Negative letters about the new missal in America

This week in America five people wrote in about the new missal – all negative on it.

How am I supposed to teach this abominable language without letting it influence the way [the young] imagine and think about God?… The new translation seems to have been designed to decrease any kind of active participation in the liturgy… When did driving people away from church become the goal of the powers that be? And how can we stop it?…I cannot believe anyone who really prays has prayed with the stilted officious language of the new missal. What’s happened is that a few in positions of power have imposed their own private piety on the rest of the world… If [the laity] expect homilies that make sense, however, why wouldn’t they want prayers that make sense?…  I find the new missal language cumbersome, garbled, prolix and, most of all, otherworldly. .. [T]his is really not about language but about the need of Rome and our episcopacy for power and control…

Arrrgh.

awr

74 comments

  1. Which is worse, really? The durability of our disappointment with the translation? Or, the fact that letters like this will be ignored, dismissed, explained away?

    And, even worse still: Aren’t they, at root, the same problem?

  2. Does anyone remember the Peter Principle? It states that in a hierarchy, the members keep getting promoted until they achieve their level of incompetency. The authors of LA and those responsible for the new translation may be illustrative of that. It is not that they lack faith or intelligence, or devotion to the Church as they understand it, but that they are missing the element that would have made it possible to produce a work that would receive universal acclaim from critics and gratitude from the faithful at all levels. That bishops, priests and laity are not up in arms is a tribute only to the triumph of compliance. To whom may we turn?

  3. “Aaargh” is right! Who does this letter writer think she is, judging how I or anyone else “really prays”? And, isn’t the holy sacrifice of the Mass meant to be “otherwordly”?

    Sure, it’s all about “power and control”. Sure it is! YAWN.

    I suspect a steady diet of youth ministry and charismatic “spontaneous prayer” over the last three or four decades has irrevocably damaged the ability of “the many” to appreciate, and practice, ritualized liturgical prayer.

    I’ll offer a few prayers – of a more structured sort – for these letter writers. “Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful…”

    1. Steady diet of youth ministry and charismatic ‘spontaneous prayer’ as the problem??

      You’re off, way off.

      I’ve had virtually none of this, so that can’t be why I dislike the new missal.

      It’d because I like good English in good, traditional liturgy.

      I’m sure the same is true of the vast majority of liturgical scholars. Those with a deep love of liturgy and a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of language are the ones objecting.

      Youth ministry and charismatic prayer? I’m still laughing!

      awr

    2. So wait – it’s OK to judge how people really pray as long as you’re one of a self selected few with the authority to do so? And how do the rest of us know this group of men has the authority? Because they tell us so! If that’s not “power and control”, what is?

      Added on edit: Getting upset over the wording of our prayers one hour a week at Sunday Mass seems trivial. But is is a seamless garment from there to the distress caused by those told they can’t be priests “because” or those denied communion “because” onward to interference in our civil society.

      I’m no charismatic, unless the desire for simple, clear honest prayers makes me one!

    3. “I suspect a steady diet of youth ministry and charismatic ‘spontaneous prayer’”

      How about a steady diet of English literature?

      Universal acclaim is a good level for which to aim. After all, we got millions of Protestant sisters and brothers to adopt our Lectionary. What if the aim had been across the entire English-speaking world, and the regard was high enough to lasso others into a deeper unity.

      The powers-that-be have missed a brilliant opportunity for ecumenism, not to mention fumbling the setting of a standard for English in the third millennium. Reactionary, narcissistic, cowardly thinking deep-sixes the Gospel yet again.

      1. On the point about ecumenism . . .
        I have regular experience of C of E eucharistic liturgy, not the Prayer Book version but the contemporary settings. It is a considerable relief to be expected to respond “And also with you,” and to encounter versions of the Gloria and Creed which are obviously phrased to be in close verbal accord with the recently forbidden RCC English version.

        The congregation responds with alacrity to the prayers, though understandably this C of E version of the Creed does not assert that the ‘holy catholic church’ is “one.” That would be, indeed is, stretching belief beyond credible limits.

        This infelicitous current [Catholic] Mass translation fell upon a membership many of who were already labouring under and struggling with aspects of official thought and action, (or sometimes thoughtlessness and inaction). It is only to be expected that many will fasten upon the unfamiliar translationese as a last straw, prompting protest.

        The allegation that the “new” OF version is not a suitable vehicle for teaching a mixed-ability group of Catholic children is a more serious objection, which I endorse. English literature is a formative factor in good education, but this “translation” is not good English, nor is it literature.

  4. Interesting that the letters following those on the new missal discuss an article on economic policy. Maybe one purpose of the elevated language is to keep people from thinking what they hear in church on Sunday has any application to the real world?

    1. Maybe one purpose of the elevated language is to keep people from thinking what they hear in church on Sunday has any application to the real world?

      Brigid, you’re right on target.

      Rome enforced this new English translation in order to get people to participate less at Mass, to keep them from applying what they hear in church to their lives and the real world, and to drive people (and their money) out of the church. It’s the perfect plan. I’m sure the curial officials are giddy with excitement at the prospect.

  5. I applaude the translators on their attempt to create an English translation of the text more accurate to the standard (the Latin Roman Missal). While my one experience at a Mass since Advent I doesn’t allow me to judge whether it’s a success or failure, from what I’ve read here and other online sources, it brings the text closer, if not necessarily clearer. That can’t be a bad thing.

    Yet week after week in my parish there are a great number of young, hearing and praying words such as “we most heartily thank thee,” “we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,” “and with thy spirit,” “therefore, with angels and archangels, cherubim likewise and seraphim, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee and say.” They don’t seeem to mind, they aren’t offended that they are being talked down to or it’s above their heads, or complaining they aren’t hearing the words of the Mass in the same colloquial American English they use on the street or to Tweet to their friends. They’re engaged and from the looks of things, at worship of a mystery no words can adequately express, and most of all, they come back.

    Give it chance. It’s only 6 months. Try praying it yourself. Get a missal with the words and read them through before Sunday. Let it sink in and become part of you.

  6. With so very much dissatisfaction and disappointment with the new translation, surely Father Ryan’s two questions, “What next?” and “When can we all start talking and discussing the new translation openly?” are the most important questions which we can ask.

  7. Each week, I do find myself wincing at some awkward grouping of words or another, typically in the collect. It is really difficult. Tonight at mass, I really felt it… so to come home and find this… well, it sure fit.

    *deep sigh*

    What to do?

  8. If it doesn’t SING after six months, it never will.

    It escapes being a total disaster, but at the end of the day it’s simply broken-backed, unmemorable, and recondite. Surely we deserve better after an eight-year effort, an effort that too often was dominated by blatant, even scandalous, maneuvers in ecclesiastical politics.

  9. I have spent these past six months praying for guidance, but, for the moment, I am sitting silently in mass week after week, month after month, still unable in good conscience to sing or speak the words of the new translation. Of course, the current translation is largely consistent with the principles provided by LA — but LA’s defects are evident from my own scholarly perspective and from the perspectives provided by distinguished scholars in several other disciplines. I love the church and I need the eucharist, but for months now I have left each mass disappointed and unfulfilled. The new translation leaves me disillusioned about the leaders of my church, whose intellectual commitments I had more often admired than criticized.

    As someone who always considered himself both conservative and orthodox, this is a strange impasse, as I now am left only to sing an occasional hymn.

    While I continue to ponder this new problem of active participation in liturgy, I thank everyone who contributes to this blog, which has advanced my own thinking on the translation. The letters published in America contribute relatively little that is new, but they do suggest this discussion is not concluded.

  10. B.R. McKee states:

    I am sitting silently in mass week after week, month after month, still unable in good conscience to sing or speak the words of the new translation.

    Aren’t you confessing your predisposition, your inability and/or unwillingness to exercize your priestly right to sing or chant the relatively unscathed Glory/Holy and the other movements of the Ordinary? Fr. Feehily asked earlier, “To whom do we turn?” Well, in this situation, “To whom do you lay blame for not participating?”

    I love the church and I need the eucharist, but for months now I have left each mass disappointed and unfulfilled.

    Did you not receive the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord all these months? Do you no longer recognize Him in the breaking of the bread? Is a rose or a Mass any other by another name?
    As one of our octagenarian retired monsignor’s declared last November, he’d been ordained long enough to learn to pray from four different Missals, and he looked upon this latest as yet another NEW OPPORTUNITY to pray in a manner anew and afresh. How long, O Lord, is the chalice going to remain half-empty at Pray Tell?

    1. Good for the monsignor’s ability to see this as new and fresh! I’ll half agree with him: it’s new, but I can’t get to ‘fresh’. It’s gone stale by the time I untangle the syntax.

      And I can’t pray it. The twisted, poor English of the whole thing so distracts me that I simply can not pray with it. I actually find myself actively tuning out in some places, in hope of managing some sort of prayer rather than a pained wince at what’s being said.

      Last week I attended a wedding presided over by my parish’s former pastor, the very best liturgist and homilist I’ve ever seen anywhere, and widely regarded as one of the best, if not THE best, in the diocese. Apart from my genuine joy for the couple, I was intensely curious to observe how Mass sounded and felt with him presiding. Since he doesn’t use the Confiteor, that was no problem, and there was no Gloria to worry about either. [I still find that the new text there just doesn’t sing as well as the old, and the rigidity about alterations to fit music annoys]. But not even this priest could make ‘chalice’ work once, let alone three times. And, to be fair, either the wedding rites haven’t been rewritten much, or perhaps he made some judicious edits, because the rest didn’t draw _too_ much attention to itself, but I can’t claim great familiarity with it, and this particular priest tends to favor the simpler forms anyway. And he still has a wonderful singing voice, so I could mostly drown out the rest by concentrating on the supreme rightness of this particular pairing.

      To answer one of your questions, it’s hard for me, anyway, to recognize Him in the muddle of words.

  11. You mean to say that all five people who read the America echo-chamber/magazine don’t really like the new translation? I’m shocked! 🙂

    In all seriousness, what makes America more representative of ‘mainstream’ Catholic opinion than, e.g., WDTPRS or NLM?

    1. In all seriousness, what makes America more representative of ‘mainstream’ Catholic opinion than, e.g., WDTPRS or NLM?

      1. It would be worthwhile to obtain circulation numbers and a demographic breakdown of readership to answer this question.

      2. Given the petty, bullying nastiness that Father Z engages in more and more frequently these days, ( He recently descended to making fun of the name of a woman he claimed to approve of. If that’s how he treats his friends!) I would hope that America is more representative of mainstream Catholic opinion.

      1. Come now, progressives don’t occupy some sort of moral high ground here. There’s plenty of bullying and nastiness on both sides of the aisle. The comments sections at National Catholic Reporter, America, WDTPRS, Rorate, etc., can all be as bad as one another. People on PrayTell can be pretty nasty at times.

        In terms of circulation, America does c. 45,000 copies a week, and Fr Zuhlsdorf (from what I can gather) gets c. 18,000 unique visitors a day. When it comes to demographics, I would imagine that, for one thing, America’s is much older than that of WDTPRS, purely given the general demographic breakdown between print and online media. But that’s just my guess.

      2. 18,000 unique visitors a day? Likely most of those are daily.

        I have to back up Brigid on the nastiness. Fr Z’s site is bitter from writer to most of the commentators. America’s contributors, both in print and online tend to be more learned, more broad in their thinking, more “c”atholic.

      3. We’ll have to agree to disagree about America’s contributors, Todd. From where I stand, bitterness common to both rad-trads and progs.

        Re. daily visitors: out of interest, I put WDTPRS.com into Google’s DoubleClick Ad Planner, to see if that gave any indication of unique visitors over a greater period than a day, and Google says WDTPRS.com has c. 58,000 unique visitors per month. Again, it’s only an estimate, but it would seem to indicate that America and WDTPRS have roughly similar reaches and audience sizes.

        Which is more representative? I suppose the answer to that question depends to some extent on one’s personal biases!

  12. I don’t care for the new translation, even though I am the type who prefers “the traditional trappings” in the Mass. I am particularly put off by the fact that the Mass I learned to pray from my birth is not the same Mass I can die in. It’s my hope that I could at least pass away under a rite that I could say by heart. So let’s figure this out, get it right, and get it soon.

    But really, so much of these complaints are silly hyperbole that make the detractors look like bitter, frustrated ideologues . The Mass is not ruined, the Mass is not unprayable, the Mass is not suddenly ugly. We are not suddenly unable to participate. The Mass is not suddenly stolen, or Vatican II undone.

    Suck it up and find better ways to express yourselves. That’s pretty comprehensible vernacular, no?

    1. With respect, I’m not sure what behavior is and isn’t entailed in “suck it up and find better ways to express yourselves.” As I continue to avail myself of the sacraments and financially support my parish and diocese, I suppose that is one definition of sucking it up.

      As to finding a “better way” to express oneself, the recent treatment of SSPX has nicely demonstrated that, after enough decades of complaint, accommodation might be considered for even a relatively small group of the disaffected. I assume you are not suggesting an SSPX-like model for those who would prefer the 1973 or 1998 translations? Yet, the SSPX model is the most recent successful model for effective expression in favor of reform (or reform of a reform).

      1. Good points, Mr. McGee. Was amused reading about the “suck it up and find better ways, etc.”

        So, let’s turn the tables – why all this EF/TLM mess? Couldn’t they just “suck it up and find better ways, etc.”?

        Not sure I would suggest using SSPX as an example for a few reasons – SSPX clearly reject Vatican II (yes, there are differences within SSPX but, at its core, this is the issue); even if SSPX is somehow granted a papal prelature (it will not be unanimous; and papal prelatures are questionnable also).

        Which gets at my concern – like the ROTR, you will have folks within that overall movement who will be all over the place in terms of what they say, do, agree with, and act on. It needs to start with ecclesiology (it isn’t really about liturgical elements, even something as key as translation). ROTR, SSPX, at their core, do not accept or agree with the fullness of the ecclesiology articulated by the VII.

        Not sure I want to see these types of *experiments* continue. For me, they are all on a continuum – how are they any different from some *separated churches*? They all diverge from the fullness of the catholic church in some ways. Guess it depends on who is making the judgment.

  13. As some contributors to this blog have indicated, some Catholics have heartily embraced the new translation, as have the priests of my own parish. I am genuinely pleased for those whose worship and spiritual life have been enhanced through adoption of the new translation, but neither my own training nor the Holy Spirit has led me to these decisions, or these outcomes.

    In response to Mr. Culbreth, let us be careful to differentiate between my own perspective and those offered by the numerous proponents and critics of the new translation at Pray Tell. From one contributor to another, our positions are not identical. This is, after all, only my third post on this blog. I am hardly a representative contributor.

    I can recognize and celebrate the presence of our Lord at table when I attend mass, but the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit have not led me to embrace this translation or required me to ignore the complex of problems that led up to its production. All of these problems have been carefully rehearsed on this blog and elsewhere.

    In remaining mostly silent at mass I am, of course, responsible for my own actions. However, my decision to prefer prayerful silence through much of the mass was not arrived at thoughtlessly, or without prayer and reflection. Most of my fellow parishioners are quite dutifully following along in their worship aids, and I do not second-guess their decisions.

    As to how long the cup will remain “half-empty” at Pray Tell, and based on our shared experience with the 1973 translation, I assume we will live with the new translation for the next 40 years.

    1. Mr/Ms. McGee (sorry, I don’t presume genders)
      I was quite careful to differentiate your experiences from others, but thank you for more illumination.
      Perhaps we all could benefit if AWR were to change the order of titles of this Blog to Tell, Pray.
      Peace to all.

  14. For the past month I have been in France, so I no longer hear the new missal. I hear and say the French text with new appreciation. How well it flows! How beautiful it is! What a noble simplicity!

    I have talked to several famous Latinists, but people in France have barely noticed the arrival of the new missal in anglophone countries. No one knows anything about a possible upcoming revision of the French missal. Liturgiam Authenticam is not on their radar. When I tell them that the translation from the Latin missal must be word-for-word, using the word that has its etymological roots in the Latin word even though the meaning might not quite correspond, and keeping the order of the words in the Latin and the Latin sentence structure as far as possible, they ask if it does not lead to incomprehensible gibberish, and I answer that, yes, gibberish is the result. If casual conversation allows another minute on the subject, I give the “for many” as an example of literalism leading to error, and they are dismayed. (I don’t even go into issues of collegiality or of fitting text with music.) I conclude that before this, I would never have believed that arcane Vatican documents and clerical infighting would have a concrete impact on the daily lives of lay people like me, and that it is a wake-up call.

    Meanwhile yesterday in France after Mass as I was praising the exit hymn, a friend answered: “I don’t like that hymn. The music is beautiful and the ideas are sound, but the syntax is awkward, particularly in the second verse.” I looked back: she was right! I am admirative of such a keen ability to pay attention (Simone Weil wrote that “praying” was another word for “paying attention”), but in the US it is precisely the people who are paying attention who are getting hurt the most.

  15. Of course there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that plenty of people have accepted the new translation warts and all and that some people haven’t and are complaining bitterly about it, while those who have accepted it have moved on. While I don’t know if a survey of Catholics at this point on the translation would accomplish anything, at least it would allow for some actual “scientific” evidence correlating to reality.
    But with that said, I will accept Fr. Anthony’s appraisal of some of the prayers and would suggest to him that he do what Fr. Z has done in the past, give a literal translation of each Sunday’s prayers once a week, the revised one and then his own–then maybe down the road we’ll see a revision to a better form of English.
    The laity in my parish (and evidently in Ireland too where I’ve watched some of the liturgies there for the Eucharistic Congress, as well as other televised large Masses) have accepted and internalized their parts very well and I see many people now singing the Gloria (as I can now do) without words in front of them and many of them are reciting the Creed without any words in front of them and “with you spirit” is shouted out with gusto. So I would hope that the laity’s parts would be left alone. As for the priestly parts, any tweaking of them in the next edition of the missal to improve the clumsiness of some of the orations could be done without a blip on anyone’s radar screen and the laity, except for a small number, wouldn’t even know it had happened.

  16. “I’ve had virtually none of this, so that can’t be why I dislike the new missal.”

    Fr A: Do you dislike _all_ of it?

    What about a thread on the new translation’s redeeming features (so that the next revision has somewhere to start from)?

  17. Michael, a good thread might be that the new translation is approximate to the language we speak and understand.
    All we need to do is to move from approximate to coincedent.
    That might be some task though! What to do with all those redundant “graciously” words afterward we have completed the exercise………

  18. We’ve been here before. In 1967 The Tablet published a number of negative reports detailing the highly controversial new translation of that time. The editors of the Tablet on Dec. 2nd complained that the ICEL translation put forward for the Church damaged the canon. Duncan Cloud also wrote in to lament the ICEL translation (late December).
    I am sure America will publish balanced commentary next month.

    1. And where is and what does The Tablet say today about either the 1967 or the 2010? Interesting how times and attitudes change? You are also skipping over the 15+ year project, overwhelmingly voted in favor of by 11 english speaking conferences for the carefully planned, and *organic* development of the 1998 translation.

  19. John Drake :

    “And, isn’t the holy sacrifice of the Mass meant to be “otherwordly”?

    In my humble-but-theologically-grounded opinion, one of the *problems* with the official documents is this presumption that the holy sacrifice of the Mass is meant to be otherworldly. The primary model cited is that of the heavenly liturgy, to the detriment of the incarnational, THIS worldy mission of the Church of which liturgy, as the proclamation of the Good News to the world, plays a major role. The matter of the sacraments is grounded in the ordinary materials of everyday life — water, oil, bread, wine — as a sign of the transformation and christological reality of the sacramental character of all of Christian life and its daily activities. So no, the point of liturgy is NOT “otherworldly” — at least, not otherworldly in the sense of a dichotomy with this worldly, but as the eschatological fulfillment of the sacramental quality of this life lived with the Risen Lord among us in the here and now.
    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    1. I realize that some complaints about the new translation are focused on its prose but these are a distinct minority in my view. Complaints about the quality of the new English version sometimes serves only as a mask to support a much deeper displeasure with the theology & ecclesiology of the Roman Missal.

      Rita F. goes into this somewhat in her “It Doen’t Sing” 7/15/11 article from Commonweal:

      “Beneath the words of the new translation, one senses a drive to minimize the practical effects of Vatican II. … … (the new translation is…) seeing a retreat from advances already made in ecumenism. …. (in the new missal) (w)e are seeing the liturgy reimagined as an event taking place in some sacral space outside of our world ….”

      This suggests to me that complaints about the new words mask the deeper problem some have with the theology & ecclesiology of the Church expressed in the RM. Some are surprised to realize that old theological notions of humility which Dallen equates to ecclsiological “etlitism” are still present in the post V2 RM. The new RM in English does not “reimagine” the Church. Instead, by shedding the obscurantism of a certain vision of discontinuity, it simply reveals the continuity already present in the Church’s post V2 liturgy.

  20. Ex divina pulchritudine esse omnium derivatur, wrote St Thomas (De Pulchro): ‘the being of all things flows from the divine beauty’. Beauty and truth cannot be separated. Christian art is about communication, whether we are talking about a cathedral, an icon, a sermon, the Roman Canon or a translation.

    The complaint about the new translation from some of us here is not that it is conservative, or traditional, but that it is ugly, shoddy work. The Church should hold her workers to a high standard, whether they are building cathedrals or writing music or making translations. In this case she has failed to do so. The new translation is a far worse offence against beauty than anything done in the previous round. I am well aware that Anthony Esolen, the translator of Dante, disagrees about this. He is wrong.

    People seem to take criticism of the new translation as an expression of disloyalty or theological dissent. If someone sings the Nicene Creed in Latin, it isn’t dissent or disloyalty to mention that the singer is off key. A sermon can be orthodox but poorly constructed and inaudibly proclaimed; pointing that out isn’t heresy.

    There is a disturbing to judge fellow Catholics by shibboleth – as though someone who says ‘I went to Mass this morning’ is somehow less faithful than someone who says, ‘I assisted at Holy Mass.’ That seems to have happened in Cardinal Dolan’s strange report on the Irish College. It should not be happening here.

    At ‘English’ Masses these days, I let the prayers run over me, like a torrent of meaningless words, and I go primarily to a Latin (Novus Ordo) Mass, where at least I can understand what is being said. Nonetheless, the new translation is here for a long stay.

    It is certainly legitimate to point out its flaws here on Pray Tell or on America.

    To Shane’s point: The Tablet has run articles critical of the new translation, but also several articles and letters that defend and support it, and a long series called “Listen to the Word” that unpacked the Latin prayers, week by week, showing, in a sympathetic way, how the new translation rendered various Latin constructions.

    1. The complaint about the new translation from some of us here is not that it is conservative, or traditional, but that it is ugly, shoddy work.

      Yeah, but that’s only the complaint from some. It’s not the only thing causing people to complain (even here on Pray Tell) and for some (not all) people the “ugly, shoddy work” is a convenient way to bring down the new translation when the issue they’re really concerned about is theological.

      The new translation is a far worse offence against beauty than anything done in the previous round. I am well aware that Anthony Esolen, the translator of Dante, disagrees about this. He is wrong.

      I’m inclined to agree with you that the English language writing is better in the previous translation. But the English style of the translation is not the only place the beauty of the prayers is located. The new prayers (especially the collects) seem to convey a tremendously larger amount of the content of the Latin originals. That’s just as important a source of beauty.

      1. “… when the issue they’re really concerned about is theological.”

        That might be less than some. That might be a few.

        People across the theological spectrum have been critical of some or all aspects of LA and MR3.

        “I’m inclined to agree with you that the English language writing is better in the previous translation.”

        Of course it was. It’s quite possible to have good grammar and good translation.

        “But the English style of the translation is not the only place the beauty of the prayers is located.”

        I think there’s beauty in the typeface in some editions of the Missal. Unfortunately, part of the problem is with the Latin edition of the missal itself. It’s not nearly the tool it could be to foster liturgical spirituality, a deeper appreciation and awareness of the Word and the sacraments. Very sad to have such a missed opportunity, especially when the Church needs a means of drawing in seekers and inspiring believers in an age of doubt and discouragement.

      2. One prominent questioning of the original prayers themselves, such as Samuel alludes to, was by Bryan Cones at US Catholic last spring.

        After looking at the new Prayer over the people, Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent and the new Prayer over the gifts, Cones expounds:

        “There’s a lot going on in that prayer, and I’m not sure much of it is good. Like most of the prayers, it focuses more on sin than anything else, and there’s little recognition that we are already baptized, already redeemed.

        “…They are also disturbingly heretical: lots of “meriting” and “earning” in them (Pelagianism), lots of spirit/body dualism. What these naked translations really reveal is how imperial and pagan these prayers really are—you could substitute “Zeus” for “Lord” in any of them. In fact, they use “Lord” so often that it is hard to tell if we are praying to Jesus or the Father. (All Roman liturgical prayers, with rare exception, are addressed to the Father.) To me it seems not only that we shouldn’t be using these translations, we shouldn’t be using most of these prayers at all anymore. They simply reflect an approach to God–a distant, imperial God to whom we must beg for mercy–and an understanding of the church–sinful, unworthy, unredeemed–that I think we have left behind.”

        More here: http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/2011/04/what-kind-god-do-new-mass-texts-imagine

        Other examples could be noted. Some, like Jonathan, are concerned about the clunkiness, the lack of beauty in the new translation, and in this they have, arguably, a point. But for some, it is the shock of realizing what the original prayers actually say, and they find it theologically problematic.

  21. “And, to be fair, either the wedding rites haven’t been rewritten much, or perhaps he made some judicious edits, because the rest didn’t draw _too_ much attention to itself…”

    According to Australia’s “Liturgy News,” the ICEL translation of the Rite of Marriage and the Rite of Confirmation have just been sent to the bishops of the world’s English-speaking countries for comments, with a vote on the final draft expected in 2013.

    It’s not over yet, in other words. The pain of praying ill-fitting words that denigrate laity and women is not just about the Missal, and the controversy is not simply re-active in nature. There’s more to come.

    Don’t even get me started on the proposed new world English Lectionary…

    1. People tend to listen to the Wedding Rite very carefully. Let us all hope more care is taken with those words!

      1. “more care” strikes me as a fairly low bar to clear. I’m quite frightened about what we might get, there, and more so that some other people quite dear to me might be subjected to it when their wedding day comes. Eeeek!

      2. Some parts of the marriage rite (openings prayers and nuptial blessings)are translated in the Missal. They are, in my view, among the more not-horrible parts of the book.

      3. I can already see the anxious enquiries about whether someone is actually married because Father paraphrased the new rite!

    2. In the USA, the Lectionary translation won’t be taken up for 10-20 years, according to correspondence withe committee secretary.

  22. The disgruntled person whose quote from America is an astonishing exercise in bitterness and blind, self centred infallibility makes such a furious and unseemly noise that we might for a moment forget that his is a voice with which relatively few people can sympathise or agree with. I, for one, did not expect that the Catholic Church would produce the English translation that it should have… but at least it is now shooting in the right direction. At least now I can be momentarily amused at a less than well turned phrase instead of being angered, bewildered and insulted at the hollowed out pablum that we had.
    I should like to think that Fr Ruff’s idea of a proper translation for our time would correspond rather closely to my own. But, oh!, am I glad that we have what we have instead of what we had. Most of the people, such as the one quoted from America, who seem to have such an absurdly violent objection to the new translation would not likely produce one which would make very many of us happy. The things to which they object are the very concepts which are, in fact, desirable. Too bad these concepts weren’t perfectly realised.

    1. +1, Jackson

      Too bad these concepts weren’t perfectly realised

      There are two, if puerile, reactions one can basically exclaim:
      Too bad, so sad. (Anyone see evidence of this persisting into no internia?) or
      Too bad, move on.
      And @ Ms. Riggs- if you only recognize an eschatological foretaste theologically in the Divine Liturgy, from your informed POV, then one of us is worshipping in the wrong rite. (No pun intended) Let us join with (angelic hosts et al)…as they acclaim….Sanctus…. Yeah, that’s pretty symbolic, especially in the imperative. I really don’t mean to sound with snark. I just get the subtext from some folks’ theological assertions the loss of faith expressed by Mel Gibson’s resigned pastor character in the film SIGNS, “We’re on our own.”
      NO!

      1. @Mr Culbreth — I didn’t say I *didn’t* recognize an eschatological foretaste in the liturgy; I said that I thought that “foretaste” perspective in *explanations* of the liturgy were overdone, that there needs to be more of a “Risen Lord among us even now” meta perspective.

    2. MJO – you say: “….The disgruntled person whose quote from America is an astonishing exercise in bitterness and blind, self centred infallibility makes such a furious and unseemly noise that we might for a moment forget that his is a voice with which relatively few people can sympathise or agree with….”

      And yet, at PTB, we have folks who basically comment with the same *frustration*; even *anger* if the subject/topic questions the traditionalist EF, TLM, or various pieties – the questionner is deemed a dissenter, heterodox, *self centered infallibility (I like the phrase *invincible ignorance*), absurdly violent objector and there are appeals to papal orthodoxy, magisterium, Tradition (with a capital T), etc.

      Would suggest Jonathan’s approach. Serious experts in linguistics, biblical studies, liturgy, etc. have raised questions, if not doubts, about LA and RT (note that RT is supposedly being revised now) and the future direction. We have six months with most of the english conferences; we have no idea what will happen with the other major language groups (but, to date we have seen push back and resistance and delays). Am always amused about the ROTR and the hermeneutic of reform in continuity’s use of “organic” – and yet, when the ICEL *organically* developed colloboratively for 15+ years on the 1998 translation, a small minority (primarily curial) rejected it and wrote their own new rules and direction. (not exactly what Vatican II intended and not exactly *organic*).

  23. BdH –
    Your points are well taken. In fact, in stark contrast to most objectors, I find Jonathan’s judgment quite intelligent and rational.
    Also commendable is the person above who quoted from the BCP and noted the ease and pleasure with which it was spoken by the youths whom he witnessed. This is, of course, language which is rather far from the everyday street language which Some here would seem to prefer, and yet it is quite quite well understood and loved by millions. The style, pace, poetry, literary depth, and imagery of Cranmer would provide a fittingly imitable example for future translators.

  24. Actually Ms. Riggs, I pondered if the only perspective you recognized was, in fact, the eschatological. If you re-read my post I clearly stated that you did just that. I’m gladdened to know there’s more. No worries.

  25. Mary Wood :

    The congregation responds with alacrity to the prayers, though understandably this C of E version of the Creed does not assert that the ‘holy catholic church’ is “one.” That would be, indeed is, stretching belief beyond credible limits.

    The Nicene Creed as prayed in the Episcopal Church of the US asserts belief “in one holy catholic and apostolic church.” I’m curious why that should stretch belief beyond credible limits when Episcopalians pray it but not when Roman Catholics do?

    I’m no theologian or church historian, but it seems to me that there has been fault on both sides in every major division in the history of Christianity. Somehow I don’t think that Jesus would have prayed the night before his death that all of us would be one if he hadn’t foreseen divisions. The fact that there have been divisions, however, shouldn’t prevent us from expressing our belief in our ultimate unity, any more than expressing our belief in the resurrection of the body before the Second Coming. After all, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

    1. I suspect that the Anglican version of the Apostle’s creed (“the holy catholic church”) is being compared to the Roman Catholic version of the Nicene (one holy catholic and apostolic church”).
      In fact, both denominations use the same text for both creeds, at least at these lines, so there is no contrast.

    2. Cranmer’s translation of the Nicene Creed for some reason omits “holy” from the marks of the Church. The American 1979 BCP restores this. I am not aware of any omission of “one.”

  26. Mary Wood :

    The congregation responds with alacrity to the prayers, though understandably this C of E version of the Creed does not assert that the ‘holy catholic church’ is “one.” That would be, indeed is, stretching belief beyond credible limits.

    The Nicene Creed as prayed in the Episcopal Church of the US asserts belief “in one holy catholic and apostolic church.” I’m curious why that should stretch belief beyond credible limits when Episcopalians pray it but not when Roman Catholics do?

    I’m no theologian or church historian, but it seems to me that there has been fault on both sides in every major division in the history of Christianity. Somehow I don’t think that Jesus would have prayed the night before his death that all of us would be one if he hadn’t foreseen divisions. The fact that there have been divisions, however, shouldn’t prevent us from expressing our belief in our ultimate unity, any more than expressing our belief in the resurrection of the body before the Second Coming. After all, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

  27. At our mass this morning Father replaced his sermon with an observation from his recent social meeting with a group of fellow local priests that the new missal had dramatically decreased the volume of responses from all their congregations. We had a little pep talk about the various responses but it was a little half-hearted and the effect remains to be seen. In the North of England, we are nine months into this and I would have to say that the verdict is one of sympathy for the priests still trying to enthuse their flocks.

    Unfortunately, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and the sadness on my part is that the priests mostly hate what they have been a part in inflicting on people but are unable to share what most of them believe to be the truth. Perhaps if they were to stand in front of us and say that this is dreadful hash which diminishes us as Catholic Christians but one in which we have no say and no chance of changing, the mass experience would be somewhat improved and we could get back to concentrating on the good that comes from the mass.

  28. We will have the Mass in common English as before.
    We will have the Sacrament sequestered on a side altar,
    and there not to be worshipped as it was wont to be,
    and they which will not hereto consent, we will
    have them shunted off like integrists against the inclusive faith.
    We will have clay bowls and dancing at the times accustomed,
    images to be taken down again in every church.
    We will not receive the new service
    because it is like a sacrifice,
    but we will have our old service of public penitential rite, eucharistic service,
    Taize, and procession in common English, not in high English, as it was before.

    1. I do not know what to make of this comment. “They which will not hereto consent, we will have them shunted off…”

      Is this parody? Hyperbole?

      I’m surprised a “side altar” is mentioned.

  29. Jonathan Day tells us, ” The Church should hold her workers to a high standard, whether they are building cathedrals or writing music or making translations.”

    Indeed. But what would be a standard of excellence for American speech? I suggest the style of President Lincoln. Unadorned. Ordinary words. Simple, powerful syntax. So what if he wasn’t Catholic. It would be a very good thing if the Mass translators would pretend he had converted and would ask themselves: “How would Lincoln put this?”

    Just asking if Lincoln *wouldn’t* put a text a certain way could be a big help.

    1. I’m not sure about Lincoln as a model of simple syntax:

      If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” 3
      With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

      1. Indeed. Let’s not confuse Lincoln with Strunk & White. Or Hemingway.

        Or the tortured new collects.

      2. No one ever had any problem figuring out what Lincoln had to say. I’ve seen numerous posts on this site since the First Sunday of Advent trying to disentangle various prayers from the new Missal.
        Brevity does not mean clarity; look at the arguments over the disparate meanings of “many” versus “all”. Lincoln may not have used the brief speech of Hemingway, but his clauses build upon one another to present a clear statement. It’s proof that elevated discourse does not need to be obscure or flowery.

  30. ….elevated discourse does not need to be…flowery.

    “Flowery.” Flower-ly in the sense of:
    Luke 12:27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
    or,
    Flow-erly?
    So, our Lord’s dis. of Solomon’s splendor serves as a rationale for “A rose is a rose….?”

  31. I should have said that Lincoln’s prose is elegant — often simple, yet often rather complex but having the clarity of simplicity. As Brigid Rauch says, his clauses “build upon each other”. I understand that to mean that they fit closely and form a strong, harmonious, sometimes complex unit. We don’t get lost in his prose the way we do with some other writers.

    Of course, it probably takes genius to make a complexus seem simple, and genius is in short supply. But I still think that asking what would Lincoln think of a text would be a very good way to criticize it.

    You could also ask whether the KJV translators (essentially a committee!) would approve, but theirs wasn’t contemporary English. There are no better constructed English sentences than theirs. And, yes, I do think that the structures of sentences generally contribute more to the beauty of prose than little fancifications. Structure gives us integrity of meaning, even a world-view.

    Shall we have a contest? Fr. Anthony could pick a short text and ask for Lincolnian criticisms with alternatives. (That might shut up some of us for good when we see how hard it is to do 🙂

    1. Edward Everett gave a two hour speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg address. Can anyone quote a single line off hand?

      We might consider whether briefer prayers that are actually listened to by the congregation may be more effective than lengthy attempts to turn the Mass into an exposition of theology.

  32. Yes, we all don’t like change but when it’s done with deeper meaning and calls us to have a deeper understanding on our relationship with Christ, what is the downside? Especially with the last 40 years of a dumbed-down liturgy. Raising the bar of expectations is somethng that has been needed for decades. I love the New Translations words and hope we all can come to be inspired by these beautiful words

  33. Ann Oliviers’ suggestion is a good one. More apt, though, would be to ask what a 21st century Cranmer would do.

  34. A much-suffering woman, one of Christ’s little ones. to whom the Mass maeans a lot, shared with me her anguish over the new translation.

    “Am I the only one who feels like this?” she asked.

    Of course many priests feel as she does but say nothing, administering the dreck dutifully. They are committing a terrible crime against the faith and piety of those who have clung on so patiently to the Church.

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