Translating the Roman Canon: 1967 and 2010 (part II)

The following table presents a 1967 ICEL commentary on an early translation of the Roman canon alongside the full text of the Canon in both the 1967 translation and the upcoming translation. For more about this commentary, please see the first part of this series.

Translating the Roman Canon: 1967 and 2010 (part II)

This is part two of a three-part series. You can read the first part of this series here. The third part of this series is posted here.


  1. RE: rationabilem

    I have always rather liked Monsignor Ronald Knox’s translation of the whole “Hanc igitur-Quam oblationem” prayer and his interesting take on “rationabilem”:

    Here, then, is the offering we make thee,
    we that are thy ministers,
    yet in truth it is the offering of all thy household.
    We beseech thee, Lord,
    to grant it favourable acceptance,
    ordering our days in the peace thou bestowest,
    from eternal loss delivering us,
    and in the company of thy elect
    bidding our names be numbered.
    (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

    An offering blessed and dedicated,
    a sacrifice truly done,
    worthy of our human dignity
    and thy divine acceptance
    – this, O God, do thou make of it,
    Body and Blood that shall be, for our sakes,
    of thy own well-beloved Son,
    our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Interesting, too, the “Simili modo”:
    So too, when supper was done,
    into his holy and worshipful hands
    he took the cup all the world holds in honour;
    once more he gave thanks to thee,
    blessed and gave it to his disciples, saying:
    Take and drink of this, all of you,

    1. I rather like Knox’s translation as well, until you get to, “this, O God, do thou make of it, Body and Blood that shall be, for our sakes, of thy own well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

      Knox the occasional tendency into Yoda-speak to lapse has.

      1. What I like about Knox, the new translation and the older translations in pre-Vatican II laity missals is that these maintain the sacred quality of the spoken language. Reading this particular one, although clearly somewhat labored in “sacrality” reminds me of biblical texts narrated by famous people with great, elegant voices, especially in popular Protestant traditional piety as it concern the King James Version of the Bible. There is no doubt when hearing someone with an elegant voice reading the King James Bible that you are listening to something sacred not secular or profane. It heightens the sense of wonder and awe which Protestants have traditionally emphasized in their understanding of the Bible and teaching it. Our current translation of the Mass is an abysmal failure in lifting people from the worldly to the other-worldly. It fails to be that “narthex” where we are decompressed from the profane world we leave as we enter the sacred world of the sanctuary, only to be sent back to the profane world to bring the sacred to it.

      2. I suppose if we had John Houseman narrating it, plus preaching, it would be all the better.

        Liturgy is a lot more than a well-written cookbook recipe. If only these curial folks would realize that …

        oh, wait, maybe they do.

    2. Out of the three Roman Canon translation options (1967 final, 2010, Knox), 1967 final rendered the rationabilem in the quam oblationem best. Ack! Can’t believe that I’m actually defending the 1967! Maturity has its perils.

      Quam oblationem tu, Deus, in omnibus, quaesumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris […]

      ICEL 1967 (final): “Bless and approve our offering; make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth.”

      Although I have not read Mohrmann-Botte, ICEL’s contention at line 44 that rationabilem refers to an interior and “spiritual” disposition rather than a ritual ratification makes sense from a scriptural standpoint. Lewis and Short’s entry for rationabilis cites 2 Peter 1:2 as a solid example of rationabilis. Per L&S, the classical rationalis is synonymous with the later rationabilis .

      sicut modo geniti infantes [ἀρτιγέννητα βρέφη] rationale [τὸ λογικὸν] sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem (2 Peter 1:2 Vulgate, NA 27)

      “As newborns honestly desire only the spiritual milk, so you might grow in deliverance.” (compare with the NRSV.) One could easily describe this instance of spiritual desire as an introspective act.

      Line 44 of the link above credibly establishes the “spiritual” qualifications of rationabilis/rationalis/τὸ λογικὸν, oddly without scriptural reference. ICEL 1967’s decision to render rationabilem as “spirit” within a prepositional phrase best clarifies the distinction between rationabilem and other adjectives in the Latin sequence. Perhaps the 2010 translation could have clarified interior faith through a conversion of the Latin adjectival string into a prepositional clause.

      1. I forgot to mention that the Vulgate citation for 2 Peter 1:2 above is from the Weber-Gryson Nova Vulgata Latina. As expected, the Clementine Vulgate uses the later Latin form rationabilis. As an aside, I have often wondered why the New Vulgate revisers often changed certain late Latin words to a corresponding classical form without necessity. This particular classical reversion does not bring the Latin text any closer to the Greek. Nevertheless, the New Vulgate is today’s status quo. “Is what it is”, I suppose.

  2. Any sense of the sacred has to suffer where ritual is reduced to fulfilling an obligation and measured while looking at one’s watch. It’s an even bigger downer if the celebrant is looking at his watch.

    If you can’t wait for it all to be over, you might as well not even be there.

  3. The “rationabilem acceptabilemque” needs some homework in the Gospel of John (1,1ss; 4,24) and Romans (12, 1.) There is here I believe an echo of the Greek reflecting the faith notion that the meaning of God is given to us in the Word of God (logos). The prayer invokes the Holy Spirit to make the meaning of my life-service-liturgy-prayer through a consecration as the consecration of the bread is acceptable to the Father and as Jesus’ sacrifice is acceptable. The “oblationem” of the “Hanc igitur” is the “oblationem” of the “Quam oblationem”. Thus, the sacrifice (oblationem) of our service (servitutis nostrae) is the my life-prayer-liturgy upon which we invoke the Holy Spirit to make this bread the Body of Christ. St. Augustine puts it better: See/receive what you believe and become what you believe. Further, the comma following “rationabilem” is clearly a mistake… “rationabilem acceptabilemque” should read together like “bacon and eggs” for breakfast. The enclitic “que” is meant to join the two as if one.

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