Liturgical translation backflip unlikely to hold

Australia’s CathNews published a blogpost about liturgical language problems in Japan.

The blogger is Michael Kelly SJ, founder of Church Resources, and CEO of UCANews, the news agency for the churches of Asia. He concludes:

What does this mean in the present context of liturgical reform? It comes down to a simple question. Will the “reform of the reform” which has been legislated and promulgated from the Vatican for implementation next year, be as energetic in securing the full range Vatican 2’s reforms as it aims to be about language? Or will it simply head the liturgy where the Japanese have had to follow – into a world of words that makes the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist not a celebration of the one in whom we “live and move and have our being” but rather consigns our public prayer to reaches that are remote and inaccessible to all but Latin educated clerics?

11 comments

  1. Gaa. Attend an English Mass in Japan, as I did twice this month, and you’ll soon see why the reform of the reform is needed.

  2. I think the previous post on the recitation of the new translation of the Roman Canon makes it clear that the new texts are anything but “remote and inaccessible”.

  3. To be quite honest with you whatever new translation of the English Roman Missal we would have gotten, I would have embraced it, or even if the current “lame duck” version were to be retained, I would have accepted it uncomplainingly. But I do grow tired of those who keep insisting that the bad old days of the Latin Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council and now the bad old new days in the context of the “reform of the reform” will cause the Church to implode and lead to a Mass that is inaccessible to the poor, uneducated laity. Such clericalism! Never mind that no one actually has the intellectual honesty and the knowledge of history that the Catholic Church in the Latin Rite with its exclusive Latin Mass was exceptionally strong prior to the Second Vatican Council for well over a 1000 years. Her liturgy informed culture and the culture was imbued with Catholic sensibilities. Even in America up until the 1960’s, almost 90% of Catholics attended Mass and Catholic families, parishes, schools, hospitals, convents, monasteries as well as Catholic Action Societies, Legion of Mary and St. Vincent de Paul, not to mention the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Malta and Knights of the Holy Sepulcher were extremely strong and provided the laity opportunities for ministry in the world serving the poor and the sick and other charitable causes. Maybe I’m too hopeful during this “Octave of Pentecost” which I was privileged to celebrate last evening in the EF Mass, to throw in the towel before the new translation affects millions of English speaking Catholics in the most positive way with a rebirth of Catholic identity and a new springtime for the Church.

  4. “I do grow tired of those who keep insisting that the bad old days of the Latin Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council and now the bad old new days in the context of the “reform of the reform” will cause the Church to implode and lead to a Mass that is inaccessible to the poor, uneducated laity. Such clericalism!”

    Such misreading of the critics!

    This is a much poorer translation than we could have produced. An artistic translation produced with a broad consultation would have enriched the liturgy, drawn more people back to the Church, and deepened the prayer life of the faithful.

    Clearly God is in control. However, when human beings put in a D-plus effort it does not bode well for the universal proclamation of the Gospel. I happen to think the liturgy deserves better. And given your own passion for good worship, Fr McDonald, I’m surprised you don’t agree.

    1. Tom, I agree one hundred percent with your sentiments and also agree that I’m not in control and that’s very freeing! It truly is in the hands of God and whatever is lacking in our faith and response, I hope He’ll make up. There must have been a purpose in the current translation and I suspect in the one we will get.

  5. One might just as well say there’s a reason for the kvetching about the translation, or for the priests who won’t implement or who drag their feet. I acknowledge that imperfection, and even sin presents us with an opportunity to proclaim Christ. Still, it doesn’t absolve us from pointing out error and doing our best.

  6. Just to put an old canard found in the blog post to rest one more time: historically speaking, “transubstantiation” has little, if anything, to do with Aristotelian Physics. The term was coined at a point when Aristotle’s Physics were unknown in the West. All that is required, philosophically, to affirm transubstantiation is to accept that there is a distinction to be made between the identity of something and it’s appearance. This doesn’t require any Aristotle but only the sense of object permanence that most of us acquire by age two.

    1. All that is required, philosophically, to affirm transubstantiation is to accept that there is a distinction to be made between the identity of something and it’s appearance.

      And anyone who is familiar with Hopkins’s inscape and instress will be able to grasp this easily.

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