26 November 2011

Two Cheers for the New New Mass Translations

The new, more accurate English translation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass finally comes online tonight, as the New Roman Missal becomes obligatory for the First Sunday of Advent.  That this translation took nine years to draft and implement after the the current edition of the normative Latin Missal was published may be noteworthy for the triumph of episcopal bureaucracy over common sense, but no matter.  Here it is.

And this is a good thing.  I don't want to say otherwise.  It is important that the majority of Catholics who, for whatever reason-- historical or hysterical-- attend the Ordinary Form, pray the prayers as close to the original language as possible.  For one reason, it only seems right for a Universal Church to have a Universal Liturgy.  Also, one avoids unnecessary questions about validity ("...pro multis...").  And, frankly, the language used is more beautiful, more elevated, and will give an impetus to ditch some of the worst '70s ditties and perhaps install some sacred music in its place.

This rearranging of deck chairs may make the Titanic more pleasant and comfortable as she goes down.  But the reality remains that the iceberg has been hit; the ship is taking on water and listing badly.  The only way out of the disaster is to get off the ship and into the lifeboats.  There are many already in the water-- the societies dedicated to the Extraordinary Form, the Diocesan personal parishes and Sunday Masses, the growing number of priests offering the traditional Mass in their parishes publicly and privately, houses of traditional religious orders.  The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was the distress call, and the Carpathia has yet to arrive.  When the Extraordinary Form is no longer so-called due to the frequency of its celebration-that is, when it is required to be celebrated at least once on Sundays and Holy Days at every parish-- it then will have arrived.  Then all Catholics will have the choice to enter the lifeboat or to go down with the ship.

My hope is that the more accurate, more reverent, more elevated translation will raise the hearts of Catholics and perhaps get them to ask themselves some serious questions.  Why it took 42 years to even get a decent translation-- translation-- of the Ordo of Mass should prompt other questions about the "reforms" in general.  I could go on, but won't.  I will only note that the virulence of the opposition to this more accurate translation of the original by the same crowd who eagerly traded in the Mass of the Ages for this mess of pottage should be taken as a sign that I could be on to something here.

One thing the liturgical progressives lack is any sense of irony.  I was amused by several articles lamenting the "changes" to the Ordinary Form.  As an example, Our Sunday Visitor posted two excerpts, one from the Jesuits and one from a blog:

With a mere six days to go before the Roman Missal, Third Edition is implemented in English-speaking parishes, some commentators are saying goodbye to its predecessor.

Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor of America magazine, offers these words on the In All Things blog as part of his "elegy for the Sacramentary":
Any significant change is like a little death; and so any change brings about the need for some grieving. You sell a house and buy a new one; and you are sad about the loss of the old one--even if your new house is more spacious. You move from one job to another; and you shed a few tears at the loss of old colleagues--even if you’re looking forward to the new position. You graduate from high school to college, and even if it’s your top choice, you cry at your graduation.

It would be odd, therefore, not to acknowledge some sadness over the passing of something so central to our lives as what will soon be called the “old” Sacramentary. Even if you are eagerly anticipating the new translations, something significant is moving into the past, and being lost.

So let me say something: I will miss the old prayers, even as I look forward to the new. I’m 50 years old, which means that by the time I was conscious of the Eucharist, say around 1968, the Mass was being celebrated in English. I dimly remember saying things like, “It is right and just” as a very young boy, which was most likely a holdover from the earliest translations of the Mass after the Second Vatican Council. But, for the most part, my entire Catholic life has been shaped by the familiar prayers of the Sacramentary, the book that we are leaving behind this coming Sunday.

Sister Julie of "A Nun's Life" blog also has a post saying goodbye to what she terms the Roman Missal 2.0:

For now and for this week, however, I will cherish my last Mass with the current Roman Missal. Roman Missal 2.0, you’ve been my constant companion. I have celebrated with you, cried with you, and witnessed some of the most beautiful landmarks of my Catholic life with you. You were there when my siblings married their spouses, my nephews were baptized, and my parents renewed their vows. You were there when my friends became Catholic or were ordained or got married or when we celebrated their Mass of Resurrection. You were there when my IHM sisters celebrated Jubilee and when I professed my vows as an IHM Sister. I am grateful for you, Mass 2.0. Goodbye.

I'm glad for their sakes that they do not have to lament the loss of the entire Rite of Mass-- more than 1,700 years old-- in order to provide a platform in which to feature the music of Cat Stevens.  But no matter.  Things are beginning to get better, however slowly.

Two cheers for the new translation!


StGuyFawkes said...

Interesting comments from the Jesuit and the nun. I remember when Novus Ordo enthusiasts would accuse Traditionalists of being "nostalgia freaks" who clove to the old Mass for its "smells and bells."

The comments of the good sister and priest are self-admitted exercises in nostalgia.

The wheel turns. Irony.

A joke you have surely heard.

"Do you think lovers of the old translation will apply to their local ordinaries for indults to assist at the old translation?"

St. Guy

Anonymous said...

The priest says "The Lord be with you." The congregation responds, "And with your spirit."

Why does the priest use, "you" while the people use "your spirit."

How is "spirit" defined here?
Why is "spirit" not used by the priest?


Anonymous said...

Your write,[the] "translation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass finally comes online tonight...."

Do you have the URL for this translation?


Jane Chantal said...

Margaret --

I've read a number of explanations of this, and they all seem to address a particular point which I think is very well expressed on the Catholic Education Resource Center website as follows:

"When we say, 'And also with you' in the present translation, one might get the impression that our response was merely intended to express an exchange of personal greetings or reciprocal good will: "May the Lord be with you, too, Father."

But there is much more to this response. When a man is ordained a priest, the Holy Spirit comes upon him in a unique way, enabling him to perform the sacred rites of the Mass and consecrate the Eucharist. By responding, "And with your spirit," we acknowledge the Spirit's activity through the priest during the sacred Liturgy. We are referring to the "spirit" of the priest, the very core of his being, where he has been ordained to offer the sacrifice of the Mass. Indeed, we are acknowledging that since God works through the priest who is offering the Mass, ultimately it is Jesus Christ who is the head of the community gathered for the Liturgy, and it is his Spirit who is the primary actor in the Liturgy, regardless who the particular priest celebrating Mass may be."


Anonymous said...

Here is one .pdf version


a bit difficult to navigate.


thetimman said...

Margaret, to add to Jane's response, these responses reflect the Latin original: Dominus vobiscum = the Lord be with you, and Et cum spiritu tuo = and with your spirit. You probably knew this and were going to the underlying reasons, but I post this for anyone who didn't.

Barb, I was using it as a figure of speech-- googling new missal translation would probably get you there.

goldberry said...

One pleasant side effect of the new translation at our little parish: during Mass everyone is so focused on the new language and paying such intense attention to it that Father has abandoned his practice of neutering it. Doubt if this will last, but I can hope.

Anonymous said...

I suspected you meant it as a figure of speech, also, however, one can print out the new language from the USCCB web site. The laity parts are 4 pages long, comparing old and new. The priest's parts are very long and probably not worth printing. But you can see them online.
Select "sample texts" and choose what parts of the mass you want to look at.

Time to buy a new missal for us.
It was a beautiful mass today! Attentive, quiet adults.

Mary said...

Fr Z has a link to a poll:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of the parishoners left the church thinking, "I feel so much closer to God now that I am reciiting a translation that
is more closely aligned to the latin of old." Maybe the old cradle catholics perhaps because they recognized some of the phrases such as "and with your spirit" and the people who are like-minded with those following this blog.

Overheard one fellow say, "I just be Jesus spoke in Latin" and laughed.

I wonder how many fallen away catholics will return to the Church because there are a few changes in the liturgical language.


Peggy IL said...

My father born in the late 30s insists he's always said, "And with your spirit" and the confiteor as intended, lo these 40 years. I looked at him puzzled, with some doubt. I have no doubt that he knows the proper English of what was said in Latin. He had to say the Latin as a pre-V2 altar boy of course. I can't believe him that he didn't go with the program of the novus ordo. Oh, well. If he did not, good on him.

Another chapter in tall tales from a dad?

thetimman said...

Markus, your point is taken, but the issue isn't making the English translation match the Latin "of old", but rather making an accurate translation of the Latin "right now." The one the Church authorized forty-two years ago but which was denied to you by self-appointed "experts" who thought they knew better than slugs like us in the pews.

The feeling closer to Jesus comes with worshiping Him the best way we can; it comes by fidelity to Him and His Church; and ultimately, it is a wonderful result of Mass, but not its main purpose. The main purpose is fitting worship to God, to Whom it is due.

That is one of my criticisms of the new Mass in general, but particularly of the mistranslations-- there is way too much emphasis on "me".

Have a blessed Advent.

Anonymous said...

Great discussion, but I was really saddened to read you making comparisons of the Novus Ordo to the sinking of the Titanic. E.g. "The only way out of the disaster is to get off the ship and into the lifeboats."

I don't think you mean to imply that the Holy Spirit didn't attend Vatican II, and that the Primacy of the Chair of Peter ended at that time, only to wait until the Church miraculously revert to pre-VII?

As we know, the Church is a very real human entity with Christ present in it. Language, like the members of our church, continue to evolve. Do we revert to Mary and Joseph "riding an ass" to Bethlehem when it makes more sense to children to say "a donkey?" Were those who changed those words helping sink the Titanic?

I'm just trying to get a sense from you 'when exactly Christ left the Catholic church,' 'when the Holy Spirit abandoned His people,' and then 'why using magic words as if they were some voodoo sayings would conjur God back up again among His people.'

I just think that God lives in the hearts of His believers and followers, even if we are not saying the 'magic incantations' from 1,700 years ago. If our relationship to God is solely based on us saying those exact words, in a language Jesus never spoke, than that isn't a real relationship.

PJPII follower

mdnd said...

Take a peek at the St. Cronan site to see their take on the new translation. Bottom line, based on internal discussions involving "Sister Lucy" and a group of "Preachers", they will avoid implementation until after the Christmas season. Why is this allowed to happen?

mdnd said...

The St. Cronan link is "stcronan.org", then click onto the "Events" page, then scroll down to "November 26-26". I mailed copies of this page to Archbishop Carlson and to Msgr. McCumber in the Office of Worship. At least I tried...........

Anonymous said...

" ...Why is this allowed to happen?...
I mailed copies of this page to Archbishop Carlson and to Msgr. McCumber in the Office of Worship. At least I tried." - mdnd

It is touching to see how concerned you are for the spiritual welfare of the parishioners at St. Cronan. Perhaps you might, one day, actually attend a Mass at St. Cronan and introduce yourself to the community rather than skulk around at the back of the church, taking notes and names.

You just might find that they aren't all witches and devils and that they DO have a vibrant spiritual life.


thetimman said...

My Dear cdg,

That is entirely beside the point. A collection of spiritual peaches would have no more authority to make their own liturgical rules than a collection of skulkers.

The Catholic Church has the sole right and authority to set her own rules of worship. Don't like them? Well....

And, a vibrant spiritual life is no guaranty that one is not a witch or devil. They have their own particular spiritual vibrancy. Granted, it is not a spiritual "life", but it is an ersatz version of one. And no, I am not accusing anyone--I am making the point that your criteria for Catholicity in worship is based on a non sequitur.

Lots of people have an aversion to the Catholic Mass. This is a protestant state of mind. They at least are honest enough to admit it.

doughboy said...

WOW. you know i kinda wondered if there would be the rogue parishes that would decide for themselves if/when to implement the changes.

so sad.

thetimman said...

mdnd said:

'The St. Cronan link is "stcronan.org", then click onto the "Events" page, then scroll down to "November 26-26". I mailed copies of this page to Archbishop Carlson and to Msgr. McCumber in the Office of Worship. At least I tried...........'


The events page for November has been scrubbed from the site.

Anonymous said...

You write: "The feeling closer to Jesus comes with worshiping Him the best way we can; it comes by fidelity to Him and His Church; and ultimately, it is a wonderful result of Mass, but not its main purpose. The main purpose is fitting worship to God, to Whom it is due."

For many people that feeling closer results with the revised translation you revile. We do not feel we have been *denied* anything.


thetimman said...


I don't revile the new translation; it is a great improvement on what preceded it. It is that to which I was referring in my response you cite.

But "feeling" that you haven't been denied anything doesn't speak to whether you were actually denied anything.

Anonymous said...

Timman, I'm still trying to get your "history" here.

You make it sound like God left the Catholic Church during Vatican II, and ONLY if the new church moves back to following its practices before that time, then God would come back.

Please explain where your God has been between Vatican II and today, presuming you mean that "the Titanic is sinking because God no longer is the Captain" since then?

PJPII follower

Anonymous said...

“That is entirely beside the point. A collection of spiritual peaches would have no more authority to make their own liturgical rules than a collection of skulkers….
--I am making the point that your criteria for Catholicity in worship is based on a non sequitur.” - thetimman

Ah, Timmy…
Don’t go opaque on me here! You know very well the non sequitur in this conversation is yours. And misdirection is an effective debate tactic if not called out.

You know very well that my point here is not whether the community at St. Cronan are dancing to their own liturgical tune - that’s another argument for another blogtime. My comment is directed at those self-appointed ‘Papist police’ who seems to inhabit the rear pews of St. Cronan during Mass with the sole purpose of taking notes & names in order to report back to the High Command on Lindell. These people don’t come to worship with the community. They skulk around St. C’s looking for “liturgical apostasies”, then run back to Lindell to tattle their tales.

Come on people! Grow up! If you come to Boyle to worship, you will be welcomed. If you come to take notes and kick butt… at least be open about it - introduce yourselves. You’ll still be welcomed.


Anonymous said...

Hey cdg and Markus, why not carpool together and stop by SFdS tonight or in the next few days to take part in the Immaculate Conception Novena? You are more than welcome at the Oratory ... you can even sit in the back if you want ... no one will bother you, and you can take notes.

What a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of this beautiful time, huh?