The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 12: “Simili modo” part 4

What Does the Prayer Really Say? The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 12: “Simili modo” part 4

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2004

PART 4 of a 4 part article on the words of consecration of the Precious Blood, focusing on the pro multis issue.

Last week, WDTPRS said we must move away from “for all” as a translation of pro multis. It is not heresy (as some claim), but it makes the Church’s teaching fuzzy for those who hear it if they are not fully catechized. The translation “for all” might fly if the faithful were well-instructed, but they sadly are not. Therefore, the nebulous sound of “for all” gives people an impression very different from what the Church teaches about the application of the fruits of the Sacrifice Christ made for all. We need a phrase which gives the impression of vast numbers of the saved while leaving it clear that not all are certainly going to be saved. I chose “for/on behalf of multitudes”.

I return now to a point I made before. Translations of the Mass of the Latin Rite are to be made from the Missale Romanum which is in Latin. The Missale Romanum is in Latin – not Greek – not Aramaic. Scripture has immense importance in preparing translations of Mass texts, but we are not Protestants: Scripture is not the only source of revelation Catholics refer to. The Church made the decision to join different Biblical accounts of the Last Supper together and use specific carefully considered language for the consecration. A Council explained the theology clearly and explicitly on this very point. Those facts have weight.

His Eminence Joseph Card. Ratzinger confronts this in God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life (Ignatius Press, 2003). His Eminence makes three points (pp. 37-8, n. 10): 1) Jesus died to save all and to deny that is not in any way a Christian attitude, 2) God lovingly leaves people free to reject salvation and some do, and 3):

“The fact that in Hebrew the expression “many” would mean the same thing as “all” is not relevant to the question under consideration inasmuch as it is a question of translating, not a Hebrew text here, but a Latin text (from the Roman Liturgy), which is directly related to a Greek text (the New Testament). The institution narratives in the New Testament are by no means simply a translation (still less, a mistaken translation) of Isaiah; rather, they constitute an independent source”.

What Card. Ratzinger did here is cut loose the raft of emotion and conjecture lashed to the pier built by Lutheran scholar Joachim Jeremias, upon which ICEL justified rendering “for many” as “for all”. Remember that Jeremias and then Fr. Max Zerwick, SJ (in Notitiae in 1970) used Aramaic and Isaiah 53 arguments for their change to “for all.” Whether Jeremias was right or wrong (and I think his argument was at best tenuous) is entirely beside the point now. First, we are not Protestants who approach doctrine from a standpoint of sola Scriptura … Scripture alone. Second, we are not historical-critics when we approach the consecration of the Mass, we are believing Catholics. Third, the Missale Romanum and the Tradition and teachings of the Church have their own value, a value not to be abandoned in the face of conjecture and the vagaries of historical-critical Scripture scholarship or the concerns of non-Catholics. Fourth, the Missale Romanum is in Latin. This is a key point which every reader of WDTPRS must understand.

The Church today, as in every age, will have new insights into the meaning of the Lord Jesus’ Sacrifice. New insights must be in harmony with and deepen the previously defined and clear teachings in our Tradition and Magisterium, not confuse them. Look at it this way: if the Pope or a new Council chose to explain a new emphasis using a document of sufficient weight and authority, and if the Holy See then changed the Latin of the Missale Romanum to say “pro vobis et pro universis”, then there would be a linguistic justification for saying “for all” as an accurate translation of the Missale Romanum. But the Church cannot change the Latin from pro multis to pro universis. That would explicitly contradict the Church’s teaching as expressed in Latin by the Council of Trent (cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, 4). Such a change would contradict doctrine and not simply change emphasis about an aspect of that doctrine. Clear English must reflect the clarity of the Latin. What to do?

Dear readers, the last few weeks have been ponderous. But this is a matter of great concern for every one who has ever or will ever warm a pew in the coming decades. What will ICEL and the Holy See choose this time? “For many… for all”? The Congregation for Divine Worship’s document Liturgiam authenticam (LA) established norms for translations. From LA the working guidelines, the ratio translationis was developed. The ratio translationis says:

“Given the long history of the Roman Rite which developed in part around certain divisions in the practice of the faith, seen most acutely in liturgical and credal language, translators must show great care in expressing the mysteries of the faith as understood in the Catholic tradition. As a result, traditional Catholic expression is not ordinarily rendered through language which belongs to other faith communities.”

“For many” reflects defined Catholic doctrine. “For all” reflects the concerns of “other faith communities”. However, in working draft of the English language translation now in preparation in a footnote we find:

“The translation of pro multis as ‘for all’ has been retained in the proposed text as a rendering of the original biblical text, even though it does not appear to be a literal translation.”

Now you have the background for the controversy. When it comes up in the press, and it will, you will know what is going on. In WDTPRS for the Simili modo section of the Roman Canon we examined with four week’s worth of columns the problems in the English translation of the consecration of the chalice involved with the word “take” and also at length the words “for all”. It is time to get this information into more people’s hands. Also, since these articles are designed to promote greater love through greater knowledge of our prayers of the Mass, I have aspired to change forever the way you hear the consecration formula. Fuzzy as it may be the phrase “for all” does not invalidate the Mass. Moreover, even if that less than clear translation is maintained in the future, you will now always be capable of hearing it in the right way.

LITERAL TRANSLATION:
After the supper was concluded, in a similar way taking into His holy and venerable hands also this noble chalice, in like manner giving thanks to You He blessed and He gave it to His disciples, saying: All of you receive and drink from this: for this is the chalice of my Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out abundantly on your behalf and on the behalf of multitudes for the remission of sins. Do this for my remembrance.

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8 Responses to The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 12: “Simili modo” part 4

  1. Kevin Miller says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger says (correctly, of course) that we have
    the power to refuse God’s salvation. In other words, there is
    no automatic salvation for all (or for any). But that
    doesn’t mean that it’s impossible that, as it were de
    facto,
    all our saved. Hence the CCC’s teaching about hope
    that all are saved.

    (It’s also worth noting that in the body of the book’s text,
    directly above the footnote quoted in this post, Ratzinger
    says: “I leave open the question of whether it was sensible
    to choose the translation ‘for all’ here
    and, thus, to
    confuse translation with interpretation, at a point at which
    the process of interpretation remains in any case
    indispensable
    .” Now, I think that “for many” is the more
    sensible translation, and if the now-pope is going to order
    that this translation be used, that’s fine. But we should
    still note the careful caveats in the then-cardinal’s book.
    He didn’t claim it’s anything like simply obvious that the
    “for all” translation was a mistake.)

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    He didn’t claim it’s anything like simply obvious that the
    “for all” translation was a mistake.

    Any first-semester Latin student with a Cassell’s dictionary can see it’s “simply obvious” that “for all” is an incorrect translation of “pro multis”. I understand that at no time in the history of the Latin language has “pro multis” ever had a “for all” connotation. So at no time has the Church ever meant “for all” when it said “pro multis” in the words of consecration. So why all the attempted obfuscation about correcting now an obviously agenda-driven mistranslation?

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    He didn’t claim it’s anything like simply obvious that the
    “for all” translation was a mistake.

    Any first-semester Latin student with a Cassell’s dictionary can see it’s “simply obvious” that “for all” is an incorrect translation of “pro multis”. I understand that at no time in the history of the Latin language has “pro multis” ever had a “for all” connotation. So at no time has the Church ever meant “for all” when it said “pro multis” in the words of consecration. So why all the attempted obfuscation about correcting now an obviously agenda-driven mistranslation?

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    (Still trying to get those italics turned off. As the Church has found out, some of these “obvious mistakes” can be hard to correct!)

    He didn’t claim it’s anything like simply obvious that the
    “for all” translation was a mistake.

    Any first-semester Latin student with a Cassell’s dictionary can see it’s “simply obvious” that “for all” is an incorrect translation of “pro multis”. I understand that at no time in the history of the Latin language has “pro multis” ever had a “for all” connotation. So at no time has the Church ever meant “for all” when it said “pro multis” in the words of consecration. So why all the attempted obfuscation about correcting now an obviously agenda-driven mistranslation?

  5. Kevin Miller says:

    Henry: I’m glad you’re smarter than then-Card. Ratzinger,
    then.

    You’ll notice that I’ve said I favor the “for many”
    translation as the more sensible one.

    But I still maintain – and Ratzinger pretty clearly seems to
    grant – that the matter isn’t as simple as some ideologues
    would assert.

  6. Sander says:

    I must inform you, that I possess a 1962 Sunday and Feastday missal published by
    Redemptorists from Amsterdam, which contains the “for all” already, probably
    inspired by the same theological and historio-critical errors and speculations
    as articulated by Prof. Jeremias (a protestant).

    As to doctrine. The first Gospels were written in Greek, and as such, we must take
    even if we want to be historio-critical, their meaning and exact translation, which is:
    “for many”. End of discussion. Sacred Scripture is divinely inspired and free from
    error. Both in Scripture ánd in Tradition (Roman Rite e.g., but also in all other
    known rites, except for the Ethiopian Rite which uses the 1 Cor 11:23 as far as I
    know). From that must be concluded, that “for all” is erroneous, pastorally
    speaking dangerous (it could lead to the heretical concept of All-Men Redemption, first
    appearing theologically under Origenes). Therefore we must say, that while it
    does not directly invalidate the consecration (“for many” is not of essence, according to
    St. Thomas Aquinas, otherwise the Ethiopians would have celebrated invalidly for
    2000 years and then St. Paul’s institution words and many of the narratives of the Gospels
    would all be incomplete forms), it remains erroneous and possbily harmful.

    In Poland good Cardinal Wyszynski prevented a mistranslation and “za wielu” was
    used. And even in liberal France the consecration is NOT invalid (pour la multitude, means
    “for the many”). Multitudo is those that form many, but not all.

    Again, one reason more to attend the Traditional Roman (“Tridentine”) Mass.

  7. rinkevichjm says:

    JMR 2009 Literal Lithuanian:
    Taip pat, po vakarieniav?s, ir imdamas ipuiki?j? taur? Savo šventomis bei gerbiamaomis rankomis, irgi Jis yra pagir?s pasakydamas pad?k? Tau, ir Jis yra perduod?s Savo pasek?jus, sakydamas: „visi imkite ir gerkite iš jos: šita yra tikrai Mano kraujo naujosios ir amžinosios sandoros taur?, [tik?jimo sakramentas] kuris už jus ir už daug? bus praliejamas nuod?m? atleidimai. ?vykdykite šit? Mano min?tojoje.?

    JMR 2009 Literal English:
    In the same way, after having supper, and taking the splendid chalice with His holy and venerable hands, likewise He has blessed it giving thanks to Thee, and He has given it to His disciples, saying: “Everyone take and drink from it: this is truly My blood’s new and eternal covenantal chalice, [faith's sacrament] which for you and for many people will be shed for sins’ forgiveness. Do this in My commemoration.”

    I wrestled with that last phrase (in my commemoration) as to whether it should be an expression of purpose or of place (in time). I also wonder if it had been a Latin original expression whether it would have been in the dative absolute.

    Also using poured with blood doesn’t reflect what the Lord intended when He said it knowing He was going to SHED His blood: that should loose you points with the slavish literal translation evaluators.