Sunday, December 20, 2009

New English translation of Roman Missal: Will it make a difference?

Today I received an email asking me to publicize, via this blog, a petition entitled We've Waited Long Enough, "in support of the speedy implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal." The author signed off with a slogan used by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "Save the Liturgy Save the World."

How far this will go toward "saving the liturgy" is, I suppose, a question worth considering. On the one hand, I have little doubt that the forthcoming changes in the new English translation of the Roman Missal will bring greater accuracy and some badly needed improvements. On the other hand, I do not doubt that many who prefer the stability of the well-established Traditional Latin Mass will see this as but another confirmation that the post-Vatican II vernacular liturgy, far from representing an established and stable thing, continues to be very much a work in progress.


Anonymous said...

It will make a difference, but not quite in the way that most suppose. The most salutary effect is that it will drive out the schlock-music which has entertained for so many years.Why can I hope so confidently in this? Simple: the new text is theocentric, while the texts of so many "songs" is anthropocentric.

The present translation is so anthropocentric that it has necessarily made a home for Haugen-Haas-Landry-Joncas-et-al.

JM said...

From what I have read, the Mass revisions are fairly minor. Only the convictions and teachings of priests will change things from where they are now, which is why the translation hubbub mystifies me. Protestants have it right here: if people believe the Bible, the rest will come. If they don't. and if they are only giving demanded credence to Tradition... um, does anyone recall the results of Vatican II. Scripture and objective Truth make a difference. Liturgical exactitude as a help follows those things, and depends upon them. Which is why the continued traditionalist avoidance of Scripture scholarship is an ostrich mentality. If Scripture is myth, nothing is left of Catholicism. Which is why we have lost an entire generation.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Scripture is God's Word inscripturated, just as Jesus is God's Word made flesh. I'm inclined to agree with JM on the importance of Scripture -- not only the study of Scripture, but in the conviction that what is says is true -- in other words, belief.

If one studies the lives of the saints, one sees that what animates them is belief, the conviction that Catholicism isn't just another "ism" or even just another "religion" but that its uniquely TRUE -- that Jesus was and is God as Man and that He really was crucified, died for our sins, and rose again in a victory over death as a sign of what He promises for us -- eternal life.

My point here isn't to rehash every detail of the Gospel, but to underscore the importance of what sets people on fire, like the first Jesuits who fanned out across the world in literal obedience to Christ's Great Commission in the 28th chapter of Matthew to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations ...."

Too often what we see around us does not quite look like an incarnation of such a living faith -- the Catholic Faith. Rather, over the last several decades, the churches built, the hymns written, the liturgical innovations mainstreamed, and religious discourse habituated seem more like an incarnation of unbelief -- an unbelief in the reality of Hell, the urgency of Evangelization, the awe-inspiring Real Presence of God Incarnate in the Mass, etc.

Faith is a supernatural gift of grace and cannot be naturally generated; however, becoming intimately acquainted with Scripture can be the occasion of receiving the gift of faith. Familiarizing oneself with the lives of saints can help. A liturgy worthy of the honor due to God in divine worship is a major help as well.

Better English translations are important, but I'm far from sure they're THE major ticket item.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

It won't make a damn bit of difference to me. I'm holding out for the new ebonics translation due out from Fr Stan Fortuna's committee on the liturgy.

Start paying attention to the meanings of words: the NO is not liturgy, but anti-liturgy.

Anonymous said...

The weakest part of the silly article in America defending the new translations is the author's pooh-poohing of the South African response. There was a tsunami of rage from the faithful. The US Bishops face a worse trouncing and they well deserve. Most of them did not even bother to read the farcical new translations -- knowing, I suppose, that it would be a waste of time, since all the Vatican asked for were observations on points of detail, not on the quality of the translations as a whole; and moreover the Vatican ignored most of the criticisms sent by the bishops.