In another entry on this blog there are questions and comments about having the "Tridentine" Mass in the vernacular. Apparently radio commentator Paul Harvey inaccurately launched some rumor about this.
"But Father! But Father!", some of you are muttering. "That sounds like a really good idea!"
So, gentle readers … good idea? Not good? Latin only? Could the vernacular be the best of both worlds?
One commentor in this blog said:
What would be so bad if the MP included the option for a priest to use the 1962 missal translated into the vernacular?
Wouldn’t such an option be a good way of introducing the post-Vatican II group to the Traditional Mass?
Another comment responded:
The oldies around here (like me) all remember “a translation” in the pages of some missal from some publishing house about 1962, but which version would we take?
No. It would be an unofficial translation if we did that. It’s not that all that simple. We’ve had our fill of ad hoc translations—that is precisely the point of doing Latin. We have to fix this shambles the liturgy is in.
That raises an interesting point. It just so happens that for my WDTPRS article for this week’s 13th Sunday of Ordinary time, in which I scrutinize the Post Communion, I compared older version of the prayer. It happens that this Post Communion was identical to a prayer in the 1962 Missale Romanum. Here is an excerpt:
[T]oday’s Post Communion, which was in the 1962 Missale Romanum for the votive Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ High and Eternal Priest.
POST COMMUNIONEM (2002MR):
Vivificet nos, quaesumus, Domine,
divina quam obtulimus et sumpsimus hostia,
ut, perpetua tibi caritate coniuncti,
fructum qui semper maneat afferamus.
I like the chiasmus pattern. A chiasmus is an “X” shaped figure of speech: AB-BA. When the pairs are placed above each other, they form an X, like the Greek letter chi which looks like an “X”. The AB-BA in divina quam obtulimus et sumpsimus hostia puts the feminine divina… hostia on the ends and then embeds the relative clause with two perfect verbs. Elegant.
Let’s dig at affero (or adfero) with our fabulous lexical shovel, the Lewis & Short Dictionary. In its basic meaning, when applied to portable things affero is “to bring, take, carry or convey a thing to a place”. Regarding news it is “to report, announce, inform, publish”. Concerning reasons or excuses it means “to bring forwards, allege, assert, adduce”. But in the Classical period it could, though rarely, mean “to bring forth as a product, to yield, bear, produce”. Now we are getting somewhere. The references provided in L&S are from the Vulgate and two of them pair affero with fructum (“an enjoying; proceeds, profit, income; fruit, consequence, result, return, reward, success”). Coniugo means “to bind together, connect, join, unite; to unite, join in marriage or love”. Think of English “conjunction” and “conjugal”. The imagery of the prayer is nuptial.
Since this prayer remains as it appeared in the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum, out of curiosity we can again consult those good old hand missals people carried to church stuffed with memorial and ordination cards.
The New Roman Missal (1945):
We beseech Thee O Lord that the divine victim
which has been our oblation and our food may give us life;
so that united with Thee in perpetual charity
we may bring fruit that remaineth forever.
The New Marian Missal (1958):
We beseech Thee, O Lord, may the divine hosts
which we have offered up and received, quicken us;
that, bound to Thee by an eternal love,
we may bear fruit that remains evermore.
I like that “quicken” for vivifico. L&S likes it too, “to make alive, restore to life, quicken, vivify”.
Saint Andrew Daily Missal (1959):
We pray, Lord, let the offering and reception
of the divine victim vivify us,
that, united to You by perpetual charity,
we may bear an everlasting fruit.
Saint Joseph Daily Missal (1959 – New Edition 1961):
We beseech You, O Lord, that the Divine Victim
which we have offered and received, may give us life,
so that united with You in enduring bonds of love,
we may bring forth everlasting fruit.
And last, but least, the lame-duck version from
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
may this sacrifice and communion
give us a share in your life
and help us bring your love to the world.
That is what you will probably hear on Sunday at church. On planet WDTPRS, however, it would be something like this
May the divine sacrificial victim
which we have offered and received enliven us, O Lord, we entreat You,
so that joined to You by love everlasting,
we may bear the fruit which remains for ever.
If you are used to reading Sacred Scripture or liturgical texts in Latin your ears would have instantly perked up at the sound of “fructum qui semper maneat afferamus”, an allusion to John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide (ut eatis et fructum adferatis et fructus vester maneat); so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Okay… look at those versions.
One of the advantages to having those prayers in Latin is that people were free to participate fully, consciously and actively at Holy Mass with the aid of whatever approved hand missal they chose. It might even be interesting over coffee and doughnuts after Mass to compare your different versions and figure out what the differences were.
So, "Tridentine" Mass in the vernacular: good idea?