Wednesday, August 9, 2017

IS IT A HERESY TO THINK THAT EVERY HUMAN BEING MUST UNDERSTAND THE WORDS AND MEANING OF THE OFFICAL, FORMAL PRAYERS OF THE MASS IN THE SACRAMENTS, ESPECIALLY THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE ETERNAL GODHEAD?



A certain priest opining about how important for the congregation to understand the formal words of the Church's universal and public prayer stated that he would contravene the documents of Vatican II and later papal teaching, especially that of Blessed Pope Paul VI, and change the words of the Mass to make them intelligible to his hearers. In other words, he would disobey Vatican II, subsequent papal magisteriums and the wise counsel of others who know better.

But if there is a heresy in believing that the prayers of the Mass must be completely intelligible to the congregation where in the name of God and all that is holy did this come from?????? Doesn't this then lead a priest to disobey Holy Mother Church and an ecumenical council and change the words of the Universal Prayer to suit his own personal understanding of language?

By heresy, I would expand that to mean that the Prayers of the Mass, rather than directed to the Majesty of God alone by the entire Church, Triumphant, Militant and Suffering, and never to the congregation even in part, is the heresy. But of course not being  a pope or bishop I cannot officially declare it to be a heresy, but others may have in fact already done so in the glorious 2000 year history of Holy Mother Church. I am sure someone knows.

But what is this law of corrupt prayer that leads to the law of corrupt Catholicism?

Rather, should I not declare it is the law of direction that leads to the law of a corrupt understanding of Catholic prayer.

When the Mass is ad orientem, in Latin/Greek/Hebrew  and has a quiet canon as well as other quiet prayers, there is no doubt whatsoever even in the most uninformed lay person as to whom prayer is directed, that be the Supreme Being, not human beings even the person hearing and not understanding. And the prayer is not the personal prayer of any one believer alone to include the priest offering the Sacrifice, but rather that person's participating in the Great Act of Worship and Sacrifice (I know that is redundant) of the entire Church in heaven, on earth and in purgatory.

So many liturgical abuses and heresies about prayer could be avoided if only the direction of prayer were not only spiritual but also physical as in ad orientem.

41 comments:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

First, Allan, I never said that "the prayers of the Mass must be completely intelligible to the congregation."

You made this up - I did not say or suggest it.

Second, it's not my "personal understanding of language" that, in parts, motivate my choices. English has norms, standards, common usage patters, etc., that most English speakers/writers follow. So it's not some idiosyncratic "personal understanding" in operation here.

The prayers are meant to be understood by the congregation. This does not even approach the outskirts of heresy. The words spoken by the priest(s) are meant to be heard and understood. GIRM "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 principal celebrant’s voice is HEARD clearly. In this way the words can be more easily UNDERSTOOD by the people." (caps mine)

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh,

You are making a subjective judgment as to which words can be more easily "understood" by the people. It is a condescending position to take. Moreover, this is not your prerogative. Saying the texts as written and the following the rubrics is not optional for the celebrant. Grow up.

Victor said...

Your opining priest is a modernist, that is, one who is well entrenched in the fundamental principles of the Enlightenment, particularly in the worship of the goddess Reason who is, if not above all other gods, at least equal to them. The purpose of this goddess is to do away with Mystery.
Modernism has been attacking the Church for over 100 years, but it was during the mid 20th century that it finally gained a solid hold on the Church. The Vatican Council allowed it to flourish, perhaps accidentally rather than intentionally. In terms of the liturgy, all you need to examine is its influence is the new revised idea of "active participation". How can you actively participate in the liturgy if you do not understand the words? That was the main problem for the Consilium. Neither the majority of the Consilium, composed mainly of isolated ivory tower "experts", nor a modernist could understand Pascal's "Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point", that is to say, the reasons of the heart are not those of the intellect, the reason, the understandable. Does faith belong to the intellect or to the heart? Obviously in many ways both, so when you eliminate the reasons of the heart, you have the heresy of Gnosticism if not Pelagianism. Is the Trinity rational? Is reason sufficient or does one need God's Grace for faith? Is the abode of God's grace the heart or the Intellect?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

TJM - Sure, I'm making a subjective judgment. I would suggest that any judgment you or I or anyone else makes is subjective.

If I choose to purchase dry wine instead of sweet wine for use at mass, that's a subjective judgment. If I hire a new organist, if I decide to have an 8 week adult ed series in the summer, if I choose to buy new cinctures for the altar servers to wear, in the proper liturgical colors of course, these are subjective judgments.

That judgments are made subjectively is not a bad thing.

And TJM, I'm done commenting on or responding to your posts. Cheers!

TJM said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

You're done commenting to me because you are dead wrong and cannot defend the indefensible. Sante!

Gene said...

Uh oh...Kavanaugh just took his marbles and went home....I wish.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh said:

If I choose to purchase dry wine instead of sweet wine for use at mass, that's a subjective judgment. If I hire a new organist, if I decide to have an 8 week adult ed series in the summer, if I choose to buy new cinctures for the altar servers to wear, in the proper liturgical colors of course, these are subjective judgments.

Yes indeed; and those are all judgments within your purview. Re-wording the texts of the Roman Missal (except where it says, "in these or similar words"? Not so much, no.

Or do you claim the right to make changes even where higher authority tells you not to? What about Elderberry Wine for use at Mass? Rice Wine?

TJM said...

Gene, I think he LOST his marbles!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Frmjk bitterly complains about my ecology post as though it is heresy and against the authorities to be in their own dogmas about it and yet, when cornered by the fact that his changing of the words of the Roman Missal except when it state in these or similar words, is illicit and against the authority of Holy Mother Church enunciated at Vatican II and subsequent popes not to mention a multitude of bishops, he cannot offer any of us a mea culpa. What a wonderful grace for him to do so and for us to behold!

TJM said...

Fr. McDonald,

From reading your blog, it sounds like your liturgical views evolved over time, but fortunately for your flock, they are now solidly on the side of tradition and faithfulness to what the Church teaches. In other words, you matured in the Faith. I have a pastor like Father Kavanaugh and he, like Father Kavanaugh, is still stuck in the 1970s and has no appreciation to how much damage he is causing. Sad, very sad.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, I did not complain bitterly about your ecology post. I showed that it was erroneous.

I am fully aware that changing the words is illicit. And I do not offer a mea culpa.

Martin - Wine for mass must be grape wine - for validity. You see where I am going here... And you know the difference.

RSC+ said...

You know, when I have my St Joseph's Sunday Missal in my lap, it hardly matters whether I "understand the priest." I have the text right there with me, in my own personal pew Missal, and if something doesn't make sense, I can underline it with my little pencil and ask a question later.

We regrettably have adopted a culture of disposable Year A, B, C texts printed on cheap paper that people don't ever internalize, and that, too, makes us more dependent on the personal charisma and intelligibility of the individual priest. It also enables the priest to get away with changing what the text says because too few people understand or care what is going on.

Henry said...

"In this way the words can be more easily UNDERSTOOD by the people."

This is a pretty simple English sentence. But evidently its meaning is not clear to all who quote it. For instance, grant that the elegant but syntactically complex Preface of the Transfiguration is recited or (preferably) chanted in such a way that each and every word is readily understood by members of the congregation. This not necessarily mean--nor should it--that the concepts or allusions it expresses are fully or easily understood by everyone present.

Again--why is this so hard for some to get?--the reason for these prayers to God being heard by the people is not to understand concepts rationally, but to evoke worship of God, frequently by way of mystery that defies full human comprehension.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And yes, FRMJK your position on changing the words of the Mass in which you have no authority whatsoever to do and inability to acknowledge, correct and even apologize at least to God in confession and a public apology to those you offend by persisting in this illicitness is ERRONEOUS.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh said:

Martin - Wine for mass must be grape wine - for validity. You see where I am going here... And you know the difference.

No, I don't see "where [you are] going here." And no, I don't see the difference.

Once you start substituting your own judgment for that of someone else who has the authority to make it, why stop? You think you are entitled to replace your judgment, for that of the Holy See's, regarding Mass texts. Why not do the same with what sort of wine is used at Mass.

And, yes, I know the difference between liceity and validity, but that's beside the point. You believe you have the right to appoint yourself pope in ad hoc situations of your own choosing. That's the issue.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The difference, Martin, is validity.

And the slippery slope argument doesn't hold water.

Our esteemed blog host is notorious for breaking the civil law regarding speed limits. Yet, he has not moved on to murder, extortion, or more serious crimes. Since you are of a mind that minor infractions of the law necessarily lead to greater ones, why do you think Good Fr. McDonald has not found his face plastered on the post office wall?


Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, Fr. Fox, validity has been and will remain the key.
I've often thought that just as the Holy Eucharist is "...the source and summit of our Christian spirituality" (Lumen Gentium no.11), the Holy Liturgy is the source and summit of our prayer life. I repeat just to be clear--the Liturgy of our Fathers is the source and summit of our prayer life. I absolutely need my prayer life to be authentically founded and balanced; otherwise, the church offers me nothing more than any other protestant church. Those churches surround me here in the South, and offer many fine things to their people...many good people whom I love--serious prayer warriors at times. Sometimes, I'm tempted to just give in, I admit (especially when my Church is so discordant and divided even among Her priests). BUT occasionally I see true Holy Mother Church shine in her Liturgical glory as we did here last Sunday celebrated by a new, very brave young local priest. He gave us the "Mass of the Ages". Such a gift.

John Nolan said...

There are quite a number of prayers (Collects, Prayers over the Offerings, Postcommunions) where the English inserts 'we pray' but the Latin does not have 'quaesumus'. Would it be in order for a priest to omit the 'we pray' in these cases?

There is also a blatant howler in ICEL's translation of the following Introit from the Mass of a Doctor: 'In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os eius, et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae ...'

ICEL version: 'In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom ...'

Actual meaning: 'In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth, and filled him with the spirit of wisdom ...'

The Latin is unambiguous. The word 'eius' leaves us in no doubt as to whose mouth was opened, and by whom. The ICEL version in Latin would be: 'In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os suum ...'

Anyone reading this aloud at the start of Mass (it need not even be the priest) is surely duty bound to correct the error.

The Moderate Jacobite said...

Arguably it would be within the ambit of Canon IX of the Council of Trent concerning the Mass:

"If any one saith, ... that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; ... let him be anathema."

Whilst that's a narrower point (the use of Latin vs. the use of the vernacular), it seems to me that the position outlined is even more extreme - not merely must the vernacular be used but the most simplistic account thereof such that it is capable of being understood by the whole congregation (N.B., by definition half of whom would be of below average intelligence, literacy &c.).

This potentially leads to the wider point - whether introducing the novelty of having the liturgy in the same language as people use in everyday life* actually reduces people's understanding. Part of 'understanding' the Mass is understanding that it is a mystery, and that there is no way at all that I can even begin to understand it in human terms; by using language which transcends normal speech (whether a liturgical language such as Latin, or a hieratic form of the vernacular such as Church Slavonic) this is made clearer, and I am freed from turning the Mass into an intellectual exercise and allowed to rejoice in the depths of the beauty of the eternal liturgy in which I am participating.

*cf. the short charming book 'Liturgical Latin' by Christine Mohrmann for consideration of how the Latin of the liturgy was never the language of the street.

John Nolan said...

When reading GIRM 218, and Fr Kavanaugh's gloss on it, viz. 'The prayers are meant to be understood by the people', I am reminded of No. XXIV of the 'Articles of Religion' (1562).

'It is a thing repugnant to the Word of God, and the Custom of the Primitive Church, to have publick Prayer in the Church, or to administer the Sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.'

The BCP could be prayed in Latin or Greek (and there are versions in both) only if the congregation were conversant in these, for example in a university college chapel.

I get the impression that some Catholic priests regard the new Mass in a similar way. It more or less has to be in the vernacular; at the very least the vernacular option is greatly preferable. I dare say there are many priests who have been ordained for decades (and not a few bishops) who have never, ever celebrated the Novus Ordo in its definitive Latin. They used the 1973 ICEL texts, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they were corrupt and dumbed-down, since they had never seen, let alone used, the original and authentic texts.

This is ignorance on an alarming scale. The only people competent to offer the Mass didn't fully understand it themselves.

Henry said...

I wonder whether this blather about words of the Mass being understood by the people borders on the heresy intrinsic to the Protestant reformation, that the Mass is offered by and for the assembled congregation. Whereas it actually is a participation in the heavenly liturgy and the worship of the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints--including the Church Triumphant and the Church Penitent as well as the Church Militant on earth.

And whether the minimalist emphasis on mere validity borders on the heresy that the Mass is only a re-enactment of the Last Supper--rather than a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross--so the purpose of the Consecration is only to confect the sacred species for consumption in holy communion.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The difference, Martin, is validity.

And the slippery slope argument doesn't hold water.

Our esteemed blog host is notorious for breaking the civil law regarding speed limits. Yet, he has not moved on to murder, extortion, or more serious crimes. Since you are of a mind that minor infractions of the law necessarily lead to greater ones, why do you think Good Fr. McDonald has not found his face plastered on the post office wall?


When I see Fr. McDonald offer a rationale for breaking laws, I will have an opportunity to analyze the quality of his reasoning; but he has not offered such in this thread. You, however, have indeed offered a rationale for breaking the Church's laws. And the rationale you have offered is, per your own judgment!

In this, you remind me of what Martin Luther said under questioning from John Eck, who asked a series of questions about what higher authority would Luther accept to adjudicate his theological claims, culminating in, would you accept the judgment of a General Council?

And Luther famously said: only if I be convinced...

You say the same: when you are convinced you're doing the right thing, you do it.

Now, I take you at your word that you will hold back from anything the calls validity into question, but that's not much consolation. There are many priests who tamper with the words of absolution, the words of consecration, etc., and I have no doubt they are thinking, well, that little change surely won't affect validity after all...

My point is that the reasoning and rationalization you are using -- and defending -- does not provide any real safeguard, as my example of Luther bears out. The track of Luther's migration from his initial position, to where he ends up, shows that the slippery slope is quite real. Of course, no one ever thinks s/he is actually on one!

Fr Martin Fox said...

John Nolan said:

I get the impression that some Catholic priests regard the new Mass in a similar way. It more or less has to be in the vernacular; at the very least the vernacular option is greatly preferable. I dare say there are many priests who have been ordained for decades (and not a few bishops) who have never, ever celebrated the Novus Ordo in its definitive Latin.

You are correct. Many priests, at least from an earlier generation, react with horror and loathing at the very idea of offering the Mass in Latin (either new or old). And I would say the vast majority of priests on active duty in the U.S., at any rate, have never offered Mass in Latin.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Now that FrMJK has outed me on my speeding habits, I must state that yes, this is material for the confessional and that yes, I should confess to God and resolve not to speed which endangers others and me! I have payed the price of a couple of tickets, one that charged me as a super speeder. I thanked the officer for the complement, but it meant I had to present myself to the Driver's License office to pay a hefty fine in order that my super speeder status be removed from my record! I think I only get one of those chances though.

Yes, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. It was wrong as is FrMJK's erroneous position on so many things, but especially changing the words of the Mass in violation of an Ecumenical Council, Blessed Pope Paul's warnings and laments about it as well as subsequent popes, not to mention local bishops.

If only he could be fined as a super disobedient priest when it comes to the Mass, but alas, no mea culpas from him. What a grace, though, it would be for him to offer one and cease.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

This is a dodge: "When I see Fr. McDonald offer a rationale for breaking laws, I will have an opportunity to analyze the quality of his reasoning; but he has not offered such in this thread."

It's not about his reasoning, Martin. It is about your claim that, having broken a minor law, people necessarily go on to break more serious ones.

Analyze all you want, but that does not alter the fact that, having repeatedly broken the LAW by speeding, Fr. McDonald has not, as far as we know, gone on to greater crimes. The slippery slope argument is, in this regard, weak as water.

As to celebrating mass in Latin, I neither horrified by or nor do I loathe it. As I have said often, I find it unnecessary.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Oh yes, there is a slippery slope from disobedience to my father as a child, to other authority figures as a teenager to other peccadilloes as a young adult to speeding and you'll have to ask my confessor about other crimes and sins, although I hope he honors the seal of confession.

Henry said...

"As to celebrating mass in Latin, I neither horrified by or nor do I loathe it. As I have said often, I find it unnecessary."

I know nothing personally of Fr. Kavanaugh, though I suspect that in person he is both a better priest and a finer fellow than is portrayed in his written words here.

However, every priest I've known who said explicitly he found the Latin Mass unnecessary has been one whose parish plainly stood in need of a better priest.

Fr Martin Fox said...

No, Father Kavanaugh, the "dodge" was by you, attempting to change the subject from your own actions, to how Father McDonald drives.

Which, by the way, none of us knew anything about, until you revealed that information. There is a word for that, isn't there? Yes! It's called detraction, which is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2477. There was no good reason to bring up Father McDonald's driving habits in this context, so I think you owe him an apology.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin: Responding to your suggestion that if a priest adjusts the words of the mass texts there's nothing to stop him from doing things that impact the validity of the celebration.

Your words: "Once you start substituting your own judgment for that of someone else who has the authority to make it, why stop? You think you are entitled to replace your judgment, for that of the Holy See's, regarding Mass texts. Why not do the same with what sort of wine is used at Mass."

Adjusting the words is not a slippery slope. Neither is breaking the laws regarding the speed limit. Both do not necessarily lead to greater infractions.

Fr. McDonald's driving habits have been discussed on the blog previously. In fact

ByzRC said...

I must agree with Fr. Fox. I too was unaware of Father AJM's driving record, even if it was mentioned in a previous post. It seems to me this is Father McDonald's story to tell, should he choose to do so. Otherwise, I don't consider it to be my business and to raise in a forum such as this is, to me, gossiping. I'm surprised to say the least.

John Nolan said...

Some years ago a venerable Anglican cleric and canon of Durham Cathedral was flagged down in London for a traffic violation. The constable did not book him, but left him with the words: 'Remember, Father, not every policeman in London is a Catholic!'

Regarding 'adjustment' of Mass texts, we're looking at translations into divers tongues, some good, some not so good, some quite frankly appalling (the worst is no longer used, DG). The problem with the 'adjustments' that Fr Kavanaugh admits to routinely making (he might give us some examples) is that they are based on what he considers to be 'good' English. He actually boasts about how accomplished his English is.

He has criticized the current translations for imposing Latin syntax on English (a linguistic impossibility since Latin depends on inflections and English has few of these, relying as it does on word order). Yet he cheerfully admits that he has never used the Latin texts, and regards them as 'unnecessary'. There is no guarantee that his 'tidying up' of what he sees subjectively as infelicitous English will not alter its meaning, and the only way to avoid this is by reference to the original. Otherwise one is attempting to translate a translation.

Rectifying an obvious mistranslation, such as the Introit 'In medio' which I cited above, is another matter. This is a simple mistake. Rendering 'pro multis' in the Consecration of the Chalice as 'for many' was a deliberate mistranslation which still persists in some languages. No-one had the temerity to alter it, although they would have been justified in doing so.

Fr Martin Fox said...

John:

Rendering 'pro multis' in the Consecration of the Chalice as 'for many' was a deliberate mistranslation which still persists in some languages. No-one had the temerity to alter it, although they would have been justified in doing so.

I think you meant to say, "rendering...as 'for all'..." -- at least, I hope that is what you meant, as I would agree heartily with this latter assertion, not the former.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"There is no guarantee that his 'tidying up' of what he sees subjectively as infelicitous English will not alter its meaning, and the only way to avoid this is by reference to the original."

I don’t think this is the case, obviously.

I am trained in the Church's theology. Therefore, I do have more than a passing understanding of the meaning of the prayers, the ideas they are attempting to convey, the mysteries that are being presented. As I make adjustments, sometimes cleaning up a redundancy, sometimes re-ordering phrases, sometimes getting the subject and the verb a bit (or lots) closer together in a run-on sentence, I am very aware of the need to maintain the ideas contained in the text.

An example I have offered before, and one you remarked on positively, is the collect for the 15th Sunday in ordinary time:

Current:
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 does it honor.

Maybe:

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.

As for maintaining Latin syntax, LA states, 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.”

and

47. “Liturgical translation that takes due account of the authority and integral content of the original texts will facilitate the development of a sacral vernacular, characterized by a vocabulary, syntax and grammar that are proper to divine worship, even though it is not to be excluded that it may exercise an influence even on everyday speech, as has occurred in the languages of peoples evangelized long ago.”

and

And: 57.a) “The connection between various expressions, manifested by subordinate and relative clauses, the ordering of words, and various forms of parallelism, is to be maintained as completely as possible in a manner appropriate to the vernacular language.”

John Nolan said...

Fr Fox

Indeed, it was a case of hitting the keyboard too fast. The flies in the ointment are 'per tutti' and 'für alle' as opposed to 'per molti' and 'für viele' - Benedict XVI urged the latter on the German bishops, to no avail.

I did actually agree that Fr Kavanaugh's tweaking of the Collect he mentions did no violence to the meaning of the text, and that the translators were perhaps too keen on retaining the sense of the verb 'censeo'.

That is a good reason for avoiding translations altogether by the simple expedient of attending Mass in Latin. So far this year I have not had to attend a vernacular Mass, but next week I shall be in Germany and may perforce have to do so. I don't object to it on principle, but at least the Germans don't have a pathological aversion to Latin, and it continued in the Lutheran tradition long after the Reformation.

John Nolan said...

Ironically, the Collect cited by Fr Kavanaugh is as follows; 'Deus, qui errantibus, ut in viam possint redire, veritatis tuae lumen ostendis, da cunctis qui christiana professione censentur, et illa respuere, quae huic inimica sunt nomini, et ea quae sunt apta sectari.'

For most of his ordained life he would have prayed the following: 'God our Father, your light of truth guides us to the way of Christ. May all who follow him reject what is contrary to the gospel.'

This is hardly a translation. And yet you can bet your bottom boots that Fr K was quite happy with it. Yet when confronted with a more-or-less accurate rendition of the original text he suddenly feels the need to alter it.

Strange, or what?

Fr Martin Fox said...

John Nolan:

My wish for the translation of the Missal was that in addition to calling on the skills of Latinists and theologians, ICEL ought also to have included some English stylists. My process would have worked something like this:

Room A: Latin-English translation
Room B: Theologians vet it
Rome C: Stylists make it sing;
back to Room A and B, till all (more or less) agree.

It doesn't seem they had Room C. They should call me!

And I would urge the same for translation of Scripture. It is maddening that we cannot have a translation of the Sacred Scriptures that is beautiful. There is a reason the King James lives on, 400 years later.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - You win your bet. I wasn't comparing the English translation with the Latin text, so why should I not have been pleased?

I'm not as tied as you are to the notion that vernacular prayers must be "precise" translations of ancient texts. If they are, well and good, If they are not, yet they still are worthy prayers in themselves, not as translations, well, well and good.

My concern is, as Martin mentions, that the prayers should "sing" in English or in whatever vernacular language they are translated into or written in.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Written in????
A dangling preposition. I should rewrite that rather then quote it as written, "in which it is written."

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

None of the extracts you quote from LA suggests the imposition of Latin syntax upon English. English has subordinate and relative clauses to connect various expressions. To render a text in an integral and exact manner is the essence of translation. 'Insofar as possible' and 'in a manner appropriate to the vernacular language' are important qualifications. Arranging 'the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text' is what all good translators strive to do.



Anonymous said...

At one time, schoolchildren were taught that a sentence should never end with a preposition. However, this is a philosophy actually associated with Latin grammar. While many aspects of Latin have made their way into the English language, this particular grammar rule is not suited for modern English usage.

John Nolan said...

Did the 1973-2011 prayers 'sing'? The general consensus is that they were unsingable, apart from anything else. Fr Zuhlsdorf's blog may not be to everyone's taste, but his in-depth analysis of the Collects in the 2002 MR (many are ancient texts, some have been altered, some are new compositions) is of great value for anyone interested in the liturgy, especially for those of us who hardly ever hear them in English.

The word order and the arrangement of main and subordinate clauses in the translations are compatible with standard English usage, although for the semi-literate incapable of understanding a complex sentence in any language they might present some difficulty.

Of course the economy of Latin cannot be replicated in English. 'Errantibus' needs a certain amount of circomlocution; 'to those who go astray' is preferable to 'to the erring'. Similarly in the Latin the imperative 'da' (give) can be followed by straight infinitives, in this case 'respuere' and 'sectari' whereas in English it usually cannot, so it has to be 'give [them] the grace to ...'

'Inimica' and 'apta' are elegant opposites, but the latter is difficult to translate. 'All that does it honour' isn't ideal - is 'honour' a noun or a verb? However, once you start 'tweaking' to suit your personal preferences, where does it end?

However, I felt sympathy for Fr K when I flicked back to the 14th Sunday which has the same Introit as Candlemas: 'Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam ...' to find 'Your merciful love, O God, we have received ...'

In this case the Latin word order, which starts with the verb, should have been retained. 'We have received, O God, your merciful love ...' It's much better English!