● “I heard something recently that greatly disturbed me,” the anonymous letter to Adoremus Bulletin begins. Seems that writer heard somewhere that lots of changes have been made to the missal translation as approved by the bishops’ conferences “without regard for consistency or fidelity to the original.”
The AB editors don’t want to believe it. “There is a whole lot of blogging going on about the new Missal translation,” they respond to the letter writer. “The complexity of the translation process almost invites confusion and speculation.” Their advice? “It is surely best to reserve judgment about unsubstantiated rumors one picks up on the internet (or elsewhere).”
Now, I don’t know whether “a whole lot of blogging” might refer to Pray Tell. It seems likely, since we have become a leading source for translation news on the web. Just in case they have Pray Tell in view, it is important to state clearly our pledge to our faithful readers: no speculation or unsubstantiated rumors here. Only the real stuff, with real sources.
● Objections to the revised text have been made known to the Holy See from many sides. Rome has received a detailed report of the problems in the revised Order of Mass, and the much more substantial problems in the proper prayers. The hope is that the deficiencies, or at least the most egregious of them, can still be addressed even though a final text with recognitio has been granted to some conferences, e.g. the U.S.
● Bishops and others from ICEL are meeting later this month with officials of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. Any guesses what’s on the agenda?
● Pray Tell recently reported that the German bishops are resisting missal revision. The week’s Tablet fills in a bit more. It is the sentiment of conference president Archbishop Robert Zollitsch that the present missal is widely accepted by priest and faithful, and this must not be endangered with a new missal. Cardinal Joachim Meisner, head of the national liturgical commission, said “I have always said that the Congregation for Divine Worship should go through our texts critically and see if we have translated the theological context correctly. But how we express ourselves in German is up to us German bishops.” The bishops are for keeping “for all” in the Eucharistic Prayer and not replacing it with “for many.”
● Fr. Anthony Foreman of Suffolk writes in to the Tablet that he had a trial run and read the new texts to 20 parishioners. “Their unanimous reaction was one of dismay, disappointment, irritation, and even amusement.” He concludes, “I can see squalls and storms ahead.”
● Did you see “Found in Translation” by Michael Cunningham in the NY Times last week? The author seems to have wanted to write two articles, one on translation and one on what it’s like to write a novel. The first bit is very interesting. Language “is made up of equal parts meaning and music. The sentences should have rhythm and cadence, they should engage and delight the inner ear. Ideally, a sentence read aloud, in a foreign language, should still sound like something, even if the listener has no idea what it is he or she is being told.” Hmm, I wonder if any of that applies to a missal translation.
● Jerry Galipeau over at “Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray” has changed his tone a bit recently about the new translation – in a more positive direction. This, for example: “I hope that I am not being naive as I see the Catholic faithful, clergy, vowed religious, lay leaders, and pew Catholics really begin to see the possibilities to deepen their appropriation of the meaning of the paschal mystery through the new translation.” I suppose many of us will move that direction as the real thing gets closer.
● I’m on the road and in the air a fair amount presenting on the new translation and the missal chants. I was in Memphis diocese a few weeks ago with parish musicians and with clergy and their bishop. The same next week in Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese. In such a setting, of course, I take a positive tone. I hope that I’m constructive and helpful to clergy and lay leaders who will be using the new missal. There is a time and place to critique the translation, and the process, I think. Liturgists and scholars and concerned members of the Church do this in academia, in journals, and did you know that some blogs do this? But there is a place also to do our very best with a missal which isn’t perfect, but is, after all, what the Church is giving us. In fact, whenever I explain and sing the new chants in front of a group of people, I’m pulled into a real enthusiasm for sung liturgy. I even start to get excited about the new missal.
● It’s been a long road, folks, and we’re not there yet. 17 years on one revised translation, all for naught, then some ten years on this translation which perhaps isn’t yet finalized. Lots of generous service to the Church, much of it gratis. Lots of people involved, and then many people shut out, and lots of hurt feelings. A missal which we hope will unite us, but know will probably divide us. There’s got to be a better way in our dear Church to pull together all the good will and good insights and expertise of liturgists and linguists and theologians and musicians and pastors. There’s got to be a better way to come to agreement on the fundamental principles and procedures, and then carry things out with openness and good collaboration between all levels of authority. May the Lord help us learn what He would have us learn from this whole episode.
● Some years ago I put a certain prayer into Latin for my own daily use. I’m using it a lot these days. Deus, da mihi serenitatem…