The Catholic Church is in the news again – thankfully, with coverage less negative than much of what we’ve earned for ourselves in recent years.

Anne Constable at the Santa Fe New Mexican gave one of the most accurate and in-depth treatments of the missal controversy, “While some Catholics oppose revised Roman Missal, most local parishioners accept, embrace ‘more faithful translation’ of Latin Mass.”

From the LATimes:

The word “consubstantial” does not roll naturally off the modern American tongue. It’s one of those $5 words with Latin roots that tend to make the speaker sound pretentious or, if he trips over it, like a pretentious idiot.”

Read the rest here.

The NYTimes reports on Corpus Christi church near Columbia University, where they stuck with “and with your spirit” and never adopted the 1974 sacramentary. They’re not adopting the new Missal either. A parishioner explains,

There are a lot of us who feel that the last 35 years of translation has been very banal and pedestrian… The new translation is better, but it needs severe editing.

She’s right about both translations, I’d say.

And this is interesting. When Fr. Daniel Merz, second in command at the USCCB liturgy office, heard of the independent-minded parish, he said “Sometimes it’s more important to have peace in the church than uniformity.” Nice to hear that he is as pastorally minded as his able boss, Msgr. Rick Hilgartner.

This just went up at NYTimes on the afternoon of roll-out Sunday: “For Catholics, the Word Was a Bit Different, Amen.” As usual, they only quote the more critical portions of my comments. Oh, well.

A week ago an interesting question was raised by Michael McGuckian SJ in “Letters Extra” at The Tablet:

I would like to draw attention to a “glaring howler” which appears in every Mass we say, in the conclusion of the Opening Prayer. In Latin it runs ‘Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Chrstum Filium suum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.” This is easy to translate and runs literally in English “Through our Lord Jesus Christ you Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

Instead of “God,” however, the new translation, following the old one, has “one God,” as if the Latin had unus Deus. Of course the unity of the Trinity is part of the faith, but the prayer is affirming rather the divinity of Christ… I find it useful to amend my own copy of the missal for my personal use until a more accurate translation is brought out.

Whaddayathink? Is Fr. McGuckian onto something? I’m pretty sure he is, but I believe the 1979 US Book of Common Prayer does the same in some of the collects of the sanctoral. Anyone know why they (the Episcopalians or Vox Clara/CDW) did that?

Also at The Tablet, Philip Endean SJ is “at a loss with the new missal“:

Mainstream Catholics are having imposed on them profound changes that are not self-evidently for the better. The real challenge of the new translation centers on how we handle those human and ecclesial realities. It is on this point that our most gifted priests and our wisest theological heads need to give better guidance that we have received so far. For my part, I am at something of a loss.

Michael O’Malley at the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, “Some Catholics divided over language of the new Mass missal.” Hmm, one bishops thinks the new text is “lyrical and poetic,” but another bishop thinks it’s an archaic “jumble of subordinate clauses” leading to a “pastoral disaster.” And some Benedictine monk thinks that the 1974 text was flat and simple, but the new one is clumsy, awkward, and not very poetic.

At the National Catholic Register, Tim Drake thinks the MSM are stirring up more controversy than is there. (Do they every do that?!) “Should Catholics Wear Neck Braces to Mass this Sunday?” (No, he thinks.)

The National Catholic Reporter concludes “No words of any language can ever fully express this mystery. That is some consolation. Until we have better words, we can make do with this faulty translation.” See the editorial, “Making do with a faulty translation.” (To pick a nit, and for the record: I was removed, I didn’t resign.)

Don’t miss Ed Foley’s incisive piece, “Marketing or Mystagogy: Reception of the New Roman Missal and Reverse Catechesis.”

Finally, an excerpt from today’s homily of Abbot John Klassen at the abbey. In the context of a reflection on the day’s Advent Scripture readings, he said this:

Today we are introducing the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal. It has been in preparation for many years and its goal is to adhere more closely to the Latin and to other vernacular translations. For example, the response to “The Lord be with you” is  “and with your spirit,” the latter from “et cum spiritu tuo.” Most of the changes are in the texts that the celebrant prays.

Some of the changes you will find to be fine turns of phrase. In Eucharist Prayer III, for example, rather than “from east to west,” it will read “from the rising of the sun to its setting.” Other changes are less appealing, for example, the literal translation of “pro multis” in the institution narrative to “for many” rather than “for all.” The changes also provide an opportunity and an impetus for fresh musical settings. We have learned a lot about what works in the past 40 years.

For some, the details of the revised text matter less than the way it came into being. They are disturbed by the apparent disregard of Roman Congregations for much of the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and for the pastoral authority and wisdom of the various bishops’ conferences. We do need to be united in our celebration of the liturgy, but we also need to be concerned about and look for ways to respond appropriately to this less-than-collegial approach to liturgical reform and renewal.

For all of us who have become used to praying with the same words since the Second Vatican Council, these changes will require more concentration and patience because we will make mistakes and stumble.

In the final analysis, one of the roles monastic communities play in the Church is to receive the liturgy and work with it in a prayerful, loving manner, lifting up what is most beautiful and central, and in some places, accepting what is less than perfect and transforming it into a thing of beauty. To be sure, this will only happen if we are constantly watchful for the Lord’s presence.


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