Saturday, January 28, 2017


Pope Francis has ordered a review of Pope Benedict's document "Liturgiam Authenticum" which guided the re-translation of the official Latin text of the Mass into a literal vernacular translation often  doing violence to the vernacular language.

While our new and glorious English translation is a vast, vast, vast improvement over the 1970 English Missal, it is far from perfect in many of the priestly prayers.

Fr. Bruce Harbert uses the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord to point out the deficiency of the current translation in the Collect and there are similar deficiencies in other prayers and prefaces of the otherwise new and glorious English translation of the Mass:

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This feast did not occur in the Roman Rite before Vatican II. When it was introduced into the 1970 Missal, a new Collect was composed which, like many of the newly-written prayers in our Missal, lacks the conciseness and simplicity of the older tradition. Its seven lines contain no fewer than three participial phrases - a challenge to the translator.

The alternative Collect is simpler and much more ancient, being found already in the Gelasian Sacramentary. In the official translation, the third and fourth lines contain a curious thought:

grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves.

Line 4 seems to imply that Christ, though outwardly like ourselves, is inwardly unlike us. This seems to me to veer towards the heresy of Apollinarianism, which holds that Christ had no human soul. Orthodox Christianity understands that Christ is 'like us in all things but sin' (Hebrews 4,15). 

The revisers have misunderstood the Latin. In fact it prays that our outward Christian profession may be matched by our inner lives. The problem, as so often in this translation, arises from incorrect placing of an adverb. It easy to mend with the help of the Morecambe Principle:

grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize outwardly as like ourselves.

As is predictable, in the conservative blogosphere there are histrionics and threats of leaving the Church. This indicates to me the idolatry of some who are in love with the Mass but not necessarily with the Church which is the Body of Christ who is the Head of the Church and we her members. Often they worship the form, direction, music and language of the Mass and thus become idolaters. Idolatry is a mortal sin as it breaks the First Commandment.

And just as conservatives did the same sort of inviting to liberals to join the Protestant Episcopal Church since they didn't like the direction the Church was going under Pope Benedict, so now liberals are inviting conservatives to leave for schismatic traditionalist groups since they don't like what Pope Francis is doing!

But apart from us liturgical geeks 99% of practicing Catholics have greater worries than things liturgical. In fact I could use the old English translation of the 1970's Missal for the priest's prayers and I doubt anyone would notice it this weekend. Of course if I prayed them in Latin or Spanish they would notice!

As everyone knows that I am clairvoyant, I predict the congregation's parts will not change again or revert to the 1970's version. Thus I see no changes to the greeting responses, the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Amen, Lord's Prayer or Agnus Dei.

Some of the priest's orations such as Collects and prefaces need minor revisions to make them less clunky and good English syntax. In other words these will be refined but remain authentic to the theology, spirituality and pious and devotional qualities of the Latin texts that were absent in the 1970 version.

Finally there is good reason not to lose hope about this yet again revision of our English Mass as the chairperson of the committee has a sober approach to what method should be used to translate.

This is what He as said in the past:

Archbishop Arthur Roche, who was for 10 years chairman of the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy, addressing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in September 2014, said the major difference between “Comme le Prévoit” (1969), which governed translation for the first liturgical books after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and “Liturgiam Authenticam,” which has since determined the translation of the Roman Missal in English, French and some Spanish-speaking countries, “was that the Holy See in its directives opted for a shift of the guiding principle of translation from that of ‘dynamic or functional equivalence’ in 1969 to the principle of ‘formal equivalence’ in 2001.”
He explained that “dynamic equivalence” was achieved when a translator detached the “content” of an utterance from the “form in which it was expressed.” But this approach has become “outmoded,” he said. Over the last 40 years, specialists in language “have become more aware that the form we choose for an utterance is itself expressive of our purpose in speaking.” The Holy See in “Liturgiam Authenticam” opted for “the formal equivalence,” he stated.


Rood Screen said...

Pope Benedict's document?

rcg said...

To answer: Not enough obsess. This is a dangerous development because it is not apparent that the best suited people have been assigned to the task.

The Church is largely in its current state, including the infighting and political battles, due to poor catechesis that is traceable to poor liturgey. The imprecision, to put it mildly, of the recently defunct liturgy presented an obstacle to faith by allowing sloppy interpretations of Church teachings. We often complain of the horrid music that, yes, was a part of the liturgy. But the truly damnable part of it is the actual errors that the lyrics contained. It is mind boggling that the bishops gave no notice to lyrics or content when allowing them to be published in hymnals when that is the single most remembered text from the Mass. Everyone knows jingles and jodies are easy to remember and that is why so much fundamental information is initially taught as a song. So the most effective learning tool in the Mass was essentially a Protestant service being concelebrated by the choir. This event threatens to reverse any and all improvements made in the NO in the last few years.

This seems to be, as was Vatican II, an answer to a question that was not asked. So it is not unreasonable to sense a change of topic to another agenda.

John Nolan said...

There were two occasions last year when I attended a Mass in English. This year I aim to make that zero. I can put up with vernacular readings in the NO, although the new lectionary and calendar continue to irritate. I could attend the EF exclusively but like to attend sung Latin Mass at the Oratory every six weeks or so - most Sundays I am singing the chant for an EF Missa Cantata.

Benedict XVI wanted 'pro multis' rendered as such, but the German and Italian bishops dug their heels in and we still have 'per tutti' and 'für alle'. Ruff and Rita over at PTB still hanker after the rejected 1998 Sacramentary. If you want to see what we've been spared, download the 'Exsultet' - a crude paraphrase in excruciatingly bad verse. Not that I'd want to hear it in any language other than the familiar Latin.

TJM said...

As Mass attendance continues to drop, Pope Francis gets to work to accelerate the trend.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald said..."As is predictable, in the conservative blogosphere there are histrionics and threats of leaving the Church."

It is sad and unfortunate as to how deep into despair and negativity that the Catholic right-wing has sunk. But the good news is that there isn't any question that said folks are a distinct minority within Holy Mother Church...or as they would say...FrancisChurch (whatever "FrancisChurch" means).

"Nobody" will heed the right-wing's call to bolt from the Church or "hide out" at a TLM-only chapel (or whatever). We are dealing with typical right-wing, pipe-dream nonsense that doesn't register seriously, to any appreciable degree, to anybody beyond their group.

I doubt that 99 percent of Catholics are even aware that said folks exist. I have mentioned here and there to Catholic relatives and friends some of the nonsense that the right-wing blogosphere has espoused about His Holiness Pope Francis and FrancisChurch, NewChurch, NewRome, ModernistRome...

...and my relatives and friends reacted in horror. To begin, they were unaware as to the right-wing blogosphere's existence. Beyond that, my relatives and friends in question reacted in horror to the trash that the right-wing had presented as serious thought.

I would be amazed should sentient adult Catholics, to any appreciable degree, attach themselves to the right-wing's dead-end "get out of the Novus Ordo...get out of FrancisChurch" pipe-dream movement/schism.


Mark Thomas

TJM said...

Well the left-wing, left-wing, left-wing, left-wing of the Church is not even Catholic!!!!

Mark Thomas said...

The right-and-left wings will obsess and argue over the translation. The Pope will issue a decision...that will stand until the next Pope plays the let's-tinker-with-the-liturgy game.

The right-wing will denounce the decision as FrancisChurch "heresy." The left-wing will complain that the translation "doesn't go far enough." In other words, the translation did not descend to the level of utter banality that the left-wing desired.

All the while, each Catholic will go about his/her business uninterrupted and undisturbed by it all.


Mark Thomas

John Nolan said...

Fr McDonald's observation is revealing, if sad. Only one person in a hundred who (still) attends Mass is actually interested in the liturgy. What would the 20th century Liturgical Movement have made of this? They wanted to reconnect people to the liturgy. Their historical perspective might have been flawed; recent research has shown that in late medieval England the laity were far more liturgically aware than the Protestant reformers would have wanted to admit. In fact, the whole tenor of their everyday lives was informed and directed by the liturgy. Even poor people would make provision for the liturgy of the dead to be said for them (Placebo, Dirige and Requiem).

Yet 21st century so-called practising Catholics wouldn't even notice if the priest altered the prayers, despite the fact that they are hearing them in their own language - hearing them but not actually listening. Aures habent et non audient.

Mark Thomas is becoming more tedious with every post, with his obsession with a 'right-wing blogosphere' which is either a product of his fevered imagination or an indication that he trawls through the most extreme sedevacantist fringe and thinks that it is somehow representative.

I am unashamedly right-wing since the left is not only hypocritical but wrong on nearly every issue. I also know enough Church history to recognize extreme and unthinking papolatry when I see it. Thomas, grow up.



Tony V said...

I tend to agree with Mark Thomas that the vast majority of those Catholics who still attend Mass don't pay the slightest attention to translations.

Yes, the current translation has some clunkers (eg, 'ipse' as 'He Himself' in EP III), but it's a lot better than the last one, which in many places was a deliberate mistranslation.

Fr McD says, 'As is predictable, in the conservative blogosphere there are histrionics and threats of leaving the Church.' And yes, I confess that it has occurred to me that if they try and bring back that awful 'And also with you' nonsense, maybe I'll up sticks and leave. But then it occurred to me, that's probably exactly what they're trying to drive people out of the church. They've been doing exactly that since the time of Bugnini, and I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't deliberate.

So I'm sticking around for now, though I visit the SSPX on a regular basis too.

Anonymous said...

"I am unashamedly right-wing since the left is not only hypocritical but wrong on nearly every issue. I also know enough Church history to recognize extreme and unthinking papolatry when I see it. Thomas, grow up."

Well said, Mr. Nolan. Indeed, what's referred here as the left-wing is actually not Catholic in any historical sense of the term; there faith is more diluted that that of serious protestants was back when I was a good Methodist boy.

As for the unthinking papolatrists we see here and in other blogs, it appears to me that they're strikingly immature and uninformed (if well-intentioned) about Catholicism and the historical role of the pope. Though it might be natural for one whose experience is limited to post-Vatican II Catholicism to assume it proper for a pope to bring his own agenda to the office and push it, and to reverse rather than to preserve the policies of his papal predecessors, to advance and change rather than to guard and conserve past decisions and beliefs.

George said...

Thanks be to God that Liturgium Authenticum opted for the formal equivalence.
Changes that were made with the new translation were not insignificant. There was the replacement in the Nicene Creed of " one in being with the Father" with "consubstantial with the Father " and "born of the Virgin Mary"' with "incarnate of the Virgin Mary".
We still have in the memorial acclamation "When we eat this bread and drink this cup",which,while the phrase comes straight from scripture (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 and 1 Cor 10:16) , standing alone and without context, and coming as it does after transubstantiation, could be perplexing to someone new to the Church and paying attention. At least in Jn 6:51-58, Mt 26:26-30,Mk 14:22-24,Lk 22:19-20, as well as St Paul in 1 Cor 11:23-29 it is apparent that the bread is no longer bread and the wine no longer wine since in those passages it is explicitly conveyed.

TJM said...

John Nolan and Henry,

Thanks for being the adults in the room. Sadly you know more about Catholicism and Liturgy than most bishops and priests.

Jan said...

Contrary to what others have said I have found that the few English speaking people who still attend Mass do care one way or the other about the translation - some are not happy with the new version and want it restored back to the old version and the others prefer the new version, so there is no in between that Mark Thomas seems to think there is. Those who might not have cared one way or the other are now dead or in rest homes. No doubt the relatives Mark is talking to fall into that category so are very out of touch and long past caring.

The Church is definitely polarized into two groups. I would think that the vast majority attending Mass are liberal and would be okay if the Mass reverted back to the old translation. I don't know what those who welcome the new translation would do. It may stop some of them attending Mass but most would soldier on not having any other choice and await a new pontificate. This is all we can do.

Mark Thomas said...

Tony V said..."I tend to agree with Mark Thomas that the vast majority of those Catholics who still attend Mass don't pay the slightest attention to translations."

Tony V, please don't ever let anybody or anything, such as a translation of the Mass, drive you out of the Church.

Take the approach to which the overwhelming majority of our brothers and sisters in the Faith adhere. That is, let others fuss and fret over translations and such. Instead, just worship God.

When I go to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I am uplifted to have encountered humble people who live holy lives. They love the Lord. That is what it's all about.


Mark Thomas

Dan Z said...

Father, you may have missed this BOMBSHELL. Did Obama engineer a regime change in the Vatican? Catholic-Americans ask President Trump to investigate:

Anonymous said...

I think that Praytell and America are crowing too soon about this. The Vatican moves slowly, and the Congregation for Divine Worship still has a significant block of reform of the reform types as members (e.g. Ranjith, Piacenza, Cipriani (who banned communion on the hand in his diocese), Bagnasco) not to mention the prefect who remains in place until 2019. Everything here depends upon who the next pope will be.

John Nolan said...

The CDW's devastatingly accurate critique of the then existing English 'translation' actually anticipates Liturgiam Authenticam. Translations into other languages were often made from the English text rather than from the Latin original, and it was probably the worst around (I'm told that Portuguese ran it close).

Tinkering with LA is too late to affect the English translation but might well impact on other languages. The Pope doesn't speak English so I doubt he has any preference.

I don't have a horse in the race, since I only experience Mass (in either form) in Latin.

Anonymous said...

"I don't have a horse in the race, since I only experience Mass (in either form) in Latin."

Oh, but you do, even though your insular, NIMBY attitude prevents you from recognizing it.

Hearing Mass in either form in Latin does not separate you from the rest of the Church Militant, although you think it does. The bubble in which you worship is a phantasm, and an unhealthy one at that.

Apparently, radical individualism isn't only a problem for Americans.

TJM said...

Anonymous (Kavanaugh),

Your commments are risible, but expected

John Nolan said...

'Hearing Mass in either form in Latin does not separate you from the Church Militant although you think it does.' What qualifies you to know what I think? Had I approached one of the Oratory fathers after attending the packed Solemn (OF) Latin Mass in Oxford yesterday and suggested that they and the entire congregation were worshipping in an unhealthy phantasmagorical bubble, he would have concluded that I needed psychiatric, not to mention spiritual, help.

Anonymous said...

Your words qualify me.

You said, "I don't have a horse in the race, since I only experience Mass (in either form) in Latin."

Well, in fact, because you are part of the Church, not just the places where you hear Mass, you do have a horse in this race.

But your isolationism is part and parcel of the thinking of many. "I'll do what I like in terms of liturgy, when I like, where I like, and the rest of you poor slobs can just wallow in your...whatever.

We are one in Christ. What affects one part affects the others.

John Nolan said...

'I'll do what I like in terms of liturgy ...'

It's not something over which I have any control. No-one asked me, or anyone else for that matter, whether I wanted a vernacular Mass, or whether I wanted the Novus Ordo. A prominent English Benedictine and liturgical reformer put it neatly half a century ago: 'We don't give people what they want, we give them what we decide is good for them.'

Faced with such overbearing arrogance, I can at least make use of my critical faculties and exercise free choice. It's nothing to do with individualism, since many others do the same. 'The thinking of many', you say - indeed it is, and many of them are far more distinguished than I. None of them regard themselves as 'separate'; quite the opposite in fact. It is those who insist that the liturgy be in the vernacular at all times and in all places who have an isolationist mentality.

Of course an accurate translation is better than one that is inaccurate, misleading and deficient. That goes without saying. And if I encounter a vernacular Mass I'm not particularly bothered, provided the music isn't too dire and the priest celebrates decently. I simply prefer one in Latin for a number of perfectly valid reasons.

TJM said...

Anonymous at 8:47,

If we are "one in Christ" maybe you should start acting accordingly and learn to respect the viewpoints of people with whom you disagree.