YEEECH

I having been getting feedback about my comments (here and here) about H.E., Bishop Traumant, "The Chair", and his inimical attitude toward the Holy See’s translation norms in Liturgiam authenticam

Since His Excellency thinks "John and Mary Catholic" are not smart enough to understand the real content of the Latin prayers in accurate translation, he believes the prayers should be reduced to everyday speech, the lowest denominator, and I do mean "common".  I referred to this in another entry as "mashed carrots and goop. 

Reacting to this JS writes via e-mail:

Ahhhhh!   The gerberization (as in Gerber’s baby food) of the literature of the Church.  Well at least the consumer can be fairly certain that the pablum for infants that is available at the local grocer is wholesome.  The Erie bishop must suffer from the delusion that the intellects, the souls, and the vocabularies of his flock must be in a state of perpetual infantilism, or worse.

Once upon a time in a WDTPRS article, I wrote

To grow into serious committed Catholics capable of making an impact on society, we need all that the Church desires to give us.  We adults could if necessary get by on baby food alone.  We could, if necessary, survive on milk and some nearly predigested veggies, but we would not thrive.  Would we be able to do our work well?  Could we respond with zeal and vigor to God’s will in our lives, having been fed only on such pabulum?  A new translation is in preparation.  More satisfying nourishment will come, God willing, through our beautiful prayers in a new translation, which will increase our yearning for the perfect food, containing in Itself all delight.

What is at stake here?

Let’s consider what you will be hearing in church at the end of Mass on the, say, the Vigil of the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist, which is coming up soon.

POST COMMUNIONEM (ad Missam in Vigilia):
Sacris dapibus satiatos,
beati Ioannis Baptistae nos, Domine,
praeclara comitetur oratio,
et, quem Agnum nostra ablaturum crimina nuntiavit,
ipsum Filium tuum poscat nobis fore placatum.

   
This is an interesting and tricky prayer.  It is addressed to God the Father, but the subject is the Baptist’s words, his “prayer” in John 1:29,36: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” A daps is “a solemn feast for religious purposes, a sacrificial feast (before beginning to till the ground; the Greek proêrosia, made in honor of some divinity, in memory of departed friends)”.  That odd looking ablaturum (esse) is the future active “participle” from aufero, abstuli, ablatum, auferre, “to take or bear off or away, to carry off, withdraw, remove”.  The fore is a shortened form of futurum esse.

The fact that the Baptist’s speech is the grammatical subject of the action of the prayer points to the interior meaning.  The real actor or subject is the Lamb of God.  As St. Augustine put it, John is the Voice, the vox, but Christ is the Word, the verbum.  This conceptual paring is present in the Post Communion.

The Baptist is so in harmony with the Lamb that the ecstatic declaration which bursts forth from him at the sight of Jesus reveals John’s inward disposition.   John’s whole being is directed to Jesus. His outward words and deeds aim at Him.  By asking the Father that John’s prayer accompany us we use a spiritually poetic expression to beg the Baptist’s intercession that we may attain the salvation Jesus won with His Blood.  The prayer also underscores how our words and deeds both must and do reveal who we are inside.

LITERAL VERSION:
O Lord, may the excellent prayer of blessed John the Baptist
accompany us, filled to satiety with the sacred sacrificial meal,
and may it urge that Your Son Himself,
whom it declared was the Lamb about to take away our offenses,
will be appeased in our regard.

Keep in mind in follows that I am not making this up:

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Father,
may the prayers of John the Baptist
lead us to the Lamb of God.
May this eucharist bring us the mercy of Christ.

YEEECHH!

In another WDTPRS article I ended with this:

We need what our prayers really say. They are the bones of our daily lives. Our Mass should give us thick red steak and cabernet not pureed carrot and formula for baby teeth. I want meat not goop. I want you to thrive through our Mass not just survive. Mass is succulent, not ordinary. The content of our prayers will reach through to us when we have accurate translations of the Latin. Then with the help of preachers we can crack them open with adult teeth, chew their marrow.

H.E. "The Chair" objects to accurate translations convey the content of the Latin.  He wants the translations to be simple, immediately understandable by everyone in every pew.  However, this is what Liturgiam authenticam says (my emphases):

25. So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision. By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God’s majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself.

At the same time LA says:

28. The Sacred Liturgy engages not only man’s intellect, but the whole person, who is the “subject” of full and conscious participation in the liturgical celebration. Translators should therefore allow the signs and images of the texts, as well as the ritual actions, to speak for themselves; they should not attempt to render too explicit that which is implicit in the original texts. For the same reason, the addition of explanatory texts not contained in the editio typica is to be prudently avoided. Consideration should also be given to including in the vernacular editions at least some texts in the Latin language, especially those from the priceless treasury of Gregorian chant, which the Church recognizes as proper to the Roman Liturgy, and which, all other things being equal, is to be given pride of place in liturgical celebrations.  Such chant, indeed, has a great power to lift the human spirit to heavenly realities. 

29. It is the task of the homily and of catechesis to set forth the meaning of the liturgical texts,…

Friends, the answer to His Excellency’s objection, which in justice corresponds to LA 25, must lie in LA 28 and 29. 

Preaching and catechesis are the answer to Bp. Trautman’s concerns, not another disastrous dumbing-down of our liturgical prayer.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA, WDTPRS. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to YEEECH

  1. Katherine says:

    What does “satiety” mean?

  2. Alan Stout says:

    One of the biggest reasons I joined the catholic church was that it was a church who spoke in accurate terms and embraced intellectualism because it had nothing to fear from thinking. There is no reason we should expect our congregations to stop thinking in addition to stop reading music just because its easier. Why do we do anything well? It’s because God deserves our best.

  3. Christopher says:

    Peace be with you.

    If I remember my history and scriputres correctly: In coptic, whenever Christ speaks, does the language
    change from vernacular to formal? Does this not say something to us?

    May God bless you and Holy Mary protect you.
    Holy Spirit guide you.
    -Christopher

  4. Paul Murnane says:

    Katherine,

    From http://www.m-w.com:

    satiety
    One entry found for satiety.
    Main Entry: sa·ti·ety
    Pronunciation: s&-‘tI-&-tE also ‘sA-sh(E-)&-
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle French satieté, from Latin satietat-, satietas, from satis
    1 : the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity : SURFEIT, FULLNESS
    2 : the revulsion or disgust caused by overindulgence or excess

    Another good example of how the norms provided for in LA greatly add to our understanding of the prayers.

    btw, it only took about 5 seconds for me to find that definition – and I won’t need to look it up again. 5 seconds for a fuller understanding is pretty good, I’d say.

  5. Mike says:

    Alan,

    For anyone who “read their way into the Church”, the arrival was probably very startling.

  6. Jacob says:

    For someone who can’t swallow anything beyond fluid and is stuck with a feeding tube, the content of this post is slightly disconcerting. :P

    Maybe the good bishop would like one too so he won’t even have to chew his food.

  7. Michael says:

    “Preaching and catechesis are the answer to Bp. Trautman’s concerns, not another disastrous dumbing-down of our liturgical prayer.”

    Yes! Exactly! And the same is true for Bible translations. Don’t dumb down the text. If a clarification is necessary, put it in a footnote.

  8. fr. christopher says:

    “To grow into serious committed Catholics capable of making an impact on society, we need all that the Church desires to give us.”

    Well said! If only it would be remembered that the liturgies of the Church are not mere things to do, but in addition to the worship given to God, they are meant to nourish and transform us – that we might transform the world.

    Again, well said, Father. I must right it down.

  9. Stu says:

    Everytime I read one of Father’s “bread and butter” posts like this one regarding poor translations, I feel cheated.

    To His Excellency and all of the Bishops I respectfully say that in regards to liturgy, teaching and all things:

    Let’s be Catholics!

  10. Anon says:

    http://www.rpinet.com/wforum/index.php?t=msg&th=2933&start=0&rid=261&

    There are some who want to be served Gerber, in solidarity with babies, I guess?

  11. Marysann says:

    I graduated from high school in 1965, and anxious to be able to assist at the 1962 Mass soon. I have often told my children that when we assisted at the old Mass, we not only worshiped God, but we prepared for the SAT. Week after week we would use our Latin/English missals, and see the Latin roots for many English words. Even if we did not study Latin, our English vocabulary was increased by praying the Mass. This is certainly not the best reason for derestrcting the 1962 Mass, but it is a little added benefit!

  12. Ben says:

    Actually, I’m happy to be a newborn babe longing for the pure spiritual milk
    (cf. 1 Peter 2.2 and the introit for Quasimodo Sunday) – but let it be my
    Mother’s milk, not some factory-made formula!

  13. Jennifer says:

    This post made my stomach queezy…

  14. GFluet says:

    A point has been missed here, I think. Bishop Trautman is encouraging people to “speak up,” ultimately against the Holy See, the Holy Father, and authority that is backing the translations. He hopes for a democratic surge against the translations, a revolution against authority. How has that worked in his diocese? When people have “spoken up” against one of his decisions, how has that worked? You know the answer quite well. I really think we need to “speak up” directly to Bp Trautman and point blank ask him about his fidelity to Rome.

  15. Peter says:

    Sorry for getting to this late. One thing that struck me in reading LA 27 is the phrase “easily understandable” (someone can tell me if the original Latin expresses the same sentiment or not). I do wonder if the original intent of LA 27 was to put accent on the second word, “understandable”, rather than the first, “easily”.

    If you focus your attention primarily on the second word, it is most important that the hearer be able to “understand” the prayer, precisely how easily is of rather secondary import. This would suggest primary importance is placed on the accuracy and beauty of the prayer rather than its simplicity. If focus is placed on the first word, however, the situation is reversed – ease becomes paramount over accuracy and beauty. I clearly can’t say for certain this is part of the cause of our problem, but it does fit the picture. To paraphrase, words have meaning for a reason.

  16. Peter: Maybe you mean LA 25: 

    25.    Ut ea, quae in textu originali continentur etiam fidelibus peculiari institutione intellectuali carentibus pateant et ab iis intellegantur, translationibus id sit proprium, ut quibusdam verbis exprimantur, ad intellegentiam accommodatis, quae tamen simul dignitatem, decorem atque accuratum argumentum doctrinale huiusmodi textuum servent. 

    The phrase in question is “appropriate to understanding”, that is, “adapted for understanding”.  In the first part it mentions that people should not have to having “specialized training” to understand the texts.  That is to say, they shouldn’t have to be theologians or linguists.  Therefeore, they need to be “easily understandable” in the sense that they are not so obscure that you must have special training to figure them out.  Basic education and knowledge are enough.

    Now we get into the problem of what, in this say of disastrous education, people should know.  

    A starting point here must be, I think, the assumption that people hearing the prayers are predominantly a) Catholic and b) that they love God and want to know Him.  The text of LA 25 does not say that the prayers must be instantly understandable by anyone.  Nor does it say that people need not think a little to understand them.  I think it reasonable that a person with even today’s normal education would be capable of looking up a word in a dictionary or asking a question about something in a prayer.

    However, if a person is then going to get a good response, the prayer has to have had some meaningful content to begin with.  If a person is going to ask about any prayer, then that prayer really ought to be what the Church wants to present and not some other text.