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A Striking Contrast

Three additional thoughts in what is already a rich, although very depressing, discussion about the new English translation of the Roman missal.First, I have read, very carefully, the many examples quoted in MWO'Reilly's post below, of prayers from the new translation. I have declaimed them in my mind, extending the pauses as necessary and emphasizing words to make the meaning clear and even give some power and beauty to overall Latinate construction.I think it can be done. I think Bob Imbelli will be able to do it. So will any other presider with a very good voice, unusual reading and speaking talent, and perhaps a Shakespearean sense of rhythm. And how many of these are there in most of our parishes for most of our Masses? I am old enough to remember the way most priests handled the Latin of yore. It was atrocious.Second, I have read the Anthony Esolen's article about the new translation at the First Things website, which someone who likes the translation recommended in an earlier thread on this topic. Esolen's article is based on a simple premise: If the first post-Vatican II translation was bad, the new one must be good. But decades ago there was a very broad consensus that the first translation was seriously wanting. The bishops and ICEL were hard at work on a new translation that captured much of what the first one had lost and was motivated by at least many of the concerns Esolen reflects. The effort was suddenly ripped out of their hands. Any fair comparison has to compare examples of their effort to those of the new translation.Finally, what is very striking about Esolens article is the contrast between his own genuinely English prose and the Latinized English of the prayers. His prose: short sentences, varied rhythms, colorful and vernacular vocabulary. His explanations of the prayers are forcefull and accessible. The prayers themselves are at best ok; they certainly need those explanations. I am not proposing Esolens prose as a model for the Mass. But the contrast is telling.

About the Author

Peter Steinfels, co-founder of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and a former editor of Commonweal, is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.



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Okay, Mr. Steinfels - let's insert a little levity in terms of your first point - "Mapping a Liturgical Sentence": the last 40+ years, survey after survey and even the work you supported with Mannion's project, preaching is considered to be mediocre at best; presiders/deacons ability to "proclaim" is mediocre at best. Doubt that this "new translation" will work miracles in this area - it will only make mediocre slide to unintelligible.Your last two points, in my experience, hit the nail on the head. This translation, in reality, is dealing with a symptom; not the disease. Ars celebrandi has been a growing and increasing issue since the 1980's. It's not that the VII liturgical reform failed; it is that is was never really tried - via appropriate, targeted, and valued seminary training; refocus on ars celebrandi, etc. Bishops increasingly paid lip service to the church's liturgy.Found Esolen's opinion to be on the extreme fringe - not many translation experts would agree with any of his points of view and doubt that he had any involvement with the original ICEL and wonder how he can comment on such a worldwide group that toiled for decades to produce a liturgy that inspired folks to full and active participation. (Again, reality - their best efforts still depended upon how presiders and bishops implemented their work)

Bill -- do you know anything about Latin? I studied it in high school and college, and while I'm not an expert by any means, Esolen makes an unimpeachable case for the prayers that he discusses that the previous translation was so sloppy as to border on dishonesty.

SBWho would you say "doesn't" have a personal connection? Me, being Byzantine? I find the new translation to be quite poor in relation to English and understanding of English, and it is based upon a very non-English sentiment imposed upon an English audience. It doesn't translate well into English what they are trying to do. So much is lost in this translation, including beauty, it's not funny.

As the date for full implementation of these liturgical changes draws close, the response in at least my parish community is trending against them. I don't expect that any critical mass has been achieved as yet, but I have been surprised at the emotional reaction especially among women.My questions about these liturgical changes:1. Who among the faithful, in the pews, did the hierarchy ever conduct any MEANINGFUL CONSULTATION prior to ordering these liturgical changes?2. Who, or what, are making money off of this change? How much for all the training of the priests and liturgists? How much for all the new printings of the very expensive ceremonial books?For me, until I hear some plausible, credible answers to these questions, I think Catholics at the parish level should just IGNORE the changes and insist on continuing with the liturgy as has been our custom for years.Just like the response to the teaching of Humane Vitae years ago where Catholics essentially have ignored the ban on birth control, Catholics should exercise the "sensus fidelium" and reject this bad brainstorm of the hierarchs.

"The effort was suddenly ripped out of their hands. Any fair comparison has to compare examples of their effort to those of the new translation."Is there such a comparison out there, preferably written by someone who doesn't have a personal grievance at issue?

While the discussion of the Propers is critical and intersting, it is the Ordinary prayers that are most upsetting from the "... with your spirit" to the much discussed "...shed for the many." I know the explanations but still find it all wanting and stultifying

"Esolens article is based on a simple premise: If the first post-Vatican II translation was bad, the new one must be good."With all due respect, Esolen's article does not begin with that as a premise at all. It's what he demonstrates by argument and example. Specifically, he explains through several examples, which he says are not cherrypicked: 1) what the original Latin prayer says and means; 2) why the original "translation" was so terribly inadequate; and 3) why the new translation far better captures the theological meaning and beauty. Henry: if you could be specific, that would help. And if you write a comment using non-awkward English sentences yourself, you might even be convincing.

Studebacker - actually, I studied latin for 7+ years and used in for years in worldwide community discussions - the order's statues and constitutions had to be in latin (altho next to no one understood this - a few had to translate back and forth so that all discussions could be in national vernaculars).Esolen chooses to re-write history....except his revisionist history picks and chooses and starts - not with facts but his opinion and biases; if not out and out ideology. VII overwhelmingly passed SC and its dynamic equivalence translation methodology. His comments about this are inaccurate; if not downright dishonest. His latin bias is poor liturgical history and omits centuries of liturgical practice and development. A balanced, research based analysis would place "latin" in its proper perspective (it also was a vernacular from greek and aramaic and most experts would state that it wasn't even high class latin but the language of peasants - to quote from Reginald Foster, pre-eminent latin scholar today - it was the language of prostitutes). Both early church liturgies and scripture were translated using dynamic equivalence. Almost all expert translators posit dynamic equivalence. Yes, we do need to make sure that the "original" latin is correct but the liturgical tradition then is to translate in the most poetic, meaningful, and proclaimable manner possible. (LA is a deficient guideline; poorly written and articulated; and this new translation breaks the rules of LA hundreds of times when that seems to have been the point of LA in 2000?).And these are comments restricted to Esolen and translation - it doesn't even begin to talk about the process used over the last 12 years which, some canon law experts state, is not even valid.We worship the Trinity as a community of faith - we don't worship latin. LA and its ilk smacks of the gospel stories about Jesus and the Pharisees and the Temple High Priests who were rigid about rituals as if the rituals were gods. Esolen and the USCCB appear to have "coined" a new term - "sacral vernacular"...whatever that is?

Jim and David -- what's so upsetting about having a better and more accurate translation? I understand the impulse to be conservative and never change anything, but it's a little odd when people fly into a rage because a response ("and with your spirit") that was never mistranslated as to any other language (French, Spanish, etc.) is at long last correctly translated into English.

So, Bill, can you refute anything that Esolen actually says about specific prayers? So far, I'm seeing lots of people who are mad and full of insults, but no one who can refute Esolen on specific details. (Again, I'm asking if you can refute what he says about the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, the postcommunion prayer from the same mass, and the preface for the Feast of the Transfiguration -- namely, he claims that the original prayers meant such-and-such, the first "translation" was egregiously wrong, and the new translation is better.)

Studebaker - from the PrayTell Blog from Xavier Riendfleisch: examples that you are specifically asking for:II. Prayer over Offerings, Fourth Sunday of Advent: The significance of the prayer is lessened by translating qui as just as. The sense of the Latin implies a confidence that the action of the Spirit, who filled the BVM with his power, will now sanctify these gifts. The point is that it is because the Spirit filled Mary with his power that we have confidence that he will sanctify the gifts, not merely that the way the Spirit filled Mary with power will be the same way he fills the gifts with power."Altari tuo, Domine, superposita munera Spiritus ille sanctificet qui beatae Mariae viscera sua virtute replevit"2008 Gray Book - approved.....O Lord, may that Spirit who filled the womb of blessed Mary with his power sanctify the gifts laid upon your altar.2010 Final Version - not approved but printed and will be used.....May the Holy Spirit, OLord, sanctify these gifts laid upon your altar just as he filled with his power the womb ofthe blessed Virgin Mary. One more example (you can read the link)8. Introduction of a Theological ProblemAlternative Collect, Baptism of the Lord. The Received Text mistranslates the Latin. The parallel structure of foris agnovimus (adverb-verb) and intus reformari (adverb-verb) suggests that foris modifies agnovimus, not similem. More importantly, is the Received Text translation indicating that if in saying Christ is outwardly like us, we are implying that inwardly he is not like us? If so, it suggests Apollinarianism a fourth century Christological heresy that denied the human soul in Christ. In addition the Received Text fails to translate mereamur.Of course, the most hilarious is the communion collect for Christ the King - it contains this great latin translation - ".....the immensity of his majesty". BTW - members of ICEL informed Vox Clara of these and numerous mistakes - no response except that when these surfaced in public, a number of ICEL members were fired.For your perusal:

Here is one last post that compares the efforts and explanations of ICEL, 1967 with the 2008 Gray Book: comparison w/explanation:1967 ICEL Commentary 1967 Experimental Translation 2010 TranslationLines 1-4: Te igitur.Because of the importance of unifying this prayer with the sanctus and especially with the preface, a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, the expression in this spirit of thanksgiving is used to convey the weight of igitur and to sum up the theme of the preface (cf. Botte-Mohrmann, LOrdinaire de la Messe, Paris-Louvain, 1953, p. 75).Supplices rogamus ac petimus. In many instances Latin words such as supplices and pairs of words such as rogamus ac petimus are employed for reasons of Latin rhythm and style or rhetoric; they do not represent thought content which need be or should be explicitlytranslated in another language. Other examples are placatus (line 37), digneris (lines 7, 44, 79 etc.), cognita-nota (lines 16-17), donis ac datis (line 74). In this case, the force of the Latin rhetoric is carried by the expression we come to you ... we ask you since theword come is here intended to embrace the sense of suppliance and petition and to set the mood for what follows.Clementissime. The English spoken style does not have anything corresponding to the Latin multiplication of adjectives; in fact the effect in English is to weaken rather than to strengthen the sense. In this particular instance to translate clementissime directly wouldviolate English usage, which rarely attaches an adjective to a vocative; the meaning of clementissime is carried into the English by the tone of the first two lines. Other adjectives which have been similarly treated in this translation are temo ... vivo et vero (line20), hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam (line 76), etc.We come to you, Father, in this spirit of thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ your Son.Through him we ask you to accept and blessTo you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord: that you accept and bless

Going off of "the immensity of his majesty," I fear that I'll have a very hard time not snickering whenever we pray the new Gloria full of its Latinate phrases. I'll always think of this Monty Python clip (at :40)

From left field: I find these arguments exceedingly tedious. How does one canonize some Latin prayers? Obviously, other rites have what are generally taken to be satisfactory liturgical texts, in a variety of languages.Second, I know of no serious biblical scholar who is looking for a translation of the bible that is "most accurate." Accurate to what in what context? Raymond Brown, for example, said that different translations are appropriate for different uses of the biblical texts. That fits well with the prevailing notions of what counts as acceptable translations of any number of other texts, e. g. the Aeneid. Third, so far as I can see, what we are confronted with is a matter of obedience. OK/ There's nothing in principle wrong with obedience. But don't make bad arguments for what you command. And I shouldn't make bad arguments for disobedience.In the air, whether one likes it or not, there is the sense that this argument is not at bottom about the translation from Latin into English, but is rather about relationships among various members, of the worshiping community. Specifically, what is the status of the laity, on one hand, and the clergy, on the other hand, in the communal celebration of the Eucharist? There is no doubt that there is no Eucharist without the priest. But when the community gathers for the Eucharist, are the laity doing something or just receiving ministrations from the clergy? So far as I can tell, the laity are full fledged members of the community that offers the worship. Neither they nor the clergy ought to be coerced into the position of having to "talk funny" to celebrate the Eucharist, even if that means that one does not adhere to some slavish conception of what good translation is. So, o.k., we have to obey if we don't want to mess up the Eucharistic celebration. Just don't give any more silly arguments!

Bill -- you say, "Some examples that you are specifically asking for:"No, those are most certainly not what I specifically asked for, although they are interesting. I specifically asked if you, since you seem to disagree with Esolen, could address any of the prayers that he specifically analyzes in great detail. I take it you cannot do so?

Stuart,This is by far your worst reasoning ever. In other discussions you worked in logical sequences and even if I disagreed with you I respected your reasoning. It is clear you are out of your competence. Bill D exhaustively destroyed your assertions. In detail. Now you are floundering and you have devolved into continual non sequitors. Bill D is on point, not just interesting while you are off the wall. Maybe you should read the satire that Bill referred to at the beginning of this thread. piece says it all.

Bernard -- The question of accuracy does seem important, doesn't it? Assuming that you agree with the notion that the Catholic mass is actually important, and that what we're doing here in American English is supposed to be saying a translation of the Roman Missal (given that we're not strictly held to the Latin any more), shouldn't the translation be, well, an actual translation? To take some of Esolen's examples, what is the excuse for translating "sancte Pater" as merely "Father" or "beatae Mariae" as merely "Mary"? These are not just nitpicky complaints that could be raised about any translation whatsoever, nor are they examples of idioms that make no sense to try to translate literally. They are Latin words with well-known English equivalents that were simply left out before (whether from stupidity or sloppiness doesn't matter).

I'd also note that besides Latin, Esolen knows Italian, German, French, Anglo-Saxon, and Greek. He has translated Dantes Divine Comedy (3 volumes, Random House), Tassos Jerusalem Delivered (Johns Hopkins University Press), and Lucretius On the Nature of Things (Johns Hopkins University Press). The latter was praised by Kenneth J. Reckford, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the following terms: "Esolen has the rare gift of being both a fine poet and a lover of languages. His diction is poetic and natural; he has a fine ear for sound, and the translation benefits greatly from being read aloudas Latin poetry was meant to be. This translation is clear and forceful. It can, and will, be read." His translations of Dante have received even higher praise. Not only that, Esolen is himself one of the most elegant essayists I've ever come across. I'll take his opinion about what constitutes a good translation over the opinion of several individuals here who, however well-meaning, have little (if any) expertise, and who can't even write a single comment themselves without awkward phrasings, misspellings, errors of punctuation, and/or grammatical errors.

All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing goodthat Christ may find an eager welcome at his comingand call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christwith righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.The first paragraph above is the present version while the second is the translation to be prayed next Sunday. Esolen then proceeds to call the new translation "muscular" and the image of "running" to meet Jesus. I mean this is an English professor's poetic license gone theatrical. His tying this all in with the ten virgins escapes logic. Do read Esolen's article. It is a great propaganda piece revealing how he has been part of the new translations while full of speculation. How the second prayer is more scriptural than the other is baffling.

Some may view Esolen as a mere propagandist (see the embarrassing comment above) but Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, offers a highly favorable view of Esolen's skill as a translator:"Above all, Esolen rightly understands translation as a total enterprise, which means that translating the Divine Comedy is not simply a matter of finding often impossible equivalences between Italian and English. On the contrary, it entails translating the whole cultural context of the poem..."Esolen has produced an incomparably good work, which is likely to become the standard poetic translation of the Divine Comedy for years to come."

Thanks, Bill. Here is another example from a series of articles by Gabe Huck on translation:".....consider the collect for the First Sunday of Advent in the new book:Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,the resolve to run forth to meet your Christwith righteous deeds at his coming,so that, gathered at his right hand,they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.Come again? Contrast that with the banished version of the 1998 book as approved by all the English-speaking bishops:Almighty God,strengthen the resolve of your faithful peopleto prepare for the coming of your Christby works of justice and mercy,so that when we go forth to meet himhe may call us to sit at his right handand possess the kingdom of heaven.Not great, but because it was apparently judged a failure by the norms of LA, it was replaced with Grant your faithful . . . Judge for yourself.My observation - Volumes have already been written on the dangling latin phrase, "righteous deeds at his coming" which seems to be picked up by the later sentence...."they may be worthy to posses the heavenly kingdom". ONLY - "they" does not refer to "righteous deeds" but to the "faithful". But, as Mr Steinfels stated, am sure that all of our well-trained presiders will make this clear by their pauses, intonation, etc.???A later Advent Sunday collect has another dangling phrase - "these passing things", which also seem to refer to a later "they" only the "they" are the faithful; not "passing things". Oh yeah, well the experts at the USCCB website must have missed this - to save the situation they produced a long winded theological explanation of "passing things" when that is not even the primary subject of the collect. Oh well!Studebaker - to your two phrases.....I posted the ICEL 1973 commentary and the Comme Le Prevoit rules of dynamic equivalence so you would understand that the original ICEL faithfully applied and implemented the directives given them. Phrases such as holy Mary or blessed Mary (yes, literal translations) were shortened following dynamic equivalence and to better get across short, brief english words, phrases that contained the meaning for most folks who prayed the 1973 translation. ICEL's explanation provides reasons for these choices - they are consistent and faithful to their directives. You can be sarcastic; you can reject and dismiss their efforts but you are comparing apples to oranges and your ideology comes through. Did you read any of the analyses or links therein?

I'm not sure I understand what Esolen's qualifications as a translator have to do with this. I'm willing to concede that (usually) the new translation is an accurate translation of the Latin (as long as it didn't offend the ideological presuppositions of the Vatican, such as removing the word "stand" from Eucharistic Prayer II despite its clear presence in the Roman Missal). But is it proclaimable? Is it prayable? These are the far more important questions, and as far as I know, Esolen isn't an expert on these matters.The most important point is the one raised about the comparisons between texts. To compare simply this new one to the original translation from the 70s is insufficient. The (much better) translation approved by the English-speaking bishops in the 1990s and summarily rejected by Rome (before they went ahead and changed the translation rules) must be taken into account.

They must have put a lot of work into the new translation because I have a St Joseph Missal from the 60s and the people's part is almost word for word.

For those interested, a link to the 1998 translation (British version) is available here:

" Phrases such as holy Mary or blessed Mary (yes, literal translations) were shortened following dynamic equivalence and to better get across short, brief english words"So what you're saying is that English-speaking people are too impatient to bother with longer phrases such as "blessed Mary," and just saying "Mary" is close enough? We're not coming up with a translation aimed at illiterate preschoolers here, although even they might be able to handle the "blessed Mary" term.

Andy -- given that the 1998 translation kept such glaring inaccuracies in the congregation's responses (leaving out "spiritu" or the word "holy" in the Suscipiat), I could easily understand why the Vatican might want to toss the whole thing and start again with competent translators who weren't trying to cater to the belief that people are too dumb to handle a few word changes here and there.

Andrew, If you can give us a sampling I would appreciate it. Esolen has done us all a favor by showing us the comparison between the two translations. His commentary certainly gives us room for thought. Unfortunately he uses his well deserved reputation and sullies it , in my opinion, with this foray into politics. Yet it is a conversation which has more meat on it and helps us see the picture more clearly.

Stu--The same Vatican that required a change from "seen and unseen" to "visible and invisible" in case we were too dumb to figure out that angels and not just sub-atomic particles were included? I suspect the reasoning behind the 1998's decision had nothing to with your explanation and was rather a pastorally sensible one not to change the people's prayers without very good reason.Bill--I honestly haven't looked at it much, just found the link. All I can say is that I've been able to read the prayers through and get their meaning on the first time around, without having to return two to three times just to understand what is trying to be said.

OK, I've slogged through this to-ing and fro-ing and have decided that it is much ado about what?For the next month of 2, the faithful sheep will dutifully pull out their little laminated cards and follow along with their parts. When it comes to what the presider is saying, however, that will be a different story altogether.I suspect that some parishes will fall into line and the rest of us, after dutifully giving the new tranlation a chance, will fall back into our old ways. Priests - now that will be even more interesting.

"I think it can be done. I think Bob Imbelli will be able to do it. So will any other presider with a very good voice, unusual reading and speaking talent, and perhaps a Shakespearean sense of rhythm. And how many of these are there in most of our parishes for most of our Masses? I am old enough to remember the way most priests handled the Latin of yore. It was atrocious."Hi, Peter, I agree that many presiders will be challenged to untangle all of these complex sentences and subordinate clauses into proclamation, particularly if they try to do it on the fly. If they want to take the care to do it right, they will need to prepare, in a way that, for the most part, they haven't needed to do until this Sunday for the text of the liturgy. They may need to mark up their texts, showing pauses, emphases, and so on.One thing that will be helpful is that liturgy is by its nature repetitive, so in the case of the Eucharistic prayers and shorter texts that are ordinary, they can be expected to get progressively better at it each time they proclaim it. If they do actually take the trouble to mark up their books, those marks will be there the following year when that week of the year rolls around again.FWIW - I rarely attend to the collects and postcommunions. It may be that, those not being my parts, I don't have as much interest in it. And it may be that, even in the form we've been using the last 40 years or so, they've been poorly proclaimed. It is possible that, now that they seem to be "meatier" in content, *if* they are well proclaimed, I may be more drawn into them than I have in the past. We won't know for quite a long time, of course.

Grant it, dear friends, that howsoever much Mr. Esolen may have garnered splendid and appropriate praise for his notable and worthy translations, his argument, were it to run forth thus in clauses miraculously accumulated and, with appositional phrases and nominative ablatives, repeatedly interrupted, no one, we deem, would have persevered willingly and freely much beyond the initial sentence, and grant it, we plead, that while his complaints, offered in his plain-spoken English, regarding the first translation, have, we humbly admit, some merit, directing our eyes and souls, as they do, toward certain lost connotations and allusions, his conclusions that the current translation, exemplified in passages not, he testifies, harvested like the fruit of the cherry tree, successfully resolves those unhappy faults and is, therefore, satisfactory and effective do not, our minds yearning for clarity and our hearts for understanding, emerge at the last convincing.


I agree with many of the observations here and following the earlier posts by J. Peter Nixon and Mollie Wilson O'Reilly. The words of the translation are only part of the problem, but replacing one flawed translation with another flawed translation is not going to help. Jim Pauwels, it would be nice to think that repeating the same texts over and over will make the presider more careful in his phrasing so that he prays them more meaningfully. Unfortunately, repetition can also have the opposite effect. Bill deHaas, I agree with much that you say in this thread and in the others, but your opening comment seems to miss my doubts about the skills of the average presider. You also say something about the work I supposedly supported "with Mannion's project." I'm afraid that I don't know what you are talking about.

SBSeveral things. First, much of what you provide here, in your ramblings, are outright fallacies. For example, you use argument from authority -- "he is a translator with people saying he does good translations" as an argument that he is right in the needs for a particular translation. This does not work. You are acting like we do not deal with foreign languages (even when many have showed otherwise) and so we must listen to him. No-go. This fallacious argument also goes with your debate about how people write. I am not doing a translation, trying to write beautiful sentences, or the like. I am just doing quick comments. Second, you seem to not understand the nature of translation itself. That is what happens quite a bit. The arguments here remind me of many KJV-only promoters. They even take selections of texts and compare them, saying, "See why KJV is the only way to go?" Same argument, same method, same ignorance of language and how translation works. Same confusion in thinking there is a good, perfect translation. There is not. And you say the Vatican said no to a different translation because the people doing the translation didn't know how to translate properly. What a load of rubbish. They knew how to translate; if the Vatican only had arguments with a word here or there, it could have been changed and the rest kept. Indeed, in any translation activity, this is what happens (I bet there were a lot of editorial changes to the Divine Comedy when Anthony Esolen translated it! Does this mean he didn't know how to translate?)The reality is, this is a poor translation for liturgical use. It makes me wonder if _that_ is what some want, so that people will just use the Latin.

I'm remembering Greek class in college, when our tutor used to point out the literary merit of the more complex sentences. Socrates spoke with greater complexity than Meno, for example. Meno spoke bluntly. Socrates spoke more gracefully, nesting meaning within meaning. His sentences were like "Chinese boxes," somewhat palindromic in structure, with the heart of the sentence in the middle.

Just a few more thoughts.I think so many confuse translation as if one is just working with code and it is a kind of code-breaking, so that, once you know the code, you can just replace one word in one language with the same word in another. This, of course, is not true. Even before addressing the meaning of grammar, the meanings of words between the two languages will never be exactly the same. Another thing, certain parts people are upset about, I like. "And with your spirit" is, imo, appropriate. I don't see the problem with it. It is, other aspects, often with the longer prayers, we see real problemsBut as a whole, I still wonder, if it was rendered into bad English for a purpose, so that the Latin will be suggested as the solution. "Well, if it can't be done well in vernacular, we need to move away from it." That we get quite a bit of defense of this poor translation from those who seem to prefer celebrating in Latin seems to say quite a bit. They are trying to promote something they will not use. Why? [side note, though I am Byzantine, I do go to Roman liturgies too, so for me, it is not as if I am talking about something which I have no association with].

KathyHaving more complex sentences like that is fine for philosophy, but liturgy is something else....

Henry,I don't understand why even the language of liturgy shouldn't "lift up [our] hearts." We are there to be lifted up. "Grace elevates and perfects nature."

It should lift our heads, but there are many ways that can be done. Prudence is needed.

C.S. Lewis, an Anglican, warned that a vernacular liturgy means a changing liturgy. Language changes and philosophies of translation change. But it is a bit much to hear people who had no sympathy for those who were upset by the abolition of the millennium-old Latin liturgy to foam at the mouth at a few changes in wording.I presume that they have now adopted the maxim: When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.

I guess Jesus was thinking of Socrates and Meno negatively when he said: "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants."

Mr. Steinfels, thank-you for this post (and for your witty and illustrative comment in the thread). Thanks as well to all the commenters.There may be very good arguments for why the translations in the new missal are better than the ones we've used for the past 40 years. There may be good arguments for why the translations in the new missal are an improvement over the work the ICEL and the bishops were doing 20 years ago.Arguments that explicitly or implicitly rely, even in part, on the majesty and superiority of Latin compared with English (or Spanish or Igbo) are not those good arguments. They are, in fact, bad arguments that serve only to muddy the waters of our discourse.Occasionally I'll see a bumper sticker that reads "God Made the Irish #1" or "God Made the Scots a Wee Bit Better". While I appreciate the sentiments and where they come from (it can't have been easy being close neighbors to the English these past few centuries), the result is a deformed and dangerous theology.The first half is exactly and profoundly right---God made them. It's the second half that starts down the path of racial or ethnic superiority that's problematic. I'm pretty sure (as sure as I can be) that path leads to hell---both in this life and the next. J. S. Bach wrote great religious music. So did Thomas A. Dorsey. To spend time arguing that one wrote "greater" or "more exalted" or "better" music is to miss the point, and miss it rather badly.

The poorest people used to find their education in churches. Rhetoric, symmetry, architecture, art, music--one could find a liberal education at Mass.Mass could be for all of us what this community is for these young French men

Most got no education when they found no true place within the liturgy, as was the case with Western "tridentine" liturgies. The disconnect was more than language. The turn to vernacular and promotion of lay participation allows for liturgy to be used for catechesis, but even then, we must understand liturgical language is not the same as a philosophy textbook.

The Dialogues of Plato are not a "textbook." They're a masterpiece. The Mass ought to be a masterpiece.

The Dialogues of Plato are a different genre than liturgical celebrations. And the Dialogues are often used as a textbook, but that is beside the point. The point still is that different genres will have different expectations and needs. Mass is not a philosophical treatise, it is worship.

It ought to be a masterpiece.

And what we got in this new translation is not.

"And you say the Vatican said no to a different translation because the people doing the translation didnt know how to translate properly. What a load of rubbish. They knew how to translate; if the Vatican only had arguments with a word here or there, it could have been changed and the rest kept."Well, the point is that if Vatican saw that the most obvious errors had been left unchanged, it knew it was dealing with "translators" who had based their work on faulty assumptions. Making just a few word changes wouldn't suffice to deal with that problem.

"The reality is, this is a poor translation for liturgical use."Here's the thing, Henry. On the one hand, I see an expert translator who is celebrated for his translations of Latin and Italian poets. I know him to be a wonderful stylist in English essays. And I can read a lengthy article in which he explains, with close analysis of several prayers, why the old translation was so bad and the new translation is so much better. On the other hand, I see someone who is neither an expert translator nor an elegant stylist in English (indeed, your writing is more consistently awkward than any other native English speaker that I've come across). Moreover, you do not even try to refute any of Esolen's actual arguments as to why those specific prayers are now better translated.

For what it's worth, from a guilty bystander, I follow all of this at a bit of a remove, as my views are like those of others here (the Two Peters, Nixon and Steinfels, especially) -- some of the new phrasings seem silly, some better, some wrong ("for many" as opposed to "for all"), and the process was an imposition, poorly done, and unjust, but so it goes these days. It's all probably not that big a deal for most of us in the end. What strikes me is how much the language of the Mass has become about aesthetics, and a certain kind of Western European aesthetics. Benedict XVI has often lamented the changes since Vatican II, and the idea that the Council promoted the idea that everything is open to change. And yet he is a champion of the "reform of the reform," which is an agenda of constant change. Similarly, he (and others) lament the idea of the mass as a performance, and the celebrant as the main performer. Yet the intense focus on a certain Latinized style of language, delivered in the English-speaking world with the proper Chestertonian orotundity, seems to me to highlight the priest as the main actor whose performance makes or breaks the mass. These arguments, like those of the preference for Latin and a Baroque-era Mass as being the sine qua non of a genuine holy Mass, also strike me as culturally-conditioned, and rather self-indulgent, for us: basically, we like the music and rhythms and language of a certain era of Western civilization, and so that must be equivalent to sacredness? How does that work? In Africa and Asia, where the faith is booming, all this Latinate language and exaltation of High Anglo Latinate speech means nothing, or is just more silly cultural imperialism. Yet the faith survives, and thrives. I know that the Bible was written (and spoken, presumably) in an Aramiac of the people and "street" Greek, and that the Mass was originally translated so that people could understand it. Functionality seemed to be the main goal for centuries, for communicating the faith and sacred mysteries.And I love mysteries, and the sacred, and would tend to a more Western style of traditional celebration myself. As religions progress through time they understandably become ritualized (routinized) and the mysteries and celebrants become stylized, and I'm okay with that. But when does such ritualization of aesthetics become the object of devotion, rather than pointing us toward the genuine object of devotion? Is this focus on a very narrow cultural expression of language a reaction to the secularization of the world, or a perceived secularization? At this 400th anniversary year of the King James Version of the bible, that translation has received all sorts of hosannas, from unlikely defenders such as Christopher Hitchens, because of what he and others perceive as it's beauty and cultural richness. But it was also the language of the "common man" back then, and is decidedly not today, and is in fact unreadable and in error in many places. So is it the best way to pass along the faith? I would agree that language has become rather impoverished, but is making everyone sound like Belloc the way to go? Is the Mass (for example) the best vehicle for trying to change the culture -- and a certain slice of Western culture at that -- back to a higher form or rhetoric and literacy? Or is it about worship? I sometimes wonder if we are turning into a form of Eastern Orthodoxy, where we will have different rites (Anglican, Latin, Literal Equivalence) that will be followed by various national or cultural groupings, each insisting their own language and style is integral to their celebration of the Mass. Again, to channel John Allen and his (useful) refrain about the globalized church, how much of this is just a lot of arguing about the primacy of various forms of Western culture when the rest of the church as SO moved on? I always recall that one of the other problematic aspects of Benedict's Regensburg speech -- which got lost in the Muslim furor -- was the way he seemed to give a kind of divine and permanent sanction to the early influence of Greek thought on Christian faith, though Catholics in the rest of the world, especially Asia, don't see the faith through that cultural lens. The arguments over language strike me as expressing the same kind of cultural solipsism, or coming perilously close to it, and they seem to be arguments over who performs Palestrina best, and making the outcome of that argument determinant to what is a good and holy Mass. Anyway, random thoughts, of a Wednesday morning, from a non-expert in liturgy, in every way.

SB Nice fallacious argumentation.

Here's the broader phenomenon I don't get. As I've said before on this website, there's a popular stereotype of "conservatives" as more simple-minded and "progressives" as coming from a better-educated population. But within the Church, this stereotype is completely reversed. It's the "conservatives" who are in favor of good music, translating accurately or even (heaven forbid!) actually learning Latin, etc., while many "progressives" seem to be outraged if the music and liturgy don't reflect the cheesiest and most hokey developments of the 1970s.

Peter - very clever :-).To further test the hypothesis, I just spent several minutes reading the Eucharistic Prayers aloud in the new translation. The texts are available (with side-by-side comparisons to the soon-to-be-retired texts, although that is not relevant to this exercise) here: did it in two parts: I first read through the texts silently. Then I proclaimed them.I experienced the sort of thing that happens when you try to read through Hamlet, and then attend a performance of Hamlet: it is easier to listen to than to read silently. There is a notable limitation in reading aloud that doesn't come into play when reading: the need to pause for breath every few words. That limitation is actually a significant aid to understanding. The pauses for breath, at commas, semi-colons and colons, serve to break up the complicated grammatical constructs into digestible bites.Also: as a practical matter, I expect that many priests will more or less settle for Eucharistic Prayer II and Eucharistic Prayer III, as they do now, because of their relative brevity and simplicity. I'd suggest to the skeptical that, if they are willing to face the embarrassment of being caught in the act :-), they take a few moments to read the new EP II and EP III aloud. Do it the way that I presume we'd all like to have liturgical texts proclaimed: don't rush through it, try to proclaim it so that the words are understood and the meaning is clear. My conclusion is: there are very few or no difficulties. (I will say that, there is one phrase, "kind admittance", in EP III that both reads and sounds a bit awkward).

SB And as for my style of writing, I follow the example of Plotinus and translate it into English. Since we all know Plotinus is a master, it makes what I write good!

SBYour argument, once again, shows you don't know anything about translation. You are begging the question. "Conservatives are about translating accurately." No. They are about translating through a certain methodology, perhaps, but that doesn't mean accurate. This is the confusion which most "conservatives" seem to have. They confuse their preferred method as "more accurate." In some places, it is, in other places, it is not. Indeed, the "more accurate" that many conservatives suggest is really "code replacement" as I described above, which is not translation in the fullest sense of the word, and this is the problem many of us have with the new translation of the Western liturgy in English. It doesn't do a full translation, but rather, attempts all kinds of Latinizations into English, which doesn't work too well when put that way.

David,One of the more interesting books I've read which dealt with the question of translation was "Pentecost in Asia." The book is not about translation but more the Asian Christian phenomena which included the issue of liturgy and translation. It showed the real problem which is going on today. The local, primary speakers, of the various languages are seen as suspect. Translations are looked at and examined by people who are not native speakers. They are finding their works are being translated from their original language back into Latin, criticized based upon the Latin retranslation, and then told to conform to a different translation by some official who barely knows the language in question. While there are more people who know a form of English as a second language, and they know it better than Asian languages, I do wonder if this is a part of the problem we have now. How much of the translation was re-translated into Latin, criticized based upon that retranslation, and a forced translation to be more "Latin oriented" was thus suggested instead? Also, how many of the officials are able to understand the diversity in locality as to the meaning of English itself? But I still think that the English is trying too much to be made to parallel the Latin when what works in Latin does not work in English is a big part of the problem.

David G.,Most thoughtful reflections, thank you.I personally wouldn't want to distinguish too completely between aesthetics from worship, for two reasons. First, God is beautiful--is Beauty. I don't think we can aim too high in matters of art, architecture, and taste, if what we want in worship is some reflection of God. Jesus was attractive. Maybe not in physical form--the prophecies of Isaiah suggest not, and the Gospels are silent on the subject--but he was a magnet for the people in speech and in person. One way our worship can function is as a parable of Jesus' own attractiveness.Secondly, if faith and reason are not antithetical, and if reason helps faith, then the Church should provide liberal education whenever possible. It's a very old custom to provide this with worship.None of this necessitates a period piece. Heaven knows there are some on the right who are seeking a nostalgic, mid 20th century revival of a nostalgic, early 20th century revival of a nostalgic, mid 19th century era. That's not art and taste, and it's almost entirely imaginary.I would ask, though, what are the values that underlie the Church art of our own times, and whether these are rooted in the Gospel, primarily.

I understand Peter's objections, at least, to arise as much out of choices of grammar and internal structure, and as a rather prolix writer myself, I intuitively understand where he is coming from. I am not a latinist by any means, but I suspect that some of the original "latinate" complexity did not seem nearly as complex to Latin speakers because Latin has cases and other grammatical features that remove doubt about such issues as "which they are you talking about in this clause." English has no such features -- no feminine or masculine indicators, vastly simplified subjunctive verb tenses and no "cases" as German does and even spoken Latin did. My mother in law was a Latin teacher and my mother, a product of 16 years of Catholic schools, is also no mean latinist, and one fo the things about Latin that those who work with it love is the ability to completely rearrange words in a sentence and still retain the same meaning. Try doing that in English -- it's almost impossible. Word choice is like consciously moving your muscles and limbs -- whereas grammar and structure are more like a rigid skeleton. So when you try to retain an "original" style of Latin structure in English (or French or Spanish or many other languages) there is a serious risk of losing meaning even when you use the closest word substitutes. What is the purpose of using a literary style that is closer to that of the original Latin if it breaks down the meaning in English?

Kathy, yes, I agree Beauty is very important, but not to be entirely relativist, but it is in the eye of the beholder. I think JP2 knew that quite well. (For another thread, B16 mentioned during the recent Benin trip that he prefers the word "inter-culturation" to "enculturation," the word that has been used for a few decades now. Not sure what that means, in the abstract and in practical terms. Seems like another linguistic puzzle.) Henry, yes, Tom Fox's book is excellent, and the issues he raised haven't gone away. I'm also struck that with all this intense focus on the English translations, the translation into other languages, such as Japanese, appear to have been virtually dismissed. I seem to recall that the Vatican officials who signed off on the Japanese texts didn't even know Japanese! If language is so vital, why is it vital in one language and not another?

Excellent comments, David; thanks.Mr. Steinfels - sorry for any confusion. Agree totally with your comments about the average presider and the challenges of this new translation in terms of proclaimability.My reference to Mannion and his project ..... thougth I had read elsewhere in your comments/writings that the reformed liturgy did not exactly develop the way many may have thought (unintended consequences). Too often, the typical Sunday US mass moved to a four hymn sandwich; chant was lost; blending key traditions (good, historical and valued Gregorian chants, processions, etc.) were lost - this happened because of poor education, preparation, and implementation (it was not intentional). So, we would up with a mixed bag - there was good organic development but we lost key ritual moments - chant, silence, etc.

DavidI fear the English translation is important if for no other reason it is the language which will be used the most as a "second language" in today's world and so will be where everyone looks as to see how to translate texts into their own language. And yes, having translations done and then to await approval from those who don't know the language is quite disturbing.

Another thought: Stepping back, it seems that the liturgical world is divided in two (well, isn't that always the easiest way to view it!): on one hand you have the whole emergent, megachurch phenomenon with no sense of tradition or liturgy or solemnity, and all ghastly (my aesthetic judgment) contemporary music and pop rock adaptations, and on the other hand the archeological impulse to discover and recover the "genuine" old ways -- which of course leads not to the old way but to something wholly new, an amalgam that is presented as the way it was, but can't be, of course.

David Gibson, you should read if you have not the book (now winer of the National Book Award for nonfiction) "The Swerve." In a different context, and going back 600 years or more, it talks about the movement that recovered old Latin texts and how the originators -- e.g., Petrarch -- were motivated by the desire to fashion a new literature that was worthy of the ancients without being a slavish copy, but that over time, their intellectual disciples became consumed with recreating what had been lost without really embodying any artistic impulses to create something of their own. Hence, they argued a lot about whether one rediscovered copy was more genuine than another, based on the incidence or alleged incidence of mistakes of Latin punctuation and grammar. And clearly, their own impulses along these lines arose at least in part out of their dissatisfaction with contemporary life and their perceived inability to bring about change. Across generations and cultures these impulses are amazingly ubiquitous.

David,I wonder if we could remember the past in a way that isn't archaeological. It's the time for thanksgiving skits and pilgrim hats. We can't be them, but we can play them.But with the Church, we are them. Same folks, different time. How did they pray? Why? When we don't, why not? (I'm not thinking as much about language as gestures.)

Very late to this and hapy Thanksgiving, if such be possible in the dysfunctional world of Church, politics, etc.I think Peter, Bill and David have much good to say on the translation issue, bu ti agree with Bernard that the real problem is(and will more and more be) about roles.IMO this is still more of our distinctive Church more like the old Catholic Church of Trent and trying to look les like those putative congegationalists that arose post VII.Attractive to traditionalists -another thing to be put up with at best by Church/Eucharist loving progressives hanging in....

David Gibson, many thanks. You have revived my drooping spirits.At times, it seems to me, that promoters of the new Missal are in danger of making it an object of worship in and of itself.Someone who has had a very close and official role in promoting the Missal of 2011 has recently said that the text will need to be done over fairly soon, perhaps in as short a time as ten years.Those around then can have these discussions all over again, complete with learned articles on the many defects of this Sunday's new Missal.Meanwhile, the French, the German, and the Italian bishops continue to drag their feet with regard to their own Vatican-mandated (Liturgiam authenticam) Missal revisions.The Italian bishops, when polled at their plenary meeting in Assisi in late 2010 on the translation of "pro multis," voted 97% in favor of retaining "per tutti" ("for all"). And, you know, I think they will get it.

"They are about translating through a certain methodology, perhaps, but that doesnt mean accurate."Henry, you still don't seem to be able to answer even a single one of Esolen's points about how the new translation is indeed more accurate. Try to be specific, rather than just ranting. For example, should "sancte Pater" be translated as "Father" or as "holy Father"? Why should anyone pay attention to you if you think that "holy Father" isn't, in fact, more accurate?

Barbara, many thanks for that reference. I'll check it out -- it sounds true, and indeed may be! I read reviews of Greenblatt's book, not all laudatory, but who knows.

"But I still think that the English is trying too much to be made to parallel the Latin when what works in Latin does not work in English is a big part of the problem."Henry, given that you write ungrammatical sentences like this so regularly, I'd be rather more concerned if you liked the new translation.

In my earlier comment, I failed to make myself clear. I apologize.Since then, David Gibson has said a number of things that I agree with and has said them in sufficient detail. If it is not superfluous, given David's comments, let me briefly propose a few "theses." 1. There is no such thing as a "sacred" language, Latin, Greek, Urdu, or whatever. To claim that the present Latin text, or any other text, ought to be the "ur-text" that ought to be translated as literally as possible by liturgical texts in other languages make no linguistic sense. Perhaps there are practical considerations that would warrant taking the Latin text as the norm, but that case has to be made, not just taken for granted.2. I know that the liturgical texts, whatever their language, have to be doctrinally sound. But there is no reason to think that only literal translations (whatever that means) from the Latin can satisfy that requirement. Think of the liturgical texts of other, non-Latin Catholic rites.3. It is also true that the liturgical texts, whatever their language, ought to be felicitous and worthy of the subject matter. Again, there is no reason to think that this requirement can be met only by taking the Latin text as the rigid norm.Once one seeks that there is no doctrinal basis for making Latin the "ur-text" then only practical arguments for giving it any sort of preeminence can succeed. If there are such arguments, let's entertain them. But also entertain practical arguments to weigh against them.

Bernard -- your argument is missing the point, I think. If the proposal was to create a separate English Rite within the Catholic Church, that would be worth considering. But for now, we're talking about the Roman Catholic Church using the Roman Rite. That means, by definition, the Roman Missal. The Roman Missal is in Latin. So if we're going to use the Roman Missal in America without using the original Latin, then we have to have a translation. That is not because Latin is the only holy language or because God hates other languages, but because the Roman Missal is in Latin and we're translating it to English before using it. So the question is, how should the translation be done? Should everything be dumbed down on the assumption that long sentences are just too hard for us American-Idol-watchers to comprehend? Should words be left out ("sancte Pater" becoming just "Father") on the theory that being sort of close is good enough?

Studebaker,There are overall questions, which do matter in translation, that can indeed trump your presumption that each and every word in the Latin must appear in the English by means of a cognate English word. The decision to render every "sancte" as "holy," as well as every other Latin adjective with an English cognate, can and does result in prolix English. You don't seem to have grasped the point that adjectives must be used sparingly in English if they are to matter. Dear, sweet, lovable Studebaker, you have taken the acidic, one-sided, intemperate comments of the fine yet biased and traditionalist-leaning Dante scholar altogether too trustingly and devoutly, and yet, I firmly though sorrowingly aver, you have meant well by so doing.See what I mean?Peter is right. Esolen's broadside against the earlier translation does not make the 2010 sow's ear into a silk purse.

If you don't like the Roman Missal because it's too wordy, then fine: have at revising it. But don't pretend that it's an act of "translation" to leave out words and concepts on that basis. Call it the Reader's Digest adaptation of the Roman Missal -- just the stuff that we thought was important enough to leave in.

"Esolens broadside against the earlier translation does not make the 2010 sows ear into a silk purse."Like Peter, you're also acting as if Esolen just assumed as a premise that the new translation is an improvement, when the truth is that Esolen wrote several hundred words explaining and defending the new translation's version of several specific prayers. If you disagree with him on the specific points he makes there, perhaps you could explain exactly where he goes wrong (you'd be the first person in this thread to make such an attempt).

Bernard, you raise a point which was key to the arguments for and against Latin at the Council. Is Latin sacred? Those opposed to the vernacular based their opposition in part on this claim, but more often on the role of Latin in maintaining unity and doctrinal orthodoxy.The question of how to maintain unity is the underlying neuralgic issue of the translation discussion. At least that's how it looks from where I sit. The Council's decision to opt for "substantial unity" of the Roman Rite, rather than formal unity, is the very point that the current movement is attempting to overturn.Substantial unity requires us to go to the root or substance of what unifies the Roman liturgical tradtion. Formal unity or uniformity stresses the accidentals, and assumes that by maintaining outward forms identically we achieve unity.Having affirmed the principle of "substantial unity" was the end of the Council's discussion, but the beginning of another and much bigger one. Prudence would suggest retaining respect for the outward forms yet avoiding the error of identifying them with the substance of the Roman Rite absolutely. I don't know that the balance has always been maintained well in the post-conciliar church. Yet, that's the difficult, but right path, istm. I think we should have fought out the differences in perspective on liturgical texts on precisely that level. However, it has been the case that some people either can't or won't trust the discernment needed to get to the heart of the matter. They have insisted, instead, on the other, more brittle alternative. For them, the unity of the Roman Rite is maintained by the closest possible conformity in texts and rubrics. This point of view is set out in Liturgiam Authenticam. It has ushered in a whole new era of literalism with respect to our liturgical rites.

Studebaker, did you even read my comment?You're obviously not taking in anything.

The Nicene Creed in its original form was Greek, not Latin. Why must the inaccuracies and infelicities of the Latin translation be preserved in the English version with the result that we are effronted with such howlers as "born of the Father"? Surely not because we celebrate in the Latin rite.

Further, does anyone know whether we are supposed to accent "And WITH your spirit" or "And with YOUR spirit"? And why?

Thanks very much, Rita, for your instructive comments.My not deeply informed inclination would be to make the initial presumption, subject of course to refutation in particular cases, that any reasonably mature linguistic community of faith can fashion liturgical texts that satisfy doctrinal concerns. I would also be inclined to face up to an ongoing need to think critically about any liturgical text. If the church as a whole is always in need of reform,then so are its liturgical texts.

"You dont seem to have grasped the point that adjectives must be used sparingly in English if they are to matter. "Rita--Not sure I follow you. What is it about English that necessitates adjectives be used sparingly to be meaningful? How is English different from Latin, or any other language, in that regard?

Rita -- of course I read your comment, which is precisely why I pointed out that you seem more concerned with revising the Roman Missal than translating it. For example, you say: "You dont seem to have grasped the point that adjectives must be used sparingly in English if they are to matter."That's a stylistic point, one that is not peculiar to English. It's as true in Latin as in English. So if you think the Latin has too many adjectives, what you're really saying it that you think the Roman Missal should be revised and adapted, rather than merely translated. Which is fine, but you haven't given people who prefer an actual translation a reason to agree.

Mark, I am just an amateur at this, but every language lends itself to different poetic forms. In English the two things that stand out are alliteration and internal rhyme, ideally spread out over an 8 syllable sentence: "Give us this day our daily bread." Not: Give us our bread today. Latin and Italian, on the other hand, lend themselves to long flowing, polysyllabic expressions. You can hear this very distinctly in songs. The language that will be used as a text is not simply shaped by a tune but shapes it in turn. Hence, for a poem to be effective in English it must not just make the right word choices, it somehow has to try to incorporate literary devices that heighten the power and effect of English: an example -- "I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him." Or: "When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions." Or: "Margaret are you grieving over golden grove unleaving."There is no perfect translation but when you are translating into English any choice that allows the use of typically English poetic device is almost always the better one, and that usually means shorter words that allow rhythm and rhyme to develop between and among words.

I look in vain for a use of "accuracy" more specific than "good by my tastes". Accurate in what respect? An act of translation is done for a purpose. The purpose determines those properties of the original that one emphasizes and tries to convey most precisely in creating the product for speakers of another language. These properties may be declarations treated as facts, emotions, rhythms, textual structure, history, and other aspects. The primary intended uses of the product - orating, singing, philosophical study, information transmittal, historical inquiry, inducing reaction, etc. - impose different demands on the translating, leading to a different final product. A word-for-word translation tends to be senseless for most purposes because, between two languages, the vocabulary options, comprehensible order of words and phrases, syntax, punctuation, idioms, rhetorical conventions, and implicit understandings differ (even when they are spoken side-by-side in the same town). Phrase-by-phrase tends to be little better, leading easily to the likes of Peter Steinfel's superb creation above. Experiencing Mass in smelly piers and grand medieval Gothic cathedrals as well as ordinary neighborhood churches for purposes of prayer, I found the Mass the same. The accidental circumstances differed. Being fluent in Latin and English some of the time was similarly a secondary matter. What is the primary purpose to be served by this new translation in use? Various objects of worship seem to be envisioned in some of this discussion.

Bernard, thanks for that point about a particular language being sacred. Latin is certainly venerable, but I don't know how it can be considered sacred in the way that Hebrew/Aramaic is for Judaism and Arabic is for Islam, given that Latin was a relatively late arrival on the scene, and Tridentine Latin much later -- dare I say modern"...Again, as some of you have noted, this all seems to make an idol out of the wrong things, and a very idiosyncratic idolatry it is.

About the merits of contemporary English and its relatively simple structures as against the more complex structures of medieval Latin:On the one hand it has been claimed that Latin's more complex grammar allows for the expression of more complex thoughts than does the simpler grammar of ordinary English. For some people, anyway, this seems to imply that Latin is too complex for us poorly educated anglophones. In other words, complex Latin was fine for the likes of Erasmus, but not for us. On the other hand, it has also been pointed out that the Latin of the old Mass was the ordinary Latin of the ordinary people, that is, the Latin of medieval peasants. This implies that ordinary contemporary anglophones are incapable of the complex sort of thinking that the ordinary medieval peasants were capable of. I call this patronizing in the extreme, and to make this assumption would condemn the words of the new Mass to the level of TV soap and truck commercials. If I"m not mistaken this is one of Studebaker's main points.In fact contemporary English is an extraordinarily expressive language, which has no doubt helped to make it the new the lingua franca. It is becoming dominant not only in the literature of science but in non-scientific areas as well. Further, one need only say the word "Shakespeare" to be reminded of its poetic and dramatic potential.I say that probably the greatest mistake the translators have made was not to call in the poets in the first place. They would have dispatched these nasty little semantic problems (e.g., all v. the multitude, the many/etc) in a trice. Would that Seamus Heaney had been part of the process from the beginning!

Adjectives must be used sparingly in the English language.That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. ***And for all this, nature is never spent;There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;And though the last lights off the black West wentOh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs--Because the Holy Ghost over the bentWorld broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.***so much dependsupona red wheelbarrowglazed with rainwaterbeside the whitechickens.***Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. ***

Sir,You have read one tendentious, and indeed libelous, article, and have thereby constituted yourself an expert in the ART of translation. It may surprise you to know that the coming Missal is hardly in every instance a literal translation. What you are looking for is an interlinear translation, somewhat on the order of the old hand-Missals that some of us knew before 1965.I've said it once, but I'll say it again. Translation is a conversation between two languages. In that exchange the particular genius of each language has an equal claim. For the process to succeed those equal claims must be honored, not simply tolerated. Your approach makes a nonsense of the Council Fathers' vernacular decision. It is doomed from the start. Better Latin than an English that is so mannered and recondite that it is a subset of the language, a kind of arcane patois, that bears little resemblance to the state of the contemporary LITERATE language.It's not at all as easy as you think. But perhaps the end of the vernacular in the liturgy is what you are really looking for.

My thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread, including those like David and Bernard and other s who took us in new directions and including, too, those I disagree with.My thanks to Studebaker, for example, whose reference to Esolen on another thread led me to read, think about, and disagree with that article. My thanks to Kathy for championing Beauty in worship. As the son of a liturgical artist who devoted his life, at considerable sacrifice and with mixed success, to struggling on behalf of Beauty against the shoddy standards he found prevalent in the commercial religious goods trade, I am not going to disagree with her. But Studebaker keeps insisting on the shortcomings -- to him "inaccuracies" -- of the first translation. Is it inaccurate to translate "sancte Pater" as "Father" rather than "holy Father"? Yes and no. In my view and the view, I believe, of most others working in the 1990s on an improved translation, the first one suffered from an understanding of contemporary English that found what Bill deHaas notes is Latin's adjectival abundance to be a barrier to the meaning and to prayer. So, without checking, I believe that many such terms stripped down in the first translation were rather gracefully restored by the bishops and ICEL before their work was so rudely interrupted. I am happy to have the sancte-holy restored where it should be. But does this mean that "sancte" must always and everywhere be replaced by "holy," regardless of the overall impression or effectiveness in liturgical prayer? That is to reduce translation, as Henry Karlson says, to coding and decoding. It is even possible that for reasons of rhythm and proclamation it might be better, at points, to ADD a word, as in "most holy Father" and at other points to drop one. One of my standby silent prayers, memorized as an altarboy is "Laus tibi, Christe." I frequently repeat it to myself, alternating the Latin with "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ," from the current liturgy. (I have no idea whether the coming translation will alter that or not -- someone tell me.) Is this translation "inaccurate" because it felicitously adds words to what would be a literal but totally abrupt "Praise to you Christ." Even the Sunday "Stedman" missal given to me at Christmas 1954 adds two words ("Praise be to Thee, O Christ" to render the rhythm satisfactory in English. Kathy's invocation of Beauty is similarly off the point. I can agree with everything she says, although I suspect that translating Plato into English has not been without controversy, but without it leading to any overall judgment about this particular translation facing us in several days. Perhaps she is simply saying that the first and current translation falls short in Beauty. In which case, I can agree with that as well. But once again that was simply not the choice before us, and she can hardly advance evidence that Beauty was either the governing principle or the predominant characteristic of the new translation. A "masterpiece"? Bill de Haas is correct that I have argued that the liturgical renewal did not achieve what was hoped for. My only extended reflection on this is found in a chapter of A People Adrift. I make it clear that I am writing from outside the guild of liturgists. In fact, one of the things that bothered me was that liturgical experts have given far too little attention to assessing and analyzing what actually occurs at Sunday or daily worship in parishes compared to the attention devoted to history and texts. (In this respect, liberals and conservatives are largely on the same page, and even much of our discussion here, however thoughtful, falls into the same category.) I took my cue from those liturgists who were dedicated to renewal but also willing to overcome defensiveness and admit that some things had not gone well.The most important thing that must be done to revitalize (or even maintain) the Catholic church in the U.S. is making the Sunday Eucharist a powerful experience of communal worship. That is a matter of spoken language, body language, music, hospitality, preaching, participation, catechesis, and the beliefs we bring with us. It is a matter of formation and leadership, ordained and lay. All those points have been amply discussed on this blog. I see little sign that on a church-wide level anything significant will be done, though I have the greatest admiration for those who keep trying. I tend now to worry about little things. Two of our family's longtime guests will be missing this year from the Thanksgiving table, and those two had the very best voices. So I worry now about how well we will sing "Now Thank We All Our God" before praying and bringing on the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

"Henry, given that you write ungrammatical sentences like this so regularly, Id be rather more concerned if you liked the new translation."SB, once again, fallacious arguments and insults is all you have? Got it. So I bet you believe no priest should talk about sexual sins, right?

PeterThank you for keeping my central point intact -- that what we are seeing are people who confuse translation as coding and decoding. That is the problem I have with many of the arguments. SB might say I am a poor writer, which is fine, but that has nothing to do with my points, which shows why his comments are fallacious.

Barbara--Thanks, that hardly sounds amateurish. It's interesting that Esolen also places emphasis on rhythm and consistency of theme, especially with respect to words that evoke scripture.I'm hoping that the new translation will age like fine wine, fine leather, fine music. I remember thinking the first time I heard "All Along the Watchtower" I never needed to hear it again. I remember when I thought white zinfandel was as good as wine could get. Look how wrong you can be. On the other hand, if I never hear "American Pie" again, I won't feel cheated. And then there are other simple songs I like as much on the hundredth hearing as I did on the first ("Be My Baby", "I Got You Babe"). Who can tell where this will lead?

No, Henry, it is not at all fallacious for me to point out that no one can be expected just to take your word for it that the new translation is poorly written, when you show no signs of being able to detect poor writing. (If you were to make an actual argument that had any details about a specific prayer, then that argument would stand or fall on its own merits.) John Page -- if you were part of the group that was mis-translating "And also with you," or the Suscipiat, then I must respectfully say that it's not surprising that the Vatican didn't leave the translation in your hands.

I am not a swift writer. So I see that between beginning to write my last comment and submitting it, a lot of other people have chimed in. Some of you have made my points better than I have. Thank you Rita, Barbara, Jack, and John. A lot more could be said about differences between Latin and English, pursuing the points made by Barbara, Kathy, and Ann, and about the range of English, from Milton to John Henry Newman to Ernest Hemingway. I don't think Kathy's examples really support her case. But does anyone who reads several languages really deny that they have inherent differences and that translation involves, as John Page says, a "conversation" between them? That seems to me obvious. Then one can move on to the further question of whether a particular translation has been an attentive conversation partner. And Ann, I am sure you know that the last thing the Vatican would want to do is bring in the poets.

Peter,One might wonder whether your mind is already made up, about this translation, the Vatican, and my points ;)I'm surprised that you don't know whether "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ" is changed or not. Have you studied this translation quite carefully, before becoming "depressed" about it?Bare ruined choirs...

Ann,With all respect, I can tell you (and from some experience) that no poet would put up with all the hoops and hurdles that Rome has set up for preparing the vernacular texts. From the base translation to the Roman recognitio there are at least seven steps of review, revision, and vote. According to the present directives, throughout the process bishops must have the principal voice. (That is, until the "final" text gets to the Congregation for Divine Worship and that anomalous body called Vox Clara. I am hopeless at the "smile" sign.)Any non-bishop that is given a "stable and continuing" role in the process by the bishops must now receive a Roman nihil obstat. I tend to doubt that Seamus Heaney would submit himself to that.

SBSo I guess you won't listen to priests talking about marriage...

Look at the Suscipiat. Latin text: Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctaeWhat the supposedly good 1998 translation said (according to Andy's link above): May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your handsfor the praise and glory of Gods name,for our good, and the good of all the Church.What the new translation says: May the Lord accept the sacrificeat your handsfor the praise and glory of his name, for our goodand the good of all his holy Church.Why the new translation is so much better:1) The new translation does not unaccountably omit the word "holy" ("sanctae"). I cannot conceive a good reason for that omission. "Holy" is not too wordy. It does not violate the (supposed) proscription on using too many adjectives in English. It is not a Latin idiom whose literal translation would be meaningless. It is not a word that has been overused throughout the prayer. It is not an awkward phrasing. It was just left out, for no good reason at all. 2) Note that the Latin refers to "His" name ("sui") and "His" holy Church ("suae"). Unlike the 1998 translation, the new translation does not so studiously avoid saying "His" by the awkwardness of saying "for the praise and glory of God's [should be His] name." This is not a mere translation here; it is an ideological move not to use a masculine pronoun for God. Whatever you think of using the occasional masculine pronoun for God, that decision is manifestly not one that translators qua translators are qualified to make.

Studebaker does us all a favor by showing the way. The problem is not the new translation. Rather it is the fulsome style of the original. Cut the rhetorical fat from from the original and a lean text with no word wasted will yield a lean translation. Why speak of God's holy church when there is no other?

Studebaker's points are generally well taken, and his example of how the Suscipiat was translated in 1998 is quite telling.

Do cut the duplicate "from".

It might be useful to remind, if we are looking for great oratory and masterpieces in the Liturgy, that we are talking about ecclesiastical Latin here as opposed to classical Latin. As far as I know ecclesiastical Latin has always been inferior. Does that mean we need more Cicero?

"Indeed the formula , for all would undoubtabley correspond to a correct interpretation of the Lords intention expressed in the text." Cardinal Arinze to the conferences of bishops on the translation of pro multisThis is very telling. The priority in translation is not meaning, but "decoding" the Latin. The words take precedence over understanding, and that alienates us from participation. The Latin words are not our words. If they are the basis for liturgy, liturgy is hollow. OTOH if liturgy is based on our approach to God, which is facilitated by the words, our prayers signify our faith.

Kathy,I would go not with "God is Beauty" but rather with "God is Love." I dabble in theological aesthetics every now and then, and one of the things I find troubling about (some) of that field is the way in which it seems to assume that everyone can agree on what is beautiful. In fact, we can't and don't (across time and space; of course, specific groups of people often do agree.) Love -- well, I suppose we could disagree on certain details, but I think we all have a general shared sense of what we mean by *that*, at least within the Christian tradition.I admit to some pretty serious depression over the new translation, and yes, some of the feelings I feel *have* made me more sympathetic to the 'conservative' reaction to the post-VII changes in the liturgy. That's probably a good thing for my soul. But it's a bad thing for the church overall, I think. Because the new translation is going to be *very* hard for people to follow -- maybe not me (an English major and theologian who plays with words for a living) but for a *lot* of others. Assuming for the sake of argument that this is somehow "more beautiful" (says who? I love and think extremely beautiful the 'old' translation) I still think that the ornate complexity of the sentence structure will destroy the chance that 90% of the hearers will follow. And if I'm right, that will be a complete disaster. We always need to keep in mind with liturgical translations that this will have to be heard and interpreted on the fly; no time to go back and retrace our way through sentences, as we can on the page.What good is beauty if there's no love? And I don't see a lot of love in the way this has all been done -- no love for the dedication shown by the ICEL team, no love for the average parishioner, no love for the *virtues* of the Vatican II era or the modern world, no love for English *as* English. It's depressing.

Thanks to whoever it was that posted the link to the failed 1998 missal; I had no idea it was so lame.I can see why they tossed that one!

I am sympathetic to many of Studebaker's points but not sure about "His name" and "His holy church" -- it's been a long time since my high school latin, but I think it's the rule that the reflexive pronoun (sui, suae) follows the the same case and gender of the noun it modifies. Nomen is neuter in gender so sui is also neuter; ecclesiae is feminine so the pronoun suae is also feminine. It wouldn't be English if we said, "its name" or "her holy church."Of course, nomine refers back to Dominus, but still I wonder if the older translation -- "God's name" isn't trying to be more strictly accurate (at least in this instance) than "His name." It doesn't necessarily reflect an ideological choice.

-- his argument, were it to run forth thus in clauses miraculously accumulated and, with appositional phrases and nominative ablatives, repeatedly interrupted, no one, we deem, would have persevered willingly and freely much beyond the initial sentence, and grant it, we plead, that while his complaints, offered in his plain-spoken English, regarding the first translation, have, we humbly admit, some merit, directing our eyes and souls, as they do, toward certain lost connotations and allusions, his conclusions that the current translation, exemplified in passages not, he testifies, harvested like the fruit of the cherry tree, successfully resolves those unhappy faults and is, therefore, satisfactory and effective do not, our minds yearning for clarity and our hearts for understanding, emerge at the last convincing.Oh, yea verily!!See also:

For once and for all, will someone PLEASE explain to me why slavish adherence to a literal translation of koine Latin (if you can take liberty with the term "koine") is critical to the prayer life of the church and the ultimate salvation of my soul?And don't inflate uniformity to unity: I don't buy it, particularly when said uniformity is Eurocentric as opposed to universal.

Thanks, Peter - wonderful synopsis; fair, even-handed, balanced and your thesis is, without doubt, very clear. Yes, if only the powers to be would recognize the effort and energy needed for our worship and pastoral activities.Your summary reads like a prayer. Wish you and your family (and your missing friends) God's blessing - that it may be upon you these days. And thank you for the gift of your book, A People Adrift.

I am sure that at my parish hardly anyone cares. Only the "for many" will tear at people; the rest will be chalked up to Vatican stupidity, and greeted with utmost indifference. People will continue automatically substituting inclusive words whenever there is a gender-exclusive wording, as they do already - no difference there. Compliance will be reluctant or dull, with the occasional pleasured reaction at childhood memories: "We used to say this phrase when I was a child!". But in the main, nobody cares.

Jimmy Mac - Thanks mucho for the diagraming sentence piece. I laughed so, because I am a KC and know how the priest sometimes must dread those types of dinners, or when one of us Knights presenst the priest with the annual check to help the mentally retarded. I sure the priest sometimes just wants to cringe.Oh well; just pray like old Moses did in Latin!Some wonder why some priests tend to think they know more that the laity. I always say they think that way, because they DO know more that we do.Ha, ha!Thanks for an interesting discussion and Happy Thanksging to everyone!

Jimmy Mac, I just read the humorous piece you linked to at NCR. I laughed until I cried.

John Page ==I wasn't thinking of asking the poets to initiate the translations. I was just thinking of submitting the drafts done by the translators to the poets for criticism and suggestion. Poets and fine prose writers (Lincoln and Updike spring to mind) are the ones who who are acutely aware of both how a given line of words works and how an individual line works within a whole text. After they and the translators have worked out their last draft, then the bishops could vet it for orthodoxy, which is indeed their responsibility. Not only should the words have been given to the poets for review, the whole plan of the Mass should have been submitted to fine playwrights and movie producer-directors before a word of translation was done. The old Latin Mass at its best was great theater even for non-believers, and the theatrical people might have a good bit to say about making the smaller structural parts confirm and clarify and even intensify the overall narrative. I"m particularly thinking about more meaningful gestures that would punctuate the narrative and show where the sub-actions are heading. The parts of the current English Mass -- the gestures and the larger movements -- are simply too few, too bland, and too much alike to be very interesting. But I daresay it will be a couple of centuries before we see a high-five on an altar.Wouldn't it be great if Lincoln had done a whole translation of an Easter Mass and, say, Coppola did the "choreography", with Sir Paul and Bob Dylan doing a couple of hymns? (Go ahead, Studebaker. Scream in agony :-)

How about this for the third responsorial at the Easter Vigil, Ann?

Thanks, Kathy, but I can't use the Flash player, and even if I could, I couldn't hear the clip. Sigh.

Just kidding--but it rocks.Regarding some of the "points" being made on this thread, are they anything besides flippancy? Is this what thinking Catholics do, make a Monty Python sketch out of things they don't like?And what about some of the real questions that have gone unanswered? Does good English writing really avoid adjectives? Really? And even if it did, is that a good enough reason for eliminating the word "holy" from a prayer?

Ann, it's Springsteen singing a spiritual, Oh Mary Don't You Weep. Do you know it? (It does rock. Joe and Eddie did it too. Rock. Rock.)

Kathy -- I barely know any rockers beyond Elvis. Fortunately, I started to become deaf in the 70s, though i love the Beatles and think they're fine musicians. Maybe God saw that old people would rarely like the music of the young so He planned on us losing our hearing in our old age. That way the young people could have their turn making the music for Mass. I just think that being the Catholic Church we ought to have all sorts of Masses, including stuff I don't like. There should also be room for vastly different styles. If Leonard Bernstein or Menotti had wanted to write a whole real Mass, then I'd say, Fine. And Springsteen and Dylan too.I agree with you about avoiding adjectives in English. As with all things artful, it all depends. Consider these lines, among the greatest and most favorite in the whole language:. . . . . .All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.

Kathy - If you are asking about "good English writing", time-tested answers are detailed by Strunk and White in The Elements of Style (1999), available at Amazon (Kindle in 2011). For example, #II-17: "Omit needless words." #V-16 "Be clear". They believe writing is communication and explain ways to do it well and to fail. Your adjective question is answered, among others. What is the new translation meant to communicate, from whom and to whom? As Bernard D. gently pointed out in a nearby blog, God can understand whatever language comes by.

Jack B. ==Check out the criticisms of S&T at Wikipedia. E. g., Geoffrey Pullam, a prof of linguistics at Edinburgh, called it "the book that ate America's brain". Sure, there are some writing "rules" that make sense for ordinary purposes, but obeying rules can in some cases kill artistic creativity faster than anything. On the other hand, Stravinsky, the composer, said, "There must be rules. It doesn't make any difference what the rules are, but there must be rules". And he then wrote some counter-cultural, great stuff. I think you'll find in the arts that there are certain *sets* of rules that seem to work well when you want to produce a work of certain type. The rules seem to define the type, so it's good to generally stick to them. For instance, there are Bach's rules of counter-point. But he broke them all the time when the internal necessities of a piece required him to.

Ann -- No argument. Consider how the rules of communication were carefully mastered and bent and sometimes re-invented by the handful of outstanding people you just mentioned above - Lincoln, Bernstein, et al. First, the basics. Little local discussion seems to have been concerned about the level of inspiring artistic creativity demonstrated by the new translation. That is why your fantasy was interesting, about who might do what to make the celebration of Mass focus pewsitters more strongly and deeply on their purpose in being there.

120 Posts. Liturgy and abortion. Happens all the time. As I see it the trigger on liturgy is the sacralizing of Latin. (Cicero would have been a Roman Catholic) The trigger on abortion is the fact that it is an escaped for those who neglect the downtrodden and is driven by celibates. Why else would the downtrodden be forgotten while zygotes are given more attention? At any rate there is this slogan; Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.The so we live part usually gets short shrift. On HBO there is a current documentary "Sing your Song" which is an account of the substantial work done by Harry Belafonte in civil rights, particularly rights for blacks. It is a reminder of a glorious era when Catholic clergy and bishops were in the midst of this historic intervention. Sadly, people like Law, Neuhaus, Novak and others could not stay with it and longed for a pre-Vatican II Church. Basically, the new translation is driven by that mentality and a few restorationists pushed it through. Belafonte agonizes over the continued brutality and wars that continue while Rome triumphs on the Tridentine approach. Hopefully, this new translation will not be followed by a mentality that neglects the downtrodden while the First Estate remains in comfort and luxury.

Bill, the obvious one is "and with your Spirit." The confiteor in the St. Joseph missal "through my fault..... The Gloria is exactly as the St Joseph's Missal. The Sanctus is exactly the one in the St. Joseph Missal. the preface of the Canon "It is right and just" is exactly the same as the St Joseph Missal. The Sanctus is the exact one from the St Joseph Missal. "Lord I am not worthy.... is the same as the St Joeseph Missal. It just seems to be a bit retro.

Jack,I'm really not talking about "good English writing" so much as about rules.I've had it up to my eyebrows, nay, beyond my eyebrows, with liturgists and their rules. No pleonasms! Use adjectives sparingly! No. More. Latin! The Sanctus must be congregational! Sing all the verses of a hymn! No, end the hymn at the end of the procession! No adoration during Communion! Bow the head slightly, don't genuflect, don't kneel! Remember paragraph 75 of the RCIA--no catechesis! I could go on and on.

About how much will it cost for parishs to make this switch? In honor of our pastor's 25th year as a priest, the schoolchildren passed the hat around to buy a couple of new missals. I was shocked at the price- the new massbooks were running @$250 each. Does that price sound right? It seems shockingly expaesive. (Doesn't seem like a very exciting gift either; I would have bought him an ipad).But is there a financial aspect to these changes?

Despite much of value here, as I look at this thread I must say;What Bill M. said!

Among things for which to be thankful, beyond Bernard Dauenhauer's reminder that it doesn't matter to God what dialect you use, we have the discovery that the Vatican has a sense of humor. How else to explain the title of the committee that looms above worldwide discussion like the above? Vox Clara! (Lat.)

127 comments and still running. Liturgical mistranslation seems to have become the defining issue for port-side American Catholics. I've read nothing here, though, about how horrible the new music is. Is that because it wasn't mandated by Rome?

"A Shakespearian sense of rhythm" is not an asset for those reading the new prayers. Shakespeare is the most rhythmical of writers, and his verse lifts the speaker. Reciting the new clunky and unrhythmical translations is more like trying to breathe life into a corpse.

Kathy, you have it up to your eyebrows with some alleged rules but most Catholics have it up to their eyebrows with impositions of dead texts and with a temple police who spy to see that the texts are recited exactly as written.

Fr. O'Leary,I don't think "most Catholics" can be invoked by one side or the other of these discussions. Not yet, anyway. I'll be interested in seeing what happens in a few years, when folks have become fully aware of what our religion is all about.

" ... in a few years, when folks have become fully aware of what our religion is all about." The Parousia?

Lol, fair point, John.S/b In a few years, when folks have become much more aware of what our religion is all about, and begin to wonder why they've been denied their rightful theologoumena all these years.

I think Kathy's point is the central question I've been trying to answer for myself (in vain) in reading these discussions: Will the new liturgy bring more people to Christ? Is it good catechesis? Will it make me a better Catholic?Given that the average kid in catechism has no freaking idea why there are three purple and one pink candles in the Advent wreath (I had to explain this to my kid's girlfriend who was received a similarly abysmal Catholic education through CCD in a nearby rural parish), much less knows what the "parousia" is or what "theologoumena" means, I'm skeptical. My kid finds Mass so boring now that I doubt he'll even notice the words have changed.Yeah, 130+ posts. Only the Big Three--homosexuality, abortion, and liturgy--attract these kinds of numbers. Interesting commentary on where the priorities of the Body of Christ lie ...

I do think one thing needs to be clarified for the benefit of Bernard, David G., etc. Wanting a correct translation isn't "cultural solipsism" or "idiosyncratic idolatry," nor is it based on a belief that Latin is an inherently holy language. It's more like this, at least for me. In the Suscipiat, the old Novus Ordo translation and the 1998 translation that was rejected both translated "Ecclesiae suae sanctae" as "Church." It's not that they translated "sancte" and then someone raised a minor quibble over which word to choose to represent "sancte" ("holy" or "sanctified", for example), or over which English translation of the prayer flows most trippingly off the tongue. Instead, they just completely left out the word "holy." As I point out above, there is no conceivable good reason for this. To me, what they did was willful vandalism, the equivalent of a dimwitted teenager who takes a hammer and chisel and chips away at the big toe of Christ on the crucifix at the front of the sanctuary. If I object to such vandalism, it's not that I'm making an idol out of crucifixes, or that I think the holiness of the mass depends on the big toe being there, or even that I think God cares whether a crucifix has a big toe or not. It's that I don't like vandalism or vandals. What they do is offensive to any person of good faith, and if they chop off a big toe, there's no telling what else they might do. The same is true here. If people are asked to translate the word "holy," and their response is, "Nah, we'd rather leave it out," they are vandals, willfully destroying a piece of the liturgy. If I object to what they do, it's not that I really care whether the word "holy" is in there -- I'd be fine if someone with the appropriate authority made an official decision to strike that word from the Roman Missal. It's not that I make a fetish or idol out of the Latin. It's not that Latin is a holy language. It's not that I think the efficacy of the Mass is altered one whit. Rather, it's that I don't like vandalism. If someone is willing to chip a big toe off the crucifix in front of the congregation, I am not going to bet that he otherwise lives a completely blameless life -- if he's willing to be a vandal so openly, he's probably been up to untold mischief when he thought people weren't looking. Similarly, if people are willing to revise the liturgy under the guise of "translation" even in the most obvious and glaring of ways, I cannot trust that anything else they did was honest.

Typo: "sanctae," not "sancte."

Sorry but "sanctae" in context is an ornament that adds nothing to the sense. Think about it. Does Christ have more than one church so that we need to specify that we are referring to the "holy" one? What suits the ecclesiastical Latin of the Missal does not suit the spareness of English style.

To me, what they did was willful vandalism, the equivalent of a dimwitted teenager who takes a hammer and chisel and chips away at the big toe of Christ on the crucifix at the front of the sanctuary.Fwiw, I'd just like to distance myself from any assertion, such as Studebaker's, that attributes malicious intent to translators.

Well, I don't see how anyone could accidentally ignore the word "sanctae." It's pretty hard to miss. But call it unwitting vandalism if that seems more suitable. Joseph -- you're rather spectacularly missing the point. First, the word "sanctae" isn't there to demarcate the "holy Church" as opposed to some other "non-holy Church." It's just a descriptive adjective. (If I say "the argumentative Joseph Gannon says that . . . ," I'm just attaching an adjective to your name, not trying to imply that there's a second Joseph Gannon from whom you need to be distinguished.)Second, if you'd rather that the Roman Missal didn't say "sanctae" there, fine. As I already said, I have no attachment to that particular word. All I have an attachment to is not randomly leaving things out for no reason.

Fwiw, Id just like to distance myself from any assertion, such as Studebakers, that attributes malicious intent to translators.Kathy,Thank you for saying that! I have read this thread with interest but haven't felt I had anything to contribute. The new translation looks a lot to me like what appeared as the English translation in missals back when the mass was in Latin. (Where did that translation come from, by the way? Or was there more than one?) But the idea that the translation currently being replaced was the result of some conspiracy to destroy the Church is just nonsense."Correct" is probably not a good word to apply to a translation.

"What suits the ecclesiastical Latin of the Missal does not suit the spareness of English style." I think you're talking about "Hemingway style," as opposed to "English style," but in any event, rewriting the Suscipiat in that way is akin to rewriting the Lord's Prayer so as to say "Cool be your name," on the grounds that "hallowed" isn't spare enough.

So, which is it, Stuart? Do you ascribe dark intentions to the bishops of the English-speaking church who oversaw the '73 translation, along with the Vatican, which approved that translation? (Those would be the people with the "appropriate authority," by the way.) Or do you think Rome and the bishops accidentally vandalized the Latin liturgy? You've gone pretty far out on the malicious intent limb, basically calling those responsible for omitting certain words that repeatedly appear in the Latin "under the guise of 'translation'" liars. Do you include the bishops of the English-speaking church and the Vatican in that assessment?

Tpp many Stu posts spoil the broth.You wil never convince someone with his mind made up, bur such is blogdom.Our country and our Church are in deep problems and we get words, words, words on the wonders of Latin.Pooey!

Words matter, Bob. The Bible says "Faith comes through hearing." Hearing "Church" instead of "holy Church" is a loss of one datum of our shared wisdom.Aren't we entitled to all of our data?

"Sorry but sanctae in context is an ornament that adds nothing to the sense. Think about it. Does Christ have more than one church so that we need to specify that we are referring to the holy one?"Professor Gannon --Yes, Christ *does* have more than one "the Church". He has the ideal Church which is in fact holy, and He has this sinful mess which includes all of us sinners as such. In the ordinary sense of the term "holy", the Church (the one that, say, the NYT always refers to) is not holy. It is only in the specialized, ideal sense of "the Church" that it is holy. By repeating the term "holy" before "Church" we are referred to that ideal one, not that entity which makes headlines when another bishop gets in trouble.

Given the fact that the average English-speaking person can go through his or her life without saying hallowed once other than when reciting the Lord's Prayer, it might not be a bad idea to retranslate it, although not to cool. N. T. Wright's translation in The Kingdom New Testament isOur father in heaven,May your name be honored,May your kingdom come,May your will be doneAs in heaven, so on earth.Give us today the bread we need now;And forgive us the things we owe,As we too have forgiven what was owed to us.Don't bring us into the great trial, But rescue us from evil.On "church" versus "holy church," I think of the people who write blog posts referring to "Almighty God" or "the Triune God" when everyone who is reading knows which God is under discussion. Sometimes the extra adjectives are warranted, but often it seems just to be an affectation on the part of the poster.

Grant -- I find it utterly mystifying, Grant. You don't seem to disagree with me that there is not, and never was, any good reason to leave out "sanctae." Again, the omission of "sanctae" in the Suscipiat is not a matter of quibbling over which word captures the nuance more correctly, or which phrasing flows more smoothly. Nor is it a matter of repetitive adjectives that can be made a bit more succinct without doing violence to the original text -- "sanctae" is the only adjective in the prayer. What happened there was a clear and indisputable error, one that wouldn't have been made by a first-year student of Latin. So perhaps the bishops weren't paying close attention, perhaps they were too caught up in the "being vaguely in the vicinity is good enough" norm at the time. I don't know. What do you think explains it?

A question: Does the new translation for Greek Catholics use the term "hoi polloi" for "the many"?Comment: I think those who find the new translation of the Mass intolerable should return to earlier ways. E.g., say the rosary during Mass or use a prayerbook. Father Lasance's Prayerbook for Religious has several methods of hearing Mass. Free online. what about those who would like to return to the practices of the early Church, when the presbyter and the guests reclining at her table read a portion of the gospels, shared a meal, sang and prayed without a script imposed on them by others? (Superior beings endowed with rightful theologoumena.) Why can't there be different services at different hours to accomodate all tastes? And what about Jesus? At which service would he feel most comfortable? He contrasted those who wear long robes with the widow who gave her mites.

David N. --About using the adjectives before "God" -- They are useful when we want to call attention to a particular attribute of God which is particularly relevant in a particular context. If we're praying to ask God to tilt a hurricane into the mid-Atlantic Ocean rather than the Carribbean, we might ask "Almighty God" or "Compassionte God" to do so, not "Just God" nor "Omniscient God". Some of His attributes are useful more often than others. For example, since we're constantly asking God to do things for us, "Almighty God" relevant more often than other descriptions. Sure, "God" means all the various perfections He is. But, due to our own limitations, It would be a poor Mass which did not mention God's specific attributes often.

"Why cant there be different services at different hours to accomodate all tastes?"Gerelyn --In an ideal world maybe there could be. But lots of parishes these days are lucky to have even one Mass. So the question becomes: how do you invent a one-size-fits-all liturgy? By leaving stuff out and ending with a generic sort of service? Or by having the most competent artists fit as much as possible into the a very small space-time? Oh, well. It's too late now.

Given that the average kid in catechism has no freaking idea why there are three purple and one pink candles in the Advent wreath (I had to explain this to my kids girlfriend who was received a similarly abysmal Catholic education through CCD in a nearby rural parish), much less knows what the parousia is or what theologoumena means, Im skeptical. ----Hi, Jean. I remember when the Advent wreath was a new fad (for American Catholics). Late 1940s. The nuns in grade school urged us to get our parents to put one up. Mine didn't, and I didn't care. I saw an article the other day, maybe in Saveur, where the editors discussed what they ate in their childhood homes on Christmas Eve. One said, I have no idea why we ate oyster stew, but we always did. I was amazed that an editor of a food magazine wouldn't know that Christmas Eve was a fast day. (We ate that, too, when I was a child. Loved it.) With the narrowing of topics of interest to priests/bishops, our culture is going going gone.

Gerelyn,The Greek in Mt is peri pollon. I mentioned hoi polloi, the many, because the concept of "many" borrowed the Greek hoi polloi which came to mean the rabble. The 99%. Words have a long history that should not be ignored in translation. That is why it is hard to discuss single words or even phrases. Stuey's complaint about "sanctae" is so out of context, it is hard to judge. Is sancte used so often that it is devalued, and it was eliminated in places where it was not needed? That is what happened to the sign of the Cross ib the revision of the missal.There is a scene in Tea with Mussolini or Up at the Villa where Joan Plowright is taking dictation from an Italian merchant. He goes on for a while, obviously ecstatic over the cloth in front of him, mentioning Marco Polo, etc. Ms Plowright translates thoughtfully, "The fabric you sent was adequate." English is less flowery than Italian, and Latin, and translation needs to understand that.

The Lord's Prayer is an excellent example of the spare style with no word wasted, a style which the Lord seems to recommend. Would that one could say the same of the style of some of the prayers in the Roman Missal.

"Hearing Church instead of holy Church is a loss of one datum of our shared wisdom."In this day and age using "holy" in concert with "Church, i.e., Catholic Church" is getting to be quite a stretch for many people, both within and outside of said church.I like Wright's version of the Lord's Prayer, but I would substitute "dominion" for "kingdom" myself. Not many of us live in or have an appreciation for "kingdoms" these days.

A lot of things are going to feel like a stretch, beginning tomorrow. That's because we haven't heard quite a few of our rightful theologoumena, ever, in English. How does the song go? The times, they are a-changin.

John Allen today ( in his usual attempt to put the best possible spin on B16's actions and words, paints a rosy picture of how Benedict relates to Africa. If the future growth of the church is to be in Africa as Allen avers, then what will happen if the continued imposition of Eurocentric liturgies and Latin language where spiritually speaking, Africa is a superpower -- both the world's largest manufacturer and consumer of religion? How long will the future church growth in non-European or European-derived cultures be subject to, or tolerate, such imposition from a part of the world in which the church is in rapid and quite probably long-term decline? Why should museum trappings control and constrain areas in which natural exuberance and joy are an essential part of their lifestyle and worship styles? European Catholicism is, at best, tentatively entrenched in Africa, with split-offs, clerical non-celibacy (Archbishop Milingo and his clerical followers, anyone?) and out-and-out defections are apparently quite common. All of this current Titanic deck chair rearrangement with which we are currently obsessed in the English-speaking world certainly can be of little to no concern in the African churches.

"I was amazed that an editor of a food magazine wouldnt know that Christmas Eve was a fast day. (We ate that, too, when I was a child. Loved it.)"I'm glad you liked your oysters, but my post was to try to point out what I see as a widening gulf between liturgists and those who know enough to correct their Latin declensions, and we bottom-feeders whose faith formation and that of their children is in our own hands b/c the parish ignores it or makes it a joyless burden. I am looking through these conversations (and other resources on line) in vain to find practical ways I can try to help my kid and his purple-haired girlfriend understand these changes better. But I sense this is not the conversation folks here are really looking to have.

SB -- What you call "translation" is available from Google Translate. Every word of the original goes in, and each word is translated in the output. After decades of extraordinary effort on machines, a simultaneous, thorough understanding of two cultures (including religion) and the differing processes for communicating used by Latin speakers of long ago and English speakers and listeners of today remains the province of honorable humans practicing the translational art. Words are symbols. Meanings of which they remind us are the objects of interest unless one is worshipping scratches on an old scroll. That is why a sage rule of practice today is never to depend on Google-lke translations like the one for which you look if anything really important is at stake. Meaning as understood by the originator and recipient matters most in the transfer between languages. Yesterday, I enjoyed being in a small group of cradle Catholics, ages 18 to 75, happily gathered to give serious thanks. All are educated, including in Catholicism, and are very fluent in modern English. The same number of advanced degrees appeared around the table as Jesus faced at the last Supper. They all seem normal with the possible exception of a couple of candidates for the anonymous, never-recognized sainthood of which one hears. Inspired by them, I repeat Jean Raber's comments (11/25 8:57am) wondering about effects of the new liturgy and priorities displayed in the fractionated Body of Christ. If any of that group go to Mass on Sunday, what sort of teaching and sanctifying will they benefit from because of introduction of the new translation? To the elders, it looks pretty much like the same old words from a half century ago, which evidently convinced a Church Council of the need for significant change. Is this it? If not now, when?

Jean, there is a great set of videos produced by LifeTeen.e.g.

Probably, Studebaker, your outrage is fueled by Professor Esolen's tendentious account, to which you are vulnerable simply because you don't really know very much about Latin and you now suspect you've been had. That's a very uncomfortable feeling. I do not think it is justified, however.Let me try to explain in a different way. It's not that I or anyone else wants to edit the Latin to be less wordy. Latin actually uses very few words to say a lot. English often requires several words for what Latin packs into one word. So what is concise in Latin gets verbose in English. The point is THE LATIN ISN'T GUSHY. THE LATIN ISN'T VERBOSE. The Latin is, quite often, a miracle of concision. What comes across as flowery and meandering in English is often quite stern and vigorous in Latin. So, anyone who wants an elegant, spare text in English is actually searching for a better equivalent to the Latin -- in its rhetorical effect. Now, if you are in the grip of the conviction that someone has cheated you for forty years, you will be unable to view the choices dispassionately. But with more calm examination of the facts, all of them, I think you would probably reach the same conclusion that most people who have studied this have reached: that the 1973 translation included both strengths and weak points. It was not an act of vandalism, ever. In some areas, it still far surpasses the translation we are about to receive. I say this having been a critic of the 1973 texts. I thought the 1998 version addressed very many, though not all, of the problems. I think the 2008 and 2010 versions are atrocious by comparison, and that what they gain by including more detail they lose in the syntactical morass they've created.

"To the elders, it looks pretty much like the same old words from a half century ago, which evidently convinced a Church Council of the need for significant change."Jack --Right. "You take a step right, And you take a step left, And you do-si-doe . . .'Same ole dance.

Jack Barry, thank you for bringing up google translate. That is the reductio ad absurdam of the current situation. You have made the point well: "After decades of extraordinary effort on machines, a simultaneous, thorough understanding of two cultures (including religion) and the differing processes for communicating used by Latin speakers of long ago and English speakers and listeners of today remains the province of honorable humans practicing the translational art."

Another wonderful thing about the new translation is that it doesn't include the "alternate" collects, of highly dubious origins, with even more highly dubious theology.Any theologians want to take a swing at the many concerns raised by the system of the world suggested by this pious-sounding but theologically bankrupt expression? "Touched by your hand, our world is holy."

Oops, that should be absurdum.(My spelling is awful!)

I would take a swing, but there are no concerns to address, just a quote.

See all the trouble the vernacular caused? When this stuff was snowballing, back in the early days post-Council, was there any serious opposition, or was everyone so enthusiastic about mass participation in the mass that it just seemed a no-brainer?You know, learning another language is really not hard. If all you need is a passing familiarity with the vocabulary and a rudimentary sense of the grammar, Latin could be learned in a few months. Translate everything, as a pony, but leave the liturgy in Latin. No big deal. No deceit involved; no translation necessary; universal Catholic identity assured.One big plus would be that stuff sounds better in Latin, since it's a vowel-rich/consonant-poor language very good for vocalizing.Up the counter-reformation!

Rita: Actually, I had a few years of Latin in high school and college. In college, my professor called me aside to say that I was such a natural at Latin that I should change my major. While I regretfully haven't kept up the skill sufficient to read the Aeneid, etc., I remember enough to know that leaving out the word "sanctae" is incompetent. Latin actually uses very few words to say a lot. English often requires several words for what Latin packs into one word. So what is concise in Latin gets verbose in English.So in the space of one thread, you've argued that Latin is both more "prolix" than English and more "concise" than English. But you still haven't come up with an excuse for anyone to leave out "sanctae" in the Suscipiat.

Kathy, thanks for the link.The Boy's verdict was that the info was interesting, but that the sullen teenager was insulting and the host was condescending (despite his hip thong necklace and jeans). But he did watch the first segment through, did not walk away and roll his eyes, and said he thought the Centurion example was "helpful."One of the things I learned from watching this segment with him is how little CCD (and the $450 it has cost over the years) has helped him understand that echoes of Scripture are present in the Mass. I suggested that, since he'll have to pay more attention at Mass as a result of the new language, he might try spotting other places in the liturgy that echo Bible stories.In any case, I await Raber's report Sunday on how the new language goes over. I celebrate certain Sundays in Lent and Advent in our old Episcopal parish.

Sir,Nowhere does Rita Ferrone say that Latin is more prolix than English.At this point one stares at the "submit" button and says, "What good will it do?" Not the first lost cause I've been involved in. So, I'll press it.

No, Studebaker, what I said in my first comment was that the English can become prolix.

After reading countless comments, posts, and articles on the new missal translation, I am struck by the fact that no one is talking about what I consider the real problem we face on the first Sunday of Advent. In my opinion, all of the controversy over the translation masks the real issue, i.e. the right has finally won. They have inundated the Vatican with letters and complaints since V II and they have waited for the papacies that would accommodate them. They have succeeded where the VII generation has failed. It may be an accident of history. The problem with the first Sunday of Advent is not "and with your spirt" it is with the defeat of VII Catholics to press their case with Rome. Why is no one writing about the elephant in the room?

I thought Studebaker was referring to the assertion that English, if it translates Latin word-for-word, becomes prolix. "The decision to render every sancte as holy, as well as every other Latin adjective with an English cognate, can and does result in prolix English."Is there a way to understand this without suggesting that Latin uses more words than English to say the same thing? I don't see it easily.

Liturgical Latin since prechristian times favors pleonasm, which often come across as prolix and insincere in English, e.g. haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata, "these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices" -- some will find an antique charm in this translation, but how durable is that charm? The pleonasm seems to me to ring hollow in English, even giving an aura of insincerity to the priestly protestations. Apart from inspired examples like Johnson's "Let Observation with extensive View/Survey Mankind from China to Peru" cumulative pleonasm sits ill with English.The opening of the Roman Canon has a nice rhythm just now, and the new version is turgid. "Make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord: that you accept"... The "that" is a huge syntactical jerk, bearing little relation to English as normally used. Similarly, the Preface for next Sunday ends with: "we acclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy" -- this use of "acclaim" is incorrect English. I suspect that these little details are just the kind of English one does NOT get used to.Also the indirection of much of the new language seems to me to be incompatible with a lasting, reliable, prayable text:Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters and all who have left this world in your friendship. (EP3)This now becomes:To our departed brothers and sisters and to all who are pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom.The current translation of the Eucharaistic Prayers may be too broken-up in places, and generally the collects, secrets and postcommunions suffer dreadfully from this defect (though the new ones suffer from much more dreadful defects). But the standard response of the new translation is to string along relative clauses with no concern with the shape, rhythm or prayability of the resultant sentence. One Irish priest has produced a lightly edited version of the four EPs that cuts some of these long wormy sentences in two, making a clear improvement.Here is the 1973 Preface of Christ the King:You anointed Jesus Christ, Your only Son, with the oil of gladness, as the eternal priest and universal king. As priest He offered His life on the altar of the cross and redeemed the human race by this one perfect sacrifice of peace. As king He claims dominion over all creation, that He may present to You, His almighty Father, an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.Here is the new version:For you anointed your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness as eternal Priest and King of all creation, so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace, he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption and, making all created things subject to his rule, he might present to the immensity of your majesty an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.To me this sounds more like a hymn to Latin syntax than to the divine majesty. What message does it send to Filipinos, Nigerians, etc.? Whatever became of inculturation? ("praeclarae maiestati tuae" is a dative in Latin, "to your supreme majesty" -- could the translators have mistaken it for a genitive?)Latin syntax can be pleasingly rhythmical in English, as in "Pour forth we beseech thee..." in the Angelus. But this effect is not brought off in the new translations.

Alan, the right have won, to be sure. I think it will prove a Pyrrhic victory.But that is not the primary issue just now. The primary issue is that the worship of millions is being ruined and that in all likelihood we will be hearing the rustle of departing feet more than ever before.

(Thanks, Jim MdK.)----Imho, a word-for-word translation is not a problem. E.g., those who say the new translation is like the old one found in daily missals are right. It made learning Latin easy for kids in the good old days.At my parochial school we used Chants for the Church at morning Mass. Another great aid for learning Latin. interlinear translations are word for word. If an additional word (like "the") was needed to make a sentence better in English, it was placed in parentheses. As to the video of the man talking about the very best translation? Maybe, but if it's necessary to say "under my roof" (which I like, because it refers to a specific and touching incident in the gospel), why is it okay to say "my soul" instead of "my servant"?

Fr. O'Leary,Sorry, the issue is not the worship of millions. It is the defeat of Vatican II which will effect the worship of million. That is what will cause the "rustle of departing feet." But is leaving the church over a matter of words worth it? That is my existential dilemma. I feel that I am Catholic in spite of their efforts to tell me otherwise. Must I participate in the Mass in silence? Wow, what an oxymoron.

During the Council of Trent, which was called to counter the reformation, the leaders of the council suggested that the Mass be done in the Vernacular. It was rejected on the sole grounds that this would be giving in to the Protesants who were already doing it.

The reason people stop going to church is that they get nothing out of the liturgy.

Alan,I would offer a nuanced version of your perception. To me, it's not so much that the right has won. It is more that the left, despite all odds, and despite all apparent momentum, has not been successful.

Rita: You said: The decision to render every sancte as holy, as well as every other Latin adjective with an English cognate, can and does result in prolix English. If translating every Latin word into English results in prolix English, this would mean that Latin uses more words than is fitting in English, and hence Latin is more prolix than English. If that wasn't what you meant, then what were you trying to say? In any event, you haven't managed to come up with a reason for leaving out "sancte" when supposedly translating the Suscipiat. So far, you've said that Latin uses more adjectives than English, and it doesn't do to translate all of them. But "sancte" is the only adjective in that prayer, and saying "holy Church" isn't prolix in the slightest. You've also said that "what is concise in Latin gets verbose in English," but "sancte" does not in any way become "verbose" when translated as "holy." Any other ideas?

"Latin could be learned in a few months."Why? How many countries in this world speak Latin? What can possibly be gained in learning Latin? How about Sanskrit? Aramaic?Latin may have interesting academic applications and provide jobs for a handful of teachers, but in the real world where the vast majority of us reside and worship, it is simply a relic of the past and a tool of control for the churchianity recidivists.

Kathy,Well I guess we agree that it had been about power rather than truth.

Read: it has been about power rather than it had been.

Well, I guess that's where we disagree. In my view, it had been about the Church moving to the left. It had been about rhetoric and groupthink. It's not anymore. It's about sources, and truth, and beauty--that kind of thing now.I really didn't think I'd live to see the day. I wouldn't have thought that kind of momentum could be withstood. It's a remarkable thing.Next stop, moral theology.

Kathy,If that is what you really think, then you are stuck in the '70's and have not been following what has happened in the Church since JP II was elected pope. It is hardly about sources and truth. It is all about power. If it were about sources we would be looking at a different liturgy for this coming Sunday. That is what ressourcement was all about. No, this is all about power and who gets to control the narrative.

Alan,That is what I really think, and I have been paying attention pretty closely. I don't mean to be gloating, but I am celebrating, and I'm awestruck by the very fact of the shift. I wouldn't have thought it was possible, especially in the liturgy, and I'm very grateful.

Kathy,You can have your smaller, purer Church, but it will not be the peaceful Church you anticipate. The liberal faction you detest may walk away, but you will be left with the extremists who will make your life miserable. And, no, you have not been paying close attention to what has been happening; you have had your head in the sand, hoping that you will not have to come up for air.

You guys are all great. Tireless. Your passion about this question actually lifts my spirits (and also with yours), which is badly needed. But I'm worried that Studebaker will go to his grave asking about the disappearance of "sanctae" from the Suscipiat. Here's my Sherlock Holmes explanation and it's elementary. Unfortunately it raises an issue with the potential of provoking at least 200 more comments. That is the issue of gender and language. Frankly I am happier with the new translation of the "Suscipiat" than the one in the 1998 version. Not because a word has been purloined but because it sounds and prays better to me. This contradicts my view that generally the 1998 translation was much better. But nothing is 100 percent, nothing on this earth is perfect, nothing could not be improved; and the 1998 translation was still a work in progress. However, that's the opinion of someone who prays the current translation's "for the praise and glory of HIS name," while all around me, even close by, some others are praying "for the praise and glory of GOD'S name." This same someone, in a spirit of compromise, usually prays what follows as "for the good of all THE Church" instead of the current translation's "HIS Church." One of the guiding principles of the 1998 translation was that contemporary English was consistently minimizing language that seemed "discriminatory." I don't know everything about this in regard to other national hierarchies and ICEL -- others who know more can expand and correct me here -- but the American bishops articulated a policy of retaining masculine terms for God like Father and Son and masculine pronouns for the godhead while seeking gender-neutral language for people, etc. And they seemed to concur in the idea that masculine pronouns for the godhead, too, might also be minimized where they were not strictly demanded by the Latin. In the Suscipiat, as James Englert pointed out way, way above, in Latin the grammatical gender of the words at issue is determined by the nouns they modify. So here is my guess as to what happened -- others please correct me if I'm wrong. Applying this principle the 1998 translation changed the neuter genitive "sui" that would be translated as the masculine "his" to its gender neutral antecedent "God's" and dropped the feminine genitive "suae" that would again be translated as the masculine "his." That move, however, makes "for the good of all the holy Church" sound both awkward and misleading. As others have note, are we only talking about the good of some holy church as distinguished from the church plain and simple? So the holy was dropped as well.Now there is something ideological or theological or pastoral going on here. (Again, all you more knowledgeable folks, please correct me.) But it isn't any antagonism toward calling the Church "holy." It is the guiding principle of miniimizing "discriminatory" language. And there's nothing sneaky about it. The guiding principle was spelled out, along with others. So we have two questions: Is that a good application of what is only a guideline to be used with discretion, not an absolute rule? Is that a good guideline in the first place? My answer to the first is no. The result is unfortunate. My answer to the second is yes. We are living through a world-historical change in the role of women. Not just in the West but globally and certainly in English-speaking societies It is reflected in what language becomes standard and what becomes an obstacle. I think that both adjustment and continuity are required. Which requires pastoral intelligence and sensitivity. I suspect that not everyone agrees! Enjoy.

Studebaker,Oh, if that one word is what you are stuck on, the answer is: I don't know. I could speculate, but offhand I really can't say why they didn't translate sancte as holy at that point in that prayer. But they had their reasons, no doubt. There was a booklet issued around the time of the first interim translations explaining some of the choices. It was posted at Pray Tell during the period when I was editor there. It may have a note on that point, but I don't remember. I tried to look for it just now but the site is down so I couldn't access the document. If I can bring it up later, and if it answers your question, I will post a link to it. I thought we were talking about more general questions concerning what factors can influence translators to drop an adjective or to opt for a more spare English style. You haven't brought up the other end of the spectrum, embellishment, so I will now. Here is a good example. In the 1973 translation the name Father was added many times where Pater does not appear in the Latin. I am told this was done for pastoral reasons, to "warm up" the texts by use of the familial and familiar name for God. "Father" is scriptural, the First Person of the Trinity was being addressed, it's the language Jesus used, etc.; no one objected. Then inclusive language came around and this began to stand out as an emphasis upon masculine language for God in a way that was problematic for some. At the time, it was thought to have been a good idea. Vandalism? To call God "Father"? No, not really. But, mark well, nobody said, "It's wrong because it's not literal." They asked "Is it true?" and "Are we praying as we believe?"Pardon me for saying so, but I think these are healthier questions when we look at a liturgical text. Are we praying as we believe? Is it true? The reason so many are exercised about the pro multis is that it appears we are not praying as we believe, and that only by standing on our head can we make it out that it's true.

No, this is all about power and who gets to control the narrative.I think that's likely the underlying dynamic here for some people. It's not that anyone really thinks that "and also with you" or leaving out "sanctae" is the best translation (no one could possibly think that). Nor is the real issue the fact that some of the newly translated prayers have sentences with too many phrases (that does seem to be the case for some prayers, but the "left" has never been that agitated about syntax before). The real issue is that someone else's team won a game and got a chance to make the rules.

Studebaker,Finally, you show yourself to be perceptive. Amazing!

Studebaker,Of course, the history has yet to be written about ho=w "some one else's team has won a game." It may turn out that the game was fixed.

There is still a roasting pot to scrub from yesterday. Before signing off, I wanted to distract people from the awful gender-and-language issue (that Rita just mentioned anyway) by this trite question about the Suscipiat. The Latin, which I memorized -- and most altarboys I knew considered this the prize tongue-twister among responses -- has us praying for our "utilitatem." That was translated in my Stedman missal as for our "advantage." I think that the literal minded can make a case that "advantage" is a better translation. If what we are talking about is our "good," I believe Latin has other words for that. Why has the new translation, like the current one, departed from the Latin in this respect? Could it be that "advantage" carries unfortunate connotations in our ecumenical and socially conscious egalitarian world? Is there theological hanky-panky going on here? I don't want anyone to go to sleep.

Peanuts used to say: "If we mean so well why don't we win any ball games." Winning and losing are really not gospel terms because Jesus turned all that around. "It is only by dying that we live...s/he who humbles herself will be exalted...the rich shall go away empty...the good news is given not to the wise of this world..." Jesus died a most shameful death, that of a criminal besides two criminals. So the Empire might have "won" this battle but since it lives by the sword it may perish......"However, we slice it it always comes down to those who are willing to die so they may live.

Kathy --Just a side-note:Yes, it has been obvious for a long time that the Vatican had seized control of the translation process (contrary to explicit orders from an Ecumenical Council). But if you think that the Church is returning to 1961, read this note from The Tablet today. Even I was surprised that things have gone so far in Europe".Archbishop praises civil partnerships25 November 2011"The Bishops of England and Wales believe civil partnerships successfully provide a legal protection for those in same-sex relationships, according to the Archbishop of Westminster. "We would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision," Archbishop Vincent Nichols :said at a press conference after the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales meeting last week." doubt the English bishops will hear from the Vatican about this, but this is strong evidence, especially after various statements of some German bishops, that there is a widening split between the European bishops and the retrograde Vatican.

However, thats the opinion of someone who prays the current translations for the praise and glory of HIS name, while all around me, even close by, some others are praying for the praise and glory of GODS name. This same someone, in a spirit of compromise, usually prays what follows as for the good of all THE Church instead of the current translations HIS Church.That was exactly the same for me until a few weeks ago - I liked the words just the way they were-, but now I've started trying to say "God's name" along with my neighbors, in the spirit of preparing for the new missal. I've got to get used to tweaking the words every now and then, and this is practice!

Jimmy Mac 11/25/2011 - 9:08 pm subscriberLatin could be learned in a few months.Why? How many countries in this world speak Latin? What can possibly be gained in learning Latin? How about Sanskrit? Aramaic?

It's your church, your religion, your community, perhaps the most important thing in your life. It's the language that ties you to a billion other Catholics throughout the world. Why should a Jewish child learn some Hebrew? Why should so many Muslims learn Arabic? Not worth a few months of your time? How much time would you have children spend learning the catechism?Of course, it's all priorities. Children spend years learning modern languages (after a fashion), only to throw away that learning. Isn't the reference language of your religion worth a few months?But if it's not used in the liturgy, it hardly matters. And it looks as though the vernaculars - enormously costly and confusing approximations - is what we'll have to puzzle over from now on. Progress is filled with mistakes, but there's usually no going back.

I guess this will hit 200 posts.Words, words -yes words are important, but faith is not built by the propaganda about how beautiful, more reverent, or theologically deep and meaningful this liturgy will be.Instead it's more divide."The right has won." Correct, but the NCR editorial says if all we have is abattle, then that's the real loss - keep slogging along.I'll just say the real dynamic is about roles/power and "distinctiveness/"I think those all drive people away, not the putative"beauty" of what starts today.

I'd like to hear from some dirty English-speaking grunts in a miserable valley in Afghanistan who are praying to their depths that the field in which they stand is not God-forsaken. The job of the altar-people (M & F) in helmets is to hold down the altar cloth so it doesn't blow away. A priest with unquestionable courage and commitment is leading them in whatever Mass they can manage. No pewsitters since there are no pews. Beauty is whatever Nature provides. Ask them what matters most in the Mass.

Thanks, Mr. Steinfels - picking up on your last comment: "Is there theological hanky-panky going on here?" Here is an excellent and current legal analysis of the document that created these arguments about translation methods, phrases, words, etc. by a Canadian bishop who is a canon law expert: key points:Liturgiam authenticam marks a much more activist approach for the Roman curia in the preparation of translations of liturgical texts than has been the rule since Vatican II. The Council had entrusted this task to the conferences of bishops (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36, 4), but now the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has made abundantly clear its intention to become directly involved itself in the details of translation, particularly for the major vernacular languages such as English, French, and Spanish. In spite of this more activist approach, conferences of bishops still have the legitimate right to approve texts of translation, after which they are presented to the Apostolic See for recognitio.As we reflect on the teaching and legislation associated with this topic, one might acknowledge a kind of organic growth since Vatican II. This growth describes the development that has taken place since Vatican II: a movement from territorial bodies of bishops to national conferences of bishops; a movement from a variety of terms describing the role of the Holy See, e.g., approval, confirmation, review, to the consistent use of the term recognitio; a movement from the approval of a text by theconference of bishops to the approval of a text that might include some minor changes that have been incorporated by the Holy See. Ultimately, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments does not have the authority to impose a new translation upon a country. This can occur only if the conference freely approves the translation or if the Congregation receives a papal mandate with legislative authority to legislate the text for a country. This latter procedure would blatantly contradict the teaching and legislation of the Church since Vatican II. As one reviews the documents connected with this topic, one can appreciate that a real and legitimate growth has taken place in this issue of the role of conferences of bishops in the translation of liturgical texts.In the end, this entire discussion needs to be rooted in the fundamental provision connected with the liturgy since Vatican II: In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit (SC, no. 14).Brian Dunn, JCD, MA (Liturgical Studies)Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia

David Smith:I studied Latin for four years in high school and am old enough to have attended thousands of Latin masses (including every school day for eight years in grade school). I would not claim to have "learned Latin," and I'm not being modest. Unless someone is truly extraordinary, learning Latin to the extent that one would get as much or more from the Latin in the Roman Missal than from a good translation is not something that can be done in a few months. Its your church, your religion, your community, perhaps the most important thing in your life. Its the language that ties you to a billion other Catholics throughout the world. Why should a Jewish child learn some Hebrew? Latin is not to a Catholic what Hebrew is to a Jew. I consider the time I spent on Latin to have been largely wasted. (Also, although I went to a Catholic high school, the Latin courses I took there were not religiously oriented.) If I could swap what little knowledge of Latin is in my head for Biblical Greek (or Hebrew), I would do it in a second. I would much rather be able to read the Gospels in their original language than to read the Roman Missal.

Apples and oranges, David. Fluency wouldn't be the goal - just familiarity. Then, you would have a link that's been lost in the past half century, both to the reference language and to the community of Catholics throughout the world. I doubt there are classes now geared toward this, but they'd be easy to put together.

David Smith,What you are proposing sounds very much like what was the norm when I was in school. You memorized a fair amount of Latin, you knew what the Latin in the mass meant, but you really didn't learn the language. It's similar to the kind of thing I do now as a fan of Italian opera who doesn't speak Italian.

"Teneste la promessa la disfida Ebbe luogo! il barone fu ferito,Pero' migliora Alfredo E' in stranio suolo;il vostro sacrifizioIo stesso gli ho svelato;Egli a voi tornera' pel suo perdono;Io pur verro' Curatevi meritateUn avvenir migliore. -Giorgio Germont".E' tardi!

I can tell you what that means, but would never claim to have learned Italian. I certainly couldn't paraphrase it in Italian. You learn to associate the English you know with key words in the language you don't know. You could say, "Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiae suae sancta." But if you "translated" it, you would just be saying what you had been taught it meant. It's fine for following along, but it doesn't give you any insight into the text.

@David Smith (11/26, 1:02 pm) To pick up on your "apples and oranges" comment, one way to separate "apples" from "oranges", religiously speaking, is to distinguish between those religions which consider the originating language to be of some central importance, and those religions that do not.In that method of sorting, Judaism (Hebrew), Greek Orthodox Christianity (Greek) and Islam (Arabic) would all be "apples". Roman Catholic Christianity would, it seems to me, be an "orange", as would Protestant and Pentecostal Christianity, and Buddhism. (Comparative religion scholars, please feel free to correct me.)There are lots of lovely things about Latin, but it is no more a sacred language than English, Spanish, Igbo, or any number of other languages.

About "sacred languages" --ISTM that there is one sense of the term which is quite valuable. If a language, including gestures, are reserved for worship only, then this very fact reflects belief in a deity which is believed to be the most special reality there is. For instance, if I kneel when addressing the deity and *only* when addressing the deity, then that gesture has a much more powerful meaning than if I also kneel when addressing the king or other high muck-a-mucks. So, if I use a special language which is reserved for the deity, then that speech has a value that ordinary speech does not..I'm not in favor the of Latin Mass, but I think we should recognize that those who want such a "sacred language", one which is reserved for the Mass (i.e., Latin), do have a point. And when Latin was eliminated we did lose something of value -- speaking that special language for that special purpose. If nothing else, just using the language reminded us of where we were and what we were there for. Did the use of the vernacular compensate for that loss? I think it did, easily. That can be argued, but I don't think there is any good reason to deny that a sacred language can have a certain value.

@Ann Olivier (11/26, 3:03 pm) Good point. Thank-you.

Thanks, Luke.Let me add that for the reason given above, when the new English Mass eliminated some of the kneeling it thereby lost the very special significance of that gesture. When I hear folks say that *standing* is a mark of greatest respect all I can think is, Oh no it isn't! Because in our culture kneeling is reserved for God kneeling is THE mark of greatest respect because we kneel only before God. It is the most special gesture towards the most special reality.So kneeling should be returned to the vocabulary of the Mass at least at all three of its essential moments -- Offertory, Consecration and after Communion.

"Its the language that ties you to a billion other Catholics throughout the world. "Dumb me. All along I thought I was tied to umpteen Catholics (and other Christians) throughout the world by my faith in Jesus Christ Who, to my knowledge, didn't pray in Latin.Somehow, being tied to billions of live people via a dead language doesn't quite get me up in the morning and out of bed. And I doubt that it would with this group of people (you know, that age demographic that we seem to have lost these days):, then, ife is full of surprises and the essentiality of the Latin linkage is just one more.

One of the limpest and lamest moments in the new Eucharistic Prayers is where "stand in your presence" becomes "are in your presence", flatly mistranslating the Latin in response to Cardinal Pell's monition that "stand" would send the wrong message to a congregation who are supposed to be kneeling.

I don't recall that the laity ever received any instruction in liturgical Latin. The idea that they have lost some precious link to Latin is a bit odd. The analogy with La Traviata is about right -- like most opera-goers in pre-surtitle days they only had a very generic idea of what was being said at the altar. A few tried to follow with the English translation in their massbooks, but most said the rosary or other prayers, as far as I recollect. Even altar boys were not taught the meaning of the responses they memorized. All of this is part of the hermeticism with which clerical Catholicism surrounded sacred things. Few Catholics had ever held an English Bible in their hands until after Vatican II. For many centuries the Church even forbad vernacular translations of the Bible.

Ann,The problem is that Latin and kneeling were not Church-only until about 100 years ago. Latin was commonly used in academia, or at least learned as part of higher education. Kneeling was a feudal gesture used by vassals and slaves that no longer carries the same significance in egalitarian societies. While there may be some truth to your point, it is an utterly novel position, more modern than the modernists.

Jim McK --True, some Catholics were educated to know Latin in previous generations, but the vast majority of Catholics didn't know it. As to kneeling, in feudal times it had a very specific meaning, a sign of acquiescence/acceptance of the vassal's relationship to his lord, though in other cultures it also signified lord-servant/slave relationships. As for my generation, we were taught that kneeling at Mass is a sign that we accept the fact of God's infinite superiority and goodness and our dependence on HIm, but unlike the feudal meaning it was an act of gratitude. I'm quite surprised that you think this is a strange notion. I'm sure this meaning goes back at least a goodly number of generations. We knelt before God to freely recognize and acknowledge that He is our infinitely perfect God and we are His creatures. And it is my understanding that this meaning, at least approximately, has been retained by the Protestants too. No, of course, kneeling before God is not an egalitarian gesture. It is meant to be exactly the opposite of egalitarian. If you have lost that old meaning, then all I can say is, what a pity, to put it mildly.Here's a story that was a favorite of the nuns. There was an atheist who said to his Catholic friend, "If I truly believed there was an infinite God present on that altar, I would crawl to it on my hands and knees". I wouldn't be surprised if others here were told it.

I recall as Fr. O'Leary does. While the priest was occupied with Latin on the altar, people said rosaries, read pamphlets, prayed privately, meditated with eyes open or closed, and tended little ones. Some could go from "Introibo ad altare Dei" to "Ite missa est" without knowing the meaning of a sentence in between; early computers could do the same. One veteran of the change recalled that, for the first time, she felt like a participant but not because of the language change; she faced the priest through Mass instead of staring at his back. She remained in favor even after watching one priest come down from the altar to correct a youngster's behavior. The celebrant was evidently unaware of what went on behind him normally every week. That raises the question of how many clergy who warmly recall the days before Vatican II actually know what commonly went on in the pews.) Neither the missal nor its language had much unifying effect beyond symbolism in my recollection. Although fluent in Latin at the time, I chose the language in my bones when it was time for serious prayer.

I met a serious life-long Catholic at a diocesan formation event a few weeks ago and in the course of small group sharing, she told me this rather stunning story of Catholic liturgical practice in New Jersey before the Council.The parish tradition was that the 8th grade girls led the congregation in the Rosary during Mass.Me: Wait. Out loud? You prayed the Rosary out loud as a group during Mass? I always thought that people prayed the Rosary by themselves and quietly.Her: Oh yes. The priest did his thing. Since no one understood what he was saying, we all prayed the Rosary together out loud. Since I was the only 8th grade girl who attended Mass on a daily basis, I ended up leading it.Me, incredulous: The congregation prayed the Rosary OUT LOUD while the priest was celebrating Mass in Latin? Really? Yup. By the way, this woman was very happy as a Catholic before the Council but also said she would never want to go back. I have to admit that this was a first, even for me, and Ive listened to hundreds of people talk about their experience of being Catholic before the Council.

I am not looking forward to tomorrow morning. I think Alan Mitchell is right to see the imposition of this new text as a powerplay by the Pope's men in Rome. And it has been painful in the weeks leading up to the debut of the new translation to see so many clergy who should (and one suspects, do) know better, doing hard a sell on this ill-crafted and unfairly imposed text. Over in Verdicts Rita Ferrone comments on a new book on "Clerical Culture" that notes the unfortunate phenomenon of clerical-- and lay-- "winking" at their fellows' willingness to put "forward false reasons for decisions that are made, even when they are known to be false." That such behavior is so common as to seem almost "normal" in the Church these days, is an appalling state of affairs.

Claire Mathieu has a brilliant comment at, and it has the ring of sickening truth: "The ultimate goal of Liturgiam Authenticam is not to promote good translations but to curb the power of bishops conferences."

The backlash has begun in the new postings at Fr Ryan's website:

Fr. O'Leary, did Pell really say that? How insulting.

Susan Gannon -- Much of the "winking" becomes less surprising if you think of "mental reservation" embedded in the state of culture noted in Rita Ferrone's review. It is a concept through which one can speak and obtain the benefits of lying, deceiving the listener, without technically committing a Catholic sin of lying. Skillfully used, it can elevate ambiguity to a virtue. The ordinary notion of telling the truth, or expecting Cardinals, etc. to do so, becomes more complicated. The truth will free you, but only if you can find it. It was brought up in the Irish Murphy Report on abuse and widely noted in Ireland. Cathleen Kaveny addressed it in Commonweal, Jan 15, 2010: "Truth or Consequences". The Catholic Encyclopedia ( describes it with a 1911 Nihil Obstat. Wikipedia gives a 2011 view. A CNS report in NCR describes the issue as raised by Cardinal Connell and the Murphy Report:

A thematic in today';s NYt is the problem of loss of honesty in discourse.I thought that Frank Bruni's last paragraph sent out the clation warning on this, though the issue was the political sphere.But the issue is applicable in matters Church too,Siusan hit the nail on the head!.While BXVi can be telling the Americam Bishops how wonderful they implement the new liturgical changes and how the new evangelization will help our youth see the beauty of faith with great clarity, we are moving toward more dvide and drift.

Ann,Do you really think vassals did not feel gratitude? You were taught in an egalitarian society, where the kneeling had already lost some of its significance, so the nuns were trying to put it back. That effort failed, and the gesture has lost much of its significance.What is novel is treating the gesture as unused anywhere other than in Church, not kneeling as expressing inferiority. If Cathloics valued sacral language and gestures, we would never have used kneeling or Latin. Sacral language is not our tradition, universality is.

I went to a Roman Liturgy today. I think the thing which shocked me the most, the things which hit me the most, was the Nicene Creed. While some of it is like the Byzantine translation, it really just didn't flow.. the Byzantine new translation works much, much better:

Jim McK --No doubt some did feel gratitude for the protection the lord provided or was supposed to provide. And no doubt there were some good lords who earned respect, noblesse oblige and all that. But I can't see how that even approaches what kneeling before God signifies, namely recognition of God's infinite goodness which transcends the things of this Earth. Yes, it's the idea that God's transcendence is unique and so it occasions a unique sign. You and some others seem to get so worked up about this gesture I can't help but ask: why? Is it simply that you never learned its meaning so it has no value for you? Or what?The gesture *used to be* used in other contexts. In the West it has been restricted to its religious significance, unless you want to count kneeling when you're knighted by Queen Elizabeth, but I daresay most people aren't aware of that fact.You assume that sacral language and universality are antithetical. They are not necessarily. Just look at the fact that many of my generation combined them.

After mass today, we were discussing the changes and someone summed up what it meant to her:"With your many spirits - but not all!"

Ann,When something is described as reserved for worship only I feel comfortable treating it as the antithesis of universal. I do not know what you mean when you claim you combine universality and being reserved for worship only.I have no problems with kneeling. I have a problem with presenting it as "reserved for worship only", when it once was used for other purposes. It is because the gesture has become obsolete outside of religious contexts that it appears to be reserved for worship. Latin came into the liturgy because Christians used vernaculars. Kneeling came into the liturgy because kneeling was used in contemporary secular situations. This is the Catholic tradition of embracing whatever is good from the world around us. "Sacral language" is the opposite of that tradition. And it is not that there is anything wrong with that, just that it is a modern development, a rupture from our tradition.

JIm -- How many Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?Answer: Change? Change??

I find it absolutely incredible that people are talking about leaving the Church over this translation, as in some of the comments linked to above. The pendulum swung over to dynamic equivalence, and it has swung back to perhaps an overemphasis on word-by-word correspondence. Perhaps. How does that become a reason to leave the Church??

It seems to me one's attitude towards the Latin really depends on what one thinks of history and the liturgy. Latin was the language of liturgy for a good chunk of the history of a good chunk of Catholicism, to say the least. Should that matter? I would think so. Should it make Latin the be-all and end-all? Certainly not. But liturgy does have a history, and even in civic ceremony we see that the English language has a history, in which the relationship to Latin is important. So one need not be anti-Vatican II or anti-vernacular to see it as legitimate to have the Roman rite take its cue from the Latin, as a common focal point for the many vernaculars in which the liturgy is celebrated. If you think the point of Vatican II was to eliminate the evil curse of the Latin language, I suppose your perspective will be different.

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