunswick deanery and my home parish in Waycross, Ga. is the most centrally located parish in this deanery.

Jdj said...

JJ, agreed!
EF not available in Augusta Deanery either, as we have discussed many times here. The distance factor is a huge barrier. How we wish the Dean would allow Fr. McDonald to celebrate the EF at least monthly here as he has apparently offered in the past.

Henry said...


Actually I've "been there, done that". Precisely that, in an isolated parish in (northern) Georgia. About 30 years ago, we got a new pastor that resulted in my becoming a wanderer for a few years, driving as much as 75 to 80 miles each Sunday, frequently into Atlanta, in search of a church with a reverent Mass. Novus Ordo of course, since at that time I knew of no TLM within at least 500 miles. So I understand keenly where you're coming from.

At that time, one of the Atlanta churches still had a sung Latin ordinary (Gloria, Sanctus, etc). I understand it now is somewhat more ... ah, welcoming, with a ... well, a quite diverse congregation. (I hope what I've heard from a distance is exaggerated.)

Joseph Johnson said...

I don't recall that the dean of a Catholic deanery has any authority to limit the celebration of the EF Mass according to Summorum Pontificum. According to SP, if you and a small but stable group wants the EF and you ask your pastor, he is to allow it, even if he will not offer it himself. In other words, if you have a willing priest in good standing who is willing to offer the EF Mass, the use of the Church sanctuary shouldn't be an issue. If it is, I believe I would we taking that one up with Bishop Hartmayer (or with Rome if he doesn't help you).

The problem in the Valdosta-Brunswick deanery, to the best of my knowledge, is the lack of a priest willing to offer the EF Mass. That is the SOLE reason I haven't felt that I was in a position to push for the EF here.

In your case, I think you should pursue your canonical remedy to your ultimate satisfaction.

rcg said...

John, as usual, has an excellent point. In fact, reading these prayers aloud and turning the phrases to maximum effect. When I was a child my grandfather would recite peotry from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and several of the Latin poets and, of course, scripture. What I learned was the phrasing, elation, etc. gave the context and meaning, it would literally jump out at you. You can't read Paul aloud the same way you read Psalms.

rcg said...

Also, I want to defend the alleged scientific innacuracy of "dew fall". Ancient people were no idiots or fools. They knew dew did not fall. When I read this sort of thing I go to the roots of the words and think, perhaps the damp sheen of dew reminded someone of the damp inner layer of a hide, also called a 'fel'. Another use of the OED granddad would make us look up the use of words as used I the era of the author.

Henry said...

Actually, rcg, I've always wondered why these folks object to "dewfall" as an accurate description by which dew coalesces on the surface of a leaf or blade of grass by water droplets coming down onto it from suspension in the air above. Is not "fall" a good single-word description of this process of "coming down" from the air above?

rcg said...

Henry, certainly! I really don't understand the need to dumb down Liturgy at all. I come from a part of the world know for pervasive illiteracy yet they dearly love the well turned phrase and have colorful speech to communicate more fully.

John Nolan said...

Regarding 'dewfall' do those who object to it in EP II inwardly go 'tut, tut' when they sing, in a well-known modern hymn 'Like the first dewfall/On the first grass'?

Do they shake their heads on Advent IV when they hear the ancient Introit, which quotes Isaias 45:8, 'Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum; aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem'? (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour.)

Actually, the Latin of EP II simply has 'Spiritus tui rore' (with the dew of your Spirit). The translators opted for the more poetic 'dewfall' since 'dew' when carelessly pronounced can sound like 'Jew'.