Pro Ecclesia…

Here is a sample of the difference(s) found in the upcoming English translation of the 2002 Missale Romanum as compared to English translation in the the 1975 Sacramentary. This Collect is taken from “For the Church” series A.

First the Latin:
Deus, qui regnum Christi ubíque terrárum dilatári providéntia mirábili disposuísti, et omnes hómines salutáris éffici redemptiónis partícipes, praesta, quaesumus, ut Ecclésia tua universále sit salútis sacraméntum, et cunctis homínibus revelétur exspectátio géntium et Salvátor eárum. Per Dóminum.

This prayer as it currently appears in the 1975 Sacramentary:
God our Father, in your care and wisdom you extend the kingdom of Christ to embrace the world to give all men redemption. May the Catholic Church be the sign of our salvation, may it reveal for us the mystery of your love, and may that love become effective in our lives. Grant this through…

The same prayer as found in the upcoming English translation of the Missale Romanum 2002:
O God, who in your wonderful providence decreed that Christ’s Kingdom should be extended throughout the earth and that all should become partakers of his saving redemption; grant, we pray, that your Church may be the universal sacrament of salvation, and that Christ may be revealed to all as the hope of the nations and their Savior. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

My eye notices the difference between employing “world” and “earth” for “terrarum”. In the opening line of Genesis, “terram” is found and we readily translate it as “earth” in that “In the Beginning God created heaven and earth”. Mark 2:10 also employs “terra” and again translated as “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. On the other hand Matthew 13:35 employs “mundi” as “since the foundation of the world”.

This is far from a thorough study of Latin employment – to do so one would need to take into consideration the entirety of the Vulgata as well as patristic texts and other liturgical sources. But a brief perusal such as this shows somewhat safely that a difference exists between “world” and “earth” in the Latin.

And spiritually we recognize that a phrase such as “embrace the world” requires some explanation and caution. Ours is a world created good and redeemed, but the fulfillment of that redemption is an act that we participate in by aligning our works/sufferings/lives/prayers with the redeeming action of Christ. In short, redemption is a work in progress.

In addition, I am glad to see that the Latin “participes” is actually brought into the upcoming English translation unlike the MR1975 cousin. Here we see that to be partakers requires some initiative and/or response from the individual believer – it actually requires us to actively strive to participate in the redemptive project which is Christ’s.

I notice also that whereas the MR1975 translates “universale” as an added qualifier “Catholic” to the word “Church” the MR2002 only says “Church” and places “universale” as a qualifier for “sacrament” or mystery which is “universal”. It should first be said that “ecclesia” is feminine nominative and “sacramentum” is neuter nominative as is “universale”. So just the inner logic of Latin would strongly suggest that “universale” is to be applied to “sacrament” and not to “Church”.

It seems that here we have a symmetrical statement. For example we could say, “The boy is tall” or “Tall is the boy”.

Likewise is it, “the Universal Church is the sign of salvation” or is it “the Church is the universal sign of salvation”? MR1975 seems to have adopted the former and the MR2002 has adopted the latter use. Not only does such a translation remain faithful to the inner logic of the Latin but it also more aptly conveys right ecclesiology and the overall tenor of the Collect.

There are not two world histories. God who created time itself is as its author also the one who guides time and provides its meaning. He is both Author and Sustainer of all creation. There is only one Church, broken and scattered as it might be. The act of gathering together, the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, is the continued work of redemption when the Church will be more fully and effectively a sign of Christ in the world. Fractured or not, only one Church exists and thus there is no need to qualify the “Church” as the “Catholic Church”.

One might inquire about the Creed and its line, “Et unam, sanctam, catholicam, et apostolicam Ecclesiam”. Here we have the classic four-fold characteristics of the Church’s nature. Again, we see here that by the word “catholicam” the Church is universal and is intrinsically related to the characteristic of “unam” or “oneness”, “unity”. The difference in this qualifier compared to the MR2002’s usage is that in the creed “catholicam” is a descriptor of the very nature of the Church whereas MR2002 emphasizes that salvation is meant for all, universally, which is the overall focus of the prayer itself as we earlier read in the first line: “Christ’s Kingdom should be extended throughout the earth”.

Share:

28 comments

  1. When you say ‘upcoming English translation of the Missale Romanum 2002’ do you mean the version approved by the English-speaking episcopal conferences, or the version sent to Rome by ICEL, or the version given the recognitio by the Congregation (and presented to the Pope at the lunch of lunches, eaten while Bishop Roche, Chairman of ICEL was in Rome but not invited), or the version as since altered by Vox Clara, or the version that they might re-amend it to before finally letting it out for use?

    And how do they all compare with the 1998 translation?

    1. 1998 Translation (p. 1042):

      In your wonderful providence, O God,
      you willed that the kingdom of Christ
      should extend throughout the earth
      and that all people should partake in his saving redemption;
      grant that your Church may be the sacrament of universal salvation,
      to reveal and accomplish the mystery of your love for all.

      I still sense a disconnect between the ending clause in Latin and the ending clause in the 1975 and 1998 English renditions.

  2. Any commentary to share on the last clause of the prayer?

    Et cunctis homínibus revelétur exspectátio géntium et Salvátor eárum.

    “[M]ay it reveal for us the mystery of your love, and may that love become effective in our lives.”

    “[A]nd that Christ may be revealed to all as the hope of the nations and their Savior.”

      1. At first glance, I’m curious why the 1975 translation is so different from the Latin text. My rough attempt at the Latin gives me:

        “And that he [Christ] may be revealed to all men
        as the hope of nations and [as] their Savior.”

        which is pretty close to the newest translation. I’m not saying the current English words are bad words — of course we should pray for God to reveal the mystery of His love to us, and that that love should be effective in our lives (presumably to the salvation of our souls and others’) — but they’re not the words of this prayer.

        As to the actual words…

        I struggled to remember where I have heard “hope of nations” in a liturgical context. After a bit of searching, I found it in the O Antiphons and in Gen. 49:10 (at least in the old Vulgate). God reveals Christ to all peoples as “the hope of nations” through the Church, through us. (That is why it is important for us to be aware of the mystery of His love and to show it in our lives, as the 1975 English text says.)

  3. Is your ‘hope of nations’ translation of ‘exspectatio gentium’ according to (as in the current Preface of the Annunciation) the principles of Comme le prevoit or Liturgiam authenticam?

    1. It appears to have been tempered by my familiarity with the phrase elsewhere in liturgical and biblical texts. I think “desire of nations” would do just as well. Exspectatio is defined as “an awaiting, expecting, expectation, longing, desire” in the Elementary Lewis & Short. Maybe I’d even go with “long-awaited of nations”, but I think “desire” is a better choice for a noun.

      I think I’m abiding by LA 49, but I would gladly accept correction.

      Characteristic of the orations of the Roman liturgical tradition as well as of the other Catholic Rites is a coherent system of words and patterns of speech, consecrated by the books of Sacred Scripture and by ecclesial tradition, especially the writings of the Fathers of the Church. For this reason the manner of translating the liturgical books should foster a correspondence between the biblical text itself and the liturgical texts of ecclesiastical composition which contain biblical words or allusions. In the translation of such texts, the translator would best be guided by the manner of expression that is characteristic of the version of the Sacred Scriptures approved for liturgical use in the territories for which the translation is being prepared. At the same time, care should be taken to avoid weighting down the text by clumsily over-elaborating the more delicate biblical allusions.

      P.S. I would not simply render it as “the expectation of nations.”

    1. Only managed to stand watching a minute or so of this. Slurred speech in evidence. Was he actually sober? The singers who introduced him sounded pretty far gone, too.

    1. Well, what can one say. A person with eyes glued to the book, no less. How nice to hear a spoken acclamation — not! Once again, I couldn’t stand more than two minutes of this.

    1. Well, he uses the same tonality for every sentence, regardless of the meaning. All middle range with a dying cadence, no top and bottom range. The structure of the prayer is lost, and his eyes are fixed on the book. Just what we want to experience in a good presider.

      May I suggest that there are many other priests out there who would have done a better job than this?

  4. Do we know where this prayer came from? The last clause is rather forced, as we expect Ecclesia tua to continue to be the subject of the clause until we realize that it can’t be and that cunctis hominibus now becomes the topic retroactively. Also, why include earum? “Exspectatio gentium et Salvator” would have sufficed. Moreover, the presence of cunctis hominibus and gentium is somewhat otiose. It would have been better to write, “et omnibus gentibus reveletur exspectatio ipsarum et Salvator Christus.”

    Maybe “longing” for exspectatio? Metonymy is at work in the Latin and probably should be maintained in the English.

    1. “why include earum”

      I interpret it as saying that all men will recognize Jesus as the prophesied “desire of nations” and as their Savior; that is, not just the “Savior of nations”, but their Savior. So each person recognizes Jesus as the desire of nations and as his (or her) Savior.

      I don’t know why “cunctis” was chosen. Perhaps a better choice would have been “omnibus hominibus” (from 1 Tim 4:10, “salvator omnium hominum”) which, to my untrained ear, sounds nicer (almost repetitive).

  5. As I sit and read responses and websites and blogs, etc. and start to prepare my fall 8th grade theology course I teach as well as the opening school liturgies, I can’t help but think…

    What about the “kids” ?

    How are we going to teach them these prayers with the words and structures they aren’t able to pronounce or understand without an extra Grammar class or two?

    How do we promote ‘good’ school liturgies now?

    1. Steve, you could always tell the kids about the exactness of the translations. That should surely get them coming back Sunday after Sunday for years to come . . .

    2. The kids are the easiest. They are sponges and are used to learning new things day after day. I teach 7th-12th grade in a Catholic school where I pray the day’s collect before each math class and invite the class to pray with me by flashing the prayer up on the screen. Most are willing to go along with it, and even try their best at the haaaaard words and difffficult structures. One of the things I like to do is flash the Latin up there (required in our school for 3 semesters in gr.6-7, offered as an option after that), show the 1975 translation and then we pray a translation a bit closer to the Latin, usually copied from Universalis website. They can’t believe the 1975 is even a translation half the time, and we often end up calling it the “Fisher-Price” translation because it seems to be aimed at very young children.

      Our liturgies are all ‘good’ because we try to follow the rubrics as closely as we can, establish high expectations for behavior and comportment, and then allow the Holy Spirit to attract them the Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in the words of Scripture. It helps to pray for them as well, as that increases our trust that God will meet them in the depths of their hearts.

      Yes, the ‘kids’ will be the easiest. Even back in their home parishes, as long as they have adults willing to go along with what the Church is asking at this time, they will follow without (not much more than the usual) complaint. 🙂

      It’s the adults (of a certain age)…

    3. Why is it that we continue to feel that children need all kinds of “special accomodations” when it comes to worship. Would it not make the most sense to work towards introducing them to the liturgy that they will be praying for the rest of their lives, rather than a “First and Second Grade Mass” then a “3rd and 4th Grade Mass”, followed by a “Teen Mass” then a “Young Adult Mass”… good heavens, no wonder they’re confused!

      As for teaching them prayers…don’t sell the kids short. As for your final comment, it seems that you have already decided that it isn’t possible to have a good liturgy with the new texts, so the question has been answered in it’s asking…

  6. There’s a strange clash between the first and second clauses. The new translation conflates a clear indicative/subjunctive division and fails to convey an important Latin nuance.

    Deus/qui regnum Christi ubíque terrárum dilatári providéntia mirábili disposuísti/et [qui] omnes hómines salutáris éffici redemptiónis partícipes bold my addition

    Relative clause #1 verb disposuisti is perfect indicative. Relative clause #2 verb participes is present subjunctive. Both maintain a tight parallel between Deus, qui, and 2nd singular conjugations. The verbal relationship between these clauses is purposefully contrasted in the Latin but destroyed in the translation.

    In Latin, the first indicative clause implies that God “extended” in a perfective process that began at one point and extends through the present. dilatári is a weak emphasis that the translators did well to drop. On the other hand, the second subjunctive clause implies that the relationship of God and humanity through salutáris […] redemptiónis is a present and progressive action that is open to cooperation with human will (hence the contingent and non-absolute implication of the subjunctive).

    A translation of disposuísti as a faux-subjunctive provides a veneer of English parallelism but destroys a Latin syntactical relationship illustrative of fine theological division. Sometimes “clunkiness” can accentuate important distinctions.

    Overall, hats off the the translators. Job well done!

  7. I believe that “participes” in the prayer is a substantive (particeps, participis), not a verb. It is the plural object of the infinitive “effici.” “And that all (“homines”) should become (OR be made) partakers (“participes”), etc.”

    1. Thank you. The plural accusative of particeps and the 2nd present singular subjunctive of participare are identical. I should have paid better attention to the secondary characteristics of the indirect statement. For a participes […] effici construction to work, participes interpreted as a verb form must take the dative or ablative as an object. The genitive salutáris […] redemptiónis destroys my lectio difficilior.

      I still wonder why et and not ut is used to introduce the indirect discourse. Better yet to drop the particle entirely.

  8. I hate to bring up Galileo, but…

    Before him, earth, world and universe were more or less synonymous. While world can still mean either earth or universe, earth and universe are distinct concepts. “throuhgout the earth” is not a sufficient foundation for a “universal” anything, or even a simple “to all.”

    Not that I think there is or will be life on other planets or anything like that. “The earth” just sounds tepid to me compared to the exuberance of universal and to all. It almost sounds like God will embrace us here on earth, but we must go to the rest of the universe while God stays behind embracing those on earth.

  9. Thanks Michael for that beautiful analysis. The new text of the Roman Missal certainly is so much more beautiful than the 1973 and the 1998 translations.

    Jim, I wonder if there is also not an echo of John’s Gospel, where the “world” is in opposition to God’s Kingdom?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *