What is wrong–and right–with the new translation, continued

I appreciated the article by Paul Vallely. Perhaps there were statements a professional might quibble with; perhaps it was worth noting that the strengths were largely there in 1998, whereas the weaknesses have been wished upon us. But it seemed to me a balanced reaction to the strengths and weaknesses of the new text as a sensible UK Catholic might see them.

It echoes a number of quite pained reactions I have been hearing from balanced, committed UK Catholics–certainly not regular whingers–over the past weeks. The point obviously has no statistical significance–only those who have negative reactions are likely to seek me out. But the tone is striking.

I put Paul Vallely’s piece on my Facebook page (which I often use to spread things worth reading, including pages from PrayTell). A young Tridentinist friend (yes I do have them–it goes with the territory if you hang around a university chaplaincy) teased me with one of his comments, and led me to write–slightly intemperately and incautiously– as follows:

Every time I preside at Mass now, here in the USA where the imposition has still not occurred, I find myself grieving. Soon the Mass will be taken away from us; this may be the last time I use a text that basically works and that I have come to love. If I can bear going to Mass at all once the plague is inescapable, it will be as a penance and a duty– not as a source of strength. Why disaffected ex-Anglicans and Tridentinists can have their own liturgical disciplines, and why we Conciliar Catholics cannot, is simply beyond me.

The Catholic Truth Society of England–the same body that has a monopoly on the UK production of the new missal, and is charging a lot more than its US counterparts–produced a pamphlet introducing the English text in 1964 called The Mass is Yours. That title was wonderfully expressive of the gift that was given then and is being removed now.

Within half an hour I had an e-mail from a friend, from which I quote a paragraph:

I wish I could cheer you up, but I can’t. A sense of penance and duty is just how it feels to me, who am now stricken by the plague in question. It leaves me feeling desolate — angry and distracted. I don’t really want to be there at all. I went to mass yesterday …  but minutes in, I wanted to run away again. My fear is that those reactions will not soften with time. Will it ever be possible not to wince at things like ‘we pray that … we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life’? And so on, and so on …

The last straw is that some priests apparently believe that the best thing is to smile, and pretend it’s all lovely really. It says on the packet that the contents are more accurate and promote greater devotion, so that must be so, or at least, that’s what the people of God have to be told. Why not, at the very least, come out and say ‘There’s so much that strikes me as dreadful, both as to the new version in itself and as to the way in which we’ve come by it. That granted, let’s try, hard as it is, to focus on the fact that our Lord will still be present despite it all, as he’s been present despite so much else that’s awful down the centuries.’ That’s what I’d say if I was a priest.  Such honesty does help, and that’s why I’m specially grateful to you and others who don’t try to sell us stones for bread.

If this reaction is typical, we have a major pastoral disaster on our hands–the more so because there is no real outlet for it to be expressed fully. If it is not, we still have a lot of very unhappy people. How do Pray Tell readers think we should respond to this sort of distress?

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65 comments

  1. Quoted from above: “Why disaffected ex-Anglicans and Tridentinists can have their own liturgical disciplines, and why we Conciliar Catholics cannot, is simply beyond me.”

    While I think you have a point, I’ll note that it took “disaffected ex-Anglicans” and “Tridentinists” decades to get where they are today, and they still have a long way to go in the many places where they meet resistance from local clergy and bishops.

  2. As a Brit, I have been coping with the revised translation for a month or more now, and as a youth minister I have been helping young people through it too. I have to say that I don’t think it’s been a disaster. Certain wordings in the Eucharistic Prayers grate a little, and the word ‘Chalice’ really annoys me – even if only because there is no scripture scholar, theologian or historian who thinks there is even the remotest chance that Jesus actually used [what we would think of as] a chalice at the Last Supper.
    But, generally, I think we’ll get used to it and it will come to aid our faith as the old translation has.

    That said, I wasn’t a fan, and I’m still not. But it’s not working out disastrously from where I’m looking.

    I think there are broadly three groups of people in the UK: Firstly, the group who actually like the revised translation, then the group who are really kicking against it, and finally the group who are saying ‘well, we didn’t like the idea, but it’s gonna happen so let’s make the best of it!

    The latter group is by a long way the largest, and I think the more credible. It is certainly true to say that the ‘get on with it’ attitude may give the powers that be license to concoct the same rather brutish processes the next time they want to push something through, and this is a serious concern, but not worth ruining our experience of Mass for.

    1. The question of the post: How do PrayTell readers think we should respond to this sort of distress?

      Your comment does not address the question except indirectly by hinting that the people who are so distressed form only a small group and are less credible than the “meh!” group. Are you suggesting that distress of the sort expressed in the post should be ignored?

      1. Not at all. It’s legitimate and needs a response.

        I didn’t intend my comment to cause irritation. It was just meant to add a new perspective. And yes, it was off the point slightly. Hopefully still of interest to the general matter in hand though.

  3. A sense of penance and duty is just how it feels to me […]. It leaves me feeling desolate – angry and distracted. I don’t really want to be there at all. I went to mass yesterday … but minutes in, I wanted to run away

    I have heard similar sentiments expressed by some Catholics who, as they are divorced and remarried, are told to go to Mass but refrain from receiving communion. How do fellow Catholics and pastors respond to their distress? Perhaps the answer to that question will provide an idea to answer the question in the post.

  4. Just pray for the next conclave.
    There is a general disgust out there, not only among the laity but clergy as well. But since they are “company men” they obey until the pope is gone. Just look at the recent PrayTellBlog: “Not all the European bishops are bonae voluntatis about new translations”. They had 171 out of 187 disagree w/ pro multis, and there are Italian bishops, some of the most loyal! Change is coming, JUST HOLD ON!!!

    1. Perhaps if those of a progressive bent regain power they will be nicer to those of a traditional bent than they were the first time around so as to avoid a relentless cycle of tit for tat.

    2. I hope not Dunstan! There is another blog on this site: “Not all the European bishops are bonae voluntatis about new translations” and this is from Italian bishops, the most loyal to the Vatican. Those you listed are a tiny minority and are quite controversial. A controversial cardinal is a lightning rod and if he appears to “run” for the office it is usually career suicide. There is so much discontent even Cardinal Schonborn, a conservative, attacked Sodano. I think that is just a foretaste of what is about to come. Most cheered Schonborn, very few Sodano and everyone knows it.

  5. Jack Regan :
    I think there are broadly three groups of people in the UK: Firstly, the group who actually like the revised translation, then the group who are really kicking against it, and finally the group who are saying ‘well, we didn’t like the idea, but it’s gonna happen so let’s make the best of it!
    The latter group is by a long way the largest, and I think the more credible. It is certainly true to say that the ‘get on with it’ attitude may give the powers that be license to concoct the same rather brutish processes the next time they want to push something through, and this is a serious concern, but not worth ruining our experience of Mass for.

    That’s my biggest concern. If this goes through because the people who don’t really like it just throw up their hands and say that we might as well accept it because we can’t stop it, then what is the next thing that the church is going to try and change? It’s only going to encourage the conservative elements to try and reverse other changes that they didn’t like.

  6. Personally, I don’t pray for his death. I do pray for the third missal to be ultimately revoked, for people to continue to say the words from the existing missal after the new missal has been implemented, and I pray that people will stop their weekly contributions to the church until the third missal is withdrawn.

    This third missal is not my missal and I will never accept it.

    But, I don’t pray for the death of the Pope.

    1. I would rather His Holiness soon saw the opportunity to take his leave and retire to the Hartz mountains or another retreat of his choosing to play Mozart to his heart’s content.

    2. Dunstan, I fear no change would occur as long as he was pulling the strings from the mountains. He was right when he advised JPII from not retiring. The job is a “lifer”.

  7. I am another youth minister in the UK. I certainly share some of Philip’s pain, and my ignorance probably saves me from more. I found myself more wound up and fustrated more in the lead up to the implementation. I find myself riled at moments in mass, mainly at ‘with your spirit’, ‘chalice’, ‘many’, ‘roof’, ‘soul’. I find myself deliberatly internally saying ‘you’, ‘cup’, ‘all’, ‘receive you’, ‘I’.
    I cannot sell the new translation and take part in the propoganda such as the lifeteen videos seek to feed to our young people, glossing over any difficulties and waxing lyrical just because we cannot change anything. I think young people deserve the truth and I speak to often to them about integrity to do otherwise. I have tried to convey a tempered message to them, varying depending on age. I think they are mostly not in a possition to understand the complexity of the rawness of my emotion and yet my dedication to and love for Christ and his Church. I have tried to convey something of this though.
    I have found I have been able to appreciate Mass despite the jarring and unjustness of the translation and its process. I think there was something of the bad spirit mixed in with my thoughts and feelings for this consolation, but I am grateful that by some grace I have been able to find consolation in the depth of the Mass amidst the translations failings.
    I feel a bit of a coward. I think the translation and process are flawed, but I have done little about it. I am sure others in the pews next to me are vexed and might feel supported in finding a kindred spirit in me, but they do not know. I did write to my ppc and ask that we canvas for reactions so people could voice their oppinions and at least tell our bishops how we honestly feel. But I was rebuffed and I didn’t put up a fight. I suspect the Bishops made sterner efforts of resistance.

    1. James Potter’s comments are very reasonable and open minded for one who perhaps would have preferred the new transaltion had not happened. I offer this obsevation not in argumentation, but merely for consideration by those who seem upset at the substitution of ‘chalice’ for ‘cup’. The word in the Latin is ‘calyx’, from the Greek, of which ‘chalice’ is the most apt translation. The difference should, in fact, appeal to those who wish for this moment of the mass to reflect the realities of the upper room. It is quite probable that Jesus did not use a ‘cup’, but a ‘chalice’, the difference being that the latter was the most likely to have been used at a supper of this kind: a formal drinking vessel, perhaps with handles, which was passed around by the host for communal drinking. Despite being translated as ‘cup’ in many bible passages, the more proper designation would be ‘chalice’. This is why we use a ‘chalice’ at mass, and not an unceremonious and inappropriate ‘cup’.

      1. Please quote your sources! Especially for your information on what Jesus ‘most likely’ used.

        It sounds very like a case of your own preference for what is ceremonious and your disdain for what is ordinary?

      2. And what I really like is that one of the justifications by some for this new translation is that it is “more scriptural” – yet, most gospel accounts use the word “cup” rather than “chalice”. Guess “literal” trumps “scriptural” – but you need a playcard to figure that one out.

        But, then, am sure that this was an “original latin” translation mistake going back to the time of Paul and the gospel writers.

      3. “The word in the Latin is ‘calyx’, from the Greek, of which ‘chalice’ is the most apt translation.”

        Where to begin? The Latin is in the Mass text is not calyx but calix, from the Greek κύλιξ; calix shows up in a reliable dictionary as “cup, goblet, a vessel for drinking; chalice; cup of wine; pot; water regulator”.

        The Latin calyx, on the other hand, is from the Greek κάλυξ; it means a husk, a seed-covering, the skin of a fruit or an animal.

        And the Greek word in the NT (e.g. Matt 26.27) and the Greek Divine Liturgy is neither κύλιξ nor κάλυξ, but rather ποτήριον, usually translated as “a cup” or “a drinking vessel”.

        Translation is never easy.

    1. I am able to understand that there are (at least) two issues distressing people:

      First, there are the changes to the missal that are taking place, and while many people do not like them, myself included, I will accept that there are many who do like them and feel they are overdue.

      Second, is the way in which the changes have been implemented. The fact that they are being imposed from on high without any significant input from us, the people who make up the church. The majority of Catholics are only finding out about these changes, now. We weren’t asked if we felt these changes were better or if we wanted them, we were told that changes have been made, here they are.

      1. Write your bishop and ask him to support your pastor in making substitutes to the most objectionable parts of the new missal.
        Substituting “cup” for “chalice”, a replacement for “and with your spirit”. The bishop may be more willing to take the heat from the CDW, or the liturgy police, than would the parish clergy. I don’t know it depends on individual circumstances.

        In my own parish, the pastor told us he was sticking to the
        present missal until further notice. I don’t even think he’s ordered the the new missal.

  8. I’m really interested in seeing how the Americans take to the new missal when it is implemented there at the start of Advent. They don’t like being told what to do.

    I’ve dealt with people from the UK and the US on different occasions, and while I’ve seen British resistance to change, they will very often accept it. The closest analogy I can put is when Britain was told to adopt Metric measurements. Britain has resisted, somewhat, being able to preserve the “Pint”, miles on roads, and a few other older units. But, they are further along the metric road than Americans, who basically told the rest of the world to take their Metric and “do you know what with” it.

    Even if Catholics in the UK, agree to grin and bear it, it will be interesting to see the reaction from American Catholics. Many of them are just only now hearing about the changes, and some may not even notice it until that first Sunday of Advent.

    They’ll either accept it or they’ll scream. Let’s see which.

  9. Fr. Endean – good question and Barrett has a nice summary.

    Silence or denial implies consent. The overwhelming silence, denial, or looking the other way continues to be a significant issue in today’s church whether the issue be:
    – sexual abuse (how often have priests much less bishops spoken out on this?)
    – new translation (beyond Fr. Ryan, Fr. Anthony – not much in the way of organized, public pushback even from experts?)
    – financial irregularities and incompetence (again, overwhelming silence)
    – bishops exhibiting power and arrogance whether that be decisions eliminating female servers; withholding the cup; denying communion to politicians; openly politically campaigning; church closures and sales; speaking out on only one or two culture war issues while ignoring the social justice issues of today e.g. economic justice, immigration, education, healthcare.

    Realize that there are different types of personalities involved and this impacts how much tension, discomfort, and disagreement folks can tolerate. Yet, if our goal is adult faith – being an adult or having faith implies that we confront paradox, disagreement, discomfort without “hiding under a bushel basket”. How difficult is it to add an historical context that lays out questions around “how the process worked” which has led us to this point in time. Do we assume that folks are not interested or can’t handle this information?

    Earlier, Jack Ravosky posted a vignette from his parish – asked him if folks pushed back given that some in the parish valued justice. His reply focused on the pastor’s scriptural and spiritual approach to explaining the new translation and did not really address the question you have asked, Fr. Endean.

    Why do priests and bishops’ conferences remain silent? Fear of loss of position; fear that you will be sidelined; unhealthy concept of obedience? None of that feels much like a way to live the gospel values?

    Fr. Endean – here is an article that The Tablet refused to publish:

    http://www.catholica.com.au/gc2/occ2/079_occ2_061011.php

    “The question now is whether such a prophetic figure will emerge at this time in the English-speaking Church. Or will history show that the capitulation of the English-speaking bishops over the new translation effectively signalled the demise of the authority of local Episcopal Conferences and the subjugation of the clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council?

    1. “Silence or denial implies consent.”

      Not necessarily. You might be inferring it, but asserting that it necessarily implies it is overargument. And not helpful, because to the extent its overargued, it may well boomerang on you (and us). But it might in the meantime help you feel better.

      1. In general, “Silence or denial implies consent”: of course it does. Perhaps, however, in the case of the introduction of the Vox Clara Missal in the USA, it will not. If the people in the pews remain silent and show their distress and displeasure by not participating — as I suspect may happen— then there will be an answer to Fr. Endean’s question about how (not whether) we should respond to this distress: join the silent resistance. Give it a voice from the pulpit, and help articulate the problems causing distress. If the new “translation” is alienating, then the honest response is to show one’s sense of alienation. I certainly find its sexist language and its circumlocutions alienating; I could never in good conscience speak some of its phrases. And I could not delude myself that images which invite me to identify as a member of one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and elitist monarchic organization utterly distinct from every other Christian denomination deserve the description “prayer.”

    2. Thanks for that fascinating link on Cardinal Winning. I’m not surprised at the cardinal’s difficulties with the CDW head. To put it in another context, one has to wonder how effective Augusto Pinochet’s chaplain, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, could have been in forming the dictator’s spiritual life. Since we still don’t know how 30,000 Chilean students and trades union members could still be unaccounted for since the late 70s. Many of whom it is suspected were dumped from the air into shark infested waters of the Chilean Pacific.

    3. Fr. Endean or others – in this history by Cardinal Winning, he relates Medina “whining” that he was “forced” or “pressured” into the LA document and thus, the new translation.

      Has anyone stepped forward to elucidate this point – obviously, it was one or more Curia members. Was Ratzinger behind this or other powers – e.g. Bertone, Sodano, etc.??

      1. Bill: I can’t see the reference to ‘whining’ and to Medina retreating from responsibility for LA in the link we’ve been given. Have you further evidence?

      2. Taken from the link:

        These strong words drew a mixed reception from his listeners. Stephen McGinty recounted what happened in the immediate aftermath of Winning’s intervention:

        ‘The speech caused great offence to Cardinal Medina Estevez who, quite correctly, read it as a direct rebuttal to his treatment of ICEL and the manner of the publication of Liturgiam Authenticam. Winning was relieved when two cardinals approached him afterwards and praised his words. At the end of the day Winning and Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor walked to the café within the building for an espresso….. In the café Winning was approached by Cardinal Estevez who was visibly angry and said, “You denigrated me in there.” He then began to complain about the difficulty of his job, that it was forced upon him against his wishes. Winning had no time for either his evasions or his self-pity and was brisk in his response. “I didn’t denigrate you. We’re all adults here. We can speak as adults.” At this point Estevez turned and walked off.'[10]

      3. This anecdote reveals the greatest sin in the world of Romanita: that of the brutta figura, causing an eminent person to lose face. The only way it is acceptably done is by silence. Sigh.

      4. ah–but I read that sentence as referring to how the job, rather than LA, was forced on him. Still, it’s a delicious story–not least because Winning’s robust personality comes through.

      5. I remember a great moment of relief at the end of the 2005 Conclave, when the curtains parted and Medina came out to do the “Annuntio vobis.” Whew, I thought, at least it’s not HIM!

        And it was amusing to see that great bull-in-the-CDW-china-closet do the polyglot introduction to the actual announcement of the new Pope’s identity!

        But in comparing the ill-fated 1998 and Vox Clara Missal, it’s interesting to compare the personnel and process involved. I remember getting progress reports and even CDs with the various texts, very open or “transparent” as we now say, from the very kind and always accommodating Dr. Page, a true gentleman, the times I met him, like Cardinal Newman who was the object of his wonderful study (“What Will Dr. Newman Do?”).

        Compare that to the combination CIA / KGB operation that replaced Dr Page’s ICEL in the great purge. I guess Medina’s Chilean experiences came in handy! I picture knocks and passwords, people disappearing from the desks in the office. Then the “well-connected” people who had “top secret” copies of the Missal, printed (appropriately) by Opus Dei, that they could carry around to lectures and workshops, even use (illicitly) for Mass, and the personalities of the Vox Clara Commission. The picture is a riot for those of us who know some of those people.

        But what can you do? Try to keep smiling, I guess. This might help. It somehow puts me in mind of what it might be like to wander into a Vox Clara meeting:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNOuVhn_yRw

  10. I just noticed that over on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/usccb), today’s “Missal Vocabulary Question” is: “What is the word in the Nicene Creed that articulates the belief about the relationship of the Father and the Son, that “in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the Same God”?”

    It is interesting to read some of the comments under their posted response. I raise this because it’s another venue where people are voicing opinions pro and con on the new translation (and, specifically today, on the introduction of “consubstantial” in the new translation of the Nicene Creed).

    They haven’t purged my write-in answer of ὁμοούσιον yet 🙂

  11. “we still have a lot of very unhappy people. How do Pray Tell readers think we should respond to this sort of distress?”

    It’s so hard to say because it seems we lay people have no power aside from walking away, and those clergy who might be able to make a difference by speaking up have to worry about retaliation. If this were a movie 🙂 I’d write a script that had more and more courageous priests and bishops join together (supported by lay people) and go public with their discontent, not just about the missal translation but with the problem that underlies so many of the church’s problems – the fact that the church is run as a medieval despotism that disenfranchises the faithful. The guys at the top would cave in, and we get a new structure more like the Episcopal Church, where people can vote and where the leader has a set term of office. If only life could imitate art.

  12. Mr. Potter’s ironic musings about translations literal v. dynamically equiv…..
    glossing over any difficulties and waxing lyrical
    Should Vox Clara have used a more effective emoliant or polish? How does exactly lyrically wax effectively, with metered poetry, or free verse? Bees’wax or ear wax?

    think they are mostly not in a possition (sic) to understand the complexity of the rawness of my emotion
    Are “they” between dimensions, on the event horizon, in the wormhole, or occasionally just nooding off? Is rawness most defined by its complexity, or its visceral simplicity? Is raw emotion (emotion tar tar) more or less complex than well-done emotion, or is carbon encrusted emotion constituted of more complex molecules?
    I feel a bit of a coward.
    Which portion are you feeling, the funny-bone, the pinky finger, the clavicle? Have you tried that little rubber hammer tapping on the knee instead of a direct touch? And how did you determine the bit you felt belonged to a coward? Was the person trembling? Could have been simply chilly. Or were you privy to some documented evidence, such as a court martial? Hmmm.

    But I was rebuffed Back to the Turtle Wax thing?

    What happens when good people do nothing.
    Cue Mr. Godwin, he’s about to be called as a material witness. And let’s not forget the Holy Father Kommt aus Deutschland…..

    Dearned translation stuff. Makes ME crazy.

  13. To tell you the truth, the new translation is bedding down very well here in Britain, and it’s very much business as usual. The new translation is actually not a whole lot different, and most of the laity are getting used to the changes without any problem.

    I would like to take to task your critical and inaccurate remark that CTS is charging more than US publishers because it has a monopoly: if you look at the specification of our edition compared with US editions, you will see that our edition is comparable with the MTF Regal Edition, but a lot cheaper. We went for a high specification in order to make a durable volume. The previous ones were notorious for falling apart very quickly: why should a parish have to buy a replacement after a few years when they can buy a durable one in the first place? It’s a false economy. This was a deliberate decision by CTS in agreement with the 3 Bishops’ Conferences for which we are publishing. The bishops are very pleased with the finished product, and many priests who have seen the Missal have commented to us that they consider it very good value.
    All the best.
    Richard Brown, Catholic Truth Society

    1. The new translation is actually not a whole lot different

      Richard, congraulations; it’s wonderful that the CTS has produced a durable and elegant altar missal worthy of the Mass. Pity, though, about the content, in which the poor English language is forced to parody Latin.

      I cannot disagree with you more about how different in style, tone, syntax, imagery and intelligibility the two translations are.

      No doubt, the material durability of the CTS volume rather belies the poor linguistic content, which I am certain will be revised within the next few years.

      (PS: How long is a sufficient face-saving interval between revisions of the VC missal? Two years? Three? Ten? Eternity?)

    2. As I understand it, the preliminary changes in the UK are to the Order of Mass. The several priests I know in the UK say, “Well, the people’s parts aren’t so bad . . . but the Eucharistic Prayers are horrible.”

      To which I say: “Just wait till you get the whole big beautiful Missal: with the whole big awful mess of Collects and Prefaces” – which really ARE “a whole lot different.”

  14. My post above seems to have caused some consternation. So, let me respond…

    My general attitude has been one of “well, we can’t stop it so we might a well get on with it,” and there is a lot of virtue in this. The chances of making the universal Church change direction on such a big initiative is extremely small indeed. After all, when the Novus Ordo Mass was first demonstrated to the world’s Bishops in the Sisteen Chapel in the 1960s a good number of them got up and walked out. That was BISHOPS… in the heart of Rome, and yet the Church still ploughed ahead with it. So we’re not going to stop it, and I thoroughly believe that if we don’t at least try to stress the positives then we risk making a bad situation even worse.

    HOWEVER…

    I absolutely agree that the Church was brutish in the way it pushed this new translation through, and that’s just not acceptable. They didn’t listen to English speakers on important matters of how we actually use our own language. A Bishop told me a few weeks ago (not the one you’d think, if you know me!) that they even completely ignored the world’s Bishops on a few points (like ‘chalice’) too.

    So, ideally, the message I want to send to the Church is “Okay, we get that the revised translation is (at least in large part) here to stay, but we want you to realise that the process left a lot to be desired.

    But the question in my mind is how to say that. Clearly, mass protest (pardon the pun) would just be stupid. There are people in the UK who go to Mass and say “AND ALSO WITH YOU” as loudly as they can just to make a point. That’s not a good approach.

    But on the other hand, I absolutely accept the point that just getting on with it (as per my original post) might give the Church license to enact the same awful process again in the future.

    So, it’s a question of finding a balance between the two. And to be honest, I don’t know what the answer is.

    I do accept a little climbdown…

    1. Jack: I thought your response was excellent, and your analysis of the three kinds of response plausible, both in its description and in its assessment of numbers. Most people have other things to do with their lives than be concerned about Church administration, and are happy to trust the leads they are given. Normally that works for the good: it’s a sensible division of labour, and the trust has a theological significance too. However, in the present case, authority, consciously or otherwise, is exploiting this reality to put forward something that many of us conscientiously regards as seriously harmful. We don’t have the resources for dealing with this–that’s the problem. All the ways forward are problematic.

    2. Jack, your comment makes a lot of sense. I just have one quibble, which is your use of the word “Church”. The Church is not just the Church hierarchy; it is not just the Church administration (even less so), and, particularly in the current atmosphere, I think that it is important to not confuse those terms.

      1. I have made a deliberate and consistent choice over my many decades as a priest to virtually never use the word church when specifically referring to the hierarchy. I bristle when I hear that term used as a cudgel to beat people into submission. If that isn’t the sanctioned “lording it over subjects”, not sure what is.

  15. Write your bishop and ask him to support your pastor in making substitutes to the most objectionable parts of the new missal.
    Substituting “cup” for “chalice”, a replacement for “and with your spirit”. The bishop may be more willing to take the heat from the CDW, or the liturgy police, than would the parish clergy. I don’t know it depends on individual circumstances.

    I spoke to my parish priest, and his opinion is that while he doesn’t like the changes, he’s obliged to follow what the Bishop tells him, and when I wrote to the Bishop’s office, they mouthed that he’s required to do what the Vatican says, so they’re admitting that we’re in a dictatorship.

    If the clergy can’t (or won’t) oppose the change, then it’s up to the people in the pews to voice opposition because WE didn’t promise to blindly obey the Vatican. The Vatican is not God.

  16. As an aside, one priest I know is substituting “many” for “the many” in line with the Hebrew principle (of ‘the many’ being an indefinitely large number – basically everyone, pretty much) on which the original was based. Though I can see huge problems with changing the words of consecration, I can see why he’s done this.

  17. We have only had a month of experience of the New Translation here in the UK, so it is much too soon to draw meaningful conclusions. We can only respond to comments made and concern expressed by waiting to see what happens over a longer period.

    There is a degree of resignation, a feeling of inevitability amongst many. That there are parts of the translation causing real difficulty and pain is without doubt true for some of us. We have tried to voice that anxiety as generously as possibly. It is on this issue, as I have repeatedly mentioned in postings on Pray Tell and elsewhere, that my concern lies.

    Not one of our Bishops has been willing publicly to acknowledge that difficulty being experienced by the people, and in no small measure the priests of their diocese. Which is a pity.

    We are here, the text has arrived, Rome has spoken, CTS appear happy (but that is not unexpected), so let’s get on with it. Hardly a good model of pastoral care for a Christian Community.

    We have succeeded in causing fracture at the very still point in a turning world, the table of the Eucharist. My quote from W H Auden a while back still holds good “Time will say nothing but I told you so”

    Chris McDonnell UK

  18. I feel with my whole being that this “translation” (and my high school Latin teacher would’ve flunked me had I produced such a word-for-word non-flowing translation) is nothing that will bring beauty and a growing love of God into my life. That said, two of the new dismissals are quite good…they are positive in letting know that, while the Mass may be “ended” we have a job to do as Christians in the world.

    The translation is flawed because it does translate word-for-word…it translates from a romance language to a Germanic based language….you can’t do that word for word!! These are two completely different base languages and they require actual care in translating concepts, not simply words.

  19. The purpose of why this new translation even occurred keeps coming back to getting the English mass closer to the Latin text.

    What is so special about the words used in Latin, other than the fact that they are in Latin? – please respond with something other than Latin is the church’s official language. Latin is not spoken or used in everyday speech.

    People want to get closer to the Latin, but keep leaving out the part that those words were originally made up by humans, and by made up I mean composed by people. It’s not as if Jesus stood before the apostles and said “You shall conduct a ritual call a mass, and a mass will consist of the following words…….” The words were composed by people. They are a product of humans. Adhering word for word while ignoring common sense issues regarding flow, vocabulary, the nuances that each language has, and interpretation is asinine.

    One simple example would be the change from responding to the priest’s “The Lord be with you” with “And with your spirit.” Up to now, what the priest offered to you, we offered the exact same thing back to him. Now, the priest still offers the Lord “to you”, but you offer it back “to his spirit”, not to the “priest”. It sounds as if priest’s have spirits but that the congregation does not.

    The church is quick to say, “Oh, that’s not what it means”, and they go on to explain why they’re using the words “And with your Spirit”, usually including that it’s what is used in Latin, and in many other vernacular versions. But the reality is that whether it means that or not, that’s how it sounds, especially after 40 years of offering the priest the same thing that he offered to us.

    The same thing goes with the issue of Christ dying for “all” or for “many”. For 40 years, He’s died for “all”. Now we’re being told he died for “many”, but that “many” really means “all”. If many really means all then just say all.

    1. What is so special about the words used in Latin

      When the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom is translated into vernaculars, the translators are dealing with a Greek text. It’s important because that’s the language the tradition has been handed down in. The liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite has been handed down to us in Latin.

      The same thing goes with the issue of Christ dying for “all” or for “many”. For 40 years, He’s died for “all”. Now we’re being told he died for “many”…

      Almost every time someone brings this up, they bring it up in the wrong context, e.g., “Christ dying for ‘all’ or for ‘many’.” That’s not what the Eucharistic Prayer says, Christ dying for many or Christ dying for all. It doesn’t even speak just of Christ pouring out his blood. It speaks of Christ pouring out his blood for the forgiveness of sins. That is a complete idea which needs to be treated as a unit.

      Yes, Christ died for all.

      Yes, Christ poured out his blood for all. Scripture makes that clear.

      But, in the language of the liturgy (and not just the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, but the anaphorae of many other liturgical traditions as well), Christ poured out his blood for/unto the forgiveness of sins for many. The language of the institution narrative is focusing on the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice, the actual, personal remission of sins.

      Maybe this sounds like pedantry, but if we’re going to argue about the words of the liturgy, we should be arguing about the actual words.

      1. The fact that the liturgy has been handed down in Latin doesn’t change the fact that those words were still man made words, not divinely dictated.

        “Maybe this sounds like pedantry, but if we’re going to argue about the words of the liturgy, we should be arguing about the actual words.”

        I AM referring to the actual words.

        The actual words of the current Eucharistic Prayer II say:

        “THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT. IT WILL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR ALL SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN. ”

        The actual words of the new Eucharistic Prayer II say:

        “FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.”‘

        “YOU AND FOR ALL” is being replaced with “YOU AND FOR MANY”. These are the actual words from the actual Eucharistic Prayers.

        The new reference to “many” may mean that Jesus poured out his blood for all, but the fact that the prayer is changing from “all” to “many” will be perceived as Jesus didn’t really shed his blood for “all”, and that He only shed it for “many”.

        There’s an old expression, “Perception is reality”. People will perceive that Jesus shed His blood for many, not for all, because they will be told every week in church that Jesus shed his blood for many. Many is not all.

      2. Sean, my remark about “the actual words” was directed towards “the issue of Christ dying for ‘all’ or for ‘many'”. The institution narrative does not mention Christ dying for all or for many; it mentions Christ pouring out his blood for the forgiveness of sins. That is what I mean about being specific about the words and the context.

        I brought this up back in January: The context is not “Christ [died] for many/all“, but “Christ’s blood is shed for many/all for the forgiveness of sins.”

        those words were still man made words, not divinely dictated

        But these particular words (“for many”, I mean) come from the Gospel and are found on the lips of Jesus. I don’t know of an English translation of Matthew 26 or Mark 14 that puts “for all” on the lips of Jesus. None of the Eucharistic Prayers translated into English in Jasper and Cuming’s “Prayers of the Eucharist” have the phrase “for all” instead of “for many” said over the wine.

  20. Jeffrey Pinyan :

    Sean, my remark about “the actual words” was directed towards “the issue of Christ dying for ‘all’ or for ‘many’”. The institution narrative does not mention Christ dying for all or for many; it mentions Christ pouring out his blood for the forgiveness of sins. That is what I mean about being specific about the words and the context.
    I brought this up back in January: The context is not “Christ [died] for many/all“, but “Christ’s blood is shed for many/all for the forgiveness of sins.”
    those words were still man made words, not divinely dictated
    But these particular words (”for many”, I mean) come from the Gospel and are found on the lips of Jesus. I don’t know of an English translation of Matthew 26 or Mark 14 that puts “for all” on the lips of Jesus. None of the Eucharistic Prayers translated into English in Jasper and Cuming’s “Prayers of the Eucharist” have the phrase “for all” instead of “for many” said over the wine.

    To 99.9% of Catholics in the pews, there is no difference between Christ’s death and His blood being shed. They are the same thing, at least in the minds of most Catholics.

  21. Sean, you are right on the mark. I have great respect for Jeffrey but am quite surprised he would make the distinction he made.

    1. I’m splitting hairs because we’re talking about what the liturgy says, and the liturgy doesn’t say “Christ died for many”. It doesn’t even say “Christ poured out his blood for many.” It goes further than that: Christ poured out his blood “for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

      Like I said back in January or so, I think that both “for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven” and “for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins” are accurate explanations of why Christ poured out his blood: the first is the potential, the second is the actual.

  22. I would take issue with Jack Regan in his classification of the silent majority here in the UK as disliking the new texts but being resigned to them. My home parish is very large, which means that I get to hear a wide diversity of views expressed: the view that I’ve formed is that te vast majority of my fellow parishoners are a little bemused by the new translation, but are far from hostile to it.

    Personally, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the effect of the new translation, it feels very fresh and has made me listen again to the texts of the Mass.

  23. Jeffrey, whether you’re correct or not (and I’m not saying that you’re incorrect) on your belief that both statements “for you and for all” and “for you and for many” are both accurate, the reality is that for the past 40 years, people have been hearing “for you and for all” at mass, and now they’re going to hear “all” replaced by “many”.

    Even if during this time of transition, the priest explains that changing from “all” to “many” really still means “all” the people are not going to remember that “all” means “many”, over the years. In their minds, “many” will mean “many”.

    Here’s a linguistic example of why direct translation doesn’t work, using a language that many people may be more familiar with:

    Suppose the original texts were written in Spanish, not Latin. And suppose there was a translation that we’ve been using where He said “My name is Jesus.” In Spanish, if Jesus were asked his name, he would have responded, “Me llamo Jesús”. The literal translation would be, “I call myself Jesus”, because “Mi nombre es _____” is not common in Spanish.

    Of course, in English, while the phrase “I call myself Jesus” is understandable, it doesn’t sound the same as “My name is Jesus”.

    If we were suddenly changed over to a literal translation, and people started asking why Jesus no longer gives his name, but only tells people what he is called, the church would suddenly have to tell people that Jesus is still saying his name is Jesus, even though he says “call”.

    And, quite frankly, the issue of “dying for all” versus “dying for many” is a bit more serious than the issue of someone’s name, because if Jesus didn’t die for all, then it implies that there’s a whole group of people out there who are damned for eternity because Jesus didn’t die for them.

    1. there’s a whole group of people out there who are damned for eternity because Jesus didn’t die for them.

      or… there’s a whole group of people who (having been saved in another way) don’t need his salvation.

      Either way, we have a linguistic lie in the very heart of the Eucharistic prayer.

    2. for the past 40 years, people have been hearing “for you and for all” at mass, and now they’re going to hear “all” replaced by “many”

      How soon until we revise the bibles they’ve been reading (?) for the past 40+ years, which have “for many”?

      if Jesus didn’t die for all…

      That’s not what Jesus said at the Last Supper, and the rest of the NT testifies that Jesus did indeed die for the whole world. Again, if people can read “for many” at the Last Supper in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark without flipping out, why can’t they read/hear it at the consecration without flipping out?

      Either way, we have a linguistic lie in the very heart of the Eucharistic prayer.

      And apparently in Matthew 26 and Mark 14. Where have the scholars clamoring to correct the translation of those two verses been for the last 40+ years?

      1. Jeffrey

        There’s no need to “correct” because the words of the New Testament are frozen and sacred, but therefore need interpretation when they are read or proclaimed. What’s the point of the homily or commentaries if that were not the case?

        But the liturgy, gift and mystery though it is, is much more fluid than the words of the Gospel. It is itself an interpretation — an immediate expression of our faith in our language. If the words we use don’t mean what they mean then the vernacular is an absurd vehicle for public worship.

        “Many” is not an immediately accessable and accurate expression of our faith and no amount of linguistic gerrymandering will make it so. It is a lie because it doesn’t mean what it means.

  24. The NAB is full of horrible English expressions and words. The consecratory formulas don’t match up with what we read in all the synoptics, so the translators have to make some judgments. Translating pro multis literally presents a problem which was addressed by the use of all. I see your point. Not sure you see mine and Sean’s. But, then, you don’t have to .

    1. It’s not just the NAB that English-speaking Catholics read. NIV, RSV, DR, KJV, etc. And none of the consecration formulas from the various liturgies are direct matches to the scriptural accounts. (I can provide sources for that claim.) However, “PRO MULTIS EFFUNDÉTUR IN REMISSIÓNEM PECCATÓRUM” is a scriptural phrase which comes from Mt 26:28, just like “for you” comes from Lk 22:20.

      I do see the point you and Sean are making, but I think the resolution to the problem is to help people understand where “for many” comes from, why it’s used, and what it means (and thereby address their concerns about what might sound at first like a drastic change in belief) rather than translate it as something different.

  25. “PRO MULTIS EFFUNDÉTUR IN REMISSIÓNEM PECCATÓRUM” is a scriptural phrase…”
    As with all of the “original Latin” arguments, this one assumes that Latin is the original language of either Scripture or Catholic liturgy, when we all know that it is not. None of our Scriptures were first written in Latin, and there is no indication that the earliest Christians worshiped in anything but their own various languages. The apostles were not Latin scholars, they were fisherman and other everyday folk.
    Vatican II expended great amounts of scholarship and prayer to rediscover our true roots. No one can reasonably argue that the church of the Council of Trent was more authentic than the church of Peter, James, Mary, and the others who walked with Jesus. Latin itself is hardly sacred, and the Council of Trent does not trump all others (including the Greek of the Council of Nicea, which gave us the prayer that begins “WE believe.)

  26. Glen #64
    I so agree and am glad you mentioned, as do other contributors, the ‘everyday folk’ who walked with Jesus. Isn’t that also us? ‘We’, part of the incarnation, Christ’s body? Whatever the wrangles are over the truly awful individual words or phrases – the language is meant to be ours, truthful and meaningful to us, here and now, not the property of ‘translators’. It’s not good enough to say ‘Oh well, seems to be going down reasonably OK, and in any case, not much we can do about it.’ I, like some others, here in the UK, choose to remain mostly silent because I feel it’s the only protest I can make without upsetting people around me. Of course, I’m present, and attentive, and at the moment I think that’s all I can do. I return the priest’s greeting with ‘And also with you’ – can’t do otherwise. He’s a whole person, not ‘spirit.’
    The real worry though, is that this and many other characteristics of ‘Church as Institution’ are such bad omens for the holier, gentler, more compassionate Church envisaged, and still hoped for by some of us, by Vatican 2.

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