Latest on the Missal: New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands

Pray Tell has kept you informed about the progress of the Roman Missal translation and its reception over the past year or more. New responses and initiatives continue to surface. Here are some recent ones:

 

FROM NEW ZEALAND

Rev. Bosco Peters offers a review of the New Zealand edition of the new Roman Missal, which was released late because of problems with the binding. Some issues of grammar and English style discussed in the review have been raised elsewhere, but some other material is brand new. For instance, the missal includes Maori but strangely only for some—not all—of the Eucharistic prayers. Why is Eucharistic Prayer I only in English, not Maori? He also notes layout problems and the awkwardness of many page turns.

Persevere through the comments and you’ll see some that raise new issues. Pray Tell reader Chase Becker, for example, observes that New Zealand received some permissions not given in the United States. Another commenter recommends using an i-Pad, which now has an app that allows you to have the whole Mass of the Day flow seamlessly.

Are i-Pads permitted at the altar in place of printed books?

 

FROM CANADA

The Catholic Network for Women’s Equality, an organization in Canada, has begun a protest to register their dissatisfaction with the new translation of the Roman Missal. They are seeking signatures for a petition to send to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in the spring of 2012. You can read their public statement, which ends with a petition to sign and circulate, here. You can also sign the petition on line at their website. (As of this writing, there are 98 signatures on line.)

 

FROM THE NETHERLANDS

An article by Bill Slavick at the Dutch website: rk-kerkplein.org kritische katholieken in het publieke debat, is available in English here. The article is entitled: “The Roman Missal: A Crisis?” His answer is, clearly, yes. How much public discussion of the translation project is happening in Europe at this time is not clear, so it is interesting to see this article appear. Slavick’s quoted sources are American. Peter Jeffery’s critique of Liturgiam Autheticam is cited most often, including this statement which summarizes the paradox Slavick sees at hand:

“The tradition is bursting with vitality,” he [Jeffery] observes, “LA is rigid with prohibitions.” “Why would anyone choose the thorns over the roses?” he asks.

37 comments

  1. “The tradition is bursting with vitality,” he [Jeffery] observes, “LA is rigid with prohibitions.” “Why would anyone choose the thorns over the roses?” he asks.

    I would guess that the reason is in the lived experience that when one merely focuses on extolling what one thinks is good, then people feel perfectly free to ignore it. Some people practically see themselves as duty-bound to ignore it. Should that come as a surprise?

  2. Increasingly I find my “ordinary-pew-people” friends voting with their feet. What amounts to the feudal language and negative anthropology have pushed them over the edge and out the door.

  3. I am of a new mind about iPads. I was at a wedding in Birmingham, AL, this weekend, at a Methodist church. The pastor prayed the service from an iPad. It must have had some sort of sheath (maybe of faux leather) on it because I could not see the Apple logo on the bottom/back of it.

    It was discreetly done and it worked just fine.

  4. I was fascinated by this in the NZ review:

    The missal has a strong red cover, good page thickness, and a clear font. Its 1475 pages is bound as 18cm x 23cm x6.5 cm (9”x7”x2.5”). It comes with a Companion to the Missal (same dimensions 518 pages, 2.5cm, 1” thick). This contains Entrance Antiphon, collect, Prayer after Communion; Introductory Rites; Concluding Rites; Blessings at the End of Mass and Prayers over the People – to be used by the priest at the chair.

    A separate book for the chair is precisely what other English-speaking countries (US, UK) have been forbidden by Rome to produce. What gives here?

    In the UK in the late 1960s, during the transition from Latin to the vernacular, we had a Book for the Chair (for use at the chair) and a Sacramentary (for use at the altar). Could it be that the CDW minions have an ideological objection to books for the chair because they would necessitate calling the book for the altar a “sacramentary”, and that would give some legitimacy to the ICEL 1998 translation?

    1. Fortunately, my parish still uses the old sacramentary with another book for the chair. I would think all you have to do is buy two RM2010 missals. One for the altar and one for the chair, right?

    2. Well, remember (as I am sure you and many here will recall from a year ago), Rome got so fundamentalist about replicating the MIssal that it forbade pointing of the English text because such pointings did not have a cognate in the Latin editio typica.

      1. It also apparently forbade including the Latin texts of the order of Mass in addition to the English because the Latin missal contains a single language only.

    3. I don’t see the need for two books. The altar server should be able to hold the Missal without strain.

  5. I don’t know if the assemblies are more effected by the grotesque text or the non-verbals of the presider forced to ‘proclaim’ them. I try not to register my disgust publicly because I doubt that would be helpful. I’m finding these texts, particularly during lent and especially the prayers over the gifts to me hideous. It is very difficult to remain entirely stoical while reading them.

  6. While learning more of the deficiencies of the new and sympathising somewhat with the vociferous-though-not-universal dismay over it, I continue to be at a loss to understand why there was not such a continuing and zealous outcry and pique at the, um, ‘translation’ that preceded it. What makes the new more deserving of contempt and determined obstruction than the old I am unable to discern. No one (that I know of) said of the old, ‘well, this is gossamer, it is insulting eighth grade language and all the richness of the one we had is gone, so, I am going to use the old one in my parish. No, such spleen, such brass and cheek and adolescent tantrums are reserved only for the new translation, as if it alone had faults, Why not equally fault them all – for most of them (including the vaunted and lionised ’98, ARE equally faulty. Why the fuss over this one alone? Why is one bad apple being singled out from several bad apples as being more deserving of being kicked and pummeled than others more deserving of kicking and pummelling. This on-going obstrucionism and slander have continued far too long. It is beyond rationality as to why this one, and this one alone out of a crop of equally, but differently, bad lemons.

    Now, I am really asking an unloaded question here, for I really don’t comprehend the rationale behind this contiuning pique: namely, for months various folk here have complained about the collects and presidential prayers, etc., as being ‘unproclaimable’. Yes, that last word ‘proclaimable’ is the problem. There are parts of the mass that are proclaimed – such as the readings, the homily might, at time, take on the nature of a proclamation, there is the proclamation that sins are forgiven, & cet., & cet, but prayers???!! Prayers are NOT proclaimed! They are PRAYED. There are not addressed to the congregation, nor proclaimed to the congregation: they are address solely to God and are prayed to him; we pray to him that our petitions and needs will…

    1. I really don’t comprehend the rationale behind this contiuning pique.
      This on-going obstrucionism and slander have continued far too long. It is beyond rationality as to why this one, and this one alone out of a crop of equally, but differently, bad lemons.

      Such have been the thoughts of many for the last 20 years, longer than the the 20 months of this new translation. The succeslts of that constant griping inspire all to persistence in their complaints.

      Maybe if you stopped criticizing the old translation, fewer of us would persist in criticizing the new?

  7. be dealt favourably with. A prayer, then, ASKS with humility something of God for our benefit and/or says worhipful things about him. PROCLAIMING is the very thing that prayer is not doing. Is this some ego booster that a priest thinks he has to impressively proclaim rather that humbly to pray? No a hundred times! The liturgy and its prayer are not proclaimed, but prayed. You seem to be rather unfortunately frustrated because you are trying to proclaim what is not a proclamation. God’s word in the lectionary is, indeed, proclaimed to us; and, outside of an episcopal letter, or an encyclical, there are no others parts of the mass that one ‘proclaims’, Perhaps if you tried humbly praying the prayers and such, things would work better.

    1. As a whole, I do find the new translation ‘clunky’ and do desire something more literary.  Though I think the observation that prayers are not there to be proclaimed, but rather prayed to God, to be spot on. There is absolutely no reason that the prayers of the Mass should be 100 % audible or comprehensible (immediately) beyond a total defection from the Catholic belief in the efficacy of the ministerial priesthood. This is not to say it should all be whispered in Latin, but there’s nothing wrong- in fact something entirely necessary- about having to labour towards a textual/ intellectual understanding of the Mass. Our intuitive understanding is a different story, which can really equally rely, if not more, on signs and gestures…

      As to the ‘why’ of the outcry, its clear many simply oppose the actual content of the Roman tradition that the old translation managed to obscure. Note the CNWE’s opposition to the thrice mea culpa and peccavi nimis on the grounds that it ‘diminishes our understanding of God’s boundless love’. This is just silly. 

      1. There is absolutely no reason that the prayers of the Mass should be 100 % audible or comprehensible (immediately) beyond a total defection from the Catholic belief in the efficacy of the ministerial priesthood. This is not to say it should all be whispered in Latin, but there’s nothing wrong- in fact something entirely necessary- about having to labour towards a textual/ intellectual understanding of the Mass. Our intuitive understanding is a different story, which can really equally rely, if not more, on signs and gestures…

        So much, then, for

        In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

        (Sacrosanctum Concilium 21)

        and

        The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

        (ibid., 34)

      2. re: Paul Inwood on March 22, 2012 – 5:33 pm

        Per Lewis and Short (Perseus), generatim in the closing phrase of Sacrosanctum Concilium §34, […] neque generatim multis indigeant explanationibus (my ellipsis, emphasis) can also be translated as “generally” and not necessarily “normally”. generatim is the adverbial form of the noun genus, or “type”.

        Jordan DeJonge’s point that “there’s nothing wrong — in fact entirely necessary — about having to labour towards a textual/intellectual understanding of the Mass” is well taken, since generatim in its classical sense admits gradations of understanding. Perhaps most of the textual or intellectual information in the Mass should be readily understandable, but this is not entirely necessary or perhaps even desirable. Gradations of liturgical understanding by the type of prayer and its import is not a question of normality or its converse, abnormality.

        Vernacularization does not at all obviate the difficulties of generatim. No liturgical “didactic mean” exists — different persons apprehend liturgy differently based on dialect and register, disposition, education, ideological allegiances, among many other variables. The tug-of-war between those who consider the 2010 translation of the Mass a hindrance to congregational participation and those who consider the 2010 missal to better reflect the nuances of the typical Latin text disregards generatim, or the consistent layers of “knowing” and “not-knowing” evident as all look through the Latin text through the haze of living language.

      3. Just to be clear, are you now arguing against the principles in SC, not their implementation? Not that there is anything wrong with that. It just should be clear that these thoughts are not covered by the “proper implementation of V2” arguments.

        IOW do you agree that V2 called for texts to be comprehensible generally, but you disagree with the need for that principle?

      4. re: Jim McKay on March 23, 2012 – 3:14 am

        I question both the principles and implementation of SC. I’m quite aware that my interpretation of SC is not the consensus of many if not most liturgists. My criticism of the official SC English translation and proposals for alternate translation necessarily returns to the constitution’s Latin typical text as this is the final record of the Council. I have found that a comparison of SC‘s Latin text against the English translation reveals many points where alternative translations and interpretations should be explored. I am convinced that a close re-translation of SC would reveal different, and perhaps conflicting, shades of semantic meaning.

        The four points of SC §34, while desirable in light of the Tridentine liturgies of the council fathers, are not entirely self-explanatory. As previously mentioned, all four points rely on the erroneous notion that there is a mean at which all persons comprehend and engage the Mass. generatim (“generally” per my translation) indicates that the council fathers’ call for a more comprehensible and reformed liturgy should also account for variations in human disposition and comprehension. My critique of liturgical developments after 1964 questions a uniform theory of liturgical engagement, and not vernacularization or the removal of some repetitive accretions.

      5. I have a more practical suggestion for interpreting comprehensibility:

        For texts that recur with frequency weekly, comprehension can build over time, so more complex renderings can credibly be considered. For texts that recur with somewhat less frequency, that will take longer. For texts that are only heard once a year, particularly if they are not quotations from Scriptural passages that permit greater familiarity than a ritual book, then there should be a bias towards simpler idiomatic renderings. In all cases, however, the neglect of euphony (and re-creating Latin in English is not what I mean by euphony, just to be clear) is to be strongly discouraged, even condemned.

        I should add that I am not a fan of resorting to Strunk & White as a guide for liturgical English. Strunk & White is appropriate for journalists and some other forms of writing. It’s thin gruel for liturgical language when applied without considerable discretion.

      6. Jordan (Zarembo)

        I’m afraid you’re batting on a pretty sticky wicket. You need to be aware, first of all, that SC was not composed in Latin. The joint authors were German and French, and they wrote in Italian initially. Any comments on the final Latin translation are untenable, since it is just as possible, and indeed likely, that this translation will be as much a travesty of the minds of the Council Fathers as the Latin translation of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children (originally written in French and German) which did not reflect the life and vitality of those original texts. Thus any appeal to shades of semantic meaning is likewise doomed to failure from the start, as indeed is the peculiar notion that generatim implies “gradations of understanding”. It doesn’t.

        The fact is that the Latin is not a reliable guide to the text or its meaning, despite the earnest desire of people such as CDW to make it so. It’s tempting to lose patience with attempted dissections of modern Latin texts, when these are clearly all artifices.

        So — we could let this descend into an argument about how valid the Latin text in AAS is as an indication of what the authors intended, as opposed to an indication of how the translators into Latin interpreted it. But let’s not. Life’s too short!

      7. re: Paul Inwood on March 23, 2012 – 2:49 pm

        I agree to stop the inquiry into generatim here. This inquiry is, as you note, a rabbit-hole diversion. I have spent quite a bit of time on one word in the Latin text only because I intend to write an article about the perils of Sacrosanctum Concilium §34 using the Ordinary Form asperges as an example. I now have a survey of opinion about my inquiry which will help me consider this liturgical question more thoroughly.

        As for final Latin translation of SC and the AAS: I don’t doubt that the original vernacular drafts of SC reveal nuances which have been obscured in the Latin. Even so, the Latin text of this constitution is a πρόσωπον (prosōpon) in the pre-Christian, ancient Greek sense. The typical Latin text is the dramatic mask of conciliar debate and intellectual fermentation to the world, a fixed and perhaps caricatured gaze but nevertheless the most durable visage. Through this Latin textual mask, the conciliar legacy historically influences discourse both inside and outside of the Church.

        Surely the council fathers knew that their legacy would be shaped in large part by the Latin SC text? I cannot believe that the majority of fathers gave their placet and some gave their ego to the typical text with the widespread knowledge that the text was a travesty compared to vernacular drafts. Perhaps many of the prelates did not read the Latin text and merely assented out of filial piety. If this is the case, then the burden of textual insufficiency rests squarely on those prelates who did not examine the Latin text of SC before ratification.

      8. In English law there has long been a principle that the person who drafted a piece of legislation should be disqualified from interpreting it: the draftsman will know what he intended in writing the law and this will obscure his ability to cold-read the text and establish what the legislators thought that they were doing in enacting the legislation.

        This is where Paul’s argument about the original language of SC breaks down: the Latin text is the text that was “enacted” by the Council, not the preparatory drafts in other languages. All that the preparatory drafts can add is the intention of the draftsman, which is not the same thing as the meaning that the Council gave to the final, authoritative draft of SC.

      9. Jordan puts his finger on it when he wonders how good the Council Father’s command of Latin actually was. Some of them were pretty fluent, and clearly understood more than those who haltingly stumbled their way through a speech or an intervention.
        I remember reading about one Council Father (cannot recall which one) who received a round of applause when he stood up and addressed the bishops in French…

        The debate we are having is no different from the one about the English translation of the Council documents. In this country most people use the Flannery version, but those who know about these things maintain that the earlier translation supervised by Walter Abbot was superior as regards accuracy. And there are no less than four extant translations of Sacrosanctum Concilium

        The case is different from scripture, where every translation to a greater or lesser extent filters the content of the original. Here, the Latin itself is a translation which filters the content, and we are wise to advert to the fact.

  8. I think there WAS a general acknowledgement that the previous translation — well, the translation of 1973 — was not wonderful. But everyone knew it was provisional, and that work on revisions began not long after it was completed. It culminated in the 1998 translation, which was generally acclaimed for the two factors that were generally thought missing from the one in use: poetry and dignity.
    The unhappiness with the current translation isn’t just about the texts in the books; it’s about the suppression of the 1998 translation and the heavy-handed Roman authority that issued LA and re-constituted ICEL.
    In all honesty, it’s not as bad as I had feared; but it seems to work best when the presider simply gives up on coherent sentences (since the text isn’t, in many places) and simply reads the clauses in a way that creates a series of ideas in a kind of impressionistic manner. Or, by inflecting the voice appropriately, read the clauses as if they were sentences.
    I do get people asking me about the changes; they seem puzzled over them, not yet comfortable with it, but rather resigned to it all. One woman admitted she was surprised at how much the new responses disrupted her sense of participation, and really doesn’t see why it all had to change.

    1. Ann, it’s stretching things a little to say that 1998 was “generally acclaimed”, most people still haven’t even seen the 1998 texts and, among those that have, there are quite a few who think it little better than 1973.

    2. The big difference between reactions to 1973 and 2011 is that back in 1973 there was no internet, so all us liturgy geeks couldn’t feed off each other and fight about it.

    3. I’d like to add that there were lots of Catholics who thought the 1973 translation was just fine, as it was.

      1. Not to mention quite a few who would have chosen to see the 1973 text simply revised rather than completely eradicated and replaced by an entirely new text which seems to have caused, if not as much division as some might claim, certainly much more, at many levels throughout the Church, than should have ever been.

  9. On November 27, one of our priests saw me alone in the back chapel: “Hi, Claire! Today is the big day, you know. We’re starting with the new missal!”. And, smiling at me: “The Lord be with you!”

    “And also with you!”, I answered. His smile faded a bit as he repeated: “The Lord be with you!”, and I answered again: “And also with you!”. With a worried frown, he said a third time: “The Lord be with you!”. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence as we stared at each other, until I gave in and spat out: “And with your spirit!”, instantly hating myself for it. I added: “I know the new text, but I don’t like it.”

    To my surprise, he answered: “Me neither.” He then went into a short but extremely negative outburst against the new missal. A little stunned, I asked: “But then, why don’t you just continue with the old missal?” Taken aback, he said sheepishly: “We’ve been asked to do it. Everyone’s doing it. We have no choice.”

    A few minutes later, at the start of Mass, he was coaxing the congregation into using the pew cards, proudly displaying one for himself and entreating parishioners to do the same. The people, not really understanding why we had to change our familiar prayers, but good-natured and desirous to please our well-liked priest, picked up their laminated cards and obediently started reading the new responses. The implementation of the New Missal was under way.

    That’s how it happened at my parish.

    It’s an imposition and, I bet, a secret humiliation for many priests.

    1. Well, it appears that your parish leadership did you all an injustice by not offering the appropriate (and widely available) instruction on the “why” of the new missal.

      Our parish offered numerous educational sessions and there has been, to my knowledge, nary a peep of complaint.

      And every priest I know prefers the new to the old translation.

      1. Sure they did. Weekly educational notes in the bulletin, and one homily fully devoted to it. Not one negative word. “Hope that it will deepen our faith”, “more “sacral” language” et tutti quanti. Since priests do not say what they think, I cannot know (and neither can you), but I believe that it’s all one big lie.

      2. Claire,

        They especially don’t say all that they think when they have an audience they have reason to believe already has its own opinions. Partial truth is what one gets at most. They will focus on the portion of the truth they believe their audience will imbibe reasonably well, and omit the rest.

      3. I love how when when a parish is described as having a low level of approval or acceptance of the new missal translation, then the standard reply is that they must not have offered proper instruction on why the new translation was being implemented. As if “proper” instruction would make people prefer the new translation.

        If it were really better, you wouldn’t have to try and sell it.

  10. Now I don’t know what to do: when I listen, the English of the prayers make me wince. When I tune out and say my own prayers, it is less fulfilling.

  11. Rev. Peters (from his aforementioned article):

    With the Vatican having altered about 10,000 places in the English, I wonder how many Maori-language experts there are in Vatican corridors and how many alterations they made to the Maori text provided?

    Of interest: “Father” has consistently been translated as “Matua” (“parent”) rather than “pāpara”.

    Rev. Peters’s observations are very perceptive. His remark that not all of the Mass, and especially the Roman Canon, have not been translated into Maori suggests that Maori translation might not have been a priority for the local hierarchy or the Vatican.

    Maori is an official language in New Zealand. Although the large majority of New Zealanders of all backgrounds speak English, Maori is an important part of the archipelago’s heritage and current life. The relegation of Maori to an afterthought also perhaps implies that Maori clergy and laity were not an integral part of the Maori language translation process.

    All languages carry anthropological, cultural, and historical importance regardless of the number of speakers. Rev. Peters’s assessment of the Maori translation perhaps demonstrates that consultation of a broader range of clergy and laity has not only affected the outcome of the English translation but also a range of diverse translations into other languages. One might then conclude that the current translation philosophy is “top down” regardless of culture or language.

    1. re: Jordan Zarembo on March 22, 2012 – 7:40 am

      “Rev. Peters’s assessment of the Maori translation perhaps demonstrates that consultation of a broader range of clergy and laity has not only affected the outcome of the English translation but also a range of diverse translations into other languages.”

      should be

      “Rev. Peters’s assessment of the Maori translation perhaps demonstrates that the non-consultation of a broader range of clergy and laity has not only affected the outcome of the English translation but also a range of diverse translations into other languages.”

      With apologies, as I should proofread my posts more thoroughly.

  12. As for NZ, those Maori translations didn’t receive a recognitio from Rome, I don’t believe. I was combing through the internet for many months, and never found a reference to it.

    As for the quality of the texts, indeed we’ve traded one kind of poverty for another. 2008/2010/2011 is just a poor job. And it doesn’t even follow its own rules.

    I will say in defense of exalted language, however, that I found one recent rendering of EPIII to be delightful and prayerful. It was the first time I felt I was praying the EP since November. Of course, if all Catholic clergy were trained to proclamation excellence, I could see exalted language as a good thing. But attending to a principle of progressive solemnity within the Mass. Less important texts shouldn’t be blurred with fussiness.

    This whole indulgence really points out the lack of liturgical expertise and artistry in the curia, Vox Clara, and ICEL. I think we’ve been given fingerpaints to work with. And in the hands of a fine artist, those limitations might allow nthe production of something marvelous. But the English MR3 is like trying to fingerpaint in shod feet. God will still work with it, to be sure. But I’d rather have the egg in the tempura than on Vox Clara faces.

  13. The most likely origin of the prayers over the people seems to be that they were spoken by the bishop as he left the church and passed the penitents gathered near the door. See ‘Le “orationes super populum” della “editio typica tertia” del “Missale Romanum”’ Ecclesia Orans 19 (2002) 189-240 and earlier bibliography there cited.
    Of the 73 such orations in the current Missale Romanum, 38 (that is, the bulk) are from the Veronese Sacramentary, which was not available to the compilers of the 1570 Missal.

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