Hearing the Eucharistic Prayer – Current and Forthcoming Translation

New translation of the Roman Canon [27:08m]

Are you curious how the new texts of the English missal will be received? To get any sense of them they have to be heard, not just read. And here is the inimitable Fr. Z of WDTPRS (BTW, P stands for prayer, not priest!) proclaiming both the current translation of Eucharistic Prayer I and the forthcoming translation.
6:45 – the current text.
11:50 – the forthcoming text.

Fr. Z’s voice is most pleasant to listen to – clear, weighty, unaffected, convincing. The tempo is a bit fast – but I’m from an abbey with a slow, ponderous, clear-with-a-vengeance style. I suppose folks here are reacting (overreacting?) to preconciliar rapid rattling off and liturgical minimalism. Fr. Z’s tempo tends toward that, but only slightly.

And this may interest you: WLP has a CD recording of all four eucharistic prayers proclaimed by Bishop Sartain.

Maybe I’m in an overly optimistic mood this morning, but I think the new text sounds sort-of-not-half-bad. As we say in Minnesota, could be worse. It’s a bit mannered, but it doesn’t sound too contrived or archaic. I suspect many people in the pews (who aren’t as worked up about church politics as we in the business are) will not notice a huge difference. It still sounds pretty much like “that religious stuff the priest says up there at Mass.”

Fr. Z’s well-done proclamation comes with his editorial take, free of charge. “Lame duck”? Puh-leeeze. This is the sacred liturgy! But I’m sure WDTPRS readers enjoy Fr. Z’s gourmet postings, such as the sliced duck with ginger and onions or Fr. Z cooking rabit. I don’t know if Fr. Z remembers it, but we first met at the Sunday lunch table at St. Agnes Church, with Msgr. Schuler presiding. Pray Tell thought about posting the cooking adventures of its editor, but it wouldn’t be much more than a picture of the microwave and the bag of microwave popcorn. I’m happy to be in a place where they ring a bell and feed me.

What do you all think of the new text proclaimed??

awr

71 comments

  1. “Spouse of the same virgin,” “in every respect,” “oblation of our service,” “serene and kindly countenance,” “…is all honor and glory (poor grammar)” – translations like these looked bad enough in print. They really sound worse when you hear them. We clearly need a new, revised translation.

    1. I’m told that “is all honor and glory” is a grammatical hendiadys, where two elements make up one subject which is considered singular. Apparently it’s a gray line, and one can consider “honor and glory” singular or plural.
      awr

  2. It didn’t sound all that bad, but, as I feared, “we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them” sounds terrible, like a preacher who can’t make up his mind what he wants to say.

    1. It’s even awkward in the Latin! Actually more so, they smoothed it out in English trying to figure out what the phrase actually means.

    2. Mazza’s study on the origin of the Eucharistic prayers suggests that these were originally two options, and the “or” was rubrical. It meant the priest was supposed to say one or the other—not both. (Another instance of literalism treating old mistakes as immutable tradition, the patrimony of faith.)

      1. Along that line, Denis Cruan’s “History and Future of the Roman Rite” mentions that the “infra actionem” heading in the Canon is probably supposed to be the words “in fractionem”, thus giving the next word (“Communicántes”) a bit more context — so that it makes sense, even!

  3. I served as the producer for Bp. Sartain’s recording. Aside from the bishop being incredibly pleasant and easy to work with (voice recordings can get even more high-stress than music recordings), I had a fair number of “pleasantly surprised” moments hearing the new translation proclaimed. The speedbumps that I’d expected were still there, but there were also a few places that the movement away from an overly everyday/pedestrian vocabulary really were pleasing to the ear.

  4. I think I have come to the point where I believe that well intentioned people, I believe Blessed John XXIII referred to them as, “people of good will,” are going to disagree on the new translation. Where one sees poor grammar, another sees the full range of English grammar usage expressed. Where one sees poor choices of words, another sees them as the richness of English vocabulary. Where one sees a jumble of words, another sees an attempt to render the poetry of Latin into another tongue. It is pretty much the debate over formal vs. dynamic equivalency and are we closer to formal or dynamic. In the end I think we can mostly agree on is the current translation, the allegedly “lame duck” one, needs a successor.

  5. As proclamation includes both speaking and chanting, I am looking forward to the texts being chanted. ICEL has done a wonderful service by providing notations for the Ordinary of the Mass. Beyond that, they have provided instructions and examples of how to chant the presidential prayers and readings! Apparently the prayers will be provided with accents in order to facilitate chanting them. It will be truly possible to chant the Mass from start to finish. I am waiting with baited breath for the chanted parts of the Propers to appear, the Prefaces and the Exultet. The two examples of the Prefaces we have for EPs II and IV are excellent, now to see the other 90.

  6. I’d rate it 99% terrific! A very welcome change. That one line noted above is awkward, but Fr. Z shows how it needs to be done.

    But really, who hears the Roman Canon at Mass anymore? I feel lucky to hear it at the major feasts. And, of course, on the EWTN Masses !!

  7. I agree with Fr Ruff.

    I also note that it took Fr Z about a minute longer to recite the main body of the newer EP1 than that of the current translations. That, of course, is the supreme consideration of all. Oh! The humanity!

    1. That’s because he went noticeably quicker in the “Lame Duck” present version than in the newer one. Shorter gaps between phrases in the present version, and a generally slightly more measured pace in the new one. Hmmm. Wonder why?!

      The problem with both renderings was that he came across as not actually really meaning either of them. Having been present at prayerful proclamations of the new translation by Paul Turner, Richard McCarron and others, Zuhlsdorf pales into complete insignificance in comparison, I fear.

      I do realize that Z was probably trying to emulate Fr Autopilot, who doesn’t care much about the celebration let alone about actually praying what he is doing, so that we could get an idea of what it might be like, but that is precisely what we don’t need. What would be useful is an audio version that sounds convincing.

      Alan H, I’m sorry, Bishop Sartain (even with all the WLP hype about his presiding style) comes across as “presenting” the text, rather than actually praying it. (His rendition provoked a certain amount of mirth when listened to by a national committee in the UK, I regret to say.)

      I think the new text is capable of leading people into prayer, but I don’t think any of the recorded versions I have so far heard will do it. Can someone record Paul Turner? He has not only lived with the texts longer than most people, but has interiorized them, unlike most others.

      And yes, I agree with AWR that a slightly slower speed, without being ponderous, will be helpful in most circumstances. Fr Z recorded his version in shoebox, which doesn’t help the recording artiste to imagine that he’s in church.

      1. A key question may be prayer versus performance. A priest whom I know who is a good homilist usually declaims the Eucharistic prayer much like he is preaching a homily, speaking loudly trying to reach people with each phrase. Preachy Eucharistic prayers don’t appeal to me. This priest does sing the Eucharist prayer for Christmas. I complimented him on how beautifully prayerful it was, very different from preaching, and how much better it was even than another priest who sings very well and regularly but for whom it has become a very well done performance. I really felt in the presence of real prayer.

        Having heard the Eucharistic prayer sung often and well, I now sing it mentally even when the priest recites it. Kind of like using an English missal at a Latin Mass, but it keeps me prayerful

  8. I suspect that the short additional length of this literal translation will push more priests away from saying the Roman Canon on a regular basis. This is a shame because the Roman Canon is an integral part of the liturgical heritage of western Christianity. What’s the big deal about sticking around the pews for a few extra minutes to let Father say the Canon?

    I’m very glad that the new translation brings out the numerous references to sacrifice, oblation, and supplication that were smoothed over in the earlier translation. The repetition of literal vocative translations is a bit dissonant however. I didn’t pick that last point up when reading the text. Fr. Z’s run-through made the very literal translation of names stand out, unfortunately.

    1. That has always fascinated (saddened) me. The central part of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer is often rushed through as quickly as possible, and with the absolute shortest one possible used, and yet we spend all kinds of time on commentary, extended announcements about what’s in the bulletin and the next bake sale, blessing of special groups of people, and whatever else someone wants to add to Mass that Sunday. The sign of peace should never be longer than the central actions of the Mass!

  9. I find it important and interesting to hear this Roman Canon read/proclaimed(?) aloud. However, Fr. Z used the present translation as it appears in the British books, not as it appears in the American Sacramentary (I notice this because in Belgium I use both in my two parishes). Also for the new translation he left out the last of the ‘lady saints’ Anastasia — was that on purpose or a slip of the tongue? She does appear in the ‘officially recognized texts.

  10. Some of the comments seem to imply that the Eucharistic Prayer is to engage the people like a lector or deacon proclaiming the Scriptures. Eye contact, a good voice, like Fr. Z’s, and an actor’s flair will help the congregation to be like an audience when it is prayed. We should oppose the congregation being like an audience during Mass. Sure the assembly needs to understand things. Even when prayed in Latin, they can use their missal and look up the definition of words that befuddle them, like gibbet and consubstantial, not to mention ineffable. However, this is prayer that is prayed by the priest who represents Christ in a sacramental way and also represents the laity in a sacramental way at the altar. As with all Christian prayer it is addressed to the Father, through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a script for an acting gig which begs the comment: when facing the people to pray, the temptation to engage the people and read the prayer as if one is reading Scripture to them becomes very delirious to the nature of liturgical prayer. It compromises what is being done unless like Protestants, everyone closes their eyes. I’m more convinced than ever, that all prayer at Mass should with eyes wide open but the priest facing the same direction as the laity and toward the altar, the symbol of Christ, through whom all prayer goes to the Father. Then praying the prayer in a quiet tone and more prayerfully would reinforce that it is prayer and not entertainment to keep the audience alert to what is happen on stage behind TV studio newsroom desk-like altar. But the new translation is what the doctor ordered and a great improvement, just add the old rubrics and we’ll be in ineffable joy.

    1. a couple of mistakes above in my comment, the word “happen” should be “happening” and the word “delirious” should be “deleterious”. Proper words make an ineffable difference although I guess I could have kept “delirious!”

    2. Even when prayed in Latin, they can use their missal and look up the definition of words that befuddle them, like gibbet and consubstantial, not to mention ineffable.

      I don’t know many Catholics who take a dictionary or a thesaurus to Mass with them, I have to say.

      However, this is prayer that is prayed by the priest who represents Christ in a sacramental way and also represents the laity in a sacramental way at the altar.

      Exactly. And it is therefore the priest’s duty to engage the people in what is going on (cf. SC 14), not merely to do it on their behalf. That’s where the rubber hits the road, Allan. You are a priest for others, not instead of them.

      1. I just celebrated Paul, our weekly EF Low Mass and everyone there was engaged in what was happening both during the “Mass of Catechumens” and the “Mass of the Faithful.” They responded to all their parts and were offering the sacrifice along with me, “my sacrifice and yours” which is in the EF too. I spoke the Roman Canon in a low voice and felt more that I was a part of them and with them joining them in the same direction then I do when I’m facing them and they me as some kind of actor on the stage. Every act of priesthood from baptizing and confirming, offering Mass, to hearing confessions, to anointing the sick, as well as burying the dead and teaching the young and old and calling forth the gifts of those in the parish to minister in the capacity as the Church allows is an act of being a priest for others and not instead of them–you can’t be a priest alone whether you face the laity during Mass or join them in facing the same direction. I serve on the behalf of those entrusted to my care through the bishop–an awesome calling to say the least. And in terms of looking up “hard” words, most have their blackberry or i-phone and can do it at Mass or immediately afterward. Modern technology is great and even a priest can do it.

  11. And yet, this is often an excuse for lazy clergy to dodge the discipline of public prayer. Unfortunately, what these guys often communicate is that liturgy is all about them, and their unwillingness to look beyond their convenience to make liturgy a pastoral ministry rather than an exercise in rubrical correctness.

    I don’t want a ham at the altar either, but as long as the EP is a public act of worship, it should be proclaimed carefully, and in keeping with the second purpose of Christian worship given in SC 7.

    So while this is not a drama script, the priest praying it does have responsibilities. And yes, I can imagine closing my eyes to avoid having to gaze at the rolling eyeballs of the “slavish translator” here. Either way, this recording says a lot about its originator, as did his commentary about the Mass on tv.

  12. Fr. Anthony – “Lame duck” is not pejorative. It is simply an acknowledgment that the current version is soon to be replaced, just as a politician whose term is expiring, or who has failed re-election, is a lame duck. The term does not reflect the office holders merits or lack thereof.

    1. Definitions of the phrase “lame duck.”

      1. An official in the final period of office, after the election of a successor, who has been rendered ineffective or irrelevant.
      2. An ineffectual or unsuccessful person or thing
      3. A person who has defaulted on his debts or has gone bankrupt. (Apparently a British use of the term.)

      Ineffective? Irrelevant? Unsuccessful? Bankrupt? Sounds pejorative to me.

      Also insulting, insolent, provocative, derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful, wounding, abusive, annoying, inciting, exasperating, irritating, galling, provocative, outrageous, rude, fomenting, impertinent, discourteous, uncivil, impolite, crude, vulgar, coarse, improper, inflammatory, uncharitable and indecent.

      1. Scott, I checked some further on-line dictionaries and didn’t find any of the truly pejorative words you spewed out associated with “lame duck.” Lighten up a bit!

      2. I wonder too how almost the entire Catholic world, not just English speaking felt when the Tridentine Mass was lame duck and then banished? Of course back then, there was a spirit of obedience by most that helped in this monumental transition which the current transition can compare in no way.

      3. I should have put an emoticon at the end of my comment: 🙂

        I’m not foaming at the mouth, though I do think calling the official liturgy of the Church a “lame” anything is disrespectful. Fr. Z is playing to his audience which he knows well.

      4. Allan said I wonder too how almost the entire Catholic world, not just English speaking felt when the Tridentine Mass was lame duck and then banished?

        Would you believe, after a few years, huge sighs of relief? Everything I hear from people as I work with them in parishes points to that. And everything I hear from those in the tiny number of parishes where the priest imposes Mass facing the east, or Gregorian chant where it is completely unknown, or kneeling when they’re used to standing as a posture for prayer, or the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin, or even the EF, reeks of resentment and even anger that the priest is just indulging himself and ignoring their own spiritual needs. We need to take this critique seriously.

        Sorry to be so blunt, but I am in contact with parishioners in almost all the parishes in my diocese, and with many parishes in other dioceses, including a significant number in the US as well.

        Let’s name a few realities here.

      5. I would have to ask Paul who in the world took away the Ordinary Form of the Mass from anyone. As far a I know it is still the Mass of the majority of Catholics in this country and in large parishes, most of the Masses are in the OF. Now if one of the many masses on Sunday becomes an EF Mass are those who don’t want it free to go to an OF Mass offered at another time or even to another parish? No one has banned the OF Mass and not everyone offers the EF, it is still in the minority and more than likely will remain that way. Are the Catholics you refer to less mature than the ones my age and older who liked the first vernacular edition of the Tridentine Mass, but questioned the dumbed down version that trickled to congregations in bits and pieces until the 1970 missal was promulgated and then the so called “spirit” of Vatican II corrupted that Roman missal’s red and black?

      6. The ND Study conducted in the 1980s indicated that while most people approved of the changes and very few disapproved of the changes (mostly single digits), the greatest amount of disapproval came about the quality of the implementation, e.g. people liked singing but didn’t like the hymns in their parish (often this varied greatly from parish to parish). The report also noted that there was a fairly high percentage of didn’t care one way or another people.

        This all corresponds to my recollection of the time. I was in graduate school and then academia, and didn’t have time to get involved in a parish choir. I was just looking for a parish whose music I liked. Even though I had loved Gregorian chant, I really liked all the guitar music, too. I don’t remember having any reaction to the texts.

        I see people who are in charge of parish liturgies (of whatever ideological persuasion) not listening to the people whom they serve as the heart of the problem, not ideology or texts. You can’t even make simple suggestions to them like practicing hymns before Mass, or choosing hymns that people know

  13. Scott,

    You left off ‘vexatious’ and ‘irksome’…8-)

    John,

    I think, if you parse Scott’s sentence again, he was using those words in connection with the statement “Sounds pejorative to me”, as in he found the use of the term ‘lame duck’ not merely pejorative but all those other things too. His opinion, not the dictionary definition. And it might just be that he was being a bit lighthearted about it to list all of them in the first place. _I_ certainly was when I offered the two additions above.

  14. The great possibility of disconnect between the priest’s performance and prayerfulness in both EF and OF is just as true for everyone else. While we may hope certain performances will lead to prayerfulness, such is not always the case. Active participation by singing a hymn may not be much different from choir practice as a person struggles to match words and music. Attending an EF celebrated well will not likely produce reflexive responses in its attendees similar to those learned responses of either advocates or detractors of the EF (to use Pavlov’s jargon).

    The usual answer to such disconnects in both OF and EF is education. If the untutored just endorsed all the grand theological theories of the advocates of each, they would have the same experiences, and all the discordant data would go away. Not likely! The tutored are more likely to learn to not report discordant data. A minuscule few may even be brainwashed and not see it anymore.

    Vibrant theology like living liturgy should grow from prayer and be informed by prayer; not only our own prayer, but the prayer of others. Liturgists, both theoretical and practical, should spend a lot more time figuring out what’s going on in peoples heads and in their lives rather than just tinkering with performances or engaging in tutoring.

    Get on with the performances of the new Missal. Skip the tutoring. Most are going to make up their own minds, anyway. Will people become more prayerful? Only God will likely ever know.

  15. Here’s a serious question: what makes language “sacred”…intonation? vocabulary? grammar? event? location? the person who’s speaking? what?

    However, I seriously doubt that God cares about specific phrasing, lofty ungrammatical run-on sentences,heightened vocabulary, etc. … why don’t we speak to & with God in “normal” language from our hearts?

    1. Lynne, you may be interested to read an except from Mark Galli’s “Beyond Smells and Bells”. Galli, an Episcopalian, wrote in one chapter about certain characteristics of liturgical language; you can read my excerpt here. Two choice quotes:

      “In our desire to be real, we start thinking that authenticity is another word for spontaneity, as if everything we say at the spur of the moment is more true, more sincere than words we craft carefully.”

      “The liturgy’s answer to crafted language that deceives or manipulates is not to abandon crafted language but to shape it so that it reveals reality.”

      There is no reason that liturgical prayers — or any prayer that isn’t spontaneous or improvised — mustn’t be considered to be “from the heart”. Sometimes, we know not how we ought to pray, and the words of the liturgy instruct us in that regard.

      1. I agree with Jeffrey about authenticity and spontaneity, but the English in the new translation actually helps hide the truth because of its weird syntax, craven pomposity and faulty semantics. The run-on sentences, sentence fragments, bad grammar, archaic words, and faulty imagery obscure true meaning and help the Mass to be less than the source and summit of our lives. Did Jesus die for many? No. Did Jesus use a chalice at the Last Supper? No. Is Melchizedech a holy sacrifice and spotless victim. No. Are there two sacrifices being offered? No. Does the English prose deepen the noble simplicity of the rite? No. Is the English worthy of the Mass? No. Is the English authentic? Should the literal translation rules laid down in Liturgiam Authenticam be ditched? Yes.

        I recommend rereading the 1969 instruction on the translation of liturgical texts Comme le prévoit which in hindsight is just so sensible and prudent. The example caution about translating venerabilis as venerable is particularly germane in the light of the impending retranslation of the Institution Narrative.

      2. I didn’t mention nor even think of spontaneity…although, if one loves someone (even God!), a spontaneous outpouring of that love would be more expected than a rote reading of someone else’s love poetry, don’t you think?

        What makes “sacred language”? I’ve never yet heard a real answer…other than someone stating that Mass done in a specific manner (which would include a lot more than language) makes them “feel” awe, sacred, etc.

        Is “sacred language” subjective? Is there an objective standard of what makes language “sacred”??

  16. Jeffrey,

    I don’t think that Lynne was arguing for spontaneity in the EP, necessarily. However, “normal” language, i.e. that which might be used in conversation among reasonably well educated adults, is not an unreasonable hope. In contrast to ungrammatical run-on sentences, I _much_ prefer it! A friend of mine who teaches college-level humanities once quoted someone [and I will find out whom] as describing good writing being that which exhibited the qualities of simplicity, clarity, and grace. If the current EPs are found lacking in the last of these, my impression of the new translations is that they fall far short on the first two.

    To some extent, this is a matter of aesthetic preference. I prefer the language to be reasonably spare and uncluttered – maybe more Victorian than Rococo, which is where I sense things heading. Others on this forum feel differently and absolutely love to sink into language lush with what I find is an excess of adjectives. Maybe this is why we have several EPs available….

    1. But the Eucharistic Prayer is not a “conversation among reasonably well educated adults”. The prayers of the Mass are not compositions for a writing class.

      The character of the Latin prayers is the character of the Roman Rite… or is that too sweeping a generalization to get away with?

      1. Yes, it is. And heaven help us if the character of 6th century Latin prayers determines what the spirituality of 21st century Catholic Christians ought to be.

        I agree that the EP is not a conversation for the well-educated, but I want to insist that it is a prayer. Fr Z’s rendition in no way indicates that. It’s just a cynical exercise in PR. No prayerfulness, just transmitting the text. So what, one might well ask.

        Am I the only one to think that the man comes across as way too smooth and self-satisfied? This is not an ad hom attack, merely a reaction to hearing for the first time someone who has always been demonized to me by others in the past and whose blog I have never visited. I listened dispassionately, as a professional critic who often has to do this on the parish liturgy audits that I conduct in my diocese.

        Now that I have heard him for the first time and heard what he has to say, my opinion would be that he is not sincere; he is playing to his audience, as someone mentioned above.

        Please, let’s get back to analyzing the qualities and deficiencies of the text, not Fr Z’s performance of it.

      2. I didn’t think Fr. Z was trying to “pray” the Eucharistic Prayer, simply read them aloud for people to hear the words, sentences, etc. But I too would like to hear it “in context.”

        Please, let’s get back to analyzing the qualities and deficiencies of the text, not Fr Z’s performance of it.

        Yes, let’s, especially after the latter half of your comment.

      3. Jeffrey,

        I agree that the Eucharistic Prayer is not a conversation; I used that image to indicate a level of language somewhat higher than the casual, common use, but still easily within reach of those paying attention.

        Nor did I intend to imply that the prayers are classroom compositions. Still, the qualities of simplicity, clarity, and grace, if attained, will not detract from, and will probably enhance, the prayerfulness of the liturgy.

  17. Mr. Inwood – It’s a shame that you have only now visited Father Z’s blog. Better late than never. Rather than “smooth and self satisfied”, he seems to me to come across as a priest who is well versed in liturgical matters, and confident in sharing his opinions. He is certainly one of the most eclectic Catholic bloggers around, with additional interests ranging from cooking to bird watching to astronomy and much more. In fact, his readers first came across your work back in Sept 2007 in the days following the release of Summorum Pontificum. Interesting read!

  18. John, I have still not visited Fr Z’s blog. I played the audio clip from the PrayTell page.

  19. In reference to Jack’s ND study or survey, I think it was indeed on target. What I remember is the first English translation of the Mass which retained a literal Latin word for word translation for the most part–The Lord be with you and with you spirit, the complete Gloria and the First Person Creed with “…became flesh by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary:…” and “begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.”The prayers at the Foot of the Altar were in English, pre-Vatican II Confiteor except Psalm 42 eliminated. The Lord’s Prayer as today. There were 3 “Lord I am not worthy’s” with “…that you should come under my roof. Speak but the word and my soul will be healed.” Communion to the laity was dumbed down to the current “The Body of Christ.”
    Between 1965 and 1968, the pastor kept saying things are being simplified, shorter penitential rite, new translation of confiteor, option for no confiteor, Gloria simplified, Creed changed to “we” and simpler words; only one, I am not worthy, and roof and soul eliminated. Our congregation was befuddled for several weeks until we got use to yet a whole new range of changes, from Latin to good English, biblical imagery kept, to bad English translations, dumbed down words and biblical imagery eliminated with whole sentences gone. Then came the folk music and people were really dissatisfied, but it was cumulative. It happened gradually but quickly and the next thing you know, it was all different in a matter of five very confusing and befuddling years.

    1. Since that interim Missal (’65-’70) was my first as a child, it’s funny that how much I can still remember from it even though it’s been 40 years since it was last used. That is, when I was comparing the incoming Ordinary texts to those of the interim Missal, I was shocked to realize I could still recite the text of the interim MIssal from memory.

      Anyway, I do remember that people who complained about the shift away from the “old” (1962) MIssal were very few and far between in the 1960s. THere was more nostalgia over certain details, but not the general shift.

      The shift on Friday abstinence was probably more consequential, because people who largely (but not entirely) were unaware that the former gravity of the violation of the Church’s precept was not directly of Divine origin (that is, it derived from the gravity of the duty of obedience to Church precepts, which derives from the duty to obey one’s parents and those in lawful authority over you) revealed how brittle the reliance on preceptual obedience was. (The fasting and abstinence traditions of the Eastern churches, being grounded in spiritual custom rather than legislative force, have proved more resilient, by contrast.) If we were to try to revive the Friday abstinence regime, making it binding under pain of grave sin would be a serious, serious mistake.

      1. I think the Eastern Churches spiritual custom is what we should adopt too. What was good about Friday abstinence is that it was a communal thing we did whether we liked fish or not, whether we ate lobster or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think we lost the sense of Catholic culture when we told people to do their own penance whatever they chose for Friday, thus eliminating the communal character of everyone doing the same thing. But now most do nothing. I hope abstinence comes back for every Friday, but like you say in the Eastern tradition. It would be nice to have the Wednesday ember days again and a bit of a stricter fast during Lent, maybe each Wednesday and Friday of Lent, rather than just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday–but flexibility in interpreting it.

      2. During the 60s and 70s I was totally absorbed in graduate school, then research and teaching, as many lay people (even very religious ones) are absorbed in their jobs and families.

        Friday abstinence change was a matter of fact “what do you want for dinner” question by my Mother when I came home for vacation, asking whether or not I still observed Friday abstinence and my matter of fact reply “yes.” No earth shaking deal for either of us.

        All professionals overestimate their impact, and very much underestimate the role of the people whom they serve in outcomes. People today are very diverse. Some will reactive positively, some negatively, and some will be indifferent. Inspiring visions for the future are essential, grand expectations are fool hardly.

        The evidence from the Vibrant Parish Life study is that people put Liturgy at the top of their list. Liturgists need to recognize that their hearts are in the right place and not talk down to them.

        People also put Liturgy half way down the list in being well done. They obviously are in favor of doing the Liturgy better. Some, perhaps many are ripe for change. But there are probably many different opinions, and many likely don’t know exactly what they want.

        Getting on the same page with great diversity is challenging. As a change agent in the public mental health system, my advice is to have a vision, act humbly, listen and let everyone make it their project not yours.

  20. Well, in “Fr. Z” — incardinated in an Italian diocese, no less — we have the new Dr. Harold Hill, here to sell us the new text.

    Much more instructive would be to see how the new text works in the hands of “Fr. Average American,” whose parishioners protest a Sunday Mass that lasts more than 45 minutes and who almost always uses EP II, the shortest of them all, even on high festivals.

  21. «What was good about Friday abstinence is that it was a communal thing we did whether we liked fish or not, whether we ate lobster or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think we lost the sense of Catholic culture when we told people to do their own penance whatever they chose for Friday, thus eliminating the communal character of everyone doing the same thing. »

    As one who has suffered a lot from the Friday no-meat thing (highly allergic to fish & seafood), I question whether not eating meat on Friday is really penance for those who consistently look forward to a fish or seafood dinner…those who crave it, who enjoy it, who rave about it…

    I’ve always felt that we’re NOT doing this together…not when some are enjoying their seafood in butter sauce to the hilt and some of us are eating macaroni topped by a can of tomato sauce!!

    I would have to respectfully ask…who’s really doing penance here: those of us who are thoroughly looking forward to wolfing down a seafood dinner or those of us who are sidelined from Friday night fish fries?

    1. Well, the Eastern approach involves different levels of abstinence: depending on the days (there are four main periods of abstinence a year), customarily from warm-blooded animal flesh, from dairy products, from eggs, as well as from all animal flesh (warm or cold blooded), from alcoholic beverages, and even from oil. One consults with one’s priest or spiritual parent on observance. There is definitely a communal element – Eastern Christian Lenten recipe collections are font of ideas for monastic, low-fat, no alcohol vegan meals….

  22. I guess what I am asking is:

    Is sacred language subjective or objective?

    As an apophatic, my sacred language is silence…

  23. OK…I guess I’ll have to answer my own question on whether liturgical language is subjective or objective…

    If it’s subjective, then fitting everyone into a specific form & cadence of language does not work; however, NOT fitting everyone into a specific form & cadence of language could lead to some chaos…there may need to be several forms of liturgy/language in order to allow everyone to participate & express their worship of God.

    If it’s objective, then fitting everyone into a specific form & cadence of language will necessarily leave a large portion of people who are not worshipping according to their beliefs & according to their relationship with God. If objective, then forcing one language format becomes a “magical incantation”, that doesn’t really provide a means of heartfelt worship but merely leads us to believe that God only accepts certain words in a particular pattern…

    I think everyone (including those who did the really lousy English “translation” (which is no translation, but an imposition of doctrinal ideas on the English language) should read: «And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning» by Dr. JOel M. Hoffman…

    Language that conceals instead of revealing is not worship…nor good English. We don’t speak English like we did 400 years ago…and we’re not going to anytime soon.

  24. Fr. Allan,
    You asked:
    “wonder too how almost the entire Catholic world, not just English speaking felt when the Tridentine Mass was lame duck and then banished? ”

    From what I understand, the Latin was never banished. As I already quoted SC P.36. Also read STL, Letter I, “Latin in the Liturgy” P.61-66 and In STL, Chapter III, Music in Catholic Worship, “Gregorian Chant,” P. 72-79
    I think they threw the baby out with the bathwater when they eliminated some of the the aspects of the Pre-Vatican II liturgy when the Mass was re-ordered. Many of the liturgical traditions are unbroken traditions and should not have been omitted when the new Novus Ordo(Mass of Paul VI) was conceived. But the one good thing that came out of the Second Vatican Council was the concept of fully concious and active participation of the congregation and helping people to understand why things are the way they are instead of just saying this is it,accept it. The faithful feel more apart of the liturgy now than they did in the pre-Vatican II days.

  25. Sad…amongst all the “I love it” “I hate it”, no one has yet defined exactly what “sacred language” is…without that definition, how are we to determine whether a specific translation really is or is not “sacred language”?

    1. Empirically, the definition of “sacred language” appears to be:

      A literal translation of Latin, using as many cognates as possible and incorporating Latin syntax everywhere, with a few high British archaisms thrown into the mix to show us Yankees our place.

    2. The Church (currently) defines “sacred language” in Liturgiam Authenticam, paragraphs 47-62, “a sacral vernacular, characterized by a vocabulary, syntax and grammar that are proper to divine worship.”

      I would say, personally, that “sacred language” should avoid being casual or mundane, should recognize God’s transcendence (and yet His close presence to us), should draw our hearts and minds upward (away from purely earthly cares and toward Heaven), and should be formal without being unapproachable. But that’s probably too vague a description.

      1. Pray tell then, what exactly is a sacred “vocabulary”? what is sacred “syntax”? what is sacred “grammar”??? What is “proper” to worship? Afterall, David danced naked before the Lord…

      2. David wasn’t naked (despite what Michal said in her rage), he was wearing a linen ephod. (cf. 2 Sam. 6:14-20; 1 Chr 15:25-29) And anyway, that wasn’t part of Israel’s liturgical worship. What David did might not have been “sacred”, but it wasn’t “profane” either — there was no Temple yet! 😉

        The mentioned paragraphs of L.A. give some examples and/or specifications about the vocab, syntax, and grammar that they have in mind.

  26. Jeffrey Pinyan :
    David wasn’t naked (despite what Michal said in her rage), he was wearing a linen ephod. (cf. 2 Sam. 6:14-20; 1 Chr 15:25-29) And anyway, that wasn’t part of Israel’s liturgical worship. What David did might not have been “sacred”, but it wasn’t “profane” either — there was no Temple yet!
    The mentioned paragraphs of L.A. give some examples and/or specifications about the vocab, syntax, and grammar that they have in mind.

    What “they” have in mind? What is the mind of God? How about consideration for people who are rattling off words that mean nothing?

    1. Sorry, by “they” I meant the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. As for the “mind of God” on sacred language, I’m afraid we are stuck with intermediaries, since the Scriptures, which are the Word of God, are written in human words. We know that God’s ways are so high above our ways as the heavens are above the earth, and that He commanded very particular requirements for Israel’s liturgical worship, and that heavenly worship is indeed mystical and (one must imagine) sacred.

      I don’t know what you mean by “consideration for people who are rattling off words that mean nothing”. Are you talking about the current translation or the new one? What words are you referring to which “mean nothing”?

      1. “rattling off word” refers to the new so-called translation…it is quite meaningless in far too many cases…just words which, eventually, will be memorized & mindlessly repeated with little to no understanding…liturgy needs to be in the vernacular…the new wording (and it in many cases is more “words” than anything meaninful to the person in the pew, even very educated folk) is not vernacular in the U.S. … I rather doubt the British, the Irish, the South Africans, or the Australians actually speak in such a convoluted way either…vernacular isn’t just English for English speakers, it’s English as used & understood by English speakers…unfortunately, we English-speakers are all thrown together with one (and I hate to say the word, my 1st year Latin teacher would’ve given me an “F” for such awful mumbo-jumbo) translation…there are at least two Spanish translations…why can’t Vox Clara (and there’s an oxymoron of a name!) see that English is spoken quite differently among various countries…besides, we were well on our way with a translation (ICEL) when it was suddenly whipped out of their hands and into the hands of a commission full of non-English speakers…the translation certainly shows this…we don’t speak English in a Latin cadence…Spanish, French, Italian…yes, more similar to the original Latin…English is NOT a Latin language, however…that was obviously not taken into consideration…

      2. Lynne, I’ve just about had it with your constant sourpuss attitude.

        What makes the words of the new translation “meaningless”? These words have meaning, even if some people don’t understand them at first. That’s what catechesis is for! I am doing my part to help provide understanding to both clergy and laity so that these words aren’t simply “memorized & mindlessly repeated with little to no understanding.” (And what makes the current translation immune from such empty ritualism? Have you asked the average pew-sitter what “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made” means?)

        Perhaps in the future we will see a universal Spanish translation, just as this English translation is meant to be universal among English-speaking Catholics.

        And I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, but the liturgy does not “need to be in the vernacular,” or else the Church would not still permit Mass in Latin, and exhort the faithful to know the responses in Latin. If the liturgy needs to be in the vernacular, why didn’t Vatican II say so? Why did it simply say that a place could be given to the vernacular in the liturgy?

        No Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin…

  27. ««Lynne, I’ve just about had it with your constant sourpuss attitude.»»

    First of all, I believe that we are to criticize ideas, not call people names.

    Second, since so many people will need to re-translate the “new” English into “understandable” English, it is obviously not a very usable “translation”…it comes close to reading Shakespeare…it’s just not the way we talk, think, read, or pray.

    The best short prayers are: “Wow!”; “Ahhhh….”; and “Thank you”….those are understandable…

    Does our current translation need some work? Yes…but it didn’t need a wholesale unintelligible re-translation…

    If foreseeing the problems this new “translation” will cause is being a “sourpuss”, then I’m glad to be one.

    I was talking with a seminary philosophy profesor the other day & that person laughed (and felt a good deal of what I said was true)…I said our “credendi” isn’t good enough for Rome anymore, so they’re going to “orandi” us into uniformity of thought…

    What is the REAL purpose of this high falutin’ language?

    1. I’m not calling you names, I’m expressing my opinion about your attitude. There are several commentors on this blog who I can’t remember having said a single good thing about the new translation. Now, that’s their right — and perhaps my poor memory — but it’s terribly frustrating to be in the company of such negative attitudes towards our worship.

      The prayers of the Mass are not meant to simply be expressions of how “we talk, think, read, or pray.” As LA 19 says, “The words … spoken in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments, are not intended primarily to be a sort of mirror of the interior dispositions of the faithful; rather, they express truths that transcend the limits of time and space.” The liturgical words call us out of ourselves, up to something higher and more glorious.

      While statements like “Wow!”, “Ahhh…”, and “Thank you” are nice, they are not particularly profound nor necessarily sacred. They could say so much more, to express greater gratitude to God and to better edify the faithful.

      The current English lex orandi does a poor job of accurately expressing the lex credendi of the Latin. And I don’t see the point of your “they’re going to ‘orandi’ us into uniformity of thought” statement. No matter what translation we have, there would be a uniformity of thought in it. Or are you saying the new translation renders uniformity of thought with bad old Rome?

      The purpose of the elevated language is explained in L.A., if not in many other magisterial documents.

      1. ««I’m not calling you names, I’m expressing my opinion about your attitude.»»

        We are to criticize ideas, not people…if you don’t like my ideas, criticize my ideas…you are making assumptions, unfortunately, about my attitude because you don’t agree with my ideas…

        No, I don’t like the new “translation” (and notice I almost always put “translation” in quotes as it is nothing that approaches the rules of understandable, usable, even correct, translations. Run on sentences are not automatically “sacred”…nor are they understandable…ridiculous to use ungrammatical language and claim this is a good thing because it will call for catechesis…no, it will call for properly grammatical English.

  28. ««Perhaps in the future we will see a universal Spanish translation, just as this English translation is meant to be universal among English-speaking Catholics.»»

    That would be quite sad, as all Spanish-speaking people, while they can understand each other’s Spanish, don’t really speak the same, just as we don’t in the US speak about lifting the bonnet or placing goods in the boot…

    I remember a friend from South America going to a Mexican fiesta and asking for a “choclo” [ear of corn]…the woman just looked blankly at him…Mexican Spanish uses the word “elote” for ear of corn…seems the man used the Mexican Spanish word for “sandal”…hmmm…so when the Spanish for John the Baptist saying he’s not worthy to loosen the strap of Jesus’ sandal, which word will they be using??? And which country will understand it…

    It’s not catechesis we need to understand the new English (which is really old, old English in a Latin format), but English lessons!! I’d love to see how some of those run-on sentences would be diagrammed in a 6th-grade English class!!

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