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Sacred Vs. Vernacular Language

Bishop Trautman of Erie, PA, former chair of the bishop's liturgy committee, has just delivered a lecture criticizing the current draft of the new translation of the Missal. An article about his talk can be found here. An excerpt from the article:

He said the "sacred language" used by translators "tends to be elitist and remote from everyday speech and frequently not understandable" and could lead to a "pastoral disaster.""The vast majority of God's people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the new missal like 'ineffable,' 'consubstantial,' 'incarnate,' 'inviolate,' 'oblation,' 'ignominy,' 'precursor,' 'suffused' and 'unvanquished.' The vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic," Trautman said."The [Second Vatican Council's] Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stipulated vernacular language, not sacred language," he added.

Liturgical matters are minefields -- I''m smart enough to know that. But may I just ask a few questions?Does anyone else out there feel a little uncomfortable with the good bishop's remarks about "the average Catholic"?I suppose Bishop Trautmann would also criticize the following words: "abolish," "forebears," "subversion," "sovereign," "eradicate," and "tribulation" -- but then the average American couldn't have been expected to understand President Kennedy's inaugural address, right?As someone who cares a great deal about the linguistic health of the Church and the culture, I confess that I don't find his list that terrifying. Some of the words are even suffused with a certain grace.There is a persistent strain of verbal iconoclasm in our culture that is not fundamentally different from the impulse that once led to the smashing of statues and looting of reliquaries.Also, can anyone explain to me what this distinction between "sacred" and "vernacular" language is? If he's talking about Latin vs. vernacular languages I think he's already on shaky ground, but let's not debate Sacrosanctum Concilium again. Rather, my fear is that he's saying something that's vaguer and more disturbing.Isn't the liturgy where we encounter the sacred?It seems a sad day to me when the sacred is equated with elitism.I can hear some of the counter-arguments being formulated -- a sacred language is the province of an elite that maintains a hegemony over the poor; I'm too young to remember the liturgy before Vatican II, etc.But I just don't believe in the opposition between the sacred and the common man, any more than I believe the medieval peasant secretly wanted to throw a rock through the rose window in Chartres.Anyway, since we're debating how the English language should be used, it is all vernacular. Capturing the sacred in liturgical language is not simply a matter of using big words; it includes syntax, metaphor, cadence, and more.Dante broke with literary tradition and wrote in his own vernacular, Italian. And butchers and bakers could be seen walking around Florence with the Divine Comedy in their hands, big words and all.By all means, let's debate liturgical changes, translations, etc. But let's do so without patronizing people or treating the sacred as if it is a problem to be avoided.



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I do not believe you have studied the new translations. You rehearse the talking points of those who rejected Trautman's very correct analyses first time round, oblivious of the pastoral disaster that looms. Catholics in South Africa were outraged by the new translations; not a single voice in support of them! The new translation is insipid, graceless, rhythmless, and incorrect in places, or rather generally incorrect because based on a false theory of how translation works. Its authors have an uncertain grasp of both Latin and English.

Here is an average piece of the new version:(Asterisks note problems) It is *truly right to give you thanks, truly *just to give you glory, Father, most holy, for you are the one God living and true, existing before all ages and *abide for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light; *yet you, who alone are good, the source of life, have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to *many of them by the *glory of your light. And so, in your presence *are countless hosts of angels, who serve you day and night and, gazing upon the *glory of your face, *glorify you without ceasing. With them we too *confess your name *in exultation, *giving voice to every creature under heaven as we sing (say):The Latin original is fine: Vere dignum est tibi gratias agere, vere iustum est te glorificare, Pater sancte, quia unus es Deus vivus et verus, qui es ante saecula et permanes in aeternum, inaccessibilem lucem inhabitans; sed et qui unus bonus atque fons vitae cuncta fecsti, ut creaturas tuas benedictionibus adimpleres multasque laetificares tui luminis claritate.

Does anyone else out there feel a little uncomfortable with the good bishops remarks about the average Catholic?Yes.I'm also struck by this notion that the mass is a didactic exercise. The Orthodox certainly do not view liturgy in this way.The new translation does seem a little clunky in spots. On the other hand, it is generally a more literally accurate translation, and there is something to be said for accuracy. Some of the existing ICEL translations of the fixed prayers take...considerable liberties, to put it delicately.

The present translations are not inaccurate -- the reasoning behind all translations choices in the Roman Canon were explains in a booklet on the subject published by the translators. The new translations, in contrast, seem to have no rationale at all except a spurious literalism. Look at the asterisks in the sample I gave above. "Truly just" may sound like a literally accurate of "vere iustum", but a more correct translation would be "indeed right". The whole translation is vitiated by this sort of literalism, which would be corrected by Latin teachers reading schoolboy compositions. This is major incompetence, not just a little harmless clunkiness. And even if it were mere clunkiness, there would be not excuse for that either. The Vatican have spurned good proposals for improving our texts, but they have jumped this shoddy and hasty exercise on the whole church with nothing like due reflection.

CORRECTION: The present translations are not inaccurate the reasoning behind all translation choices in the Roman Canon were explained in a booklet on the subject published by the translators.

By the way, Trautman does not reduce the liturgy to a didactic exercise. Nor does Vatican II, which he quotes on this point.I know that most people do not understand many words that literati use -- for instance, a friend asked me to explain "colloquy" and "indubitable". A translatioin that for no functional reason is larded with words that are not in colloquial circulation and that moreover are used without any sense of literary resonance is just a committee mishmash, not a real translation at all.

It is the document Liturgiam Authenticam that describes the hoped-for development of a "sacred style" of vernacular language (paragraph 27). Bishop Trautman is objecting to the basic principle that it's right to give us English texts that are difficult to understand - especially from proclamation rather than reading, grammatically questionable, and awkward to English-speaking people. LA insists we will get used to it - and then it will be OK because we will recognize it as "sacred style" that is different from normal speech. I would prefer beautiful, graceful speech that sounds like English.Also, I think making the comparison between the texts we are currently using and the new translations is unfair to the work ICEL has done. Many years went into the translation of the second edition of the missal, which we never got the chance to hear, despite approval by the English-speaking bishops. That translation addresses many of the concerns we have with the first edition, without falling into the difficulties of the translations written since LA.

Greg, You are taking the bishop too seriously. If it is not a play on word he certainly is ridiculing the notion that obscurity is sacred rather than plain english or vernacular. And there is a lot of elitism in both conservative and liberal Catholicisim.

Gosh Joseph, why don't you tell us how you really feel? ; )Seriously though, I have read the new translation and think that, even with all the "big words" some folks worry about, the average guy will be able to understand it just fine. In any case, it is hard to imagine how much plainer we Amercians can make English. Sure the new translation is a change, but it is not the end of the world. Moreover, the average guy is not as thick as some imagine him to be.Regarding the missal, it is probably best not to dumb things down.

The notion that complex grammar and long words are the best way to convey "elevated" or "sacred" thoughts bespeaks -- oh, I don't know -- a juvenile notion of what those concepts are.English poets from (and really, before) Chaucer to Keats to Hopkins and including Yeats and sometimes Eliot, have been able to marshall original English words to elevated effect. Someone who needs to rely on French and Latin cognates to convey a sense of the sacred, managing at the same time to more than double the number of commas and semicolons in the translated passage, is not a master of English, even if his knowledge of Latin vocabulary is flawless.

"Seriously though, I have read the new translation and think that, even with all the big words some folks worry about, the average guy will be able to understand it just fine. "As a bishop, whose responsibility is pastoral communication, you might think twice about that. But my objection, as a professor of English Literature. is not this one (the passage I quoted is not difficult to understand) but rather the sheer ugliness and gracelessness of the proposed new translations. Many defenders of them either have no literary sense, or consider that literary quality is unimportant, or believe that it is good for us to use ugly prayers. I think that beautiful prayers are an aid to lifting the soul and that crass and gross language is a hindrance. I pray the Mass better in Latin or French than in the current English translations; if the threatened new translations are imposed I fear many people will no longer be able to pray the Mass at all. As things stand it is very hard to pray our sawdust collects, secrets and postcommunions (the proposed new translation may improve on these). With the new translation it will be very hard to pray the Eucharistic Prayer itself. Bishop Trautman is thus correct to warn of a grave pastoral crisis.

The English language is a great resource for prayer, as we know from reading Herbert, Hopkins, Eliot. The Vatican spurns this resource and prefers ideologically driven committees (the chief figure behind all this was. I believe, a Chilean bishop close to Pinochet; one of the current advocate is George Pell).

I'm not ready to quarrel for a word like "ignominy," but shouldn't words like consubstantial, incarnate, and oblation be part of our common Catholic vocabulary? That actually seems like a rather low bar to me.

About unintelligible langusge--It isn't true that good language must be entirely intelligible. Even illiterate cultures sometimes have a "sacred" language which is used in religious ceremoniesz *Saying* something is not its whole pirpose. Its extremely important function is to invoke the presence of a deityband confirm the assembly s consciousness of that presence. ("Numinous" would be a good word to use to describe it.) In the old Catholic rite Latin served this function beautifully -- not being fully understood by anyone it conveyed a recognition that some things are beyond us all, some things are even transcendent, but in the Words of the Consecration we are msde aware that He is also physically present among us.But what such language gains in the expression of mystery it forfeits in ordinary intelligibility. Still most of us, I think, want some of what is beyond us. No doubt this is why Pres. Kennedy didntt hesitate to use an occassional "big word". But it can be over done.

I must say I agree with Fr. O'Leary and the Bishop - I saw far too much semantics in management speak and there's far too much semantics in the propaganda talking points in politics and culture hitting folks today. I beleive plainspeak is the best way to enhance communication on matters important!I wonder what speech Mr. Wolfe considers "elitist" if any.I do not think polysyllables necessarily enhamnce one's view of the sacred and in fact may do the opposite .Finaly, as in several recent threads here, I congratulate Commonweal for including in the new print issue (arrived yesterday) of Fr."Nonomen" -a pastoral voice often lackling in the intellectualizations here( In fact, I think more balance is needed in that direction and we should hear more voices from religious women.)We certainly hav eenough of the two sides of the "conservative"/"liberal" kinid of discussion.

Translators confuse vernacular with colloqial. English is the vernacular, but there are differnt levels suitable to different occasions. levels, and I do not see why it has to be colloquial to the point of being dumbed-down.We are constantluy told we have the best-educated Catholic laity ever. But they can't understand words like "incarnate"?As to the literary quality: it couldn't be worse than our current Hallmark cards translation.But it would be good to have professional translators who can get peopel to pay for their translations to go over it.

This is a consistent theme with Trautmann: that "Joe and Mary Catholic" are too dumb to understand the word "ineffable." It is terrifically insulting. As Lee points out, in some areas, the bishops like to say the laity are the most well-educated laity ever. But we can't grasp elevated language.

I see several problems with the above excerpt: the first is the use of the word unapproachable, which is a real dud and I don't think the best way to convey the Latin -- I think "unfathomable," or even "inscrutable" might serve better, as either conveys a sense of mystery and awe, rather than, simply, distance. Incomprehensible isn't any more musical, but I think still more accurate. The second is the overuse of variants of the word glory. In the last sentence "glory of your light" is simply wrong -- I think what is intended is the concept that our lives are filled with joy and blessings as a result of being illuminated or clarified by God's light, but "glory" doesn't describe light. The original uses a version of clarify or clarity. So God's light, though mysterious and unknowable nonetheless transforms and clarifies our life with joy and blessings. That's the gist. Did you get that from the excerpt?The third is the use of punctuation and the adverb "truly" to provide emphasis that totally breaks any rhythm or flow that the passage had in the original. Literally, more than twice as many commas. The truly is to provide emphasis but we don't speak like that, and the word "indeed" or "always" would be a better English equivalent.

Wow - who would have thought Pinochet would be involved - Ha, ha!:)

I mean, after he managed to save poor Chile from the Communists; how did he find the time?

Yes, the distinction between the vernacular and the sacred is a false distinction (which is why it was decided at Vatican II that there was no good reason to prohibit Mass in the vernacular: Latin prayers, private or liturgical, were not holier than English prayers). The distinction Bishop Trautman seems to want to make is between the demotic and the sacred, and there is nothing in the documents of Vatican II, or in the examples of Herbert, Eliot, and Hopkins, to support the claim that translators should always favor the demotic or steer clear of any word--long or short--that not everybody uses in coversation. Intelligibility is important. So is precision. So is elegance of expression. It is a mistake to advocate one of these principles and forget the others. It is also a mistake to imagine that there is no tension between them--to imagine that whatever is intelligible is as elegant or precise as it needs to be.

"As to the literary quality: it couldnt be worse than our current Hallmark cards translation.But it would be good to have professional translators who can get peopel to pay for their translations to go over it."The fact that it so clearly needs to be "gone over" -- the excerpt I posted even contains a serious error of punctuation -- shows that this translation is totally unready for public consumption.And yes, it is worse than our present flat translations. It has of course no literary quality at all, but unlike our present translations it does not even meet entry-level requirements as a usable prayer text.

Mr. Wolfe - suggest that you are nitpicking and miss some of the much bigger historical picture and issues that are at stake in this change. Yes, Bishop Trautman may be frustrated in his language but it reveals the depth of his pastoral sense and passion for the whole people of God. Yes, would agree that some of these "big" words are part of our liturgical and theological history and folks do know and recognize them. But, there is always a but.......You, like many, want to start this discussion with LA and after 2000 ignoring 45 years of work on the direction of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Il Comme Prevoit, etc. It is a luxury to be able to just pick and choose when we want to interpret liturgical development in order to substantiate our position.Allow me to suggest starting with a much bigger and complex picture; here is an excellent document that points out the issues at stake:: most scriptural and liturgical experts agree that this revision is based on using latin translations that are not close to the original scriptures; the latin originals used are translations themselves. This move is described by some as what they tried last century with the Knox bible - a "perfect translation" that would stand the test of time forever. Oh yeah, no one uses that bible anymore- ecclesiological standpoint - Vatican II set up liturgical changes via national bishops conferences - english speaking set up ICEL (implemented collegiality & subsidiarity). Most would agree that initial efforts could be improved. If you have ever read the 1998 proposed missal, you would find excellent liturgical, scriptural, and pastoral translations that are uplifting, poetic, and true to the linguistic patterns of the people. Since 2000, you have a small minority making liturgical decisions in secret and forcing bishops conferences to just approve (back to papal centralization, end of collegiality/subsidiarity). The "new" ICEL/Vox Clara set up in 2003 did not even have native english speakers (appointed now by CDW not the bishops conferences - appointments come from CDW and are in secret) - led by Medina and a Benedictine who lost out to Weakland in the abbot general vote years before (suggest that this tells us a lot - Benedictines are noted for their liturgical efforts and Weakland especially - per second hand reports, his colleague was appointed much later to balance the liberal/conservative curia mixture)Note that Medina (like Williamson of SSPX) comes from Argentia and was a reactionary defender of Pinochet (yes, Ken, this is important to note); later involvement came from Arinze (notice that he is slowly dropping from view and his views are seen as more Roman than Rome as noted by some of his African colleagues at the recently closed Synod on Africa); Rinth (who also has been banished from Rome - even his curia buddies had had enough of his arrogance).The english speaking members of the new ICEL included an appointment from Pell, a conservative from UK, one from Canada (oh yes, the recently indicted archbishop with child pornography); and a US bishop, Seratelli, who died a few weeks ago.- pastoral......supposedly, this new translation is to address the "vertical" and more spiritual aspects that some feel has caused catholics to leave the church (this is an undocumented assumption at best). - given the current pending outreach to the TAC and SSPX based on allowing them their own liturgies via a papal ordiniate - what does that say about the our own need to continue to develop our own liturgies rather than be forced into change by a minority. It appears to be disingeneous at best- this whole change back to rigid latin translations reminds me of the Eastern Patriarch at Vatican II who refused to speak in latin on the floor stating that latin is not the language of the whole church. We might want to pay attention to that- if you have paid attention to speaches at the recent Synod for Africa - there were numerous requests for more encultruation; not a return to latinized language.- in Dallas, the local diocesan paper has had three weeks straight columns introducing the new USCCB website link to the new Roman Missal. I have responded every week because of the partial and inaccuracies in these columns; their own way of interpreting history and liturgy meaning skipping over those parts that don't fit their explanation.- most say that the "new" ICEL, once the english missal is finalized, will then move on to other language conferences. In fact, spanish is a major challenge given that these conferences do not even have an agreed upon lectionary because the various spanish dialects, etc. have resulted in multiple translations. Wonder if this will not eventually result in a 21st century version of the 19th century "Chinese Rites" argument. We know what the result of that slavish attention to a Tridentine liturgy did to the future of catholicism in China.Finally, on a personal note - have not heard one pastor state any type of positive reaction to this new Roman Missal. They see it as a burden; one more thing that damages their credibility and takes energy/effort away from more important church issues. My parents are in their 80's, hard of hearing, and think this pending change is a takes from them a liturgy that they have used for 40+ years; know by heart and are comfortable with. This makes no pastoral sense.

I teach Latin every day. I love Latin! In fact, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin every day. But I have to agree with Bishop Trautman. A slavish, literal translation of the Latin liturgical texts does not always accurately convey the true intended meaning of the text. And I don't think that Bishop Trautman in any way means to demain the "average" Catholic, but I think he is concerned about how an overly literal translation of the Latin is not expressing the meaning of the prayer in a vernacular idiom.

Please read the entirety of Bp Trautman's remarks as reported -- the question of recondite diction is only a small part of his critique, which is justified in all its parts.Here is the rest of the NCR report:Trautman took note of sentences in the new missal that he said run 66, 70 and 83 words, declaring that they were "unproclaimable" by the speaker and "incomprehensible" to the hearer."American Catholics have every right to expect the translation of the new missal to follow the rules for English grammar. The prefaces of the new missal, however, violate English syntax in a most egregious way," Trautman said, citing some examples in his remarks."The translators have slavishly transposed a Latin 'qui' clause into English without respecting English sentence word order," he added. The bishop also pointed out subordinate clauses from the missal that are "represented as a sentence," and sentences lacking a subject and predicate.Trautman also questioned the use of "I believe" in the retranslated version of the Nicene Creed, "even though the original and official Nicene Creed promulgated by the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 said 'we believe' in both the Greek and Latin versions."Since this is a creedal prayer recited by the entire assembly in unison, the use of 'we' emphasized the unity of the assembly in praying this together as one body. Changing the plural form of 'we' to 'I' in the Nicene Creed goes against all ecumenical agreements regarding common prayer texts," he said.The bishop complained about the lack of "pastoral style" in the new translation. The current wording in Eucharistic Prayer 3 asks God to "welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters," which he considered "inspiring, hope-filled, consoling, memorable."The new translation asks God to "give kind admittance to your kingdom," which Trautman called "a dull lackluster expression which reminds one of a ticket-taker at the door. ... The first text reflects a pleading, passionate heart and the latter text a formality -- cold and insipid."Trautman quoted the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which said rites and texts "should radiate a noble simplicity. They should be short, clear, free from useless repetition. They should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.""Why are these conciliar directives not implemented in the new missal?" he asked. They are "especially" relevant, Trautman added, to "the people of the third millennium: children, teenagers, adults, those with varying degrees of education, and those with English as a second language."He acknowledged that "there are those who disagree with the way the liturgical reform of Vatican II was interpreted and implemented" and who maintained that "a reform of the reform" was necessary to stem what they saw as "diminishing religiosity [and] declining Mass attendance" tied to the Mass texts.But while "the Latin text is the official, authoritative text," Trautman said, "the Latin text is not inspired. It is a human text, reflecting a certain mindset, theology and world view."As a consequence, "a major and radical change" and "a major pastoral, catechetical problem erupts" in the new missal during the words of consecration, which say that the blood of Christ "will be poured out for you and for many," instead of "for all," as is currently the practice."For whom did Jesus not die?" Trautman asked. "In 1974 the Holy See itself had approved our present words of institution [consecration] as an accurate, orthodox translation of the Latin phrase 'pro multis,'" he added. "It is a doctrine of our Catholic faith that Jesus died on the cross for all people."Trautman took issue with a 2006 letter to bishops by Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, then head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, which said that "salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one's own willing or participation.""I respond that Jesus died even for those who reject his grace. He died for all," Trautman said."Why do we now have a reversal? The Aramaic and Latin texts have not changed. The scriptural arguments have not changed, but the insistence on literal translation has changed."Trautman hearkened back to Msgr. McManus, whom he called "an apostle of the liturgical renewal.""If Msgr. McManus were with us today, he would call us to fidelity to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and encourage us to produce a translation of the missal that is accurate, inspiring, referent, proclaimable, understandable, pastoral in every sense -- a text that raises our minds and hearts to God."

The text quoted above is translated as follows in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer:"It is truly right to glorify you, Father, and to give you thanks; for you alone are God, living and true, dwelling in light inaccessible from before time and for ever."Countless throngs of angels stand before you to serve you night and day; and beholding the glory of your presence, they offer to you unceasing praise. Joining with them, and giving voice to every creature under heaven, we acclaim you and and glorify your name as we sing (say):"

Whenever there is genuine interest in a subject a specialized vocabulary poses no problem. Non-elitist real people understand the infield fly rule in baseball, adolescents follow directions to multi-task and tweet, sitcoms employ exotic psychobabble. Why is the liturgy to be purged of any challenge?In trying to cater to, or condescendingly pander to, a mythical average Catholic devoid of learning skills, the good bishop betrays the narrowness of his education and experience. He also indirectly encourages the development of a gnostic reaction.

It is truly right to give you thanks.Truly.Just to give you glory.The final translator is the one who prays, not the one who writes the text. The goal according to V2 is full and active participation, not rote repetition of words that are not understood. The text should enable praying with comprehension and devotion.Comprehension is the route to greater mystery. Latin sealed mystery off behind a wall, rather than invite people into the presence of God. A walled off mystery is effective sometimes, but often is an easy imitation of real mystery.English has a particular problem with Latin cognates, because there are still vestiges of the courtly French of England's conquerors. It is regal language for a world of democrats, and arouses rebellion in some who hear it. And probably submission in others. These elitist tendencies are inherent, even if they are weakening after 1000 years.Then there is the perpetual problem when meaning drifts, as in: "the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus from that moment on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine. JP2 EE 15

The real question, I think, is not the vocabulary but the sound of the new translation. No one but the priest is going to see the semicolons, but everyone will hear the delay of meaning as the lengthy sentences are read. Some songs are straightforward. It's Been a Hard Day's Night has that straightforward sound. Our current liturgical "soundtrack" sounds like good-time oldies, suitable for a family barbecue, warm and friendly. Some songs are intimate and mood-making, and I think the new translation is like this. These are the kinds of songs most appropriate for the bride and groom's first dance, like Unforgettable.

I doubt there is such a thing as "sacred language". The appropriate English is "sacral language", and that will mean language using in a register suited to liturgy. The new translation tends to suppose that Latinate vocabulary is always preferable for the liturgy. This is, to say the least, debatable. To take but one example, "consubstantial" rather than "one in being" occurs in the new translation. The Latin adjective "consubstantialis" is itself a rendering of the Greek "homoousios" which means "one in being". An Anglophone audience has a chance of understanding "one in being" but is likely to take "consubstantial" to mean "one in substance", which would be an unhappy result. Why create barriers for the sake of a Latinate word likely to mislead? Pedantry? Yes, pedantry!As an example of plain mistranslation take "people of good will" for "hominibus bonae uoluntatis". The problem there is that the Latin misrepresents the sense of Luke's Greek, which is "people he (God) favors". The sense "people of good will", besides being erroneous, has the further demerit of putting the initiative on the human side.By the way both the new and the old translations get the sense of the final clause in the Lord's Prayer wrong. The Greek means "deliver us from the evil one" as, I understand, the Greek Orthodox translate it. I suppose it is embarrassing to have been wrong for so long, but honesty can be refreshing.

"In trying to cater to, or condescendingly pander to, a mythical average Catholic devoid of learning skills, the good bishop betrays the narrowness of his education and experience. He also indirectly encourages the development of a gnostic reaction."This is an outrageously unjust remark, of a type that has characterized so much of the hostility to Bp Trautman, who is simply a prophetic truth teller, or rather a man of simple common sense. Have you even read the entirety of the article quoted, or any other of Bp T's writings on this potential pastoral disaster?If Bp T is only speaking for a mythical Catholic why is there such an outpouring of support on the NCR combox. And why in South Africa was there such an outpouring of rage from ALL sectors of the Catholic community when the ghastly translations were brought prematurely into use?

The problem with "we believe" has eluded the bishop. The language "I believe" is a performative, like "I do" at a wedding or "I pledge allegiance" in the pledge. The performance must be done by each individually even though they do it simultaneously in the profession of faith. The creed is not a simply list of propositions we regard as true together with a report that we do so.

Mr. Gannon - assume that you have no background in liturgical or scriptural studies?Fr. O'Leary - you were nice enough to add the recognition of Rev. McManus - a guiding light for years starting with Vatican II and then through the original ICEL. He was brought to Vatican II as an expert by the papal secretary of state for the planning commission on the liturgy and was in the room when it was written. Later, he was appointed a periti by Paul VI for the rest of Vatican II. This little story adds to the inside politics and downright anger/double dealing that can pass for the curia: during Fr. McManus's significant contributions to Vatican II, his name was place on a list to be made monsignor by his bishop, Cardinal Cushing. The US papal nuncio, Vagnozzi, (an opponent of the liturgical changes during Vatican II) drew a line through his name and passed the list on the the pope. Weeks later in passing, Cardinal Cushing was informed of this inner move. Years later in 1980, McManus was finally given the title of monsignor by Jean Jadot. At a lunch Jadot gave him the document but McManus never had an investiture ceremony. For the rest of his life, he never used that title nor did he ever wear monsignor dress until his death in 2005.

What is needed even more than the advice of professional translators is consultation with the finest poets available. They are the ones who can produce expressions that are at the same time simple, comprehenssible, profound and inspiring. Mere translators can't do all that. Fortunately the greatest poets are often themselves translators of other poets' works.I nominate Seamus Heaney. Any other suggestions? No, he doesn't seem to be a member of the fold any longer, but he knows the tradition, and he is obviously more than qualified to re-structure those awkward, disjointed phrases and clauses in the translated paragraph above. (Awwkk! It's HIDEOUS!)As to the argument on the other side that the translators worked 45 years on one version, well, that's like saying a chef worked three hours on a souffl so it must be acceptable. Yuk.

"Mr. Gannon assume that you have no background in liturgical or scriptural studies?"This comment is inappropriate.

Just an observation - When I see churchmen like Bishop Trautman talk about "pastoral disaster" I have to wonder what they thought the translations and changes in liturgy in America that they supported all those years? He and his compatriats oversaw the watering down of liturgy, they dumbing down of catechesis, and the mass exodus of generations of Catholics and now he warns of a "pastoral disaster"?

Sean, the liturgy is better than before Vatican II. Catechesis may be another word for perpetuating empire. Catholics are growing in record numbers. The exodus has nothing to do with Vatican II but more on the restorationists and Humanaw Vitae.The reality of liturgy is that it is a way for people to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Local communities can figure it our without having to resort to empire builders to do it for them.

Are you joking Bill M? Obviously Sean makes a very good point.Oh well - when I attends the mass in Latin, I do not worry about which translation is best.I like how old WF Buckley put it (quote below - from Wikipedia). I can almost see his sly grin while making (or writing) such a remark.------------------------------------------William F. Buckleys thoughts on Catholic liturgical change (1979)As a Catholic, I have abandoned hope for the liturgy, which, in the typical American church, is as ugly and as maladroit as if it had been composed by Robert Ingersoll and H.L. Mencken for the purpose of driving people away. Incidentally, the modern liturgists are doing a remarkably good job; attendance at Catholic Mass on Sunday having dropped sharply in the 10 years since a few well-meaning cretins got hold of the power to vernacularize the Mass, and the money to scour the earth in search of the most un-musical men and women to preside over the translation.The next liturgical ceremony conducted primarily for my benefit, since I have no plans to be beatified or remarried, will be my own funeral; and it is a source of great consolation to me that, at my funeral, I shall be quite dead, and so will not need to listen to the accepted replacement for the noble old Latin liturgy. Meanwhile, I am practicing Yoga, so that, at church on Sundays, I can develop the power to tune out everything I hear, while attempting, athwart the general calisthenics, to commune with my Maker, and ask Him first to forgive me my own sins, and implore him, second, not to forgive the people who ruined the Mass."-----------------------------------

May I suggest the Sacred consubstantial with the vernacular? F.Y.I:

Still waiting to hear from our contributor about "elitism."I agree with those who say Bishop Trautman doesn't think the average Catholic is a dummy, but is at pains to say whatever maximizes their participation should be the driving force, not the personal predilectioons of those who think the Latin Tridentine text is sacral and who want to join the lurch backward to the right.

Why is it still, "Our Father who art in heaven"? It doth sound somehow strange, albeit extremely familiar to mine ear.

Mr. De Haas: I assume that you disagree with something I said. Perhaps if you would say what and why, I could respond.DavidI think there is an iron rule about not changing the Lord's Prayer. What puzzles me, among other things, is why one says: "Thy will be done (full stop) on earth as it is in heaven". Can it be that Catholics become short of breath at that point?

HmmmmHow about this to avoid elitism and and being "remote""Yo Daddy-O on Cloud 9"?

SeanYour sense of register is defective.

News flash to Bill8 out of 10 Catholics don't even know what Humanae Vitae is and 9.5 out of 10 will think you are talking about "Flip That House" if you mention restorationists.People left the Church for a lot of reasons, but I know a lot left because we didn't have a clue what the Church was and what it offered. We needed a substabntial meal and were being fed cotton candy. I know because I was one of them. A few years ago I taught a confirmation class and only 2 out of 15 kids even knew why they genuflect - they just did it. So sorry, I don't buy the idea that the changes of the 60's and 70's somehow made the Mass more meaningful.

Thank you Nancy; yours is an excellent idea, one with which it seems the Vatican has long agreed (excerpted from the link you so kindly provided):-------------------------------------------...The Mass on EWTN, which is said in the vernacular but includes some Latin, is according to the current norms. The Second Vatican Council desired the retention of Latin as the ritual language of the Roman Rite. In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy the Council stated, 36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites. 2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters. 3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether and to what extent the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.Following the Council the Roman implementing documents continued on this course.Instruction on the Liturgy, Congregation of Rites, 16 October 196459. Pastors of souls shall carefully see to it that the faithful, more particularly the members of lay religious associations, also know how to say or to sing together in the Latin language those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertains to them, especially with the use of simpler melodies.47. According to the Constitution on the Liturgy, while particular laws remain in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." However, since "the use of the vernacular may often be of great advantage to the people" "it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority to decide whether, and to what extent, one should use the vernacular, their decrees being approvedthat is, confirmedby the Holy See." In observing these norms exactly, one will therefore employ that form of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation.Instruction on Music in the Sacred Liturgy, Sacred Congregation of Rites, 5 March 1967Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular "the faithful also know how to say or sing, in Latin also, those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." When the bishops asked for the entire Mass in the vernacular, Pope Paul VI granted this, but continued to insist on the people being able to pray the "ordinary parts" (that is, those that remain the same in every Mass, such as the dialogues "Dominus vobiscum" "Et cum spiritu tuo," Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei etc.) in Latin and ALSO according to the simple Gregorian chant modes. Thus,Iubilate Deo, Preface, Pope Paul VI, 14 April 1974The Bond of Unity. The Second Vatican Council in the "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" added the following reminder to its exhortation that vernacular languages should have a suitable place in liturgical celebration: It should be arranged that the faithful can say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that belongs to them.The Supreme Pontiff Paul VI has followed this trend of thought in recent times. he has often expressed two desires: that Gregorian Chant with its pleasing melody might accompany and support the Eucharistic celebrations of the people of God; that the voices of the faithful might resound in both the Gregorian Chant and in the vernacular. ...--------------------------------------------------------

Mass should sound like this:

Ann - you need to somehow find and read the proposed new translations in the 1998 missal - they, of course, were destroyed or hidden after the moves of JPII and Medina and the destruction of ICEL, Sacrosanctum Concilium, etc via Liturgiam Authenticam.My comments were directed to the new translation of "I believe" instead of "We believe" - re-read Trautman's response to this change. Read my link to this same issue by Paul Collins.The adjective "traditional" appears frequently in the move to retranslate and is contrasted with "in the spirit of Vatican II" or the tired statements that Vatican II led to the "total" demise of catholicism - have you considered the growth of the church in Africa, India, SE Asia, South America. Vatican II did not dilute the Tradition and the Council states:Therefore following in the footsteps of the Councils of Trent and of First Vatican, this present Council wishes to set forth authentic teaching about divine revelation and about how it is handed on..., Constitution on Revelation (Dei Verbum, (DV# 1)Tradition and Vision must always be held in creative tension otherwise there is a risk of following tradition (small "t") which is not the living faith of the dead but rather the dead faith of the living (Mk 7:1-9)."Ecclesial" does not refer to a group's membership but rather to the group's motivational force or faith in Jesus Christ "... the desire to live his commandment of love and to carry out his mission by the power of the Holy Spirit in communion with the local, the diocesan and universal Church" (29:1989). This meaning of "ecclesial" is supported by the papal Exhortation of Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN #15, 60, 65) and Lumen Gentium (LG #1). "Ecclesial" has a creedal, Trinitarian perspective on community. Mission begins with the Father's work in creation and salvation. The Father sends the Son and the Son sends the Spirit who missions the Church (Mt 28:20). It is not the Church which has a mission but it is God's mission which creates and gathers the Church.Dr Clement Tierney defined the Eucharist as "the sacrament of the sacrifice of the cross in the shape of a meal". There are three elements in Tierney's definition and none of these elements can be omitted without jeopardising the traditional Catholic understanding of Eucharist. The Eucharist is (i) sacrament, (ii) sacrifice (iii) meal. Calvary was a unique sacrifice (Heb 10 especially vv 11-13). Mass is sacrament which guarantees that the sacrifice of Calvary is present and effective here and now without jeopardising the unique character of the Calvary sacrifice. The community is transformed as the there and then sacrifice of Calvary is the reality of the here and now community experience. Eucharistic Prayer III refers to the sacramental mode of the sacrifice thus:Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.This is ecclesial action as the "worship of each one here brings salvation to all" (Prayer over the Gifts: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time).Thus, throughout the liturgy we use the pronoun "we" not "I". It parallels Trautman's comments about Jesus dying for "all" not "many".

If you'll forgive the length of this: this is a long excerpt from an extremely lengthy transcription, of the US bishops' consideration of newly translated texts earlier this year. Bishop Trautman is one of the players. (This is taken from the Adoremus Bulletin website; they publish the transcripts of bishops meetings regarding liturgy).[Begin excerpt]Action Item 4 Votive Masses and Masses for the DeadBishop Serratelli: Bishops, I present to you Action Item 4, the ICEL Gray Book translation of Votive Masses and Masses for the Dead. Passage of this item requires a 2/3 vote of the Latin Church members of the United States Catholic Conference. You have at your places the Group I amendments, those accepted by the Committee on Divine Worship.Cardinal George: The committee recommends that all of the amendments in Group I be adopted. If any member desires a separate consideration of any of the amendments in Group I will he please raise his hand and call out just the identifying numbers of those amendments?Without objection, then, all of the amendments in Group I are Oh, Im sorry. Bishop Trautman. Just the number please, Bishop.Bishop Trautman: I just wanted to be clear. Are we talking about Action Item 4?Bishop Serratelli: Yes.Bishop Trautman: Okay. Divine Worship. Thats my motion, I believe, that the committee suggested improved wording.Cardinal George: So whats the number, please?Bishop Trautman: Well, its the only one; its number 1. And the text is the recommended version submitted by the committee is as follows: May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, cleanse our hearts, and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of His dew.I do not believe that is an intelligible or proclaimable translation. So Im speaking against the very motion that I had submitted. I appreciate what the committee has done, but I think thats a good illustration of why this text, this whole segment, is not worthy to go forward. That is not a text to be prayed by our people. Can you tell me what it means? By the sprinkling of His dew. What does that mean?Cardinal George: What are we discussing now? [Laughter]Bishop Serratelli: The committee partially accepted Bishop Trautmans amendment, but now hes spoken against the whole prayer, even with the amendment.Cardinal George: But we can only, at this point, admit for discussion by everyone amendments. Are we ? Theres only one amendment, so lets go ahead.Monsignor Malloy: I think if I understand it correctly, the body would have to decide whether we accept the fact that Bishop Trautmans suggestion was that this phrase be struck from the text. The committee did not strike it from the text, they just modified it. So I think wed have to accept consideration of this amendment by the body. And then decide whether Bishop Trautmans modification is acceptable or not. I think wed first have to decide whether his amendment should be considered.Cardinal George: Do you move that?Bishop Serratelli: I so move that.Cardinal George: All those in favor please signify Does everybody understand what were voting on now?[Many voices: No]Monsignor Malloy: I think what were voting on is whether to discuss and vote against the committee on striking the phrase inner sprinkling of His dew, which was the modification. So we have to decide whether or not to accept Bishop Trautmans bringing this back to the body because the committee did not change it in the way he is suggesting.Cardinal George: Cardinal Rigali.Cardinal Rigali: If we are back to discussing this terminology, the inner sprinkling of His dew, I would like to speak against that, in favor of what the committee did. The committee says: May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, cleanse our hearts, and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of His dew. Well, I would suggest that this is quite acceptable for our people. It can be read very nicely.But the real question is the biblical image of dew. And just because we think that dew might not be the ordinary word, we have to be careful about eliminating biblical concepts and restricting our liturgical usage. And this is not only biblical, I think its also mystical. Its been held in the tradition of the Church. And I believe it is something that reads very, very well, and that our people can meditate on. And these two petitions: cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful by the dew of the Spirit. That word is in Canon II, and it had difficulty there, but its part of our terminology, its part of our Scripture, its part of our tradition. So I think we should be very careful in eliminating it.Cardinal George: May I first have Thank you, Cardinal Rigali. Do we want to open up this discussion or not? That is, should we consider this phrase? And then it would seem to me, if you want to consider it, then there would be people who This is whats not clear, Bishop Trautman. You dont have a suggestion; you just want to reject the committees suggestion. We can debate the committees suggestion because they have given us something positive to discuss. But Bishop Trautman: I think the committee was trying to be helpful. It really has not solved the issue. I would suggest we reject what the committee has recommended, and we reject this entire text. Reject the entire segment.Cardinal George: Yes but we have to Theres nothing to vote on if we reject the committees work.Bishop William Murphy (Rockville Centre): I apologize if I confuse, which I suspect I probably will. But if Im not mistaken, what has happened here is that the committee has presented a change that they have accepted as a committee. And so the question now is: Does the body agree with the committee? And say yes or no to that. And Bishop Trautman says no, and he has every right to say that. But it seems to me that the first question is: Does the body accept what the committee recommends? And then if that were to be rejected, the second thing would be for Bishop Trautman to present his suggestion of a better way to handle that particular piece of translation. [Applause]Cardinal George: So the first indication is do you want to consider this phrase, this question at all? [Voices: Yes]Okay. If thats accepted then, lets talk about the committees suggested phrase. And if thats rejected, then well have to see what we do next. Wed ask for something else on the whole text. So the floor is open to discuss the committees comment on this translation, their suggested translation. Is that right, Bishop Serratelli?Bishop Serratelli: Yes.Cardinal George: Anyone want to speak in favor or against? Okay, all those who are in favor of accepting the committees translation as given in the Group I amendment please vote 1; all those who want to reject it, please vote 2. [Pause for voting]Has everyone voted? Again, this is just the Latin-rite bishops. This is a simple majority. Cardinal Rigali, point of order?Cardinal Rigali: That was my question.Cardinal George: Okay. Close the vote, please. [The vote is shown on the screen]: Yes137; No46.So it passes. The committees version is accepted, and now we have to move to the amendments in Group Bishop Serratelli: There are no amendments in Group II.Cardinal George: So therefore you call the question, please.Bishop Serratelli: Just a reminder before I call the question. If we do not accept this now, it will come back to us in November. Therefore, being no further discussion or amendments, I move that the Latin Church members of the USCCB approve the ICEL Gray Book translation of Votive Masses and Masses for the Dead for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America.Cardinal George: 2/3 of the Latin-rite bishops have to vote for this. If you want to accept the whole text, vote 1; if you want to reject the whole text, please vote 2. [Pause for voting] May we close the vote please?In the light of the last discussion I presume that it is the will of the body, in fact we have changed the procedure, that this vote be published. So would you please put it up on the screen? [The vote:] Yes150; No30; Abstain3.So the text is not acceptable. Would you go on to the next text please? Archbishop Myers?Archbishop John Myers: Its inconclusive.Cardinal George: Im sorry I should have said that differently. Its an inconclusive vote, and it will go out in the mail as the others have.

Bishop Trautman:Since this is a creedal prayer recited by the entire assembly in unison, the use of 'we' emphasized the unity of the assembly in praying this together as one body. Changing the plural form of 'we' to 'I' in the Nicene Creed goes against all ecumenical agreements regarding common prayer texts," he said.Quite possibly the reversion to I was motivated by pedantry. Nonetheless it turned out to be right. Perhaps some have not heard of a performative utterance. The idea was developed in ordinary language philosophy, but once you think about, it is not really obscure. If someone says I solemnly swear by Almighty God ... that person is not informing anyone that he is swearing, rather she/he is performing the act of swearing. The same goes for the ordinary act of promising, in all its forms. The creedal I believe in X does not mean I believe that X exists but rather I put my faith in X, an act of faith, not an announcement that one has faith. i.e, in the jargon philosophers of language use, a performative rather than in informative utterance. One cannot perform an act of faith for anyone else. Individuals may do it in unison, but each of them is performing his own act of faith. This is not an issue of liturgy or scripture, but of the way language is used for various purposes. Nicholas Lash has a discussion of this in his collection Theology for Pilgrims.

Thanks, Jim. Your contribution says it all!Mr. Gannon - thank you for clarifying and I do understand what you are saying (I think). I just don't think it applies to our current liturgy; much less revising the creed based on our theological and ecclesilogical understandings and history.

Thanks for the excerpt, Jim P. Some of it reads like a skit from Saturday Night Live--e.g., "Has everyone voted? Again, this is just the Latin-rite bishops." Heaven forbid an Eastern rite bishop sneaks in a vote on "dew." ;) And though it's not same thing by a long shot, the bishops' exchange and voting reminded me of the colored beads used by the Jesus Seminar when they vote on what they believe are the historical actions and sayings of Jesus.

So sorry, I dont buy the idea that the changes of the 60s and 70s somehow made the Mass more meaningful.Sean,But did the changes make the Mass any less meaningful? Or did they change the feeling of it all from numinous to mundane? I could understand why people who relied on feelings fell away. Surely it is easier for the average person to feel that something mystical is going on at Mass when But what about all of the religious? The Christian Brothers, who taught at my high school, left the order in droves in the 1960s and 1970s. Didn't they have a deep enough understanding of the Mass for them to hear it in English without Gregorian chant and still find it meaningful?I remember in my early days in New York going into St. Patricks Cathedral and hearing a priest with a very pronounced Brooklyn accent saying Mass in English. It doesn't matter how good the translations are. He could have been reciting Shakespeare or reading from the King James Bible and it would still have sounded unholy.

Those bishops in their absurd, surrealistic discussions of the "dew" text show total indifference to the issue -- they think "our people" will put up with any crap and that the important think is to give Rome what it wants on schedule. May the proceedings of the these meeting be immortalize so that everyone will know how American Bishops guffaw about the liturgical distress of their flocks. The hungry sheep look up and are not fed -- oh ye blind mouths that scarce know how to hold a sheephook but know well how to cram your maw!

A couple of follow up thoughts that may be disconnected: - Fr. O'Leary - especially like the comment from George that if the do not vote in favor of this grey missal (given the track record of amendments to date), it would come back to them as a body in their November meeting for another interpretation: "vote; let's get this over with; we know what Rome wants"- the discussion about the change to I believe from We believe....reminds of the point of George's new book whose ongoing theme seems to be that as a people we have become too individualistic. Thus, let's say "I" and not "We". Makes sense to me.

Some of what the Catechism says:166 Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. the believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbour impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.167 "I believe" (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. "We believe" (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. "I believe" is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both "I believe" and "We believe".168 It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: "Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you", as we sing in the hymn Te Deum; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: "I believe", "We believe". It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism.

167 I believe (Apostles Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. We believe (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. I believe is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both I believe and We believe.Jim McK,Any objective historian will tell you that the Nicene Creed was commandeered by Constantine. Since that time belief was more important than faith. Jesus never talked about a creed. It was always faith in God. Belief is for builders of empire. Faith is for people of the Way. Christians.

Joseph Gannon, the creed as it is recited at Mass is not performative in the way you mean it here. If it were a baptismal profession of faith, then the effect would be as you suggest, and "we" cannot substitute for "I." But the recitation of the creed at Mass does not make anyone a believer; they are already members of the faithful. The corporate recitation (or singing) of the creed does pertain to a collective in this instance: the reality of the gathered assembly. If we don't say "we" then are we only a collection of individuals? The gloria likewise uses the first person plural; even though praising, blessing, worshipping and glorifying are all things done by individuals, they are here done by the gathered assembly.

What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist.

I have looked further into the question of performative utterances, and here is what I have found. The original discussion of this topic comes from J. L. Austin in his essay Other Minds. As far as I can tell, Austin only considered first person singular, present tense verb forms as examples. However there are certainly cases of first person plural present tense forms that also seem to be performatives. When the presbyter uses utterances like we ask... or the like, he is performing an action, not describing the action he is performing. How would that be different from saying we believe in or we acknowledge in the Nicene creed? I should say this. When the presbyter uses we ask... he is speaking for all, which in the matter of praying he is appointed to do and the answer amen affirms that situation. I think the creed is different for reasons I indicated earlier. The act in that case is better thought of as the act of each even though it is done in unison. Compare the I confess... which also belongs in the singular. Also it is worth noting that the current translation of the Apostles creed retains I believe in... In brief, while it seem quite reasonable for A to make a request on behalf of others with their consent, it seems to me less reasonable for A to perform an act of faith/belief in on behalf of others.

The" witticism" about liturgist/terrorist is surely old enough by now to be eligible for Medicare.

Rita Ferrone: You may be right, but I am not convinced. The recital of the creed is at least a reaffirmation that one believes in etc., and I tend to think that this is performative. If it is not performative we are merely describing what we believe and, so to speak, telling each other. I don't think that my account reduces us wholly to individuals and more that the first person singular does in "I confess...".

Thank you, as always, Rita Ferrone.In his commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem (May 1998), Card. Ratzinger says at no. 12: "With the different symbols of faith, the believer recognizes and attests that he professes the faith of the entire Church. It is for this reason that, above all in the earliest symbols of faith, this consciousness is expressed in the formula 'We believe'." As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: 'I believe' (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during baptism. 'We believe' (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the Bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers."

Rita Ferrone: You may be right but I am not convinced. When we recite the creed we are at least reaffirming our beliefs, what our faith commits us to, and that seems to me performative. If it is not performative, we are merely enumerating the articles of our faith. That seems to have less point. As to the question of individualism, I dont think that if each of us reaffirms her/his shared belief in unison in a group, this leaves us no more than a set of unrelated individuals. Compare the use of the first person singular in the I confess....

Pardon the duplication. It was an accident. I thought the first one had been lost. That said, I think version two is better

Delete close quote after -- the formula 'We believe'

John PageThe Nicene creed was always in the singular until the recent translation. The new translation seem to revert to the singular. What to say?

"The Nicene creed was always in the singular until the recent translation."I'd think this would be the translators' point: "Credo" is first person singular (and they would end the discussion there)As with translating "pro multis" is "for many" - I think the expectation going forward is that catechists and homilists will have to start taking on the liturgical texts to unpack the multiple layers of meaning.

Oops! The Niceno-Constanopolitan creed had the plural "we believe" and it is the Latin version that changed (!) it to "I believe". So the Latins look like the bunglers in this. I apologize for believing in the Latin translation.

Further apologies to Jim Pauwels for misleading him.

"When we recite the creed we are at least reaffirming our beliefs, what our faith commits us to, and that seems to me performative. If it is not performative, we are merely enumerating the articles of our faith."Joseph, I think there may be something to that. In that sense, perhaps it links to the Baptism rite, in which the already-baptized are explicitly invited to renew their baptismal vows (in, notably, the first person singular - "I do"). In addition, in the context of RCIA, I believe this prayer is prayed on Sundays immediately after the catechumens are sent forth - thus it is a prayer of the already-initiated. I'd think one of its functions at Sunday mass is to reaffirm, particularly in the light of the Gospel which has just been proclaimed and (hopefully :-)) connected to our lives by the homily.

Hi, Joseph, it's true that I misunderstood your singular/plural reference, but in a sense your original comment does have merit: post-Liturgiam Authenticam, the base text for translation is the Latin editio typica, which I believe uses "credo".

"So the Latins look like the bunglers in this. "It would be interesting to understand how "we believe" ended up as "I believe". My guess is thta it has to do with private mass recitations, but I don't really know.

The use of the singular in the Latin missal seems at odds with--one might venture to say contradicts--the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger cited above as well as the teaching of the CCC. Does this inspire confidence?

In the original post, Gregory Wolfe wrote:"Does anyone else out there feel a little uncomfortable with the good bishops remarks about the average Catholic?"I suppose Bishop Trautmann would also criticize the following words: abolish, forebears, subversion, sovereign, eradicate, and tribulation but then the average American couldnt have been expected to understand President Kennedys inaugural address, right?"As someone who cares a great deal about the linguistic health of the Church and the culture, I confess that I dont find his list that terrifying. Some of the words are even suffused with a certain grace."If I may suggest another dimension for consideration: istm that, pastorally, the situation is quite different now than it was in the 1960s, when the work was done on the translations we've been using for the last 1 1/2 generations.In particular:* English speaking Catholics no longer feel beholden to attend Mass. The fear of mortal sin, wisely or foolishly, has dissipated. Consequently, regular mass attendance has declined sharply, and the level of liturgical catechesis, particularly among the young, is quite dismal. That means that translators are translating for an audience that is likely to be less familiar with the rite and its words. Words and phrases can't be expected to resonate with previous worship experience as they did for earlier generations who went to mass like clockwork. The words of the translation will be taken at face value, on their own proclaimed and poetic merits.* The unconnected, unchurched aspect of the faithful also creates an evangelizing imperative: if the rite does not appeal to the unchurched - does not act as a conduit for God to touch them within their deepest core - the unchurched will not become churched.* In the US, and I believe in other English-speaking nations, the culture has become more diverse and multi-lingual. The percentage of Catholic faithful who worship in English but whose first language is not English has risen pretty dramatically. So the words need to be accessible to people for whom speaking English is not second nature, and who don't "think" in English.

I am away from home, and so without books. Another text that might help is the declaration of the celebrant after the assembly's renewal of baptismal promises: "This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."As you might suspect, Jim, I have some problems with Liturgiam Authenticam. But it seems to override even Cardinal Ratzinger.

Dear John and all, please don't take my comments as criticism of "we believe". FWIW, I think that is certainly an aspect of the meaning of the prayer, whether we are recite it as first person singular or first person plural. The CCC tries to present a balanced view on the matter, istm. There is both a personal and corporate dimension to our faith life, and our worship should reflect those multiple dimensions.

Gregory Wolfe, is your recitation of that tired old cannard after my last post just a random insult or is it directed at me in particular? Quite aside from the bad manners involved in proferring put-downs or offensive jokes, I would take issue with both of your final remarks in the original post. First of all, the problem is not with the sacred. You misread Bishop Trautman grievously if that is what you take his remarks to mean. The problem is rather with a "sacral language" called for by Liturgiam Authenticam -- a very problematic concept that has hardly arisen because of Bishop Trautman. It was at issue in the debate about Latin for years before the Council.Second, getting on your high horse about the advanced educational level of the average Catholic is just not appropriate. I, for one, hope that the Church continues to embrace the poor, the illiterate, people lacking in education and sophistication, and children, and would argue that the gospel compels us to consider their needs before we consider our own. All can be met, I believe. But to feel your dignity is aggrieved by a bishop concerned with the comprehension of a wide range of people is to ignore some of the very real situations we face, such as Jim Pauwels mentioned above.

Dear Ms. Ferrone:What you call a canard some people consider a joke. My inclusion of the joke was intended to add just a touch of humor in what often becomes an over-heated and uncivil debate.As someone unkindly pointed out, it is an old joke. So I apologize for that. But I can assure you that it was not directed at you.As to your other points:My criticism of Bishop Trautman's talk did not imply that he was the originator of anything. I simply found much of his argument unconvincing and, frankly, patronizing.I do not doubt that "sacral language" is a debatable concept. However, that the liturgy should strive for a "sacral language" should not be a matter for debate. As I tried to point out with in my original post, if you use visual analogies to the liturgy, the subject becomes clearer. Unless one is an out and out iconoclast -- prepared to strip language of connotation and dignity the way Cromwell's men stripped altars -- one has to grant that language should be more than a merely functional, lowest common denominator thing.And that is precisely where I stand with the poor, as my original post made clear. The notion that the poor cannot understand any language that is elevated or sacral is heartbreakingly misguided. Again, to use the analogy I set out in my post, it's like saying that the medieval peasant in Chartres cathedral secretly wanted to celebrate Mass in a hovel.The poor want and need the sacred like everyone else. For centuries they have given their mites to erect cathedrals and adorn tabernacles. I for one believe we should not deny them their right to do so.One last thing: to continue to the visual analogy, we can debate whether "sacral language" should be a Gothic cathedral or a Shaker chair. But even the simplest Shaker chair is still beautiful, more than a merely utilitarian tool.

Joseph Gannon, thank you for your follow-up remarks about the opening of the Nicene creed, and especially for your note concerning the Greek and the Latin. I had wondered what happened.I agree with you that we do not recite the creed in order to just be descriptive. It is a liturgical act that is intended to strengthen our faith by professing it publicly together. How that is best accomplished is what we have been discussing.Of course, some liturgical texts are the way they are because of their history, and inconsistencies are inevitable. I believe that the Apostles' Creed keeps the first person singular because it was a baptismal creed, and the history of the text itself is thus embodied there. As several have noted, the Nicene Creed has a different origin. Just on a personal note, I have to admit to a fondness for saying "we believe" at Mass on Sunday because it does seem to be such a moment of solidarity. I can say "I believe" any time, but when I am with the assembly at Mass, a new dimension comes to the fore.Thank you also, John Page, for your comments in this discussion. You would know better than anyone else the numerous considerations that go into each of these decisions!

Gregory Wolfe,You say: "However, that the liturgy should strive for a sacral language should not be a matter for debate."I'm sorry to tell you this, but it is a matter for debate. It has been for as long as the partisans of Latin have argued that Latin is a sacral language and must be maintained as such. The instruction "Liturgiam Authenticam" has transferred the debate over into the vernacular language playing field, but it's the same debate.

Gregory, you seem to be assuming that without a "sacral language" the liturgy would fail to be a vehicle for the sacred. Is that what you are assuming? If so, I would disagree. Or are you saying that anyone who does not agree that there should be a sacral language is ipso facto opposed to "the sacred"? Here too, I can think of numerous counter examples in the history of the movement which produced the vernacular liturgy.

Dear Gregory Wolfe,I am sorry to have offended you. Rita Ferrone and so many other liturgists whom I have worked with and admired through close to four decades deserve better than your well-intentioned, but I think mistaken, attempt at humor. All kindest wishes, John Page

Thanks to Jim for the link above to the Adoremus site with the transcript of the Bishops meeting. Reading it was instructive, if not edifying. Bishop Troutman has spoken elsewhere in a more considered way about the effects he fears using the proposed texts would have on the people in the pews. He is clearly quite frustrated with the process, its results, and his colleagues response to the very real issues he has raised. He may come across as condescending in the piece blogged on here, but I think he understands the dimensions of the problem the new text presents and his worries are justified.That endless episcopal committee work on sacral language and more literal translation of the Latin would lead to appalling results was all too likely. The Bishops are not linguists, expert translators, accomplished writers, poets. What they wanted to make inspiring comes out as pompous, lofty, abstract, unintelligible, illiterate. And in their hearts, they seem to know it. But they lack the will to do anything serious that might disoblige Rome. Maybe they know how little power they have to make a difference. Instead of admitting the job at hand has been misguidedly organized and poorly carried out, they seem to want nothing more than to get it off their hands, approved, and made somebody else's problem. (Ours.)A symptom of their denial of the scope of the problem they face is the enormous faith they are putting in catechesis. (They really like that word. Remote and proximate catechesis. It rolls so well on the tongue.) During the Bishops meeting, Bishop Kurtz of Louisville cheerfully compared catechesis to his taking of golf instruction: it improves his game and he even enjoys the game more, so surely the people could be readied to accept the new translations easily enough. Really, do you laugh or cry? Do take a full hard look at the transcript.

Jim - you raise some excellent points about this mis-directed effort. The biggest liturgical challenge we face in the Southwest, is the huge number of 1st generation/2nd generation Hispanics who want liturgy in their language.The church/pastors face difficult decisions - you can appeal to the 19th century example and set up Hispanic parishes; or separate Hispanic masses/communities within Anglo parishes. But, does this really show unity? Does this address the need for a parish to be welcoming, to stretch itself, etc. So, some pastors are trying to develop bilingual masses in a liturgical area that does not have a whole lot of experience or resources (yes, there is the odd success story but all too often a more majority failure or just getting by).Given the dearth of Hispanic liturgical resources, music, etc. and then adding this latinized liturgical language on top of this, you can quickly become overwhelmed and feel like the most important challenge is being sidetracked.Thanks also to John Page's statements on the WE-I story. Again, his 30+ years of experience in the trenches means he has probably forgotten more than the rest of us will ever know about ICEL, etc.

Susan - will copy some of my responses to the catechetical efforts in our diocesan paper introducing the new Roman Missal and the link to the USCCB website on this:You will note the process of skipping over liturgical development, history, experience and honing in only on this "new" announcement that we "await with excitement" - guess that is part of the internal catechesis - there have been three articles to date.My response to the first article written to the editor and copied Fr. Duggan:"Would suggest that Fr. Duggan's comments are misguided or overgeneralized at best: Examples:a) Per Duggan: "Many in the United States remember the transition of the Mass following the end of the Second Vatican Council. The changes of the Roman Missal were a source of controversy for the church following the end of the Council. (Can he document the controversy - 2,147 bishops approved Sacrosanctum Consilium with only 4 bishops voting no. The overwhelming reaction was one of excitement; not controversy. Fr. Duggan states a negative generalizaiton that was a distinct minority opinion. Pastoral and liturgical experts would agree that 1965-1970 had difficulties but let's at least be accurate);b) The English translation of the revised Roman Missal is nearing completion, of which Bishop Kevin J. Farrell is a member....(would be helpful to have an editor check for complete sentences, good grammar, etc. and this is inaccurate)c) Per Duggan: "One of the chief reasons for the implementation of the website by the bishops committee is to deal with the numerous unofficial websites and other forms of misinformation that are being distributed that contain incorrect facts about the Roman Missal itself or do not fully understand the process that has been used in the formation of the Roman Missal. In May of 2002, the Vatican published the Latin text of the Third Edition on the Roman Missal. Beginning that year the bishops of the English-speaking world have been working to prepare an English translation of the Roman Missal." (Where did he come up with this "other unofficial websites" - can he document that? The bishops are not working on an english translation - a newly appointed committee in Rome replaced the original ICEL group; this committee + VOX CLARA have prepared the new translations, wordings and then these documents go to the national bishops conferences for their review and votes. Let's at least be accurate about the process if our goal is education. Who is does not fully understand the process that has been used in this formation?);d) Per Duggan: "Bishops from English-speaking countries attending the Second Vatican Council set up the commission in Rome in 1963. On Sept. 15, 2003, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments formally established ICEL as a mixed commission in accordance with the Holy Sees Instruction Liturgiam authenticam." (well, he just eliminated the years 1965 through 1993 - ICEL was set up in 1963 during Vatican II. 28 years of excellent ICEL translations for all sacraments, sacramentary, divine office, etc. and in late 1980's started a more comprehensive re-translation to improve the poetry, tone, and proclamation of these original translations. In truth, some of the early translations were done hastily and did need improvement. He also is passing over the fact that Vatican II set up ICEL to report to the various national conferences of bishops by language group. Rome was to only approve what these national conferences approved. Liturgiam Authenticam and Rome have now diminished the role of national bishops conferences and replaced them with their new ICEL/VOX CLARA set up);e) Liturgiam Authenticam - per Fr. Duggan: "Also working with the new translation of the Roman Missal have been the members of the Vox Clara (clear voice) Committee established by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which gathered bishops and consultants from Englishspeaking countries to assist in the review and approval of the English translation of the Roman Missal. The Vox Clara Committee has been meeting several times each year to review texts submitted to the Holy See for its recognition." (He leaves out a significant part of the history - Liturgiam Authenticam as a document addressed and changed the liturgical principles of the Vatican II liturgy document - the issue is how to translate. The 2,000+ bishops of Vatican II stated liturgical principles that approved the use of the vernacular and a translation method called "dynamic equivalence" which focused on the meaning of words, phrases, and context of the gospels, epistles, OT readings and not the literal word by word translation. The 1969 General Instruction on the Roman Missal emphasized the translator's task was to find a faithful but not literal English equivalent of the Latin and the "unit of meaning" was not individual words but the whole passage. GI also stressed the principle that the community's prayer is local and not a one size fits all formula translated verbatim. Also, Fr. Duggan makes no mention of the fact that Vatican II's document was an attempt to return to the ancient and traditional way the liturgy was celebrated in the 1st and 2nd century church. Liturgiam Authenticam rejected this reform and declared that an arbitrary latin translation be made the foundation and that the "new" ICEL use literal translation to try to keep as close to the latin as possible. In addition, Rome/CDW set up VOX CLARA to oversee and replace the national conferences of bishops in preparing their own vernacular translations. In fact, you have folks in ICEL who can not speak english or, for example, Japanese approving these new latinized translations when they do not even understand the vernacular language. Note - no biblical catholic experts or exegetes were part of this process. The latin bible being used is a translation that is inaccurate in itself. What this leaves us with is a midrash of words that sound more Victorian English than what we have used for 45 years.)f) "new" ICEL - Per Fr. Duggan: "In 2004, translations were prepared and submitted to the bishops of the United States. (He fails to mention that these translations began in secret in 2002) After more than two years of review and consultation and three drafts, the English translation of the Order of Mass, along with a number of adaptations for the dioceses of the United States, was approved in 2006. After the text of the Order of Mass was completed, each of the remaining 11 sections of the Roman Missal were presented to the bishops in similar fashion." (In reality, the initial US bishops review rejected this approach and returned the proposed translations to Rome and the New ICEL. Rome over-rode these objections; very few US bishops or any english speaking bishops conferences were allowed to interject other wordings, comments, etc. After two years and repeated efforts, the US Bishops only recently gave in and voted for the "new" translations. What has happened is that we have moved from emphasis on the prayer of the community and replaced it with emphasis on the centrality of a Latin text.)g) Fr. Duggan makes no statement about the Advent 2008 experience in South African using the New Roman Missal - even two bishops spoke out about the confusion, ackwardness, and difficulty in the "new" translations.h) Fr. Duggan makes no mention of US bishops who have eloquently raised issues about this planned change - Bishop Trautman link: or Fr. Duggan leaves out completely the fact that these new latinized prayers make no effort to reflect cultural, societal, or inclusive language needs that are now taken for granted in American society, worship, and business. Reaction from the South Africa experience from Bishop Kevin Dowling - link: I would seriously ask you, as editor, to rethink how you approach this important issue in our catholic community and parishes.My response after the second catechetical article: a) Duggan's (diocesan Master of Ceremonies and Liturgy Head) statement that "recent scholarship" has led to these changes e.g. "and also with you" changed to "and also with your spirit". - "recent scholarship" is, at best, a nice euphemism for what has occurred in the curia (CDW & CDF) since 1998. The original Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, set up liturgical principles - e.g. vernacular use and translations that would be handled by bishops' conferences with only Rome approval. Paul VI followed up this document with a more focused motu proprio, Comme Il Previot, that set up translation bodies via conferences of bishops using "dynamic equivalence" rather than "literal translation, word by word, from the older missals." This was also following other Vatican II documents on collegiality and subsidiarity. - Liturgiam Authenticam was another pope's motu proprio that contradicted the principles of the documents of a council - over-ruling collegiality/subsidiarity. Which takes greater precedence - the work of a council and 2,200 bishops/pope or a liturgical document written by a few and signed off by a pope who was in ill health and dying? It will be obvious to most educated Catholics that a minority is driving this new missal (there has always been a minority since Vatican II - so, why the reversal in terms of liturgical, sacramental, and worship styles? - Using this newly instituted curial system, CDW eliminated 35 years of experience and work by the ICEL; set up their own translation group (with very few english speakers) and an outside oversight board, VOX CLARA. This group began to work in secret and only after B16 did they begin to present their "new" missal to the conferences of bishops - this turned the Vatican II translation principles upside down. Bishops' conferences were no longer responsible; the work was centralized, and Comme Il Previot was replaced. - You make no mention of this timeline or events. Once this new Missal was presented, the USCCB has voted negatively at almost every meeting with numerous amendments being offered. Yet, over the years the CDW has incorporated almost none of the amendments and has quickly re-submitted the New Missal for a re-vote. It would not be a stretch to say that the various english speaking bishops' conferences eventually just gave up and gave approval. (e.g. even last June, US bishops whe attended the USCCB meeting did not vote in enough plurality to approve the new missal - votes had to be sent to bishops who did not attend the meeting to reach a majority. - there is an argument for the New Missal that states a need to recapture the "vertical" element in our worship. It implies that the liturgical changes created too much "horizontal" worship that has resulted in loss of spirituality, attendance at worship, etc. These are assumptions that are not supported by the research of CARA, CUA, or Pew Studies. Vatican II's liturgical and other approaches underlined the best in Catholic faith which is - "both/and" rather than "either/or". This has not been addressed in your explanations.b) In Duggan's explanation of his "Spirit" example, he references that other language groups already had been using "spirit" for years. That is correct but in the initial translations in languages such as german, french, etc. spirit was a logical choice for translation because it fit their current linguistic format, tone, and style. That was not true for some of the english speaking conferences. Again, appears to be a quick justification that does not hold up to careful research or the historical record.c) Finally, keep in mind that you are targetting a group of adult Catholics who were, say 25 years old or more in 1970. They are now 60 years old or more; most have probably been active in their parishes; have sent and trained children to be active in the liturgy, are now in retirement, and you are asking them to accept a change in liturgy language that they have grown accustomed to over 30+ years. Do you think your approach will confuse them or reinforce the need for this change? (adult catholics much less young catholics no longer respond to the pay, pray, and obey authorianism approach)d) What happens with Hispanic liturgies, how about bi-lingual liturgies? It appears that the spanish conferences have only just agreed upon one bible so that their lectionaries, missals, and translations will not be at such variance. So, in a bi-lingual mass, you will have a new missal for english and an old missal in spanish?e) Did appreciate your insertion of resources esp. Jungmann (who will really read him?) but will you also provide information from folks such as Bishop Trautman, Robert Mickels of the Tablet, etc?f) How are you going to explain and introduce the US Catholic Liturgical Music Commission and its findings about hymns that may or may not be approved for continuing use?Finally, this thread focuses on the language changes - but we also face a huge change in music as we shift to a Rome/Bishop Conference approach that will approve any music to be used in US liturgies. Many compositions will be rejected; some will need to be revised, etc.

"The biggest liturgical challenge we face in the Southwest, is the huge number of 1st generation/2nd generation Hispanics who want liturgy in their language."I've probably mentioned this before, and don't expect to garner widespread support for this view, but: the 2nd Vatican Council document Sacrosanctum Concilium, in permitting the use of the vernacular, also directed that Latin be retained in liturgy. Obviously, that latter directive was subsequently cast aside during the implementation of the renewal - to general popular approbation, and with the consent of the same Council Fathers and Consilium experts who participated in the Council.Still, stm that, strictly from a pastoral point of view, and not speaking from a particular desire to placate liturgical traditionalists: if the diverse peoples in the US could still come together and worship in Latin, at least from time to time, it would be a good thing. I believe that worship in the vernacular should still be the norm; but I wish there were a way that Latin could have still found a place at the table, too. It could be a real concrete sign of unity that encompasses cultural and linguistic diversity. In bilingual celebrations that I go to from time to time, it tends to be mostly English, with a reading or a hymn here and there in Spanish. I hope that's interpreted by Spanish speakers as a sign that we're all one, and not as patronizing or token acknowledgement. I can imagine that, for someone who speaks Spanish and isn't very fluent in English, trying to worship in English must be a burden. Trying to re-introduce Latin now would be a great burden on everyone, as a couple of generations now don't have any experienec worshipping in Latin. The window of opportunity would have been in the '60's and '70's, and we missed our chance. I don't know whether the Council Fathers were farsighted in their prescription that we keep Latin, or whether world just turned round to where we are now, unforeseen by anyone, but in retrospect I think we'd be better off if we had followed the prescription to keep Latin alive.

Jim, your proposal seems eminently reasonable to me. But such are our polarized times that I fear any advocacy of Latin will be treated as the thin end of the wedge for the forces of evil. That's a crying shame, especially for a church whose name means "universal."Rita and others: I understand that the term "sacral language" may be used by some in ways that are highly objectionable. My concern is that in the battles over the liturgy we place "the sacred" in opposition to the "average Catholic." There are all kinds of oppression -- there can be the oppression of a hieratic caste that employs language to wield power. But there is also the oppression of a populism that can become detached from the true needs of the people.We need to strive to avoid every kind of oppression.Also, allow me to say that I am well aware that I am in the midst of a conversation that includes people who have devoted decades of their lives to these matters. I have profound respect for the passion and commitment of those who have been in the trenches. My only hope is that the veterans will be gracious enough to welcome the thoughts of anyone who wishes to meditate on these matters in a spirit of good will.

Cardinal Levada speaking about the new Apostolic Constitution was caught praising and emphasizing the value of cultural diversity, and saying that it is not a problem for church unity. Are the Vatican bureaucrats afflicted with cognitive dissonance? Respect for cultural diversity is exactly what is wanted when it comes to liturgy.

Rita Ferrone: I have a copy of a Greek Orthodox prayer book The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom. It has "I believe" rather than "we believe". I wonder why they changed to the singular and what the history of it, but I have no idea. I have no doubt that the original text from the Ecumenical Councils was "we believe".

About "we" v. "I" believe --Isn't the sum of all the individuals in the assembly saying "I believe . . ." expressed by "Every person here believes . . .", and isn't this equivalent to reporting "We believe . . ."However, I don't think an individual can assert belief for other persons-- he/she can only report other people's assertions of belief. The distinction between assertions of belief and *reporting assertion of belief is a very fine one, but in this matter I think the distinction is important.Prof. Gannon -- Austin did a talk on the BBC specifically on performative utterances. (So much for the notion that philosophy is beyond the ken of ordinary folk. Of course, Austin spoke largely in ordinary language.) You might find it interesting. The talk is also found in his collected "Philosophical Papers".

Jim You may be right, but I am not certain I agree with you that attending mass in another language is necessarily all that problematic. I can imagine that, for someone who speaks Spanish and isnt very fluent in English, trying to worship in English must be a burden.However I might be biased because I like learning Spanish and enjoy trying to follow other languages as well.We all know the Order of Mass, and most parishes that offer mass in Spanish purchase bi-lingual missalettes. And so regardless of the language, we all know what is happening at any given point during mass.We still attend mass in Spanish once a month or so, but years ago when we were first married, my wife and I almost always attended Sunday mass en Espaol. It did not take very long before I was able to keep up with the language. But again, I like languages and so had an interest.Recently our local priest has introduced some Greek and Latin; the Kyrie and the Angus Dei. He explained the Kyrie would remind us of the connection to the Greeks, and the Angus Dei has artistic and historical value. He sometimes gives (chants) the final blessing in Latin as well a nice touch.While I think we Catholics almost threw the baby out with the bathwater regarding Latin, I am not as pessimistic on it as you seem to be Jim. People do not need to be fluent in Latin to understand the final blessing or the Angus Dei, and one need not be fluent in Greek to understand the chanted Kyrie. Rather than moving heaven and earth to offer a full-blown Tridentine mass (with all the local controversy and wailing and gnashing of teeth that would entail), it is probably best to simply incorporate some Latin into the Novus Ordo. I think the Novus Ordo is translated from Latin in the first place anyway no?I understand how some folk worry about Latin, but it definitely has, especially when used for common songs and chanting ordinary parts of mass, a cultural and artistic value and should not be ignored. Add to this the fact that we Catholics have used Latin for so many centuries, and it does not seem like we ought to simply toss Latin aside.

Oops Semicolons do matter:While I think we Catholics almost threw the baby out with the bathwater; regarding Latin, I am not as pessimistic on it as you seem to be Jim.

There was never one universal language for liturgy; not even latin. That is a historical myth. And thinking that bringing back latin would be the answer misses every liturgical principle articulated in Vatican II.Some of you earlier quoted from the liturgical documents about how we were to maintain latin, gregorian chant, etc. We also know what the outcome was. Many parishes still have the ability, will, liturgy/music directors to implement those original concepts but most do not. We are now 2 generations since Vatican II and the latin that the documents cite has nothing to do with this current re-write & retranslation of the Roman Missal using some latinization theory.Agree with comments such as: listen to the synod for Africa; listen to the sisters from Oceania and Asia; listen to South America....they are not asking for a re-latinization of the mass or sacraments. They already have a difficult task trying to catechize without trying to use latin. Would agree - this project flys in the face of most of what folks are talking about and asking for.Ann - can't find it right now but when you get to other rites especially the eastern church; their liturgy style, theology, and workship is very different from the west and their use of "I" rather than "We" dates back hundreds of years and is characteristic of their liturgy - just as they differ on other liturgical prayers, music, e.g. their understanding of christ as both god and man.

Bill DeHaas, many thanks for your illuminating and expert commentary. I think you have a deep sense of the values at stake.I agree that the episcopal conferences have sold out to the Vatican, exhausted by the strong pushiness of the Curia. In South Africa, faced with a tsunami of rage, the bishops said: "Don't blame us, blame the Vatican." This is another variant of the "pass the buck" syndrome insightfully noted by Susan Gannon.Some bishops may think that it will be the Vatican that has egg on its face when this farce goes through. I think they underestimate the rage people will feel against themselves. "I hate you, hierarchy" will be a sentiment felt far beyond South Africa. The only way they can save the situation now is by reversing their compliance at their next meeting in November. For most bishops this would feel like open revolt against Rome, something unthinkable, that that is also how Rome would see it. Maybe they could come up with a diplomatic delaying tactic -- hold out just long enough for Benedict XVI to be gone.

"Maybe they could come up with a diplomatic delaying tactic hold out just long enough for Benedict XVI to be gone."Funny -- that's how some of us feel about the Boomers. =p

I hasten to say that I mean "gone from the Papal Throne" -- may he enjoy a long and happy retirement in his beloved Bavaria.The idea that these bishops, carefully chosen by Rome for their absolute docility, would mount a resistance even to the degree of using delaying tactics is perhaps wishful thinking. But they must fear equally the brunt of public rage, of which they've already had a taste. And in fact their refusal to go on with this translation farce would be loyal service to the Vatican, saving it from embarrassing itself yet again. A true enemy of Rome would pray that the translation project woud go ahead, because of its potential to breed revolutionary discontent.

Angus Dei -- Scottish inculturated translation?Is the Mass now supposed to be a language school?

Bill deHaas --Thanks for you very informative posts, especially your letter to the editor. What a mess this all is. So far as I can see, the new trsmslations will make *everbody* unhappy.I think we need to do some creative thinking about how to change the Curia. Sigh.

Bill D., I agree with the substance of your posts, and with your assessment of the gravity of the issues. We are getting a lot of spin-doctoring in order to press these new translations on us as a great new thing, and many essential facts are being ignored in the process. I am glad you are taking these issues on with your diocesan paper and I wish you luck. Just for the record, however, I'd like to mention that neither Comme le Prevoit nor Liturgiam Authenticam is a motu proprio. They are instructions. The latter, Liturgiam Authenticam, is the fifth instruction on the right implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Athanasius - What a thing to say! Still, I agree that many of us groan under the weight of all the baggage that boomers have loaded on society's back, and we sigh just thinking about the clean-up that will be necessary once they finally cede power to subsequent generations.Patience and forbearance is important; there is a long way to go. Boomers are not yet a spent force, not likely to give up power quietly or gracefully.

Ken, where is your intelligence? How can you regurgitate that silly neocath talking point about the twilight of the boomers? Do you not know that the talking point in question has been honed by your boomer patrons -- the ones who run reactionary blogs and who voted for boomer G W Bush? Look around and talk to your own contemporaries. I think you'll be surprised at where their heads are at. The neocath reactionary movement has little interest to them, and if the church keeps bogged down in such nonsense the church won't have much interest for them either.Hint, they voted massively for Obama, whom the boomer reactionary demagogues hate.

As I see it, there are a number of interrelated issues in this discussion, and it might help to sort them out, minus red herrings such as what one thinks of the baby boom generation, and whatnot.First, there are the new Missal texts themselves, how they read, what they sound like, whether or not they make sense in English and especially whether they deserve to be hailed as language worthy of the worship of God in the vernacular. There is a lot of material to talk about here. Second, there is the instruction, Liturgiam Authenticam, which provided the playbook for the production of this translation. Many informed commentators believe that this instruction is deeply flawed. The flaws it contains are both in the norms it proposes for translation, which are arguably ignorant of liturgical tradition and regard a slavish imitation of Latin as the best way forward, and the way it eviscerates the role of episcopal conferences in the sensitive matter of producing authentic translations into native languages. (I am not mincing words here, because I want to convey, to those who joined this movie late, how very badly this instruction has been received, not just in North America, but around the world. The reaction against this has been deep.)Liturgiam Authenticam is where some of the issues Gregory is interested in crop up, e.g. the claim that our goal is to create a sacral language in the vernacular. This has nothing to do with exalted language as opposed to banal language in prayer, with elegant style or beautiful expression as opposed to pedestrian, bland and clunky texts. It has to do with reproducing, as closely as possible, the vocabulary, syntax, theological expressions, and even the capitalization patterns (!) of the Latin. The overriding concern is fidelity to the Latin. The innocent mistake Gregory makes, in thinking that the real concern is how to build the equivalent of Chartres Cathedral in words, is one that I used to make too. Thats not what its about, sad to say.Let me say for the record, I love Latin. Ive studied Latin. I pray in Latin. But imho this whole quest to develop a sacral language in the vernacular that corresponds in every particular with the Latin is a grievous mistake. The results will puzzle people and confuse them, not take their breath away.The quest for a sacral language is also explicitly anti-ecumenical. The instruction claims that when a Catholic text resembles a Protestant one, this will confuse the faithful. (I would note, parenthetically, that one of the means of drawing closer to separated churches has been precisely in the realm of shared translations of common texts. The more we pray using the same or similar words, the easier it is to advance toward unity. No more, apparently.)Third, there are some justice issues here, sad to say. The bishops are very much pressured to accept this new translation as is. Theyve made amendments and the text approved by Rome doesnt include them. The translation is, in effect, being imposed. Some of the bishops are big supporters, but many are not, and their arms are being twisted. Its really not fair. There WAS a new translation, a good one, approved canonically by the bishops of the English speaking world in the 1990s, and it was tossed out summarily by Rome. Now, when the task of selling this L.A.-governed translation is upon us, the contrast is made between the 1973 text and the current one. The 1990s text is buried. We dont get to see how much worse this new text is than the 1990s text, only how much better it is than the 1973 text. Again, thats not fair.Finally, I hate to say this, but with dioceses all over North America going bankrupt one has to wonder where all the money is going to come from to make this work. All the books, everywhere, have to be replaced, and they are not cheap. Every musical setting has to be rewritten and republished. All the catechesis, all the videos, all the PR that is going to go into this, for something very few people want, is going to cost a pretty penny. At the end of it, we will be delivered from the awful burden of having called a chalice a cup.Sorry for the length of this post. Have a good day, everyone. Thank you, Gregory, for your gracious words above.

Thanks for the summary and correction, Rita. You are a good writer; well-organized; with an ability to analyze and get to the point quickly. (length of post - it was fine; makes mine look long winded, etc.)

Rita - can I ask a favor? Please educate me:a) difference between a "motu proprio" and "papal instructions"?b) you indicate 5 liturgical instructions since Sacrasanctum Concilium - my memory says: - two by Paul VI - one by JPII - two by B16 please correct, modify? also, the 3rd edition of our local cathlic rag came out - this time the writer again continued in two columns contrasting the Old and New language that we folks in the pews will use. But, he started with an explanation showing that there have been Five Roman Missals promulgated by five different popes dating back to around 1100 AD. Can't tell if his point is to say that this new missal is just the usual church liturgical change or that this is a big deal and we should be excited. My question - not sure that this list is comprehensive or if naming Roman Missals really has anything to do with the point of liturgical development in the Latin Rite?Finally, my old notes indicated that Cardinal Medina wrote Litrugicam Authenticam which may have had a few others edit, contribute and JPII only approved. Not sure my notes are comprehensive or correct?Finally, it seems that we will have a percentage of US priests doing liturgical catechesis on this missal change who were not alive during Vatican II; probably don't remember much prior to 1985, and thus their liturgical frame of reference is very limited. My experience in theologates is that most priests get one or two liturgical courses; learning the mass/sacraments is not even a practicum (the dean does it on the side). I find that many priest candidates avoid taking courses that would provide excellent feedback in terms of videoing their style, tone, loudness/lack of; projection, movement in the liturgy; etc. They also hate any type of feedback from not only teachers by lay folks if they are transition deacons, etc. much less expect feedback once ordained. (can you image that set up in a high powered US corporation where you are doing presentation almost daily?).

The issue is not whether the average Catholic understands these archane "sacred" words, but whether s/he will feel comfortable speaking them or being addressed in them. Shakespearian English is readily understood but who would use it to in everyday speach or even to pray? I would go as far as to suggest that sacred sounding speach is the last thing one wants in worship. It creates the impression that what we are doing has nothing to do with our everyday lives. I'm sure that were he preaching today the Master would never admonish anyone as a "whited sepulchre"; I'm sure he would say "white-washed sh*t house."

If I may add to my last posting:- in our diocese currently, more than 50% of all priests are from overseas....many have a difficult time saying Mass in english, period; much less adding changes, etc.- the latest CARA studies indicate that 70% of all US priests are over the age of many will have the energy or ability to support a thorough catechetical effort- there is a story today on that tells about B16 recognizing and giving an award to Father Ricci, SJ, a missionary to China in the 19th century. He is noted for his ability to "win over" the Chinese people and leadership using both his scientific and communication skills. This gave him access to Bejing and the country - in this way, he respected the Chinese cultures, translated catholic liturgy and catechism into various chinese dialects and was recognized for the immense impact this had on the growth of the church in China. So, more mixed messages....Ricci (his life, use of inculturation, vernacular languages vs. Rome and the Dominican/Franciscan orders that disapproved resulted in what history calls the Ricci Controversy). Now 150 years later, Rome acknowledges and recognizes Ricci's wisdom in the use of the vernacular; respecting local cultures and leadership, and evangilizing successfully because he started with their basic dignity as partners in the journey of faith. So, why are we re-latinizing our vernacular; our cultures, etc.???

not speach but speechMatteo Ricci 1552-1610?Thanks Rita Ferrone for bringing the thread back to the point."First, there are the new Missal texts themselves, how they read, what they sound like, whether or not they make sense in English and especially whether they deserve to be hailed as language worthy of the worship of God in the vernacular. There is a lot of material to talk about here. "Close reading is out of fashion in lit crit circles now and this may have something to do with the somnambulalistic nature of present proceedings and discussions. The defenders of the new translations never quote them, but instead spend their time caricaturing Trautman.Comboxes are not the best place to review these texts. Nor are bishops' meetings, where there is far too little time available. All the bishops can do is pick out two or three egregious expressions -- and even their comments on these are spurned by Rome. Having spent endless hours with colleagues discussing the text of exam questions I have some conception of the time needed. Often we dump a question or set of questions if first indications are that they are of low quality. The bishops should do this, but that implies telling the Vatican they don't know their own business -- which of course is true. Liturgiam Authentical is a monument of arrogant ignorance. If the Vatican push through with this they will be hoist with their own petard.

Rita -- Could you tell us a bit more about what liturgists mean by a"sacral" language? Bill deHaas -- There are two B16s, the liberal of V2 who has never died, and Ratzinger of the CDF. Deacon Carroll. -- A sepulchre is a tomb.

Ann - would partically agree. Mr. Gibson might want to weigh in here given his biography. My notes indicate that subsequent to Vatican II, key theologians split into two groups; each with their own publication. Ratzinger gravitated to Concilium; later was made a bishop and seems to have been significantly impacted by the student disturbances in Germany/Europe in the late 1960's - so much so, that his theological writings changed.Others may have better and more comprehensive history, motivations, etc.

Re: sacral language, I have some miscellaneous thoughts.As to what it is - I suppose there may be more than one notion of what it entails, but to my mind, what is *should* be is a language that is appropriate to communal worship. Naturally, that is a subjective and probably somewhat elusive standard, but I'd think we know it when we see it (or, better, hear it).If we look at it in that light - as language that is appropriate to this human activity - then I'd think we would conclude that in fact it is desirable.Istm that virtually all human activities, whether it is ritual worship or education or business or scientific research, develop a language that is specific to that endeavor. It can be something as execrable as business jargon or as vigorous as the slang that peppers the world of sports. This development of an activity-appropriate langauge is just part of human nature. In that sense, I don't think we could avoid sacral language even if we wished to. Good translations of ritual texts will evince a certain sacral language, because of the nature of the text itself.Istm that one of the most unjust charges made against the translation that we use right now is that it lacks this sacral character - that there is something mundane about the language that makes it somehow not appropriate for the act of worship. My own view is that, if we attend to the language in which we worship today, we'll notice that there is a certain sacral vocabulary, diction, style to it. For example, consider a sentence that is frequently trotted out to exemplify what ails the current translation, and that will soon be replaced: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." Certainly that is an accessible sentence - anyone with a reasonable mastery of English will understand the meaning of the words. But are they the words we use in the mundane portions of our lives? How many of us (at least, those who, unlike me, are not stuffed shirts who comment in forums like this) use a word like "worthy" in our workaday transactions? How many of us would use a phrase like "only say the word"? How many of us even use "shall" instead of "will" in everyday speech? I believe there is a certain formality, a certain elevated style, to this sentence, and the same is to be found throughout the current translation.Just some thoughts.

Bill D., here are a few answers...Liturgiam Authenticam (2001) was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and signed by Cardinal Medina as prefect, but that doesn't mean he's the author. It was rumored of course that Ratzinger had a hand in it, and he has certainly supported the intervention it symbolizes. It was, however, officially approved by Pope John Paul II.The previous four instructions on "the right inplementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium" are:Inter Oecumenici (1964)Tres Abhinc Annos (1967)Liturgicae Instaurationes (1970), andVarietates Legitimae (1994)As you see, there is a huge gap between the first three, released during the pontificate of Paul VI, and the last two, during the pontificate of John Paul II. All of this is in my book, by the way. :)These instructions are produced by a curial congregation and approved by the pope. A motu proprio comes "from the pope's own hand."

Implementation. sorry.

Five different missals since 1100? Bill I can't comment on this. There have been numerous editions of the Roman Missal over the intervening centuries. I really have no idea what your source is trying to say or to suggest. The current translation is being performed on the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal, if that helps any. Sorry that I'm unable to shed light on this.

Ann,Sacral language is defined by linguists as a language used for cult which is nobody's mother tongue, and which depends entirely on written sources for its authentication. Classical Arabic does this in the Koran. Old Church Slavonic would be another example. Classical (as opposed to modern) Hebrew is another.The argument about preserving Latin as a sacral language is tied to its status as a language which nobody learns from the cradle any longer. The argument against it (well, one of many) was that Latin was adopted in the fourth century in the place of Greek because it was a living language, not in order to have a sacral language. Had the church wanted a sacral language, it would have perpetuated Greek.What it means to develop a sacral language in the vernacular is a messy question, indeed. I think it is meant to be a clerical and elitist move in essence, although the edges of the discussion include friendliness to archaism and "elevated" language, such as Jim references, as well as "frozen" biblical and historical terminology, and Latin-derived style.

Cognitive dissonance. (1) Praise for Matteo Ricci and the issuing of liturgiam authenticam. (2) Praise for Mary Ward and the current visitation of the sisters.

RitaThe powers that be seem to want a language that uses as Latinate a vocabulary as possible and hews as closely as possible to Latinate syntactical patterns. How is that achievable in languages that have, for better or worse, escaped the influence of Latin? Can you imagine a translation of the missal into Classical Hebrew for the use of converted rabbis? Perhaps the Vatican wits would simply conclude that Classical Hebrew was sacral per se.

That's a good question, Joseph Gannon. Perhaps Joseph O'Leary can tell us how Liturgiam Authenticam has been received by the bishops of Japan. A while ago, Jim Pauwels suggested Latin in response to the needs of multilingual assemblies, and Gregory agreed with him. I think what they seek is not a sacral language, but a lingua franca. In the days of the Roman empire, Latin was the lingua franca. In today's world, the lingua franca is English.

Thanks, Rita. I will get your book and read it. So, any bugs in the Vatican that can suggest who the primary author of LA was? It appears that a certain generation of bishops/cardinals look upon Vatican II as an event with huge "unintended consequences" - they blame it for the emptiness of European churches; for the change in their status; etc. They also appear to be that minority that resisted Vatican II from the beginning and have slowly (basically through growing old within the confines of Rome) taken over how Vatican II is NOT implemented.I like to say: "It is not that Vatican II was tried and failed; it was that Vatican II was never tried!"Rita - as i dwell on these changes and the proposed catechetical efforts, I think back to liturgical training from guiding lights such as Bishop Untener, R. Hovda w/his Strong, Loving, and Wise. Any comments on Hovda: who would be a guiding light today? who would write the catechetical development (it appears that LTP has slipped with the reign of George)?

Hi, Rita, in listing the five instructions, you pointed out the gap in time between the third and fourth. Don't you think, though, that there is also a "gap in tone", which I discern between the first four and the fifth, i.e. the first four (including the fourth, on inculturation) seem to have a sort of positive and encouraging tone, whereas LA is ... not so much that way.

The Japanese Catholic Church is aging and shrinking largely because of the socially-disengaged non-inculturate language of its liturgy. The bishops are aware of this problem but their proposals for improved translation of the preces, for example, have been shot down by rightist lay ideologues and by the Vatican. The new translations, which I have not seen, are reported to be grotesque, as in the case of the new English translations. bishops' push to a socially engaged Christianity seems to be met with incomprehension by the grassroots.

A forthright statement from the Japanese bishops 12 years ago ended with a complaint about Vatican obstructionism to liturgical translation:

Zuhlsdorf writes:ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2005I received interesting feedback via e-mail from the Land of the Rising Sun.... 'The ICEL tends, it seems, to emphasize the mundane and certainly subjective joy at the expense of objective reality of joy, especially of beatitudo. So do the mainstream liturgists here in Japan... The official Japanese translation is ohku no hito (pro multis), but liberal priests who would let the congregation recite the doxologia maior or more of the Canon prefer mina no tame (pro omnibus), which I think comes from the misunderstanding by Jeremias of rabbim and sagg iin .... The Japanese translation of liturgical texts is catastrophic: our liturgists (largely influenced by U.S. style Call-To-Action type ideology), ill educated literally and theologically, completely ignored Inaestimabile donum, Liturgiam authenticam, Sacramentum redemptionis and many others (i.e., Cafeteria Catholicism). The translations currently in use date from 1978! They are poor for the very opposite reasons to what this jaundiced correspondent of Fr Zuhlsdorf suggest.

Look again at Bp Trautman's condemnation of Liturgiam Authenticam:

Cardinal Napier of South Africa responded to lay outrage at the new translations by telling the laity they were not qualified to comment and should shut up! I wonder if US and UK bishops will react the same way?

On sacral language:A traditional Chasidic story speaks glowingly of the prayer of an uneducated Jew who wanted to pray but did not speak Hebrew. The man began to recite the only Hebrew he knew: the alphabet. He recited it over and over again, until a rabbi asked what he was doing. The man told the rabbi, "The Holy One, Blessed is He, knows what is in my heart. I will give Him the letters, and He can put the words together."

Thanks, Rita. That's certainly very illuminating. Quite a different meaning from "sacred" language as I was using that term.I wonder if the translators who strive for a language more like Latin actually try to ape the sounds, word sequences and grammatical structures of Latin. That could account for the use of "brothers" rather than "brothers and sisters" -- the Latin meaning is expressed in just one word, so they translate it as "brothers" because "brothers" is only one word. Inaccurate translation of the meaning, but it *sounds* a bit more like Latin. Aping the sound patterns of Latin would also account for the awkwardness of the sequences of the words in Emglish. I dare say a poet would recognize such aping as the folly it is.

On another thread, Catherine Harding points to a lecture by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor about the ecumenical movement. What he says seems like a good context for understanding "We believe":There are still disputed questions but there is at least convergence on those issues which have helped us to move beyond polemical stances and created a more relaxed atmosphere in which we speak about an exchange of gifts enriching both sides. We are able to proclaim together our shared apostolic faith, because we share the Gospel as the Word of God and the Good News for all humanity; and we share the Creeds of the first centuries which summarise the Gospel message and give an authentic interpretation of it. We confess together God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and that Jesus Christ is our common Lord and Saviour, truly human and truly divine, the one and universal mediator between God and man. Together we confess there is one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, even though there are still differences in the way in which we belong to it. But we are brothers and sisters in the one Lord and in the one Spirit of Christ. It is wonderful that we are able to say and proclaim those basic truths together.

Jim P., I quite agree that L.A. is very different in tone. Good catch! You'll notice that the fourth instruction, on inculturation, mentions self-deprecatingly that the CDF was not involved. My suspicion is that, with Pope John Paul being too old and sick to be actively involved anymore, perhaps the CDF was involved, to the detriment of the final product. But that is only speculation. I don't know who wrote it. (Sorry, Bill D., not even any good gossip, unfortunately.)Bill D., about your latter point, I think there are some wonderful catechetical leaders out there who are passionate about the liturgy and who have fought hard for developing a truly liturgical catechesis in recent years. Not many of them wear a clerical collar, however. :) That means their work is not as visible, except to those who know them. Still, I'd say the gifts are there.

More about "we believe" --Wittgenstein has some interesting things to say about the meaning of I believe" in the little bok "Lectures and Conversations about Aesthetics. Psychology and Religious Belief". Among other things he points out differen es between saying "I believe" is not an assertion of opinion or even dogma. He views it as an assertion that what one believes (dogma, for instance) has changed one's form of life, one's actual behavior. If one's actions are not good, one cannot say one truly believes Further, he seems to be saying that while personal experience is relevant to such committment, it is not its essence. Religious behavior is also a matter of matching behavior with pictures of others' actions. (No doubt his Catholic upbringing is showing there.) I wish he had said more about these pictures and their function.

Should be: he points out differences between saying "i believe" and mere expressions of what one thinks and one's expressions of dogma or faith.

Somebody needs to make a youtube of a straightforward reading of the Roman Canon in 2 (or 3, if the ICEL texts are a big deal to that person) translations.Then, istm, we could talk about the important issues. I don't think they can be reduced to the political or the linguistic. They have to do with the nature of common worship, and whether it has anything to do with recollection.

Reduced to the linguistic??? Surely you cannot have good worship or recollected prayer if you have to recite an ugly text in poor English? The claim that it sounds better read aloud is otiose. Even if John Gielgud or Alec Guinness read it, the defects would still be apparent. You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear. at the 1st and 3rd Euch. Prayers here.

Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N. and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them and all who are dear to them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them, for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being, and fulfilling their vows to you, the eternal God, living and true.OR THEY OFFER IT FOR THEMSELVES AND AND ALL WHO ARE DEAR TO THEM?The phrase in Latin is sometimes thought to signal an alternative reading. FOR THE REDEMPTION OF THEIR SOULS, IN HOPE OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, AND FULFLLING THEIR VOWS TO YOUGibberish!

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.LIKE THE DEWFALL?

Remember also our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and all who have died in your mercy: welcome them into the light of your face. Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify your Son, Jesus Christ.FALLEN ASLEEP IN THE HOPE?DIED IN YOUR MERCY?INTO THE LIGHT OF YOUR FACE?

You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.A SACRIFICE TO YOUR NAME?

Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church, and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son, and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ.RECOGNIZING?

To our departed brothers and sisters and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom. There we hope to enjoy for ever the fullness of your glory through Christ our Lord through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.GIVE KIND ADMITTANCE?

We give you praise, Father most holy, for you are great, and you have fashioned all your works in wisdom and in love. You formed man in your own image, and entrusted the whole world to his care, so that in serving you alone, the Creator, he might have dominion over all creatures. And when through disobedience he had lost your friendship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. For you came in mercy to the aid of all, so that those who seek might find you. Time and again you offered them covenants and through the prophets taught them to look forward to salvation. AH, SURE, YOU'RE GREAT!YOU DID NOT ABANDON HIM... FOR YOU CAME IN MERCY TO THE AID OF ALL.(I did not abandon my child... FOR I provided money for his education.I did not neglect my studies... FOR I studied every evening.)TIME AND AGAIN(In English it always has a negative sense: 'Time and again I have told you, but you never listen' -- so is the text scolding the Jews or what?)LOOK FORWARD TO SALVATIONI look forward to a treat or a good movie. 'Hey, Lord, I'm looking forward to seeing you again when you come in glory!'

And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and rose for us, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full.THE FIRST FRUITS FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE?SANCTIFY TO THE FULL?

Therefore, O Lord, we pray, may this same Holy Spirit graciously sanctify these gifts, that they may become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the celebration of this great mystery, which he himself left us as an eternal covenant.FOR THE CELEBRATIONGet your party hat ready for the celebration?

In a similar way, taking the chalice filled with the fruit of the vine, he gave thanks, and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying: CALIX is CUP not CHALICE in modern EnglishIN A SIMILAR WAY -- not the same way? What was the difference? Compare and contrast.THE FRUIT OF THE VINE? GRAPES?

Therefore, O Lord, as we now celebrate the memorial of our redemption, we remember Christ's death and his descent to the realm of the dead, we proclaim his Resurrection and his Ascension to your right hand; and as we await his coming in glory, we offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world.AS WE CELEBRATE, WE REMEMBER, WE PROCLAIM, AND AS WE AWAIT, WE OFFER.What exactly is going on here?

I'm not making this up, you know. All quotations are from the US Bishops seem proud of this mess!

Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have provided for your Church and grant in your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory.A COMMA AFTER 'Church' MIGHT ALLOW A BREATHING SPACE.A SACRIFICE TO is usually followed by the person or cause demanding it -- e.g. a sacrifice to God or to duty. A SACRIFICE TO THE PRAISE is a solecism. A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE is a biblical locution.How do we TRULY BECOME A LIVING SACRIFICE IN CHRIST?

Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom we make this offering: especially your servant, N. our Pope, N. our Bishop and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, those who make this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart. WE MAKE THIS OFFERING FOR THOSE WHO MAKE THIS OFFERING?

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope, and the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.BY THE HELP OF YOUR MERCY?THE BLESSED HOPE, AND THE COMING -- two different things?

May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation, we pray, O Lord, advance the peace and salvation of all the world. Be pleased to confirm in faith and charity your pilgrim Church on earth, with your servant N. our Pope and N. our Bishop, the Order of Bishops, all the clergy, and the entire people you make your own. Listen graciously to the prayers of this family, whom you have summoned before you. In your compassion, O Merciful Father, gather to yourself all of your children scattered throughout the earth. PLEONASM AND REDUNDANCY ARE ACCEPTED HALLMARKS OF ROMAN LITURGICAL LANGUAGE SINCE PRE-CHRISTIAN TIMES. THEY SOUND DEAD IN ENGLISH.

A couple of added thoughts:a) in an earlier post, I cited three aspects of eucharistic theology - catholicism works best when it is both/and; versus either/or. The eucharist is a community meal - thus, cup versus chalice.b) in terms of E 2 - Rita, correct my notes, but I thought the Vatican II reform brought this prayer back as part of its ressourcement; that E2 is the closest thing we have to the earliest eucharistic prayer of the church - 2nd century? guess you can quibble over how the words were trarnslated but you miss the historical and ecclesial significance of restoring this prayer within our worship.

thanks, Fr. O'Leary. You've made your point.My big problem with the texts is that I often have to search for the antecedents of pronouns and other referential terms. For instance, one of the texts speaks of "the fruits", a plural, but its antecedent is the Holy Spirit, a singular. Worst of all, some antecedents are found four or five or more lines before. One continously has to go back to find the subject of the sentence or clause. Bad. Just bad. Even a 5th rate atheist poet could competently make these criticisms.

These examples are compelling, but you convinced me with the following line which you posted in the second comment above:"for you are the one God living and true, existing before all ages and abide for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light;" (Eucharistic Prayer IV Preface)At very least, someone who knows grammar needs to check the text. If "abide" parallels "existing", it should be "abiding". Or is "abide" parallel "are"? Is there some other reading I am missing? Can anybody suggest a way to read this so that there is no glaring grammatic error?

Jim McK - yes, with blinders or seriously as my old english teacher said frequently: " you must read this with a willing suspension of disbelief!"

Bravo, Fr. O'Leary. One forgets just how many egregious examples there are when the texts are not in front of one. Agreeing with Ann, I must say you've made your point -- in spades! Has anything this thorough (not just taking a single example or two) been published where more people can see it? I know you have posted much of this on your own website, but I am thinking of NCR or another outlet that might reach more people. I am wondering what Gregory thinks of these concrete examples. More patronizing than anything Bishop Trautman has said is what Rome and the majority of bishops evidently think: gibberish like this will be acceptable to "the average Catholic."Some weeks ago, I read the line from EP 1 cited above, "we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them" with stupefaction. OR THEY OFFER IT FOR THEMSELVES? I looked it up in the Latin, and indeed it's a word-for-word translation. But what does it mean? We are going to need a decoder.

Obviously we are moving away from the DE translation method and towards LE translation, that seems clear enough. Style is one thing of course, and the parts the priest recites contain more changes than the parts for the congregation.As for the errors you note Fr. O-Leary, it is reasonable to assume that as a practical matter, the Bishops will correct any grammatical errors before wide implementation of this translation.In any case, the Bishops are quite straightforward about this; they new translation is posted for all to see - in side-by-side format with the existing - the USCCB website:

I found the previous discussion of I versus We very interesting.Last night for All Souls day, we attended Spanish mass. I noticed that for both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed, the Spanish translation (of the Latin) uses I rather than We.I had thought that was the case, but as we have lately been attending mass in English, I had not taken time to review the Spanish part of the missalette. I did a quick review and found that otherwise - for the most part - the Spanish translation runs quite parallel to the English. I did note the Spanish translation uses and with your spirit and am not worthy that you should enter my house, and of course the Spanish translation uses Mea culpa mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I did not find any big differences between the English and Spanish translation for the parts that the priest recites.Bearing in mind that both the Spanish and English are translation of the same mass, I appreciate any thoughts you might have regarding why the Spanish translation uses I instead of We.

Ken --In a famous passage of Thomas Merton's "Seven Story Mountain" he describes his experience of attending Mass in a Cuban cathedreal. At the Credo the people shouted out loudly, "Credo! Credo!" He was so impressed with them that he says it was from that moment he knew he would convert to Catholicism. You might want to take a look at his account.

"As for the errors you note Fr. O-Leary, it is reasonable to assume that as a practical matter, the Bishops will correct any grammatical errors before wide implementation of this translation."Yes, it would be reasonable to assume that, if we were dealing with rational people. In fact the bishops DID correct some of the grammatical errors, but their non-English speaking bureaucratic masters in the Vatican reinstated them! And in stark contrast to Vatican II the bishops have no right to correct the Vatican text.

Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon)Te igitur We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ your Son. Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice. We offer them for your holy catholic Church, watch over it, Lord, and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for N. our Pope, for N. our bishop, and for all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes from the apostles.NEW VERSION: To you, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition, UNIDIOMATIC through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. We ask you to accept and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices, PLEONASTIC, FULSOME which we offer you first of all for your holy catholic Church. Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world, together with your servant N. our Pope and N. our Bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith. Commemoration of the Living Remember, Lord, your people, especially those for whom we now pray, N. and N. Remember all of us gathered here before you. You know how firmly we believe in you and dedicate ourselves to you. We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us. We pray to you, our living and true God, for our well being and redemption.NEW VERSION Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N. and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them and all who are dear to them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves MEANINGLESS and all who are dear to them, for the redemption of their souls FUSTIAN, in hope of health and well-being, FLAT, UNIDIOMATIC and fulfilling their vows to you, MEANINGLESS the eternal God, living and true. Communicantes In union with the whole Church, we honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, and all the saints. May their merits and prayers grant usyour constant help and protection.NEW VERSION In communion with those whose memory we venerate, UNGRAMMATICAL COMMA especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, CLUMSY and of UNGRAMMATICAL (makes Mary the mother of Joseph) blessed Joseph, Spouse of the same Virgin (CLUMSY. UNIDIOMATIC), your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew and all your Saints:through their merits and prayers, grant that in all things we may be defended by your protecting help. PLEONASM 4. Hanc igitur Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen. NEW VERSIONTherefore, Lord, we pray:graciously accept this oblation of our service (UNIDIOMATIC, PLEONASTIC), that of your whole family (CLUMSY AND OBSCURE); order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (PLEONASTIC, GROVELLING)5. Quam oblationem Bless and approve our offering: make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth. Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son our Lord. NEW VERSION: Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect PLEONASM, FLAT; make it spiritual and acceptable (UNDIOMATIC), so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. 6. Institution Narrative The day before he suffered he took bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT IT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU. When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT. IT WILL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR ALL SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.NEW VERSION On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands (PLEONASTIC, FUSTIAN), and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father (FUSTIAN), giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU. In a similar way (UNIDIOMATIC), when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice MISTRANSLATION into his holy and venerable hands (CLUMSY REPETITION, FUSTIAN. PLEONASTIC), and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice MISTRANSLATION to his disciples, saying: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE mistranslation OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT; WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME. 7. Anamnesis Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedech.NEW VERSION Therefore, O Lord, we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, PLEONASM the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice MISTRANSLATION of everlasting salvation. Be pleased to look upon them with serene and kindly countenance, UNIDIOMATIC and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. 8. Epiclesis Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing.NEW VERSION In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, VERBOSE, FUSTIAN so that all of us who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. 9. Intercessions Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray, N. and N. May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence light, happiness, and peace.For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, and all the saints. Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord. Through him you give us all these gifts. ou fill them with life and goodness, you bless them and make them holy.NEW VERSION Remember also, Lord, your servants N. and N., who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light, and peace.To us also your sinful servants who hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, and all your Saints, admit us, we beg you, into their company, not weighing our merits but granting us pardon, through Christ our Lord. Through whom you continue to create all these good things, O Lord, you make them holy, UNGRAMMATICAL fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them on us. FLAT, MEANINGLESS.10. Doxology Through him, with him, in him, in theunity of the Holy Spirit, all glory andhonor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.NEW VERSION Through him, and with him, and inhim, to you, O God, almighty Father,in the unity of the Holy Spirit, is allhonor and glory, for ever and ever

Fr. O'Leary: I respectfully disagree with much of your posts. You did detect a few genuine syntactical howlers or confusing passages - What on Earth does that business about "or they offer it for themselves" mean? Do you or does anyone else know? What, however, do you find wrong with such phrases as "give kind admittance," "holy and unblemished sacrifices," "holy and venerable hands," "in humble prayer we ask you," "graciously grant," etc.? These and others do not sound "pleonastic" to me. Good English style does not have to be bare-bones and completely unadorned.

The fact that howlers occur in a text of such importance is of very grave import. And did you notice the theological howler, where the Blessed Virgin become the mother of her husband, like Jocasta? You may ask how bishops can make such howlers. The reason is that they inspect these texts at hurried and confusing meetings, not in the quiet of their studies. The theological howler was introduced when they changed an earlier draft without noticing how it affected the context."Or they offer it for themselves" -- some scholars claim that this was a marginal note to the Canon, offering an alternative reading, and that it got inserted into the main text by mistake.Pleonasm is a hallmark of Latin liturgical style, since pre-Christian times. It is not experienced as an enrichment or adornment in English, however, perhaps because we have been so influenced by Shakespeare and Milton, who loaded every rift with ore, avoiding the pleonasm that can sound so grand in Latin languages. That is why much of French verse is untranslatable into English. The pleonasms of Racine are sublime: Oublions-les, Madame, et qu'a tout l'avenir/Un silence eternel cache ce souvenir, becomes in English: Let us forget them, Madam, and for all the future/Let an eternal silence hide that memory. Nothing sublime about that! The same problem dogs the new translation of the Roman Canon.

How did Mary become the mother of Jesus and Joseph in the new translation? The earlier draft read:In communion with the whole Church,they venerate above all others the memoryof the glorious ever-virgin Mary,Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ,then of blessed Joseph, husband of the VirginBut in the new version the first "of" disappeared and NOBODY NOTICED that the text then takes on a new meaning -- Mary as the mother of Jesus and of Joseph!

correction, the comma I described as ungrammatical is OK.

There must be something wrong with me - I don't see anything wrong with that Racine sentence either! Yes, I see there is a slight redundancy, as the sentence says both "for all the future" and "eternal" when only one or the other was strictly necessary - but the sentence has a nice rhythm that makes this hard to notice unless someone calls my attention to it.I also think that you misunderstand my earlier statement. I see the problem with a few of the problematic howlers you spotted and endorse fixing them, but I don't consider that list of examples I quoted to be howlers at all. Again, what is wrong with "holy and unblemished sacrifice" - does the mere presence of two adjectives, which are not synonymous, make a phrase pleonastic? What is wrong with "in humble prayer we ask you?" I don't see the examples you cite as grovelling to be so either, except maybe the use of "beg" - I would prefer the old-fashioned "beseech," but that would surely fall under Bishop Trautman's ban if basic words like "inviolate" and "precursor" do.

"I see the problem with a few of the problematic howlers you spotted and endorse fixing them"Sorry, a better way to phrase that would be "I agree a few of the things you noted were problematic howlers and endorse fixing them."

Of course there is nothing wrong with my English translation of Racine. The point I am making is that the Racine quote is the highest perfection of language (do you read French?) whereas the English translation is dull and flat. The same holds for the Roman Canon, which is beautiful in Latin but not in a literalistic English translation. However, I admit that pleonasm can be effective in English sometimes: 'Let Observation with extensive view, Survey the world from China to Peru'! Bishops have as one of their primary duties the guardianship of the liturgy celebrated in their churches. They have failed miserably here. The howlers you recognize have already been approved by the bishops, and will become the text used at Mass next year unless Bishop Trautman's last minute stalling tactic is adopted.

"beg" probably translates Latin "quaesumus" which does not have a groveling feel to it at all. The best English translation would simply be: "we ask you to".

I have rewritten my critique of the Roman Canon translation at my weblog. See"Holy and unblemished" is not a set of two synonyms but it is very much in line with the pleonastic character of Latin liturgical language, that is, the tendency to multiply expressions close in meaning to create an effect of impressive redundancy or abundance. Trouble is, it does not normally work in English.

Btw, the Racine quote is a fine example of how pleonasm works -- it intensifies by repeating the same thing: forget, silence, hide that memory -- for all the future, eternally -- but this has never been a form of eloquence common in English.

We seem to be talking past each other. I didn't mean there was any chance that your translation was wrong; I meant it doesn't sound dull and flat! I guess tastes differ.Thank you for the link (although I could have done without the attention-grabbing headline). As I said, many of your concerns do strike me as valid.Of course, modern priests hardly ever use the Roman Canon/Prayer I anyway. Sometimes two wrongs do make a right!

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