Whoops! Heresy in that “your”? The collect for Trinity

As we know, Liturgiam authenticam’s n. 51, “in the most exact manner,” has become, as Bishop Serratelli put it, “faithfully but not slavishly.” But on certain days, like Trinity Sunday, it might have been good to be a bit more “exact” – and get the doctrine right…

Latin Missal:
Deus Pater,
qui, Verbum veritátis et Spíritum sanctificatiónis
mittens in mundum,
admirábile mystérium tuum homínibus declárasti,
da nobis, in confessióne verae fídei,
aetérnae glóriam Trinitátis agnóscere,
et Unitátem adoráre in poténtia maiestátis.
Per Dóminum.

2008 (approved by the bishops’ conferences):
God our Father,
by sending into the world the Word of truth
and the Spirit of sanctification
you made known to humankind your awesome mystery;
grant us, in professing the true faith,
to acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory,
and adore the Unity, powerful in majesty.
Through our Lord.

2010 (after Vox Clara/CDW redid what the bishops submitted):
God our Father,
who by sending into the world the Word of truth
and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.
Through our Lord.

If you wanted to be a real stickler, you could say that 2008 is more exact in translating the two infinitives agnoscere and adorare as infinitives. But the 2010 text paraphrases them, after adding “we pray,” which is not in the Latin. Hmm, paraphrase and additions: shades of the old ICEL, eh?

But it seems that a bit of heresy occurs in the final line of the prayer: “your Unity.” Note, there is not a “your” in the Latin. And this for a very good doctrinal reason. The prayer is addressed to God the Father: it is not HIS Unity that we adore but the Unity of the TRINITY.

Small point? Apparently not: see Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 255 on the relationship between the divine persons. In fact, despite its paraphrase, the old ICEL got the doctrine right!

Part of the presentation of the new translation emphasizes the lex orandi, lex credendi dictum – as we pray, so we believe. If so, one of the first and easiest corrections is for priests to cross out “your” in the last line and insert “the” – as was approved in 2008 by all the conferences of English-speaking bishops, before Vox Clara’s  7,000 consultants and experts fiddled with the decrees of Nicea and Constantinople.

Xavier Rindfleisch

90 comments

    1. Quite right, Monsignor. Along with adding three “I believes” to the Credo, the Vox Clara “experts” have added “one” before the “God” in the conclusion “Per Dominun” of the Collects.

      I have pointed out in the several papers I have contributed to this blog that I cannot imagine that the Holy Father, scholar that he is, will be pleased when he discovers the shoddy “scholarship” being foisted upon the English-speaking Church by Vox Clara, which has not honored the trust he placed in them.

      May I take this opportunity to congratulate you, Monsignor, on your scholarship, since I believe it was under your supervision that the 2008 translation was produced. I firmly believe that in correcting the multitude of errors – mistranslations, violations of LA and RT, and fractured English grammar and syntax – we shall all have to return again and again to what SHOULD have been confirmed: the 2008. So, well done and thank you!

      1. Thank you for those kind remarks.
        Strictly speaking, the new translation doesn’t add ‘one’, for it was there already. It has replaced ‘and’ by ‘in the unity of’ and left ‘one’ where it was in the 1973 version. In this new version, ‘unitate’ is translated twice – once with ‘unity’, and then again with ‘one’. The ‘one’ goes right back to Cranmer.
        The Conclusion to the Collects is very difficult to translate. The Italians probably have the best version, which would come into English as:-
        Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God,
        living and reigning with you
        in the unity of the Holy Spirit
        for ever and ever. Amen.

      2. If I might be permitted to “butt in” on this backslappingfest, I wonder if Monsignor Harbert, now replying to other commenters on the blog, might be kind enough to tell us what he thinks of the 10,000 changes (by the 7,000 advisors) to his, er, the Bishops’ 2008 translation.

        And, as he’s raised the subject of his predecessor, Archbishop Cranmer, does Monsignor Harbert still think, as reported a few years ago, that his translation will last as long as Cranmer’s . . .

      3. Weren’t Catholics told repeatedly this disastrous missal had
        been reviewed by the pope himself? If so, not only
        has B16 got plenty of egg on his face, he’s also led the
        Church into heresy.

  1. “one of the first and easiest corrections is for priests to cross out “your” in the last line and insert “the” – ”

    Unfortunately, that’s not an option either. With the Liturgy police out if full force (especially starting in November), us priests must deal with the super scrupulous. E.g.: “the priest does not have the authority to change any words at random in the Mass that he doesn’t like. Canon 846 of the code of canon law states: “The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore, no one on personal authority may add, remove, or change anything in them.”

    May you live in interesting times.

    1. “Change any words at random …”. But if it’s not at random, it should be okay.
      A presiding celebrant could say to the congregation: “Mass should not be an occasion to generate tension or anxiety. I’m sure that, occasionally or frequently, many of you will slip away from the new translation for whatever reason. I promise not to report you to the Pope, and I’m sure you’ll be equally understanding and forgiving with me.”

      1. The Thought Police, Pádraig, aren’t open to agreements: they take no prisoners, either.

        Remember Toowoomba!

    1. I’m so glad you keep an ear out for such liturgical abuses, Bruce.

      Why, I myself heard at an English Abbey (on Trinity Sunday last year, as it happens) that Bishop Roche of Leeds had been there some months before celebrating Mass for the Nuns using the then as-yet unapproved and unfinalised “new” texts (ie the 2008 translation) without permission or approval (“all that breast-beating and most grievous business” as one old Dame said) . . . and I further heard that Archbishop Di Noia was doing the same thing while on vacation last summer throughout the USA . . . so it seems the liturgical abuse of celebrating with unapproved texts of one kind or another has been rife of late among the hierarchy!

  2. I don’t understand why modal verbs such as “may” and “might” seem to proliferate in the Vox Clara translation: “grant us, we pray, that [. . .] / we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore. . . .” Especially following the phrase “in professing the true faith,” if we believe it is the true faith indeed, we should not express doubt about whether we are acknowledging “the Trinity of eternal glory.” Is there some possibility that we are not acknowledging “the Trinity of eternal glory” as the modal verb seems to suggest? I realize that the epistemic function of introducing possibility, while common, is not the only use of the modal verb, but what other use can it have here–permission? Is this a prayer of petition in which we seek permission to acknowledge and to adore God? Ability? If we can profess,” surely we can acknowledge. By contrast, in the 2008 translation, we pray that to profess is at the same time to acknowledge and to adore.

    If it’s a remnant of the English subjunctive mood for prayer, then it is surely redundant with “grant us, we pray, that. . . .

    1. ‘May’ in such uses functions as a slightly archaic and formal substitute for ‘can’, which would be more normal in modern speech. That is, it denotes ability rather than possibility. Many people seem to feel that ‘can’ is too colloquial for liturgy. I’m not saying that they’re right – just that that’s how it is.
      Because this use of ‘may’ is relatively unfamiliar outside the liturgy, people aren’t entirely sure how to work it. Historically, ‘may’ is used after present and compound perfect (that is, ‘have-‘) tenses, and ‘might’ after simple past tenses, but this pattern has broken down, leading to uses that some people will consider ungrammatical.

  3. Unity is a metaphor to name God, since Unity is capitalized, so in a sense we are not adoring the truth that God is a “unity” little “u” but we are adoring God thus named “Unity” with a capital “U.”
    Obviously the prayer is directed to God the Father, but we adore God the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit; we don’t adore God the Father independently of the other two Divine Persons or pray directly to the Father but through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Since it would be idolatrous to adore “unity” as a concept or doctrine referring to God but it is not idolatrous to adore Unity as a name for God Who is the Most Holy Trinity. Your Unity could be understood as Your Majesty. Just a thought.

    1. Nope, that misses the point. Unity is predicated of the three Persons, not solely of God the Father. When addressing God the Father, we don’t say “your unity.” The name for that is Unitarianism. We may (and should) have in mind all the good things you write. But that’s isn’t what the prayer says.
      awr

    2. But unity is capitalized thus encompassing in Catholic dogma the Son and Holy Spirit. Unity capitalized refers to the Godhead, the Most Holy Trinity. Aren’t all Three Divine Persons present in each other and that’s why we’re not Unitarians?

      1. You’re right – it is so in Catholic dogma. The problem is, it isn’t so in this mangled prayer. We capitalize titles of and addresses to God the Father all the time, so there’s no way one would know that the unity really means all three persons, since the prayer is addressed to the Father. One may well have your orthodox, Catholic understanding in mind – but the prayer precisely does not say that.
        awr

      2. Even if Unity is capitalized, you can’t hear a capital letter when a text is proclaimed aloud. Or can you?

        There has been much scratching of heads in England of late concerning successive versions of the Order of Mass in which an increasing proliferation of upper-case letters has been noted. There is the “noise factor”, caused in the mind of the reader by an excessive use of capital letters in an era when standard publishing practice is minimum capitalization. The reader, whether reading aloud or silently from the printed page, is continually brought up short when another capital letter pops up. This is both because we are used to minimum capitalization and because the mind is subsconsciously looking for a preceding full stop (period) which in fact is not there. The capital letters accordingly interrupt the flow of reading.

        Musicians have been exercising their minds over some of the memorial acclamations, which at one time had lower-case ‘d’s in the word “death” but more recently have capital ‘D’s. Many settings published in the US were approved long before the capital ‘D’s came along. At least one Bishop’s Conference approval mechanism appears to be insisting that American settings that were approved and published with lower-case letters must be reset with capitals before they can be approved for use in another country. One wonders what the difference will be in performance. Does this mean the consonant has to be sung sforzando ?!

    1. Your other source actually failed Prof. Rindfleisch’s course, I believe, on every attempt.

      And, as if we need be reminded, Prof. Rindfleisch does it all without being uncharitable or bombastic; nor indeed does Prof. Rindfleisch request donations.

    2. How about the mistranslation of “aeternae gloriam Trinitatis”, which both the 2008 and 2011 texts didn’t get right? It means “the glory of the eternal Trinity” not “the Trinity of eternal glory”.

      1. Yes, that seems an obvious mistranslation, based on simple lack of practice in Latin. The 2010 Preface for Trinity Sunday comes close to heresy too — simply because its translators are out of touch with classic trinitarian logic — too busy to fuss about what to them are fine points of theology. I think the issue of the new translations goes to the heart of theology. We will find ourselves morally obliged to boycott them not only on pastoral grounds (salus animarum suprema lex) but on grounds of orthodoxy.

  4. grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
    we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
    and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.

    Monsignor, if may has the sense of “can,” i.e., to enable us, then what is the meaning of “grant us”? I respectfully suggest that this prayer may (ability) be more clear without its modal “may,” so if one may (permission) drop this word out of the reading, one may (possibility) prevent redundancy and confusion by doing so.

    1. ‘Grant us that we acknowledge’ is good USA idiom, but less natural to UK ears, which are more accustomed to hearing an auxiliary very after ‘that’. ‘Grant us to acknowledge’ would, I think, be equally acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic, and elsewhere too. Am I right?

      1. Surely, Monsignor, acceptability on either side of the Atlantic, or anywhere else (except maybe the Archbishop’s residence in Sydney), matters nought compared with acceptability on the south side of the Piazza Pio XII?

        Your time in the States seems to have given you a good ear for USA English, among other things – everything, it seems, but a green card!

        As for Australia – well, you know from your many visits there how we all talk like we’re at a barbeque!

        Regarding the remaining English-speaking countries scattered around the globe – surely you spent a lot of time visiting them for ICEL meetings during your time there?

      2. If one aim is literary quality, I think the earlier version,

        grant us, in professing the true faith,/
        to acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory,/and adore the Unity, powerful in majesty
        ,

        has stateliness and ease of memorization in its parallel infinitive phrases; I certainly prefer this translation for clarity as well. The object clause “that we acknowledge” is cumbersome. I cannot see that any meaning is lost by eliminating the clause structure in favor of the 2008 structures. And in American Standard English, the subjunctive mood verb in “Grant that it become for us….” or “Grant that it be acceptable” does not need the auxiliary “may” though it may be added, probably because the subjunctive has become so weak. Thanks for taking the time to reply on this point, which is aside from the main discussion.

      3. Bruce, no, “Grant us to acknowledge” would not be acceptable anywhere. It is not English. “Grant that we may acknowledge” would be the way to go here.

  5. On the subject of priests (and bishops also, not to mention former secretaries of ICEL) altering the approved texts, there is always the principle that something indefensible cannot be defended.

    So perhaps in EP2, for instance, we might hear “stand in your presence …” instead of “be ..” – because that’s what the biblical image behind the text says, and the guidelines say that we should give Sacred Scripture its full weight in translating.

    The issue of whether the congregation is kneeling or standing at this point – if the rumours about the history of this bit of EP2 are true – is irrelevant.

    And in the Trinity collect, as XR has pointed out, a desire to be orthodox surely supersedes the authority of a poorly edited text.

    On numerous occasions in the last couple of years, I have heard priests ask how they might amend the text to make it either clearer, or less exclusive (particularly in reference to EP4). My sense is that a measure of unofficial revision is inevitable and will soon begin to happen.

    I am beginning to think that the catalyst will be when priests start to acquaint themselves with the prayers from the Proper of Time (sic) rather than those of the Order of Mass, since it is here that the linguistic infelicities, etc, are most in evidence.

    I have had some interesting and strongly expressed reactions from clergy when I start presenting these texts in detail, which suggests to me that this is how any critical response will build up.

    Despite the calls for priests to be faithful to the approved prayers – basically a good and spiritually healthy notion – there seems to be emerging the feeling that what is wrong should not be perpetuated, no matter how much official endorsement it has.

    Alan Griffiths.

    1. Thank you, Canon Griffiths, for your article in the Tablet, carefully pointing out the dreadul “overcome with paschal joy” – yet another mistranslation courtesy of Vox Clara.

      As you have noted elsewhere, the rest of the conclusion is also ruined by Vox Clara: “Even the Powers of heaven … rejoice,” as if we had not expected them to. “Sed et” = “even”? Who did this?

      Whoever the underlings of Vox Clara were, the final responsibility rests with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which, in this matter of the missal, in ignoring warnings sent them specifying the “difficulties,” proved themselves unequal to the mission entrusted to them by the Holy Father. Intellectual laziness? Arrogance? It is truly disappointing.

  6. So now the Collect and the Preface for this Feast have both been identified as having theological problems! During my presentation to priests and deacons in a Scottish archdiocese yesterday one of the particularly well-versed clergy recommended sending a copy of the Vox Clara translation to the Pontifical Theological Commission (with guidance notes, of course).

  7. I once heard a lecture by Fr Cipriano Vagaggini (author of, inter alia, most of the 3rd Eucharistic Prayer) in which he said that, when people start messing about with prayers, the first casualty is always the Trinity.

    1. Well, with all due respect to Fr Vagaggini, Bruce, (if your recollection of what he said is accurate) your old mates at Vox Clara certainly proved him wrong.

      When THEY started messing about with prayers, the first casualty was the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent.

      The Trinity disasters came WAY down the list!

      1. And the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent has the same conclusion as all the others.

      2. The problems with Vox Clara’s translation of the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent start long before the conclusion, Bruce.

  8. Wouldn’t a priest be required to say a prayer in Latin if there is any doubt about the theological integrity of a vernacular translation?

    I hope that priests will check the propers before saying Mass. Paxbook would do well to publish and sell MR 2002 in a hand missal format for checking vernacular translations, but I do not foresee this happening. I’d like to have the Latin at hand for the first year, especially if some of the translations are as seriously deformed as the example here.

    1. The beautiful Latin of the preface for Trinity Sunday breathes familiarity with classic trinitarian thought and diction. The translations of 2010 are the work of theological vandals.

  9. Jordan Zarembo :
    Wouldn’t a priest be required to say a prayer in Latin if there is any doubt about the theological integrity of a vernacular translation?

    No s/he wouldn’t.

    1. I would think that priests must say the Latin typical prayer if the vernacular translation is defective. If I were clergy, I could not in good conscience say a translation with a significant theological defect. Doesn’t orthodoxy trump liturgy? The integrity of the Mass is more important than the comprehension of the congregation, in my view.

      1. That might well be what you think, Jordan, but the words of the liturgy are not magic spells.

      2. Orthodoxy does not trump Liturgy. Doxology gives rise to orthodoxy, Lex Orandi Lex Credendi. There can be no integrity of the mass without the comprehension of the congregation. That is why some of the so called more sacral language such as unfeigned, consubstantial and the like are problematic. When we apply theology that is foreign to the Liturgy when translating we are bound to disrupt the balance of Lex Orandi Lex Credendi.

  10. And here is the version that enabled me to understand the others.
    Father, you sent your Word to bring us truth
    and your Spirit to make us holy.
    Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.
    Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons,
    by proclaiming and living our faith in you.

    After reading the post and thread, I went to find this and put it side by side with the 2008 text (ignoring the 2010 text), and the meaning of the 2008 prayer suddenly became clear. It was quite striking, like a small revelation! Paradoxically, this gives me a new appreciation for the 1973 text. In this case, for me it communicates meaning much more effectively than the other texts.

    I am sorry to say that to the experts who are hard at work to pin down the most accurate literal translation of the Latin, but for me it’s almost as if the 1973 text was itself a translation of the 2008 text into an English accessible enough that I may use it for prayer without a period of preliminary study of the sentences. I know that that’s not a new point, but this is a concrete instance of it.

    Perhaps the new text is meant to be an atmosphere-setting prayer, whose precise meaning does not matter so much. Perhaps it communicates an atmosphere of sacred reverence. For non-experts like me who are too slow to absorb the meaning, perhaps it is more important to pray within a proper (if slightly foggy) atmosphere rather than with clear (but not uplifting) words.

    1. Claire

      Perhaps it communicates an atmosphere of sacred reverence.

      I think that’s a large part of the intention.

      But there is a deep problem: in distancing the meaning from the hearer the prayers become so much more difficult to internalise; they become someone else’s and in effect distance the liturgy from the hearer.

      There is absolutely no doubt that this is a REVERSAL, not a refinement, of the liturgy reforms of Vatican II.

      Unfortunately, all the evidence says we do not at present have the institutional intellectual capacity at the centre to properly steer the Church through the reform.

      The Church appears to have lost its nerve, intelligence and pastoral instincts in retreating to liturgical Latin literalism. It’s almost as if we are suffering from an “institutional Alzheimer’s” clinging to Latin because we’re senile, confused, scared and can’t remember anything except events from our youth.

      Latin is a safety blanket that is clutched tightly because we’ve been dumbed down at the centre. Everything else is second to the god of the literal translation because the centre doesn’t trust our bishops, it doesn’t trust the laity, it doesn’t trust theologians, it doesn’t trust culture, it doesn’t trust the English language, and ultimately it doesn’t really trust the Incarnation.

      Artificial “sacral” language and hocus pocus – masquerading as mystery and atmosphere – are just symptoms of our institutional senility.

  11. in distancing the meaning from the hearer the prayers become so much more difficult to internalise;

    Unfortunately I have been realizing, as I follow these new Missal discussions, how little of the Mass I internalize. Worse, when I have brought up the topic of the new Missal with other lay Catholics, I have been met by uncomprehending stares. The typical reaction, even from devout Catholics who go to Mass more than once a week, has been to ask: “Why are you so worried about the part of the Mass that only the priest says? That won’t change anything for the rest of us.” Consider also that most of the public complaints that come from non-clergy focus on changes to the people’s parts.

    So, I believe that for the vast majority of Mass-goers, the internalization that you talk about has not happened, even with the 1973 missal. You may be mourning the loss of something that never happened.

    1. The row over words gives me hope. Those Catholics who are upset by “needless” changes in their prayer are the ones, I seems to me, for whom words convey meaning. Even if they’re only questioning the people’s parts. “What does ‘and with your spirit’ really mean – to me?”

      I don’t think I’m mourning for the “loss of something that never happened”, but am hoping for something that is yet to happen univerally, and which is being made more difficult by the literalists and revisionists.

      My anger is directed at those who think tinkering with words will manufacture mystery and reverence, at those who are imposing a universal solution to a problem that isn’t universal, to those who are focussed on the wrong thing – on idealogical solutions rather than pastoral ones, to those who say they are actualising the liturgical reform but who don’t have the intellectual verve to see that they’re not – much less pull it off.

    2. I agree. The problems with 2010 are not that deep and should get corrected quickly, since, even in the name of obedience to authority, no one in their right mind can honestly support the kind of mistakes we see there. But the problems with 2008 are very real and divisive, since it is possible for a person of integrity to fully support that text. The 2008 text is an ideological solution, and the 2010 text has an added layer of mistakes.

    3. The greatest quality of the 2010 text is that it forces people to rethink obedience.

      As to the 2008 text, there are two ways to attack it:
      – first, argue that it’s factually a bad missal, then trace the problems back to LA; or
      – first, argue that LA is ideologically flawed, then show that the text based on it, the 2008 translation, is not a good missal in practice.

      I think that the second route is more promising. The first route primarily requires implementation, feedback, and systematic evaluation with scientific tools, and in the Catholic church that cannot happen in an objective manner; that’s not in the Catholic tradition. The second route requires intellectual strength and knowledge for sound argumentation, and that has a much better chance. So I think that the intellectuals who are unhappy about the new 2008/2010 translations should work on building a case against LA.

  12. Chris Grady: That might well be what you think, Jordan, but the words of the liturgy are not magic spells.

    Are Latin prayers “magic spells” for those who understand them? Why does the “liturgical renewal” wish to write off people like me, who have a very deep devotion towards our Latin liturgical heritage? Am I a liability to the relentless campaign to vernacularize every aspect of Catholic life? I sometimes wonder if progressive Catholics view the EF as a pressure valve to release any pastoral obligations towards those steeped in Latin prayer. Why should I attend the OF or reconcile with my progressive brothers and sisters if I am instead patronized? Attitudes such as yours, Chris, contribute to the balkanization of the Roman Rite.

    Graham Wilson: It’s almost as if we are suffering from an “institutional Alzheimer’s” clinging to Latin because we’re senile, confused, scared and can’t remember anything except events from our youth.

    Squabbles over translation highlight a great inadequacy of vernacularization: translations often fail to keep up with our cultural, linguistic, and discursive expectations. “Relevance” is ephemeral, so far as every generation gauges language relevance differently.

    Latin prayer is both forever young and laden with history. Latin is a symptom of ecclesial dementia? Rather, Latin prayer amplifies the intricacies of the historical evolution of liturgy. We travel through the space of western Christian worship through the frequent repetitions of ageless prayers. Can a translation written within a generation contain the same intricacy and complexity of prayers recited millions of times over the span of centuries? Latin heritage is not a symptom of mental decline. Rather, our corpus of Latin prayer betrays the brilliance and durability of Roman worship.

  13. Upon a quick scan of the 43 comments so far, it appears that neither anyone here nor 2008 nor 2010 saw how to make the final line both correct and smooth in English:

    to acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory,
    and adore its Unity, . . .

    Of course there is no pronoun in the Latin, but one is needed to make it proclaim smoothly in English (as 2008’s “the Unity” does not). But in trying to make it smooth, 2010 got the wrong pronoun. Instead of “your” referring to the Father, it should be “its” referring to the Trinity (the preceding noun).

    (In regard to the fact that there’s no pronoun at all there in the Latin … Even “slavishly literal translation”–which LA did not call for–does not require and is not always achieved by word-for-word translation.)

    Perhaps the experts of Vox Clara would not have occasionally drifted off on autopilot if there had been a simple layman or two there to keep them awake.

    1. Henry,

      It seems to me that you are making a good argument for dynamic equivalence. What would make the intention of the prayer clear, and would sound more-or-less natural in English, would be something along the lines of “adore the divine unity.” This, however, would be an example of translating meaning, not simply words.

      1. I would agree that a good argument can be made for dynamic equivalence–if by that means capturing as accurately as possible in the target language the flavor, sense, and tone as well as the meaning in the original language.

        Perhaps the problem at present is that the 1973 translation, put forth under the banner of dynamic equivalence, gave dynamic equivalence a bad name by not capturing accurately in English either the flavor, sense, tone, or or meaning of the Latin original. So, consequently, in many quarters the once entirely respectable term “dynamic equivalence” became a synonym for inaccurate and unfaithful.

        I take it that the goal of Liturgiam authenticam was to place sufficient constraints on the process of translation to prevent reoccurrence of the same errors of inauthentic translation. But it certainly arguable that this first CDW attempt placed so many constraints as to err in the direction of slavishly literal or word for word translation, which some take “in the most exact manner” to require.

        If so, it seems to me that–in accordance with the general rule–the pendulum has swung from too far in one direction to too far in the opposite direction.

        If this simple layman had been asked for a prescription, I might well have replied by the now famous “faithfully but not slavishly”. The problem is that, in the final product, it is difficult to see how any one of these approaches has been followed consistently. At any rate, the final word on translation rationale remains to be written on the basis of the experience gained in attempts so far.

      2. Mr. Edwards – good insights – we had them in the 1998 approved translation. Too bad your insight was not shared by a small cabal of curial folks in 1997.

    2. LA mandated that the Latin be translated “in the most exact manner.”

      “Faithfully but not slavishly” is the disingenuous excuse Bishop Serratelli (or, more likely, whoever wrote “his” statement for him) came up with to explain away the multitude of errors (quite apart from the fractured English usage) being publicized through Internet leaks, as this blog (and others) exposed Vox Clara’s lack of expertise and began to ask if CDW’s granting of the confirmatio to such an obviously flawed translation happened as a result of an intellectual inability to grasp the issues, laziness, arrogance, or a combination of these.

  14. Jordan, I don’t think anyone is attacking you for prefering the Latin per se. The Novus Ordo has been celebrated in Latin in many places for decades( not as the normative or most frequently clebrated format of course, but available). The EF represents a very different ecclesiology of the liturgical assembly whose presence I would argue is inately divisive. Latin prayer may be forever young to its devotees, but you must realize that folks who not only like or prefer the Latin, but who are thoroughly proficient in it to the point of it being a language for conscious and informed prayer are not too common in today’s Church. Actually they were always the exception among the rank and file of the Church. In short, I’m far more comfortable with the use of the post conciliar Latin paradigm for those who wish it, than I am with either the (what I still maintain) antiquarianism, both liturgical and theological of the EF, or the sloppy and ideologically based machinations of Vox Clara. Nonetheless, regardless of collect, I wish you a happy Trinity Sunday, and if you are here in the US, a happy Father’s Day.
    pax et bonum

  15. Henry Edwards :
    Perhaps the experts of Vox Clara would not have occasionally drifted off on autopilot if there had been a simple layman or two there to keep them awake.

    Henry I don’t understand why you deliberately nominate a “layman or two” (at the expense of its totally clerical structure) but I can assure you that Vox Clara has no shortage of the simple.

  16. Paul Inwood :

    Bruce, no, “Grant us to acknowledge” would not be acceptable anywhere. It is not English. “Grant that we may acknowledge” would be the way to go here.

    I agree, Paul. But the phrase that really grates on me is this, from near the end of EP2: “[That] we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life”. Is that USA or UK English? “Merit to be” sounds very strange to me.

    1. No, that’s not English either. Not on either side of the Pond. But I don’t think the redactors of the translation actually care any longer. The dogs are running loose now.

      1. ‘Grant that we may acknowledge’ leaves nobis untranslated. This issue arises constantly – the Latin implies that what is prayed for is a benefit to the person prayed for as well as for others. A clear example comes in the rite for ordination of a bishop ‘grant that he may be a good bishop’ is not the same as ‘grant to him that he may be a good bishop’. But that’s rather clumsy. This is where the ‘grant him to be’ construction can come in handy. It’s rare but not unknown in current English.
        ‘Merit to be’ does sound strange, but the whole theology of merit sounds strange to uninstructed ears. We naturally expect to pay for what we get, but God pays more than we deserve – see the parable of the workers in the vineyard. In the liturgy, mereor, a very frequent verb, carries this sense – we ask God to grant something in response to our acts, but without pretending that we are asking to receive a just wage for them. That is why ‘deserve’ won’t do as a translation of mereor in the liturgy. An accurate translation of ‘ut . . . aeternae vitae mereamur esse consortes’ in EP2 would be ‘that we may get to share eternal life’, but the register of this would widely be judged aliturgical.
        I wonder how the critics of ‘merit to’ would themselves translate mereamur, which occurs over 100 times in the Missal.

      2. I think there’s difference between “Grant us to acknowledge” (which is definitely not English as we know it) and “Grant to us to acknowledge” which comes across as a somewhat strange shorthand way of saying “Grant to us that we may acknowledge”. “Give us the gift of acknowledging” or “give us the gift of being able to acknowledge” would be a more stylistic way of doing it.

        As far as using “merit” as a verb with no object is concerned, people simply don’t do that in normal speech. Some dictionaries say “mainly theological” [sic] of this usage, and therein lies the problem. The language of theology manuals is not necessarily the language of people when they are worshipping.

        One may merit a pay-rise, but meriting to be something is rather different as well as awkward. Add the difficult word “co-heirs” and you’ve descended into gobbledy-gook.

      3. This particular critic of ‘merit to’ would probably often just lose it, given that any idiomatic attempt to render it risks suggesting Pelagianism (and if that’s a criticism of the original, well, so it is–we need to lose the idea that we are dealing with uniformly good Latin, and in principle be open to the fact that a good translation will also be a good editing job, often improving the original and sometimes ironing out its mistakes, both linguistic and theological). Sometimes it will be possible to keep the association by going for ‘make worthy’, ‘make fit’–as in 1973 left untouched by 1998 EP 2. It’s a stretch to imagine myself saying something as stupid as ‘that we may merit to be co-heirs’ in public. The defensible theological sense of ‘merit to’ articulated by, say, Aquinas (however brilliantly) just doesn’t exist in modern English. Lutheran theology has shaped our language–and even if the hierarchical imagination doesn’t think his influence is for the better, it simply cannot be avoided.

  17. Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest ansd reignest, one God, world without end.
    AMEN.
    Book of Common Prayer ( 1928 USA; 1549?? Cof E)

    Mark Miller

      1. No, the addressee remains the Father throughout. Suppose I meet an acquaintance of mine on his own in the street and I say to him, “Hey John, I had a great time when you had me over for dinner in your house with your family last week because you’re a great bunch of people.” The addressee doesn’t change but the reference does widen.
        Now, I admit such an approach to the collect is pretty awkward, but at least it keeps heresy out of the picture.

      2. What is communicated is not what is said but what is heard. What meaning will the congregation ascribe to this?

  18. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Paul Inwood :

    The language of theology manuals is not necessarily the language of people when they are worshipping.
    Add the difficult word “co-heirs” and you’ve descended into gobbledy-gook.

    Theology doesn’t only live in manuals. The master of the theology of grace is Augustine. It is to him that we owe ‘in crowning their merits, you crown your own gifts’ in Preface 1 of the Saints. The Christian understanding of merit is quite distinctive, and needs to find a home in the liturgy.
    ‘Co-heirs’ denotes a perceived echo of Rom 8:17 and Eph 3:6, though NRSV’s ‘joint heirs’ and ‘fellow heirs’ would be more readily comprehensible aurally.

    1. Bruce, I’m glad we’re in agreement about Augustine.

      I have absolutely no problem with using “merit” as a noun, as indeed Augustine does in the phrase you quote. It’s when it’s used as a verb, and particularly a verb with no object, that the problems arise.

      Jeffrey Pinyan asks what the problem is with “co-heirs”. The problem is an aural one. It’s difficult to say aloud, and the average person in the pew will not know what it means at all when they hear it. It sounds very close to “coerce”. Someone even suggested that it made them think of an abbreviation for koala bears… 🙁 “Joint heirs”, as you suggest, Bruce, would be a better way to go.

      1. Okay, the aural problem I can understand. I thought you might have been saying that “co-heirs” is a difficult theological term added to the difficult theological term of “merit”.

        “Fellow heirs” or “joint heirs” would probably sound better, I agree. (Some women may protest to “fellow”, and some DEA folk may protest to “joint”, though.)

      2. I think this is a perfect example of the many instances in the Missal where some form of dynamic equivalence is necessary to do justice in the receptor language to the theological thought presented in the Latin of the Missal.

        I would suggest, at the very least, the following circumlocution: “that … through our merits we may together [perhaps even together with them, which is what the “co” of “coheirs” is implying] inherit eternal life…”

        thus avoiding using “merit” as a verb at all, and avoiding the awkward-to-proclaim “coheirs” as well.

    2. Augustine! But his rhetoric has been flogged to death, especially in the Jansenists, as well as being radicalized by Luther. Holding up Augustine as some kind of gold standard today is a formula for obsolescence. Augustine was indeed the great Doctor Gratiae, but he is not the last word on grace for today – anything but! Nor is Luther.

  19. Well, so far, at least, it appears priests will have an easy time of it correcting their expensive new Missals, in at least these cases:

    – draw a line through “your” and write in “the” in this Trinity Collect: heresy mended

    – draw a line through “to the immensity of your majesty” in the Preface of Christ the King and write “to your infinite majesty”: silliness averted

    – ditto with “when you give the sign” in Preface IV for the Dead: replace that “two thumbs up” image with 2008’s original “at your bidding”

    More difficult, however, to correct the texts Vox Clara completely botched:

    Preface II for the Dead:
    Ipse enim mortem unus accepit,
    ne omnes nos moreremur;
    immo unus mori dignatus est,
    ut omnes tibi perpetuo viveremus.

    Vox Clara:
    For as one alone he accepted death, (what?)
    so that we might all escape from dying; (Escape from Alcatraz)
    as one man he chose to die,
    so that in your sight we all might live for ever.

    2008
    For he is the one Man who accepted death
    to save us all from dying,
    the one Man who chose to die,
    that we might all for ever live to you.

    Preface V for the Dead:
    Quia, etsi nostri est meriti quod perimus,
    tuae tamen est pietatis et gratiae
    quod, pro peccato morte consumpti,
    per Christi victoriam redempti,
    cum ipso revocamur ad vitam.

    Vox Clara
    For even though by our own fault we perish, (stepped in front of a train?)
    yet by your compassion and your grace,
    when seized by death according to our sins, (what?)
    we are redeemed through Christ’s great victory
    and with him called back to life.

    2008
    For though we have deserved to perish,
    yet through your grace and loving-kindness,
    when we die because of sin
    we are called back to life with Christ,
    whose victory is our redemption.

    Forget the Latin grades of Vox Clara’s members; what we really need to see are their English scores! But again, it is upon CDW, that the final burden rests.

  20. Here’s a tidbit I think Monsignor Harbert, amongst others, will appreciate.

    Just checking (of all things, I know!), the rubric following the Mass propers for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

    It concerns the Missal’s recommendation (“It is desirable”) that a procession follow the Mass, or even a prolonged period of adoration following the Mass, in which a Host consecrated at that Mass is carried.

    The 2008 translation, approved by the bishops, says:
    “If a procession take place after Mass, when the Communion of the faithful is COMPLETED . . . ”

    The Vox Clara (and let’s call it by the name that is more accurate: the Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal) version, which received the CDW’s confirmatio, says:
    “If a procession takes place after Mass, when the Communion of the faithful is OVER . . . ”

    How is the change from the CORRECT English usage, COMPLETED, to the Northeastern United States colloquial OVER (I’ve corrected enough Seminarians’ papers in 40 years to recognise this) either NECESSARY or an IMPROVEMENT?

    The incompetence of the Congregation for Divine Worship is on full display, even in the minutiae of the rubrics! How sad for all who are buying expensive new Missals! I would say how embarrassing for them: but it seems that arrogance trumps any kind of shame in that Dicastery.

  21. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Paul Inwood :

    I would suggest, at the very least, the following circumlocution: “that … through our merits we may together . . inherit eternal life…”

    But Paul, as so often happens, in trying to avoid one infelicity, you have imported a far more serious one. In the Missal, ‘merits’ are attributed to Christ and the Saints, but not to us, except in a negative sense, meaning ‘what we deserve’. For instance, in the Roman Canon (new version):
    ‘admit us, we beseech you,
    into their company,
    not weighing our merits,
    but granting us your pardon’.

    Similarly, a Prayer over the People:
    May the weakness of your devoted people
    stir your compassion, O Lord, we pray,
    and let their faithful pleading win your mercy,
    that what they do not presume upon by their merits
    they may receive by your generous pardon.

    A Prayer over the Offerings that occurs often in Advent:
    Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings,
    and since we have no merits to plead our cause,
    come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy.

    And the Prayer over the Offerings for Sts Peter & Paul:
    We bring offerings to your altar, O Lord,
    as we glory in the solemn feast
    of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul,
    so that the more we doubt our own merits,
    the more we may rejoice that we are to be saved
    by your loving kindness.

    The Roman Rite knows nothing of ‘our merits’ except in a negative sense.

    1. I would have thought that “merit to be” was obviously the same as “mériter d’être” in French, which is the exact equivalent of “deserve to be”. Aren’t the congregations, upon hearing “merit to be”, going to think that that’s just an awkward way of saying “deserve to be”?

      But what’s wrong with “make us worthy to be”? Doesn’t that convey much more clearly, more accurately and in a much more exact manner, the nuance that the merit comes from God? And as a bonus, isn’t it also better English?

      1. That’s a challenge. But, allowing for the fact that I hardly know any Latin and can only speak from the perspective of a person in the pews, here’s a minimal modification that, by inserting a colon, speaks to me a little bit better:

        Have mercy on us all:
        with Mary…,
        with the Apostles…,
        and all the Saints…,
        make us worthy to be coheirs to eternal life,…

        And then, I guess that that requires inverting the order to avoid the confusion as to what the “with” implies on the role of Mary etc.

        Have mercy on us all:
        make us worthy to be coheirs to eternal life…,
        with Mary…,
        with the Apostles…,
        and all the Saints….

        As to the dangling “praise and glorify”, which is hard to fit in at this point, maybe it’s easiest to deal with it in a separate sentence, as in With them, may we praise and glorify you.

        (That makes me notice a side problem: isn’t it awkward to say “with x, with y, and z”? Shouldn’t one say either “with x, with y, and with z” or “with x, y and z”? Or shouldn’t the text omit the comma after the word “Apostles”, if there are only two groups, Mary on one side and the Apostles and Saints on the other side?)

        I think I get your point: translation is complicated. I agree!

    2. Bruce,

      I am very sorry, but this seems to me to be straining at gnats.

      If we may merit to be, then we must have some merits to start off with, otherwise we cannot merit to be.

      The theology, if one can call it that, behind the Congregation’s position is that all the faithful are dreadful, unworthy, ghastly, people with no merits whatsoever. I venture to suggest that this is not a position which congregations at the grass roots would empathize with to any degree. They have been brought up to think of an all-merciful God who looks on them with kindness, not a God with a basilisk stare that expects them to grovel in the dust.

      This is precisely the argument that laity, priests and bishops are having with what we are going to be given: an infinitely merciful, infinitely God who they can turn to in their hour of need and who they can address as Abba, is what they relate to, not an omnipotent being who cares nothing for the nothingness of his creatures.

      Fifth-century prayers and sentiments are not where the Church is today, even though the mandarins in the Congregation might like them to be.

      If the Roman Rite knows nothing of our merits except in a negative sense, then the Roman Rite clearly needs reforming. That is what Vatican II thought would be achieved. The Bishops of the Council are being betrayed by the postures of those who are trying to undo the insights of the Council, wouldn’t you say?

  22. The only problem now is that our hoped-for worthiness isn’t clearly said to be a result of God’s mercy. How about ‘Have mercy on us all, that with . . . we may be worthy’?

    You’re right about the ‘ands’. I’m afraid that, in the new version, not all of these are what you and I would see as correct.

    1. Or maybe replace
      Have mercy on us all:
      make us worthy to be…

      by
      By your mercy, make us all worthy to be…

      Compared with your suggestion, that version, if I dare to suggest, might have the advantage that the mercy and the worthiness are not separated by 27 words, so, when we hear that sentence, it will be easier for us to understand that they are related.

      But I have to admit that I am way out of my depth. I am surprised and grateful that you addressed my comments!

  23. I think we need to get rid of all this unworthy language.This language is a theological remnant of the middle ages when unworthiness led to the laity not partaking of the Eucharistic table in an environment of heightened clericalism. If the paschal mystery is only for those with merit and worthiness then we are all in trouble.

    1. If the paschal mystery is only for those with merit and worthiness then we are all in trouble.

      That’s exactly the opposite of what the prayers are saying. Consider the prayer for peace during the Communion Rite when the priest says “look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church”.

      Herein lies the paradox: we are not worthy of such grace, but we pray to be made worthy after-the-fact. That concept is found all throughout Paul’s epistles.

  24. There is no “merit” talk- or not much – in the Eastern churches. And, lo and behold, no Protestantism arose there either. Hmm.

    Sorry, this cuts- but all this merit language – no matter how venerable and “latin” – is a snare- it just obscures the Good News.

    And that is why there was a Reformation here.

    Mark Miller

  25. I agree that some of the lamest language in our liturgy turns on merit and worthiness. Make us worthy to inherit eternal life. Worthy to stand in your presence. Lord I am not worthy.

    We need a liturgical language we can believe in and recite from the heart. Too much rancid lip service has rotted our worship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *