The “correction” game

I have noticed people — including some on Pray Tell — picking up the Fr. Z-speak practice of referring to the new translation as “the corrected translation.” This description seems to me a misapplication of the language of “correction.”

If we are to speak of a “correction,” we must ask, a correction of what? It is certainly not a correction of 1973, but rather a replacement. It was done according to entirely different translation principles, so in many cases it isn’t really correcting mistakes in 1973, but rather presenting a different sort of thing entirely. It is not a “mistake” to translate calix as “cup,” and it is not a “correction” to change this to “chalice.”

To use a sports analogy, referees have the task of “correcting” players during a game. They make sure that the rules of the game are followed. They do not have the role of saying, “We’ve decided football is a stupid sport; start playing polo.” But this is what has happened with our new translation. The officials have declare the dynamic equivalence game a stupid one, and declared that we will now start playing the formal equivalence game. We might or might not agree with them, but let’s admit that what is happening is a change of the game itself, not a “correction” of how the game is being played.

While I know some are sick of hearing about 1998, it was at least an example of making corrections rather than playing a new game. Some of the prayers were quite radically different than 1973, but the translators were setting out to achieve a correct application of the existing norms. Maybe some of us prefer that translation precisely because we wanted what we had (i.e. a dynamically equivalent translation that sought to sound like natural English) “corrected” so that it included the theological richness of the Latin.

How long will it be before we get a truly “corrected” translation? One without unclear antecedents or piles of dependent clauses that leave hearers baffled? One that recognizes and respects the natural rhythms and rich vocabulary of the English language? Is it a matter of convincing folks that we really should be playing football after all, or is it possible that we can learn to love polo if we just tweak the rules a little bit so as to “correct” it?

73 comments

  1. To say that every prayer in the “corrected” translation is “correctly” translated would be a misnomer. But to say the method of translation was “corrected” from “dynamic equivalence” to a “literal dynamic” would not be a misnomer regardless of which decree from the Vatican one likes as a personal preference for translating other languages into English. I prefer a literal translation of Italian into English and get discombobulated when I hear it in Italian and see the supposed same thing in English.
    I also recognize that in some “alternate universe” a literal equivalency method of translating could be “corrected” to a dynamic equivalency. It just depends on how you translate “corrected.” For the new missal, I like dynamic equivalency of “corrected translation!” 🙂

  2. I also have a problem with people calling the old translation “bad.” While it may have issues, you are dealing with the language of prayer that people have used for over 40 years. You can’t tell the people that their prayer is “bad” or “wrong.” You can explain to them that their prayer changes to reflect the new translation of the RM3 without making any kind of value judgement (good or bad). This kind of values talk doesn’t help people handle the transition.

    1. It seems counterproductive to give an example of how to bad mouth an official, approved translation. What if people walk away with just that example?

      I think Domino’s did that few years ago.”We used to serve crummy pizza, but now we’ve got it right.” It made me feel I couldn’t trust their bakers to know what is good, so I had no desire to try their ‘new’ product. I feel the same way about this new translation: it comes from an institution with a history of making bad translations.

  3. Bravo Fritz — another fine post.

    It’s incorrect to refer to the new translation as “corrected”, for exactly the reason you cite: it did what it said it would.

    It’s not incorrect to call it “botched” because (as set out extensively on this site, and in other places, especially by Xavier Rindfleisch) it fails on its own terms, especially after the Vox Clara people fiddled with it. Hence, as long as Fr Z and Fr Allan and others insist on describing it as “corrected”, I will refer to it as “botched”.

  4. If there were a right place I could stand where I could address all the faithful Catholics in the US, I would ask these questions:

    The Pope and the Bishops of the Church tell us that we should have so much confidence in their leadership that we should just trust everything they tell us and go along with it. Do you agree with that a little or a lot?

    The Pope and the Bishops have decided that there was something not right about the prayers we have been using at Mass for the last forty years. Do you agree with that a little or a lot?

    The Pope and the Bishops have decided that starting in a couple of weeks, a lot of the prayers used in the Mass will be changed to sound more like Latin? Do you agree a little or a lot that the way we pray in English ought to sound more like Latin?

    As someone on my pastoral council said yesterday. “It’s too bad they didn’t at least consult with the priests who have to pray and lead these prayers everyday within their faith communities.”

    I have my copies of the missal at last. Looking over them I do find some prayable prayers and parts of prayers (as in parts of some of the EP’s. I also find a lot of obtuse and unclear wordings that will make it more difficult for the people to respond Amen from their hearts. I will continue to pray what the church actually believes and will do so in a way that seeks to build up the faith of the people while praising God.

    I just find it tragic that there are people who appear to believe that the effectiveness of the Mass is to be found in just following what is in red and praying what is in black.

    1. there are people who appear to believe that the effectiveness of the Mass is to be found in just following what is in red and praying what is in black.

      Yes, some people think that, but there are others (like myself) who agree with Vatican II that “something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration,” but without jettisoning that fidelity to the red and the black.

      I believe that fidelity to liturgical texts and rubrics is part of a much larger whole, and that no part of that whole should be sacrificed under the pretense of achieving a better whole.

    2. My guess is that if all the faithful Catholics would answer back, most would agree a little or disagree totally. There would be some who would agree a lot, but they would not be the majority, and the people at the top know this. That is why they’re shoving this missal down our throats.

  5. Perhaps it should be referred to as the incognito version. I noticed that the lyrics for the new sheet music are “copyright ICEL” which I though was a simple mistake. Then I noticed the prayer card purchased for the congregation to use is also “copyright ICEL”! Doesn’t Vox Clara want the credit?

  6. To suggest that the new translation is a correction is to imply that the 1973 translation was incorrect. How can that be so? The new translation is a revision, using different criteria. Whether it is also an improvement is an altogether different matter.

    1. Could you then explain how in the Roman Canon “which we offer FIRSTLY for your holy catholic Church” is a correction of “we offer them for your holy catholic Church”? One could understand the use of old english in a US liturgical text if it was in a sequence of ideas that then included secondly and thirdly. We don’t use that word in our american lexicon. It is quite an odd correction indeed.

      1. The word “firstly” might not be in your lexicon, but that has not stopped people on this blog from using it (admittedly in the context of “firstly, secondly, thirdly” or something like that).

      2. Because the Canon proceeds to mention the others for whom the Sacrifice is also offered, such as the Pope, the Bishop, all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith, those present who (interestingly) offer for themselves and those who are dear to them etc?

    2. Without wishing to be pedantic, something is either correct or incorrect. More correct is analogous to being a little bit pregnant! As for “only two more weeks”, be careful what you wish for.

  7. Calling it a “corrected translation” is a sales pitch tool. It’s like when a company refers to a change of an established product as being “new and improved”.

    Let’s just hope this new product has as popular a rollout as New “Coke” did.

  8. If, when I repaint my house, I change the color from yellow to blue, have I “corrected” the color? Certainly not. I have, for a variety of reasons, some of them entirely personal, chosen a different color.
    Maybe I have returned to it to the color it was painted when it was first built, but to call the change a “correction” is, indeed, a misnomer.

    1. Of course, the people who believe that your house should never be any color except the same color it was painted when it was first built, would say you “corrected” the color, because in their opinion, you made a mistake when you changed it to a different color.

  9. It doesn’t have anything to do with correct or incorrect. It has to do with POWER. People in power wanted things DIFFERENT, and they presented those things under the guise of “it needs to be corrected.” They use their power to push their wants through a process and then inflict them on the People of God. (e.g. force those English speaking people to make it sound like Latin. They want to bring Latin back to life. All of the Philosophical and Theological language they know is in Latin. They can’t think any other way. They even believe that the Latin language has a certain “divine inspiration” about it. It is a kind of idolatry.)
    Also, some of you seem to think this “translation or transliteration” was done by great scholars. Much of it was done by seminarians of the more “right wing” colleges in Rome. It was not an exalted process! That is why it is so difficult to deal with. We are powerless. You all are giving the process and the product way too much credit.

    1. Here’s my reasoning (from June of this year):

      In the Gloria, “hominibus” is on its own, whereas in the Creed, “homines” is followed soon by “homo”.

      The pairing of “homines” and “homo” expects a similar translation of those two terms. Some proposed translations don’t fit the bill: “for us people … became a person” is not accurate (the Son was already a Person), for example. I suppose “for us humans … became a human” would work, although personally I find the word “human” in this context sounds a bit more scientific than theological, but that’s my subjective take on the matter.

      LA 30 says that “When the original text, for example, employs a single term in expressing the interplay between the individual and the universality and unity of the human family or community (such as the Hebrew word ’adam, the Greek anthropos, or the Latin homo), this property of the language of the original text should be maintained in the translation.” I think this is why the translation of the Creed uses “for us men … became man.”

      But LA 30 doesn’t appear to be apropos to the use of “hominibus” in the Gloria, and “hominibus” is not linked to another use of “homo”. The pairing in the Gloria is between God (in heaven) and people (on earth).

      That’s my attempt to explain why the word would be translated differently in different contexts.

      Fr. Ruff essentially said the same thing a couple of days ago.

  10. This is kind of a dumb question but I looked up the church’s position on Christ’s universal salvation (which is called “Apokatastasis” or “Apocatastasis”). The doctrine was maintained by the Second Vatican Council and by Pope John Paul II and it is promoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church according to what I read.

    If the translation of “pro multis” as “for many” is a de facto denial of Christ’s message of universal salvation, then wouldn’t the words of consecration, in the new mass, be ineffectual? I mean whether you are a Thomist, a Scholastic, an existentialist or a mystic, if the priests utter words of consecration which are not effectively the message that Jesus would have delivered to his disciples at the Last Supper wouldn’t that render them meaningless in terms of causing the sacramental presence of Jesus on the altar?

    1. I’m no fan of “for many” in the new translation–or practically anything else in it, for that matter–but I would like to point out, in the interest of being balanced and fair, that some other Christian denominations currently have “for many” in their Eucharistic Prayers, most notably most of the Anglican rites I have knowledge of. The Episcopal Church, for instance, renders Jesus’s reference to the cup thus:

      “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”
      -The Book of Common Prayer, p. 363

      Since many, if not most, Anglicans believe (along with Roman Catholics, Lutherans, etc.) that the Words of Institution effect a change in the bread and wine, I’m fairly confident that the Episcopal Church wouldn’t have allowed “many” if its use were considered a denial of the death of Christ for the entire human race.

      Like I said, I overwhelmingly favor the retention of “all” over the introduction of “many”; I’m just trying to point out that the use of the latter can’t really be used to argue that the new institution narrative is fundamentally deficient and ineffective.

      1. And similarly, the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches have also used “for many” in their anaphoras. If not for the mistranslation and the subsequent narrative that developed from it, we wouldn’t be talking about this.

      2. I’ve decided to email the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (www.goarch.org) to ask them about the decision to render ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν καὶ πολλῶν as “for you and for many” in their English translations of the DL of Basil and the DL of Chrysostom.

        I’ll post again later if I receive a response.

  11. John, thanks for what you contributed. Remember the first purpose of the translation is to make it sound like Latin, not that it be a correct translation or understandable.
    The translators did not do the kind of thinking you are doing. The seminarians who did the work were not yet educated to do your kind of thinking. The criterion was that “many” sounds more like “multis” than “all” or “the multitude” do. There is the conviction that all of this will keep Latin alive.
    The Latin literary devices that are found in the Latin prayers
    make no sense when they are imposed on the English language. You can make Latin word order so that the word order itself carries a message. When you try to duplicate that in the English language, you get a mess and not poetry as Barron believes.

    1. John, thanks for what you contributed. Remember the first purpose of the translation is to make it sound like Latin, not that it be a correct translation or understandable.
      The translators did not do the kind of thinking you are doing. The seminarians who did the work were not yet educated to do your kind of thinking. The criterion was that “many” sounds more like “multis” than “all” or “the multitude” do.

      The person who made that decision about the wording of the canon is not some seminarian, but the Holy Father (in accordance with the Circular Letter Dum toto terrarum of the S.C. Divine Worship [AAS 1974 pg. 98 or Documents on the Liturgy, 905]:

      Pope Paul VI [Latin: “Summus Pontifex”] reserves to himself the power to approve personally all translations of the sacramental forms into the vernacular.

      The change from “for all” to “for many” was made by direction of the current “Summus Pontifex” and the letter directing the change provides reasons beyond your suggestions.

      1. But the Supreme Pontiff, Blessed John Paul II, approved the norms of Liturgiam authenticam and ordered them to be published, and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI entrusted the granting of the confirmatio attesting to the observance of those norms to the Congregation for Divine Worship.

        Yet we find at least three dozen pages citing instances in which the Vox Clara Missal fails to uphold the mandate set forth in LA, condensed here:

        http://www.praytellblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Xavier-Rindfleish-Comparing-Received-and-Final1.pdf

        and the Vox Clara cheerleaders shrug and say, “At least . . . ” Very inconsistent.

      2. Why do you have so much trust in Liturgiam authenticam? You are content to merely state that it is the law and you refuse to question it.

        Now the new missal has been granted a “confirmatio”. That means that following it is also going to be the law, right? Yet, you continue to question the new missal and there is no sign of your displeasure abating.

        Isn’t that a bit inconsistent? Shouldn’t you, either accept the new missal with the same unquestioning trust with which you accepted LA, or start evaluating the faults of LA with the same critical eye with which you size up the new missal?

        (I would love to read an exposition of the areas of difficulty in LA.)

      3. Claire, you’re missing my point and my interest. Where I live and what I do, the imposition of the new translation does not affect me in the least, thanks be to God, and I have nothing but good wishes toward all of you whom it does impact.

        My sole purpose in being involved in Pray Tell at all, if you were to go back to the first things I contributed, was to point out to the blindly jubilant cheerleaders of Vox Clara’s Pell-Moroney-Ward-Johnson Missal, who consider themselves the uber (if not the only) obedient children of the Church and the keepers of her liturgical orthodoxy, that the very item they champion itself neither obeys the norms that have been established nor conveys adequately, in all its formulations, the orthodox faith of the Church.

        Accepting the new Missal is not something I have to do. Evaluating Liturgiam authenticam is not something I care to do.

        In fact, having seen the gratitude with which those in authority accepted Canon Griffiths’ and Father Ruff’s observations, and having experienced first hand the undaunted snarkiness of the aforementioned cheerleaders, I think it’s time to start getting more sleep as the hours of darkness lengthen in this season and to start enjoying more beverages at Da Roberto’s!

        Buon Avvento a tutti! And, as a famous Stigmatist around these parts, who was always very kind to me years ago, used to say: Coraggio! (And he, too, knew whereof he spoke, courtesy of holy Church!)

        For a critique of Liturgiam authenticam, see Peter Jeffery, “Translating Tradition: A Chant Historian Reads ‘Liturgiam Authenticam'”, Liturgical Press, 2005, $21.95

  12. Claire, you can also read Peter Jeffrey’s scathing critique in four installments in Worship magazine, which most academic libraries access electronically through ATLAserials. It’s good reading!

  13. Not too many years ago, we were told to spell words such as sulphur and sulphuric with the ph because they were accepted in those days. These days, such spellings are considerd wrong because the rules have changed. Older teachers and books have to be corrected to give the new spellings because the convention has changed.

    Is the old spelling essentially wrong? I don’t think anybody would think so, as the spelling of words are exactly just what people make of them. But because the new rules specified only one form, the old spellings became wrong in the new framework.

    The old English translation is in need of correction by the new standard, thus, it is correct to speak of the new translation as “corrected”. It is interesting to note that not all languages needed to undergo as massive a correction as the outgoing English translation even though the rules have changed. It was interesting how the article in the archdiocesan Chinese newspaper noted that the Chinese have always been saying the Chinese equivalent of “And with your spirit”, and that the English Catholics are finally correcting their mistake.

    1. Haha, but unfortunately, the powers that be have decided otherwise. So we have to correct ourselves, or at least I have to, since students are assessed by the new standard.

  14. I must say, as a partisan (albeit a disappointed one) of the new translation, that Deacon Fritz is quite correct about the incorrectness of referring to the new translation as the corrected translation. For reason: the new translation is not a corrected version of any other translation. It is a new translation directly from the Latin, and, therefore, not in any meaningful sense a ‘correction’ of the translation which preceded it. Still, while I share in the horror at some of the inept imperfections of grammar and style, I will, yet, champion it over the 73, the deficiencies of which I believe to be of greater theological and stylistic lack of substance; a shallow, insinuatingly casual style which falls far short of the substance and grace needed for its high ecclesiastical calling. It withholds from God his due and does not aedify those who use it. It would take a mountain of effort truly to ‘correct’ it. Thus, an outright NEW translation was required.

      1. JO’L – I am just beginning to view this vaunted 1998 translation; and, thus far, cannot discern why it has such an ardent following – but, I shall keep reading… perhaps it will become evident. However, having reviewed the order of mass and the ordinary of the mass, I’m a bit surprised that Gloria is not improved, but worse. And Sanctus? We still have that somewhat silly ‘power and might’ rather than ‘hosts’, or even (why not) ‘sabaoth’. The rest of the order of mass offers no clue of superiority – even of equality. Perhaps my eyes will be opened when I get to the collects. Have they, too, been neutered in a ridiculousy transparent intent to clumsily purge our language of ‘his’ and ‘hers’?

  15. After reading an earlier post by Jack Rakosky, I am convinced that acts of absolute uniformity never work. The absolute uniformity ordered in the 1969 constitution Missale Romanum, modeled on Quo Primum, simply was and is not viable in the postconciliar world.

    The new translation is not “corrected”. It is the vision of a certain liturgical school of the Roman Rite. It is not the vision of most on PTB. Nevertheless, why should progressive Catholics try to defeat the new translation? That is no more than wishing for another act of uniformity which is bound to anger, divide, and fail. It is time for the Vatican, bishops’ conferences, and bishops to recognize that the following is the reality:

    1) We are one Roman rite, united in doctrine and dogma but diverse in liturgy;

    2) The current liturgical ideologies and ideological divides existed before the Council, but were not able to be expressed until Tridentine uniformity was ended;

    3) The EF, the typical OF, the Sacramentary, and the new Roman Missal are all licit liturgies, even if a parish chooses to celebrate only one typical liturgy or translation;

    4) No Roman Catholic should be prevented from worshiping in the liturgy of his or her conviction.

    I am convinced that there will be no peace until all four of these points are acknowledged, and the last two are put into action.

    1. 2) The current liturgical ideologies and ideological divides existed before the Council, but were not able to be expressed until Tridentine uniformity was ended;

      A great insight!

      4) No Roman Catholic should be prevented from worshiping in the liturgy of his or her conviction.

      Taken at face value, a problematic statement on a number of levels.

      1. Re: #42 by David Mathers on November 15, 2011 – 8:51 am

        David, proposition (4) might be better worded this way: No Roman Catholic should be prevented from worshiping in the licit, orthodox, and valid liturgy of his or her convictions.

        If a person does not believe in the postmodern reforms, he or she should be able to find a priest to provide at least Mass in the 1962 Missal. Alternately, a person who cannot ablde by the new translation should be able to find a priest who will say Mass according to the Sacramentary. Both are licit, orthodox, and valid liturgies. A bishop should not impede the choice to worship according to pre-conciliar or post-conciliar paradigms. The notion that every new typical liturgy or translation must supersede previous versions is no longer tenable given the strife of the past fifty years. Tolerance of liturgical diversity is the only way we will survive as a Rite. Otherwise, we will continue to tear away the Body of Christ.

        Re: #43 by Jeffrey Pinyan on November 15, 2011 – 9:27 am

        Licit traditionalism is well-defined in Summorum Pontificum, the 2008 amendment, and Universae Ecclesiae. This is the only form of the pre-conciliar liturgy which is available. Diversity cannot be entirely freeform. It must, at some point, respect the previous judgments of the Holy See.

      2. Liturgical diversity has always existed in Catholicism. However that diversity was usually geographic, ethnic, and linguistically determined, and often fostered schismatic and heretical diversity.

        The uniformity of Trent made possible by the printing press likely served a very providential purpose (along with international religious orders) of holding together Roman Catholicism as a transnational movement through the period of the emergence of nationalism and colonialism.

        We now faced have a global world where both interconnectedness and diversity are becoming valued. We are coming to recognize, particularly in the USA, that religious diversity and competition strengthen rather than weaken religion. Religious monopolies generally produce lazy religion both among the clergy and the laity. No matter how sturdy religious monopolies appear they crumble quickly when key elements of the environment change.

        In a world of religious diversity and competition, the strength of Roman Catholicism lies in its diversity, especially the diversity of the spiritualities of its religious orders and saints, but also the diversity of its Rites. We need greater diversity of Liturgical Rites not so much across the world (enculturation) as within the same geographical area. In the past different Rites (enculturation) led to schism and heresy because people where separated by geography, language and culture much more than today.

        The following is an interesting theological discussion of the issue by a Melkite priest arguing for the value of liturgical diversity with a response by John Meyerdoff who argues for the traditional unity of the liturgy at the altar around one bishop. Meyerdoff criticizes the present diversity of the Orthodox in the USA (overlapping ethnic bishops).

        http://orthocath.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/melkite_articles_khairallah_meyendorff.pdf

        Competition within Catholicism has worked well in the case of religious orders, it might work even better for Rites.

    2. There is also the problem that not all “Traditionalists” want to use the “Benedictine” E.F. Missal. They want the 1962 edition, or the 1961 edition (w/o Joseph), or the 1959 edition (w/ perfides), or the 1955 edition, or the 1951 edition, or…

    3. why should progressive Catholics try to defeat the new translation?

      Because it is unnatural English that puts an unnecessary burden on those who long for Christ. It should be opposed by conservative Catholics for the same reason, just many of them tried, and apparently succeeded, to defeat the 1970.

      On 2, factions existed before Vatican ii, but we’re coercively suppressed by the anti-Modernist campaign. It was the end of that that led to the flourishing of factions. V2 was an early and important expression of the end of that campaign.

    4. The USA with its high level of diversity and religiosity is a wonderful laboratory for promoting the diversity of Catholicism.

      We should be promoting all the Eastern Rites, especially now that we have so many exiles from the Mideast by 1) making it easy for Roman Rite people to become Eastern Rite but not vice versa, and 2) promoting a married clergy among Eastern Rites in the USA.

      The Melkite Catholics appear to be trying again to reassert their ability to ordain married priests in the USA. The following article is a good place to begin to look at the long troubled history of this issue in the USA

      http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/melkite-catholic-church-to-ordain-married-men-to-priesthood-in-usa/

      We should be promoting a diversity of English Roman Missals: the Current (soon to be Old) Missal, The New Missal, the 1998 Missal, and create an Anglican Missal not only to serve former Anglican but everyone else. The key to this diversity is to let parishes (e.g. the pastoral council) rather than bishops and priests decide what will be used at the local level (including the EF).

      Of course we should also be promoting more Spanish in our English liturgies. We should all be learning to sing the Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Lord’s Prayer in Spanish. I would like to see parishes do the lessons bilingually, preferably chanting the Spanish.

      Saturday the Episcopalians consecrated a new bishop for Washington, and installed her on Sunday. I often watch their service which is archived on the web. She has a strong reputation as a congregational builder. For the first time I heard a reading and litanies in Spanish, and the Lord’s Prayer was in both Spanish and English simultaneously. Gosh we need a few smart bishops like she appears to be. Wonder where they might be found?

  16. I think we would all be happy if the current trans and the 1998 trans were retained alongside the new translation; and more, we should have freedom to write new texts, think up creative ways of doing eucharist etc.

    1. “Think up creative ways of doing Eucharist”

      I’m uncertain as to whether that remark is tongue in cheek, since in that direction lies Clown Masses! On the other hand, I would prefer a Clown Mass to the Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary form! I think the key is that the presider must respect the community; alternate forms may be offered, but shouldn’t be imposed at any level!

      1. I’d much prefer reverent clowns to _any_ Mass in the EF! [Although I don’t have any problem with those who prefer that form, so long as they don’t require it of me, any more than I would require them to attend/participate in/be limited to the OF.]

        Why are we discriminating against clowns, anyway? Are they not entitled to worship with us? Not very Christian to exclude them, is it?

    2. We don’t do Eucharists. We receive it as a Gift from Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, through his Church.

      When we start creating liturgies, we are surely on the wrong track.

  17. I regret my earlier comments were not clear. Someone made the decision to change the translation from “for all” to “for many.” It is the translation of “pro multis.” The choice “for many” was made because it sounds like “pro multis.” This is a transliteration rather than a translation. “For many” cannot be said to have been selected to clarify doctrine! The Blood of Christ was shed for all, whether or not we all respond to it being or having been shed for us.
    I reiterate my earlier comments.

    1. Someone made the decision to change the translation from “for all” to “for many.”

      It appears that that unfortunate decision was taken by Pope Benedict in person.

  18. “Clown Masses” and Pontifical Mass according to the EF.
    There is where the discussion should go!

    This is again “protestant”: but hey, we should always be able to see the poverty of the forms we humans employ to convey the most serious things. The word of Jesus, the bread and wine, the form of a thanskgivng at a Jewish meal, these were given us. Everything else, from clowns to liturgical gloves and carried chairs are ours, and can express, but also they are ultimately broken human expressions. Including cappas great and small.

    Only when their inherent brokeness is not placed at the cross are they in the way of God’s word.

    1. I linked to them already, but here they are in quotation:

      3. There are, however, many arguments in favour of a more precise rendering of the traditional formula pro multis:

      a. The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26,28; Mk 14,24) make specific reference to “many” ([Greek word transliterated as polloin])) for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53, 11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said “for all” (for example, cf. Luke 12,41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is “for many”, and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.
      b. The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.
      c. The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.
      d. “For many” is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas “for all” is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.
      e. The expression “for many”, while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.
      f. In line with the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts in the typical editions.

      You can (as before) <a href='http://www.bettnet.com/blog/index

    2. You can follow the links in my response to your previous comment to find them. I commented quoting the reasons, but included a link, which appears to have gotten it stuck in the moderation queue.

  19. Our liturgical confusion or benightedness is very, very deep, to the point that a great number of Catholic massgoers have no meaningful experience of the Eucharist at all. The most common epithet on Catholic lips about the Eucharist is: “boring”. The entire translation debacle is a deckchair epiphenomenon or symptom. We need to think much more about creative liturgy. Instantly reaching for the “Clown masses” meme is a sure sign of resistance to such thought.

    1. JO’L writes:

      ‘The most common epithet on Catholic lips about the Eucharist is: ‘boring’.

      1) Perhaps the source of their boredom is the flat language of the liturgy to which they are subjectd.
      2) Or perhaps they are bored because the celebrant thinks they are bored and turns the mass into a little personality show with running comments to keep them interested. (Such celebrants are boring indeed… and most likely bored themselves.
      3) Maybe its the trite and banal psuedo-folk and quasi-pop music which is thought essential to prevent boredom, but actually causes both boredom and irritation.
      3a) Or maybe the lack of genuine church music which edifies and is the antidote for boredom.
      4) Perhaps these masses more resemble the ed Sullivan show than Divine Worship, done with an air calculated not at all to be confused with any sort of holy or ecclesiastical divine mystery
      4) While I can think of other possible causes of boredom, I do wonder at the same time if the statement is really true. If it is then we have a disturbing state of affairs and the Church should get back to being Church. It could be, though, that we are being criticised by a generation of folk who are bored people… and that would not be the Church’s fault at all — so long as the Church were acting like the Church and not a sort of oh-so-harmless religious entertainment venue.

  20. Jeffrey and Samuel, I am aware of that document. That document proves nothing. Prior to that document, they wanted “pro multis” to be translated “for many.” The document “reasons” to nothing. They are convenient arguments that they use to try to prop up a conclusion they had already determined.

    1. Jeffrey and Samuel, I am aware of that document. That document proves nothing.

      It proves that there were reasons, whether you find them convincing or not, other than yours, “The criterion was that “many” sounds more like “multis” than “all” or “the multitude” do.”

      It also establishes that the decision was, in this case, made by the Holy Father and not by “seminarians who did the work.”

  21. John, you may be correct. I believe the importance of making it all sound and look like Latin is to protect what he considers a philosophical and theological heritage. Think of all the philosophical and theological thinking of the middle ages. We would need to think differently and the powers at be are more concerned for what they think is precision than true prayer. Prayer that does not cause divisiveness but enables true Communion. He gave a lecture while he was on one of his trips where he practically made Latin sound like a divine language.

  22. John and William:

    1. There are other groups of Christians that use “for many” in their English Eucharistic Prayers. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is one such group. I think it would be worth asking these groups of Christians to explain their support for the use of “for many” in their institution narratives. (cf. Matthew 26:28)

    2. I do not think Ratzinger wants to “end any sense of communion with other Christian sects.” I do not think he denies the “universal salvific mission of Jesus.” (I recall the CDF declaration Dominus Iesus that he had a hand in.)

    3. I do not think “for many” denies the universal salvific mission of Jesus. I think the post-Tridentine Catechism explained the purpose of these words in the consecration well: “For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race.”

    4. Where and when did Ratzinger make Latin out to be practically a divine language?

  23. Jeffrey, read the full address by Benedict that he gave while he was in, I think, Germany. It is the same address in which he said those awful things about an important figure in Islam.
    The one he was chastised for.

  24. Here is the question I asked the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:


    I am a Latin-rite Catholic who has a question about the English translation of the various anaphoras used by the GOAA for the Divine Liturgy.

    The English-speaking Latin-rite world is preparing to receive a new English translation of the Mass. One change in the new translation is in the words of Christ over the wine: “pro vobis et pro multis” is being translated as “for you and for many” rather than “… for all”, as had been done in 1973.

    I notice that the English translations of the Divine Liturgies of St. Basil and of St. John Chrysostom use “for you and for many” in the same place. I know the Greek words there are […]. I also know virtually every English translation of the Bible uses the words “for you and for many” in Matthew 26.

    Is there ever any discussion among GOAA faithful (laity or clergy) about whether the translation of “for many” is problematic, pastorally difficult, or even at odds with other scripture such as 1 John 2:2?

    Thank you for your assistance. May the peace of God and the God of peace be with you!

    And here is the response I received:


    Thanks for writing; this is a very interesting question. I do not know of any rendering within the Byzantine rite of this part of the Anaphora as “for you and for all”, but only as “… for many”. Since this part of the Liturgy is based exclusively on Scripture, it depends on the original Greek, which, as you pointed out, uses the word “pollon” which means “many”. Thus, we should and would use the same words which Christ spoke. And to that point, I have also read that the phrase “for many” was an Aramaic expression which essentially meant “for all” (see Matthew 20:28).

    For these reasons, I have no issue with any Eucharist quoting Christ by saying “… for many”, nor would I worry that it sounds exclusivist. In the Byzantine Orthodox rite (such as in Chrysostom’s Liturgy), the very next thing the priest says after quoting this Scripture is, while elevating the Holy Gifts above the altar, “Thine own of thine own, we offer unto Thee in behalf of all and for all”. This further emphasizes that “many” is not meant to be taken literally. The Gifts have truly been gifted to all mankind, even if the Church believes that only those properly prepared should partake of them.

    In Christ,
    SM

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