Eduardo Peñalver on the Missal’s rollout …

…over at Commonweal:

What a clunky, disaster of a mass that was. I think I’m going to go grab a chalice of scotch.


  1. Perhaps Mass was a disaster in Eduardo ‘s parish, who knows what went wrong, but for many of us, the first official Mass of the corrected translation was a long overdue tonic.

    1. “Corrected” only in George Pell’s alternative universe. The 1973 translations of the eucharistic prayers are perfectly correct and more theologically reflective than the literalistic dreck now proposed. And is Pell himself not responsible for an egregious mistranslation in the new EP II?

  2. Eduardo apparently doesn’t like “chalice.” Well, I wasn’t so keen on “and also with you.” But I said it for 40+ years. Offer it up, Eduardo.

  3. For all those who like the new translation or at least are trying our best to learn and love it these commentaries are going to get old fast and be less and less productive. For all the critical opinions I have read there are just as many in support of the newer translation. Some say clunky, or not to their individual liking but not many claim the 73 translation was actually better, expressed more, or was more Faithful to the Latin Pauline Missal. Maybe that should be the start point for an evaluation at this juncture.

    1. Nope, no way, Mitch.

      You’re not going to re-direct the conversation toward whether the new text follows your pet theory of translation. For me, and I’m sure many others, there are other questions far more interesting – such as what a better translation theory than 2001 would look like, how the new text will have to be improved (soon, I hope), what went wrong this time and what we can learn from it, and so forth.

      As to whether the ’73 text was a literal translation of Latin – see my recent comment to Simon Dodd on another thread. If you’re trying to answer that question, you’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick.

      If you find all these other questions (as distinct from your narrow question), and the discussion of them, tiresome, well, with all due respect – you don’t have to read opinions that don’t interest you.



      1. One of those more interesting questions, in my view, is why we’re translating the ordinary of the Mass in the first place. There’s no warrant for it in the conciliar text, which leaves the proponents in the awkward position of relying on the very same authority that is now decried: The Holy See, standing alone. I would prefer to see us progress toward what I think is quite clearly the liturgy described in Sacrosanctum Concilium: Vernacular propers and readings, latin ordinary. Of course, then we can still scrap over how the propers are to be translated, which seems to preserve a measure of fun for everyone—what’s life without whimsy?

        The task of my generation (I’m 31) is to sift the genuine conciliar reforms from the postconciliar innovations, to preserve the former and to dismantle the latter—to scrub the accumulated crud (versus populum, mistranslation, liturgical dance, etc.) from the liturgy. We are told that Mauro Cardinal Piacenza recently told seminarians that the generation behind mine “will probably be the first generation that will correctly interpret the Second Vatican Council”; that’s probably overstated, but on their watch, the Council—the real Council, the “historical Vatican II” if you will—will be implemented for the first time.

      2. Father you don’t have to read my opinion if it does not interest you. As for “respect” you have shown me none in any exchange.

      3. Simon, I admit that I am vastly older than you (I’m 36), so my opinion probably doesn’t count as being from your generation, but I’d like to suggest that not all of us think that a Mass in a long-dead language that nobody on the planet learns as their native tongue. If the Mass is going to speak to me, it’s going to have to speak in a language I understand. Attending Mass in Latin leaves me cold: it’s an incomprehensible wash of holiness that, frankly, I can get listening to a CD in the car.

        The new translation is so far from vernacular English that it is threatening to leave me just as cold.

        For people who want incomprehensible holiness, we have the EF. For those of us who want to understand, the Mass must be in everyday language. To me, the task of my generation is to create a church in which the People of God are able to fully engage and participate in the summit of their spiritual life. Latin is dead. Let it rest in peace.

      4. Simon

        Do you have any idea how creepy, unattractive, manipulative and conceited your scheme appears?

      5. @Paul: I’m well aware that there are some folks my age who sympathize more with the “Vatican II generation” as it would doubtless like to style itself, but I think they’re a minority. I was quite shocked to discover that most younger people are considerably more orthodox than a cynic might expect, and I don’t think many Catholics would accept your quite astonishing claim that the liturgy of the Church must meet you on your terms rather than vice-versa.

      6. Simon, curious you should say that, as Jesus was quite consistent in meeting others in their own space, not demanding that they bend themselves to his will in order to be ministered to.

        While we all like to think ourselves in the majority, I’m going to suggest that the true majority in the pews is made up of the silent worshiper. The people who come every week, who say the responses on the card and go home again. You and I are at opposite ends of the argument, but both ends are minority positions.

        I find it curious that you find my paraphrase of SC to be quite astonishing. All I seek is full and active participation by the People of God. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you are seeking more Latin, less English and, therefore, more distance between people and liturgy, leading to less participation.

      7. Paul,
        What I found quite astonishing was your statement that “[i]f the Mass is going to speak to me, it’s going to have to speak in a language I understand”—which is not a paraphrase of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Actually, it verges on a contradiction of it; SC, you’ll recall, says only that the vernacular “may” be used in “suitable place[s]” such as the readings, and expressly demands that “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” Isn’t it strange that some folks read permissive language like “may” as directory, and don’t read directory language like “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” at all?

        As to full and active participation, you’re making the same mistake as David Mathers (below) and the answer’s the same. You rely on an erroneous and ahistorical dichotomy between “full and active participation by the People of God” in the Liturgy and the language of the Liturgy. That phrase wasn’t made up by the council; Pius X called for active participation in the liturgy in 1903’s Tra le sollecitudini, and Pius XII’s Mediator Dei says the same thing in somewhat different words, so it’s quite obvious that the council envisioned no incompatibility between active participation and a Liturgy entirely in Latin, a fortiori one with the readings and propers in the vernacular. I participate fully and actively in the extraordinary form when I attend, as both Piuses and the Council Fathers asked—notwithstanding that the liturgy is in Latin. You could, too.

        What I am seeking is to help the faithful implementation—at long last—of Vatican II’s liturgical vision. Doing so could scarcely lead to less participation that the botched postconciliar distortion of it.

    2. Yes, Fr Zuhlsdorf and the National Catholic Register has a lot of supporters of the new trans. But if you look closely their reasons are ideological, they think it is some kind of payback time against liberals; they have not addressed the linguistic problems of the new trans.

      1. I have to laugh at these poor guys desperately trying to like the new trans. They remind me of excited communist students of the 1960s desperately trying to find inspiration in Stalinist jargon and wisdom in Mao’s little red book.

        It just won’t fly!

    3. Simon Dodd, you are like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. There is no way of divorcing the authentic sense of Vatican II from that authentic sense as enacted and interpreted by Paul VI and the Council Fathers in the years immediately following the Council. What is much easier to do is to see the inconsistency between the work of the Council and its dismantling in recent decades.

      1. Joe, I’m sorry to tell you that this is just nonsense. The constantly-recited claim that the council is being “dismantled” is incredible to anyone who’s familiar with its documents, and so your last sentence doesn’t make it out of the gate: Its premise is unworkable. And as for “divorcing the authentic sense of Vatican II from that authentic sense as enacted and interpreted by Paul VI and the Council Fathers in the years immediately following the Council”: That may be true in some cases, just as it’s always true that there are difficult cases that the text doesn’t settle the question (legal beagles have heard that kind of gambit before). But it is not at all difficult to untangle the authentic acts of the council from the acts that have nothing to do with the council. It may be impossible, for example, to untangle Unitatis Redintegratio from postconciliar developments, if anyone cared to do so. But it is entirely possible, by contrast, to see that Vatican II said not a word—not a word, Joe!—about ripping out altar rails, turning priests around to face the congregation, and distributing communion in the hand. Now, you may think may of those developments were a good idea, and I’ll happily stipulate that they were, arguendo. But what they were not, beyond any conceivable doubt, were authentic acts of Vatican II—to the contrary, in fact, they were acts of disobedience to the Council, which forbade “innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them,” which simply isn’t a case you can make with a straight face for the examples given above.

      2. Simon, your mind sounds pretty made up, but perhaps you’d be interested in the work of a leading scholar on Vatican II: “What Happened at Vatican II” by O’Malley. He shows, convincingly I think, that there truly is a “spirit” of Vatican II shown in the markedly different tone of language at Vatican II compared to any previous council. It follows, then, that those who ran with the council and went beyond its literal prescriptions (which in the nature of things are few in number) were following the genuine spirit of the Council.

        The Fathers of Vatican II probably didn’t have in mind every reform that came to be after 1965, nor did they need to. They did have in mind opening up a new direction in the Church, without necessarily knowing where it would lead.

        Vatican II, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, opened a door. The Church as a whole walked through the open door and kept on walking. I don’t buy the minority view that we were meant to stand in the middle of that open doorway and block it for all time. That’s not why doors open.

        Free advice: don’t dismiss as “nonsense” what is, in my estimation, a majority viewpoint among leading scholars.


      3. I’ve read it, and the America piece on which it expands. He’s a terrific writer, but an enjoyable read doesn’t translate to a persuasive case. The biggest problem that he tries mightily to overcome, as must all similar efforts, is one that Judge Frank Easterbrook lyrically interred many years ago: “Intent is elusive for a natural person, fictive for a collective body.” (Text, History and Structure in Statutory Interpretation (1994).) Mutatis mutandis, Easterbrook would tell us that if we peer inside the heads of council fathers, we would find a hodgepodge; we can assume that they all meant to serve the interest of the Church, but demonstrably they disagreed about where that lies, as O’Malley recollects! Thus, the texts adopted by the council represent the intersections where council fathers with very different ideas about the subjects at hand were able to converge. The reason that people advert to the “spirit” of Vatican II is to escape the limits of the text—but the texts are all that “the council,” collectively, stamped with its authority. And to escape the limits of the text is to take minority viewpoints—perhaps those of Patriarch Maximos—that failed to win the Council’s backing and to elevate them over the texts that did.

        One response to this argument is that the legislative model is inapt; the council, after all, had the assistance of the Holy Spirit. But I should think that that makes it even more problematic and presumptuous—not less!—to go beyond the texts.

        As to the majority viewpoint in academia, as Russell had it, it may be “one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them.” 😉 I think you’d probably agree that many of those folks would count various postconciliar developments supposedly done in the conciliar spirit as part of the council. That mistaken equivalence would lead one to equate dismantling of postconciliar mistakes with dismantling of the council, no?

    4. Revealing locution: “who like the new translation or at least are trying our best to learn and love it” — ideological support for the new trans does not easily translate into liking it, I see.

  4. Enough people are grinding their axes (rightfully so) that things will change after the next conclave. Since we already have the 2001 translation somewhere in queue it wouldn’t surprise me if this was used as a template and, with some minor modifications, replaces the clunker we now have. I can only pray so.

    1. I am not touching the new trans with a bargepole, except to draw on some of the collects and postcommunions on occasion. I’d give the wretched text 2 years at most. It will certainly not survive in a new pontificate.

  5. Really, a “cup” of Scotch? I guess he’ll have a glass of coffee the morning after.
    A “chalice” of wassail might be more convincing…

    1. Professional survey researchers find internet “polls” like the one on Huffington Post to be meaningless, with major sample bias just for starters.

    2. Fr. Z LOL!

      The news that the “reform of the reform” has been eclipsed or derailed by B16 himself, as reported in La Stampa, hasn’t seemed to sink in to him yet.
      I think it’s great news!

  6. Simon, the warrant for translating the Ordo Missae into the mother tongue is the consistant and repeated call throughout Sacrosanctum Concilium for “full, conscious and active participation” by all.

    1. Nope. That dog won’t hunt unless you believe that Tra le sollecitudini—which called for the same thing in 1903—was a misunderstood call for the liturgy to be translated, and unless you completely ignore Sacrosanctum Concilium’s other relevant points. You have perhaps confused “warrant” with “excuse”?

      1. Something can be the warrant for a change without being a mandate for it. In law, precedents warrant later rulings that were not envisioned at the time the precedent was set. But I suspect you might be a strict originalist in law as well, so I’m betting you won’t find the analogy at all convincing.

        Still, I think the distinction between a warrant and a mandate remains a valid one: the language of “full, conscious and active participation” can serve as a warrant for the vernacular liturgy even if it does not mandate it.

      2. Fritz

        Indeed. I’ve argued for years that the principal liturgical reforms of Vatican II were a natural outgrowth of Pius X’s sacramental revolution (here I think the revival of the norm of frequent communion is even more revolutionary than the musical legislation), even if he did not foresee that.

      3. Fritz, this really only unpacks what I’ve already said above, but I see two fatal problems with that approach. The first is in the council’s choice of a term of art: A latin liturgy cannot be at odds with active participation, and so the citation of the goal of active participation to justify an all-vernacular liturgy is like citing the goal of wearing black pants as a reason for wearing a blue sweater. It’s a non sequitur. But one could argue, I suppose, that while latin is compatible with active participation, the vernacular can at least be helpful in promoting the latter, and stipulating that for the sake of argument brings us to the second fatal problem: Sacrosanctum Concilium says more than just “full participation”! We are not faithful servants of the council if we seek to implement one of its commands at the cost of ignoring what it says elsewhere, a fortiori when that emphasis comes not from the council but from our own preferences. Thus, even stipulating that all else being equal an all-vernacular liturgy is one tool by which we could implement SC’s directive of active participation, that tool would not be available to us because it would contradict SC’s directive to retain latin.

  7. A latin liturgy cannot be at odds with active participation

    Ipse dixit. I would like to see a defence of this extraordinary statement.

    1. Crikey, Paul, read the comments above—I’ve explained this several times here in the last few days! But it’s important, so I’ll explain it again. Here it is: Active participation in the liturgy wasn’t a novel demand by the Council. Active participation in the liturgy had been the request of Pius X sixty years before Sacrosanctum Concilium. It was renewed by Pius XII sixteen years before Sacrosanctum Concilium, and by the way, if we were to take a more granular look at the record, I would be very surprised if we didn’t find an antepian demand for the same thing and if no pope between ten and twelve made similar statements. Now, you may not realize this, but the liturgy was in latin when Pius X called for active participation, and nobody thinks that Tra le sollecitudini was a misunderstood demand that the liturgy be translated. And you may not realize this, but the liturgy was still in latin when Pius XII called for active participation, and nobody thinks that Mediator Dei was a misunderstood demand that the liturgy be translated. And you may not realize this, but Sacrosanctum Concilium’s call for active participation stands next to its directive that the liturgy—which was still in latin—should remain in latin. So how, Paul, can full participation be incompatible with a latin liturgy when the two have coexisted for more than a century?

      1. So 60 years after Pius X, a group of 60+ year old men renewed the call for active participation, and within 10 years liturgy was in the vernacular almost always and almost everywhere.

        Sounds to me like Tra le Sollecitudini was understood as a call for vernacular, even if it was not intended that way. The people who lived their whole lives with that call for participation seem to have taken it that way. JP’s tongue in cheek sounds truer than his serious remark below.

      2. JP’s tongue in cheek remark makes more sense than that. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. The language of the liturgy was transformed after Vatican II not because the council asked for “active participation” but rather because a group of well-placed people wanted a vernacular liturgy and were able to exploit the council’s cracking the door open to the limited liturgical use of the vernacular as pretext for a comprehensive “vernacularization” (so to speak). That seems to have been the general pattern of postconciliar liturgical change, I’m afraid. The Council approved a very modest set of changes, and in an age with epistomological limitations inconceivable today, the atmosphere surrounding the council was exploited to ram through a number of pet projects of which the council said not a word: I want to turn around the priest; you don’t agree? Vatican II! I want to strip the parish bare; you don’t agree? Vatican II! I want to rip out the altar rails; you don’t agree? I want to sing silly hymns with guitars, enough of this silly chant business; you don’t agree? Vatican II! I want the Mass in English; you don’t agree? Vatican II! What’s that, you say that Vatican II didn’t do any of that? Spirit of Vatican II! If the result hadn’t been so tragic, this liturgist’s version of tourettes would be slightly amusing.

        Happily, as I’ve said, I think that we’re finally starting to get back to the historical Vatican II, and I remain hopeful that we’ll actually be able to get a liturgy that reflects what the Council envisioned.

        You can make a case that the vernacular helps active participation. You can’t make a case that it’s required, or that it’s permissible under Vatican II.

    2. Simon, don’t you see that the reason the Popes had to request it and renew their requests and finally make it a conciliar decree is because the people simply were not able to actively participate in a Mass with Latin in it? Otherwise, why would Vatican II have made concessions for the vernacular so as to increase said participation?


      What I meant to say, as I’ve said before, is that the Council Fathers believed that “active participation” can coincide with Latin.

  8. “A latin liturgy cannot be at odds with active participation

    Ipse dixit. I would like to see a defence of this extraordinary statement.”

    For the past two or three years the American Classical League conference has given the participants the option of attending a very informal Latin Mattins (Anglican) service. About thirty attended this year. These are the only Latin services I’ve ever attended where all could actively participate – since the offices are usually passive the officiant had us read the various collects with him.

    Yes, Latin can be a prayerful experience but I think that it works best when it is ‘understanded of the people’ as Cranmer would have it.

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