Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 1, 2010
New English missal will enrich liturgy
Translation will change the way we pray
CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
Pope Benedict uses incense as he celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 17, The new English translation of the Mass that will be introduced in Canadian churches in late 2011 will more closely resemble the Latin original.
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
Canadian Catholics seem to be less divided over the new English translation of the Roman Missal than are their American counterparts.
While there has been some discomfort over some of the words and the new text's impact on ecumenism, those most familiar with the new translation see it as a blessing.
"We are going to be tremendously enriched by this spiritually, theologically and biblically," said Ottawa Archbishop Prendergast. "It's going to change the way we pray."
"We have had an impoverished translation," said the archbishop, who is a member of Vox Clara, a group of senior bishops and specialists advising the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) on the translations done by the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and approved by English-speaking episcopal conferences around the world.
"I have always excused it, thinking it had to be done hurriedly by criteria that were current at the time but are no longer current."
Most translators are moving away from dynamic equivalence used in the 1970s to more modestly adhering to the original while making it "as fresh as possible," he said.
"Many of the rich biblical images that were in the original text were lost in the English, or simply softened," Prendergast said. "There is a richness in the Latin text that we are going to recover."
But change is never easy. "It's like getting a new pair of shoes," said Corner Brook and Labrador Bishop Douglas Crosby, who served on ICEL for eight and a half years, representing the Canadian bishops. "People might be a little uncomfortable with it in the beginning."
"The wonderful thing about the new translation is that it gives us an opportunity to review our liturgical practices and to explain and to teach and to deepen our appreciation for the liturgy which comes down to us through the ages, handed down to us from the apostles," Crosby said. "We hand it on with the same kind of fidelity."
"There are some 'ouch points' that people question," said Father Bill Burke, who has been going across the country holding workshops at the invitation of various bishops. "But by and large, when they hear them proclaimed well, they have reacted that these are reverent and good."
Burke, who directs the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) national liturgy office said one of the "ouch points" is the translation of pro multis to "for many" from "for all" in the Institution Narrative. Another "ouch point" is the use of the word "chalice" instead of cup, he said.
The new words read: "For this is the chalice 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."
Priests will experience the biggest changes. For those in the assembly, the biggest change will be a new structure for the Gloria, Burke said.
Catherine Clifford, a theology professor at Saint Paul University, would favour taking more time and making a much broader consultation. She would also like to see more experimentation so that through people's feedback and lived experience it can be improved upon.
"I think it's a kind of English that is foreign to people's hearing," Clifford said.
The new style of translation follows a "rigid uniformity" with the Latin liturgical text, she said, criticizing "an overemphasis on the idea that the liturgy exists to teach doctrine."
THE WHOLE PERSON
"True liturgy mediates the teaching and the faith for the Church, but it's not primarily a teaching text or a doctrinal text," she said. "I do agree that we believe how we pray, but I don't believe the liturgy is a simple affirmation of doctrine."
"Liturgy is not just a text, it's a ritual, it's an experience which addresses the whole person," she said.
Clifford agreed, however, the translation from the 1970s needed improvement. "I don't know that this approach of rigid uniformity is the best way to resolve it."
She also raised concerns about the impact of the new translation on ecumenism.
"We have ecumenically agreed texts," she said. "What's being proposed ignores all the work, the collaborative efforts."
Those efforts have brought Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans to have the same versions of the Lord's Prayer, the Sanctus and the Creed, she said.
"When we can pray together and recognize the similarities in our liturgical life, it is much easier to recognize that we share a common faith," she said.
Burke has also heard comments about the impact on ecumenism. "In meetings I have gone to, some of our brothers and sisters in other traditions have expressed to me a concern about this," he said.
The divisions in Canada, however, are not as deep as they are in the United States, where Erie, Pa. Bishop Donald Trautman, who formerly headed the U.S. bishops' liturgical committee, has slammed the new text as "elitist" and a potential "pastoral disaster."
There is also the "Why don't we just say wait?" movement that has a website and a petition circulating that has already drawn thousands of signatures. The campaign has reached Canada, even landing in Prendergast's email box recently.
In a lecture last October at the American University in Washington, Trautman objected to words in the new text such as ineffable, consubstantial, incarnate, inviolate, oblation and ignominy that he says the average Catholic will not understand.
Prendergast pointed out "none of this whole list is going to appear in the same sentence."
"Often you can tell the meaning of a word from the context," he said. Like Crosby, he welcomes the teaching opportunity.
Prendergast noted the bishops in English-speaking dioceses around the world have approved this by at least the required two-thirds vote.
"The oddest thing is that the people who embraced the new translations in the 1970s are the very people right now who are the reactionaries," he said. "They lamented the reactionaries of the past who didn't want to do it, but now they are in that same situation."
The Canadian bishops have approved all the various sections of the missal, which is likely to be published and distributed by Advent 2011. While the American bishops had to vote twice on some earlier sections of the translation because of division, the Canadian bishops have passed them all with the required majority, said Burke.
Prendergast said Vox Clara hopes to present the finished translation to the pope after the group's final meeting in April.
The CDW has a working committee "tidying everything up and producing the missal," he said. CDW Prefect Cardinal Antonio Caņizares Llovera will sign the final copy of the translation before it is presented to the pope. Official approval will soon follow.