12 June 2008

Not Effable?

From Erie, PA, comes a preview of some of the never-ending wrangling sure to take place at the Bishops' meeting over the English translation of the (New) Roman Missal. Some opponents of an accurate translation from the Latin will press to delay a decision on the matter. At this rate, I believe the changes will be complete around 2023.

Bishop Trautman objects to some proposed language changes


The word worries Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman.

He doubts that "John and Mary Catholic," sitting in their church pew, would understand it.

That's why Trautman will try to tell other U.S. bishops that such words shouldn't be in a new English translation of the Roman Missal.

U.S. Catholic bishops are holding their June general meeting today through Saturday in Orlando, Fla. They are expected to vote on an English version of the portion of the Roman Missal involving prayers for seasons like Advent and Lent, unless Trautman can convince them to delay a decision on the translation.

"I am at this point reserved about endorsing it," Trautman said two days before the start of the meeting. "I will try to speak on the conference floor to point out what I consider some major deficiencies in the translation."

A presentation on it is likely today, with voting probably on Friday, he said.

The portion of the Missal being discussed is the Proper of Seasons.

"These would be the prayers at Mass for the opening prayer, the prayer over the gifts, the prayer after Communion," Trautman said. "These would be the prayers for all of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and then the Sundays of the year."

The Vatican wants a translation more faithful to the original Latin text.

Trautman said the draft includes words such as "ineffable" that would not be in the ordinary vocabulary of people.

"This should be the prayer of the people," Trautman said. "I'm not for having street language. ... We should certainly have elevated tone, but words like that are just beyond the common comprehension."

Catholics coming out of a lunchtime Mass at Erie's St. Peter Cathedral weren't familiar with "ineffable."

According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, the word means "too overwhelming to be expressed or described in words; inexpressible; too awesome or sacred to be spoken.

"It's "not in my daily language," said Shirley Skiba, a member of St. Luke Catholic Church in Erie.

Skiba said words used in the Mass should be "something we feel comfortable with." That's the case with the current translation, for the most part, she said.

"I think it should be language the everyday person can understand," she said.

Trautman called parts of the proposed translation "archaic" and "just clumsy language."

One proposed change, for the first week in Advent, would replace "old way of life" with "ancient bondage," the Erie bishop said.

"Ancient bondage is very ambiguous and not clear enough to the people," he said.

Regarding another change, he said, "They speak of 'into the joy of true peace.' Well, we would say 'rejoice in true peace.' That's much more understandable."



Anonymous said...

I wish the Vatican would dissolve local episcopal conferences. There really is not any precedent for them and they have very little power, if any. They just get in the way...like most committees.

I believe that GK Chesterton said something like, "I've been to many parks around the world and have never seen a statue dedicated to a committee."

Marc P.

Anonymous said...

Guess what? I'd bet if you'd have asked those same luchtime mass-goers the next day, they'd know what "ineffable" means.

Heaven forbid some might have to have their horizons broadened.

Mr. Basso said...

me luv jesus. me no like big wordz at pray time in church. thank yu bishup trout-man fore thinking of me.

Patrick Kinsale said...

Blame Catholic education! Everyone should know what these things mean. Maybe it's another reason to STICK WITH LATIN.

thetimman said...

Mr. Basso strikes again!


StGuyFawkes said...

Not to be pedantic but "ineffable" is the word used to describe God in the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius and John Scotus Erigena.

With the death of the concept of God as "ineffable" comes the death of a whole Medieval tradition of approaching God by the "via negativa" which states that God's transcendence makes Him unnamable.

Beyond that the word "ineffable" points to the Jewish tradition of never even uttering the word J-A-W-E-H because He is so beyond our mortality.

So, Bishop Trautman, if you get your way you'll have effectively destroyed what is left of a whole tradition in Medieval Philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Whats so wrong with learning?

This Bishop like some others in America are trying to do to the Church what the Episcopals in America are doing to the Angelican Communion.

What I see the problem is-

They (some bishops) think we in the pews are to stupid to learn, or they are just out right full of pride. Arn't they suppost to teach us what the Church has to offer?

We don't change the teachings of the Church to fit us. WE change US to fit her teachings.

BE A GOOD BISHOP, like His Grace, Archbishop Burke, and teach us!

St. Benedict, we beg you to pray for our Bishops. Mary Queen of Hearts, pray for all of us.

StGuyFawkes said...

Someone should tell Bishop Troutman that liturgy preserves words which otherwise would fall out of the language.

A case in point: buxom.

Buxom's early meaning was "pliant" or "bendable" like a long-bow. At some point the word fell out of usage and almost died except for the fact that it was preserved in the Anglican marriage text which instructed a new wife to be a "buxom bride". The wedding ceremony meant her to be pliant or obedient to God and her husband.

But the word at some point lost it's meaning in common speech, so the word "buxom", in the wedding ceremony, attracted the meaning that members of the wedding party wanted to hear which was fertile, curvy...bodacious...you get the picture.

So, by it's preservation in a Anglican religious ceremony we now have the word which means a woman's shapely form.

Now ask yourself: if those Anglicans had chosen to talk down to their congregation and substituted the word "obedient" for "buxom" today we would have no other way to describe Selma Hayek than to say "whoa, dude like she's really stacked".

The latter usage is of course, vulgar while "buxom" is not.

So you see, by preserving arcane words in liturgy our culture in general is improved. In the case of "buxom" we have a dignified and elegant means of describing a womanly shape.

If some Anglican divine had been of the mind of Bishop Trautman we would have to turn to the language of the Sports Bar to describe Sophia Loren. Or, we'd have to turn to adjectives like Rubenesque which is an intolerably high brow way of depicting something simple and beautiful: women's shape.

End of Rant.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bishop Trautman is being a bit more than condescending. I think the average RC has access to a dictionary. Perhaps, his resistance to the proposed changes is masking an ulterior motive? It wouldn't be the first time the devil slid one under the door in the guise of edifying the Church and her people.