Trautman on the new Mass translations.

Coming in the May 21 issue of America: Bishop Donald Trautman's strong--and I mean strong--critique of the new Mass translations. He singles out, for example, an Advent prayer over the gifts:

Accept, O Lord, these gifts,
and by your power change them
into the sacrament of salvation,
in which the prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers have an end
and the true Lamb is offered,
he who was born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin.


The above citation is a proclaimed prayer. What will the person in the pew hear and comprehend? Will the words prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers and born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin, for example, resonate with John and Mary Catholic? Is this prayer intelligible, proclaimable, reflective of a vocabulary and linguistic style from the contemporary mainstream of U.S. Catholics? Is the liturgical language accessible to the average Catholic and our youth? Does this translated text lead to full, conscious and active participation? I think not.

This prayer is not an isolated example.

The bishops asks:

What happened to the liturgical principles of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? The council fathers of Vatican II stated: Texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, as far as possible, should be able to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively and as it befits a community (No. 21). Note the words with ease. This is the norm, the expressed wish in the constitution. This is a prerequisite that calls not just for the accuracy of translated texts but for the easy understanding of those texts.

Perhaps worse, as Trautman points out, the new translations were completed without wide consultation.

What is missing in the present moment, unfortunately, is the voice of liturgical scholars and the voice of the laity, the assembly. I was dismayed when I recently learned that our liturgistsprofessionals with degrees and experience,
teaching at our academic institutionsdid not have access to the work of ICEL.

I don't want to give away his fiery conclusion, so keep an eye out for the May 21 issue.

Update: I'm going to be away until May 30, so I'm closing down comments on this thread until I return.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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