Pittsburgh newspaper on USCCB translation battle

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comes this with my emphases and comments:

Bishops split over Mass translation
Monday, November 16, 2009
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The nation’s Catholic bishops will address many social controversies at their meeting in Baltimore this week. But the topic with the greatest potential for conflict among them is a new translation of the Mass.

They will vote on a pastoral letter on marriage that explains church opposition to artificial contraception, cohabitation and gay marriage. They are expected to approve an easy-to-read pamphlet explaining church opposition to technologies that aid conception. They’re also updating directives on the tube-feeding of incapacitated people. While they may debate how best to make those points, they are points the bishops agree on.

What divides them is a new translation of the Mass that has been in the works for years. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie has led the charge against what he sees as a "slavish" rendering of Latin into convoluted, ungrammatical English.

"American Catholics have every right to expect a translation of the new missal to follow the rules for English grammar. But this violates English syntax in the most egregious way," he said.

The bishops didn’t write it. Rome requires one international committee to translate for each major language, and this text is intended to serve nations as diverse as Ireland and Pakistan. The bishops can propose amendments, but Vatican officials have final say over the text.

In 2001, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments published Liturgiam Authenticam, new rules for translation. It stressed faithfulness to fourth-century Latin texts [It stressed faithfulness to the texts that are in the Missale Romanum.] that were translations from Greek, Hebrew and other languages. It encouraged a special vocabulary for prayer that differed from everyday speech.

"Thus it may happen that a certain manner of speech which has come to be considered somewhat obsolete in daily usage may continue to be maintained in the liturgical context," it said.

Bishop Trautman, a biblical scholar and a past president of the bishops’ committees on doctrine and liturgy, has been the most vocal critic of the resulting translations. The bishops have already approved most of the new Mass. The last few parts — mostly prayers for saints days — are now up for a vote.

Bishop Trautman’s objections aren’t to the most recent changes but to the tone of the entire translation. He wants the bishops to reject at least one set of translations this week, then send a high-level delegation to Rome to work out revisions throughout the Mass.  [He wants to force a review of the whole thing… which would delay the project for years.  Cunctando regitur mundus.]

"This is our last chance to raise these issues and talk about them. But the parliamentary laws probably won’t allow us to get at the heart of the issue [in Baltimore], because we can only discuss and debate the four items before us," he said.  [Thanks be to God.]

In a recent lecture at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he cited examples of mangled English.

A Lenten prayer says, "May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind."  [Why is that "mangled"?   This is the Super Oblata for Monday of the 5th Week of Lent: "Concede nobis, Domine, quaesumus, ut, celebraturi sancta mysteria, tamquam paenitentiae corporalis fructum, laetam tibi exhibeamus mentium puritatem." 
How would you do it?]

A current Easter prayer says, "Almighty and eternal God, for the glory of your name fulfill the promise you made long ago to men and women of faith, to bless them with descendents  [sic… but… really?] forever. Increase your adopted children throughout the world, that your Church may see accomplished the salvation which those saints of old so firmly expected." 

The new version is, "Almighty everlasting God, for the honor of your name, surpass what you pledged to the faith of the Patriarchs, and by sacred adoption increase the children of promise so that your Church may now see abundantly fulfilled what the holy ones of old never doubted would come to pass." 

"If you just read them silently, it isn’t so bad. But, if you read it out loud, it’s hard to understand," Bishop Trautman said.  [There it is!  Bp. Trautman’s major premise: people aren’t very smart.]

He already has lost arguments against changing the Nicene Creed’s declaration that Jesus is "of one being with the Father" into "consubstantial with the Father." His focus now is on an issue that any parochial school student should understand: poor grammar and syntax. [So the writer has bought Bp. Trautman’s premise.  But claims of bad grammar aren’t the same as demonstrating bad grammar.]

Latin has sentences without subjects, so the literal translation has produced fragments rather than sentences. A "sentence" for Lent says, "Who, after he told the disciples of his coming death, manifested his glory to them on the holy mountain to show, as the law and the prophets also bear witness, that the path of suffering leads to the glory of the resurrection."  [So, the reporter is regurgitating NCR now, I think.  The problem with this example is that it is removed from the context of the Preface to which it belongs.]

In the Nicene Creed, the current "we believe" will become "I believe." Bishop Trautman objects that the original Greek says "we believe." But his focus now is on the fact that "I believe" is said once at the beginning of the creed, without repeating it for each article of faith. When the U.S. bishops inserted three more "I believe" statements for clarity and good grammar, Vatican officials removed them.  [I think there are officials who work for the Holy See that grasp English grammar at least as well as Bp. Trautman.]

The Vatican liturgy office is run by a Spaniard who speaks no English, although one of his top aides is American. Bishop Trautman noted that the new Spanish Mass has all the repetitions of "I believe" that were cut from the English Mass.  [This is a misrepresentation.  There are plenty of people in the Congregation who speak English as a native language.  And speaking English as a second language is often an advantage when reading texts for accuracy.]

Not every bishop shares his concerns. The new Mass has strong defenders, such as Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, who believe it will introduce a new generation to a lost spiritual vocabulary. Others believe that the texts aren’t bad enough to cause a crisis or that there are better ways of winning Vatican cooperation than lambasting the proposed prayers in public.

Bishop David Zubik said he respects Bishop Trautman’s scholarship, but finds the new translations acceptable.

"This has been in discussion for the better part of a dozen years," he said. "You’re never going to have a perfect package. … I think some of the translations are beautiful. There are others that I might not particularly like, but I would have to say that I find the majority of them meaty, thought-provoking and coming from the heart."

Rocco Palmo, a Philadelphian who talks with bishops for his blog, "Whispers In the Loggia," said many who share Bishop Trautman’s opinion believe his tactics may backfire.

"I’m not sure there will be a floor fight," he said. "Rome has shown a willingness, if the conference has passed the texts, to be considerate of amendments that the bishops want. That strategy of collaboration has a much better chance of working."

But Bishop Trautman believes it’s irresponsible to approve prayers that people can’t easily commit to heart. If these prayers are used in parishes, he said, "I think there will be fewer people coming to Eucharist."

He’s been getting e-mails from Catholics dismayed at the examples they found on a Web site that the bishops set up to prepare Catholics for the new Mass: www.usccb.org/romanmissal.

"I’ve got Ph.D.s, monks, parish priests, everyone writing and asking me to please do something about this," he said.  [Surrrrrre….]

"We need to stand up. We still have a chance."

So… the writer went into the tank for this agenda.

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44 Responses to Pittsburgh newspaper on USCCB translation battle

  1. TomB says:

    What is “egregious”? I can’t understand such words!

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    Bishop Trautman’s grammar-based objections have still less merit than his vocabulary-based objections. A sentence whose subject is a relative pronoun referring to a noun in the preceding sentence violates no generally accepted rule of English grammar.

    Perhaps his learned excellency’s difficulty here is with the word “fragment”, that is, in understanding what a sentence fragment is. Or is it with the word “sentence”?

    However, I want to express my personal indebtedness to Bishop Trautman on one point. For the year of the priest, I have decided to pray for various priests with various decades of the rosary.

    For instance, with the 4th luminous mystery, I pray for three priests named Fr. R, Fr. O, and Fr. S. To remember them correctly I find it helpful, at some point in each Hail Mary, to visualize their initials ROS (ros, “dew”).

  3. Mike Morrow says:

    I think that bishop eel-guy should have retired to some weak land monastery long ago. There’s an interesting article about him at:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-1135-Los-Angeles-Religion–Spirituality-Examiner~y2008m11d20-Clergy-sexual-abuse-isnt-a-joke

  4. ssoldie says:

    AMBIGUAITY, excellent word for the last 45+ years.

  5. ssoldie says:

    ‘what was sacred then, is sacred now’ also ‘what was fabricated then is fabricated now’

  6. Oh, come on. When the grammar in a sentence is non-standard or poetic, it’s almost always _easier_ to understand when spoken than when written. People reel off hugely complicated grammatical structures in ordinary slangy conversation, without thinking twice about which unstated subject or object they’re talking about. And as for length and number of phrases — can it be that Trautman has never heard a teenage girl on the telephone?

    As for memorization, I seriously doubt that these prayers will be hard to memorize. The Gloria sure as heck is more logically organized in the new translation than in the old.

    But I can’t see why Trautman is worried. In the American Catholic Church of the eighties, very few children were ever taught to memorize any prayer at all. It was deemed hostile to their wittle bwains to have a “rote faith”. So he should be pleased if they’re hard to memorize!

    Of course, it’s possible that I missed some well-known series of CDs published by Trautman, in which his great concern for memorization forced him to teach children all the standard prayers by heart, as well as how to recite “Lepanto”. But somehow I doubt it.

  7. mitch_wa says:

    I wrote a very cordial letter to Bishop Trautman, thanking him for his passion on this issue and offering to him my opinions and the opinions of my peers (i’m a college student). Doubt it will ever make it into his hands but he says he has letters coming in from people asking him to do something about the new translation, so I thought maybe a letter from someone with a differing opinion would be a welcome change for him.

  8. TNCath says:

    Ironically, Bishop Trautman and many other bishops of his generation are now the reactionaries of this day and age. As we have said, this isn’t about grammar or even choices of words: this is about style reverence and worship. Bishop Trautman and company are scared to death that the new translation’s elevated style takes the “informality” and personality of the priest-celebrant out of the Mass. They see this return to faithful translation as a restoration of orthodox liturgical practice with little room for options. Moreover, they dread that this return to formal language might mark a return to more formality at Mass such as the ad orientem posture, the use of Latin, and more widespread use of the Extraordinary Form. This is why the bishops MUST approve the translations and not let Bishop Trautman get his way.

  9. Rob in Maine says:

    No enough, “We belive,” eh?

    Let add words to other creeds and see how the sound…

    I pledge allegiance to the flag or the United States of America.
    I pledge allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
    I pledge allegiance to one nation under God.
    I pledge allegiance to one nation indivisible
    I pledge liberty and justice for all.

    Hmm… kinda clunky.

  10. AM says:

    I expect that this new translation will make only the briefest of splashes.

    If you consider all the ways (alternate songs, improvisations, approved replacements, things not in the Missal anyway) by which texts used at a typical Mass are not from the Missal, and add the certainty that the old words will be “allowed” for some burn-in period (a year? two?) it seems to me that the new translation will hardly be noticed in the typical parish. Really.

    AM

  11. John V says:

    Ms. Rodgers’s work is usually much better.

  12. GCC Catholic says:

    mitch_wa:

    So long as your letter was cordial, there is a good chance that Bishop Trautman will at least read it – he doesn’t agree with us on liturgy, but he is quite personable. I honestly believe that he thinks that his position is the best thing for American Catholics… perhaps some more respectfully-worded letters might start to change his mind.

    Most important thing… pray for him.

  13. servusmariaen says:

    I suspect TNcath is on to something about this generation of bishops. My question is and has been how did they (such men) rise to places of authority? I’m heartened by bishops who think, speak and act like Catholic bishops (bishop Nickless of Sioux City) but they are very few and far between.

  14. rinkevichjm says:

    The cited translation:
    May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind.
    is slightly stilted and better would be:
    Let us bring before you as bodily penance’s fruit: cheerful mental purity.

    There, without seeing the Latin original, I eliminated all the English articles (which don’t exist in Latin) and the 2 prepositions “of” which probably rendered a Latin genitive. Also without the original, I suspect the Latin verb is a 1st person plural imperative which is traditionally rendered “Let us” not “May we”. And the cited translation implies only one of us will bring “cheerful purity of mind”, I suspect the Latin implied all should.

  15. Prof. Basto says:

    If I were an adviser to the Pope, my advice would be as follows:

    – As Supreme Ecclesiastical Legislator, amend the Code of Canon Law to make it clear that the Pope can remove Bishops from their Sees, and not just ask for their resignation. Of course, this already can be done, but I would suggest amending Can. 416 (that deals with the causes that make a See become vacant) to explicitly include removal (canons 192-195) as one of them.

    – Sack Bp. Trautperson from his See and from the USCCB;

    – As Supreme Ecclesiastical Legislator, promulgate an Apostolic Constitution dealing with the hierarchical relationship between the Holy See and Episcopal Conferences. That Constitution should provide that the offices of President of any Episcopal Conference are to be filled by PAPAL APPOINTMENT (as is already the case regarding the Italian Episcopal Conference). In all Episcopal Conferences, other major offices, such as General Secretary, Chairman of the Liturgy Committee, Chairman of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith, etc, should also be filled by appointment from the Holy See.

    – Bypass the United Conference of Catholic Bishops and declare the English language translations currently under discussion approved by the will of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, commanding the presidency of the USCCB to promulgate the texts and put them in due execution without a vote. Mother Church is not a democracy.

  16. TNCath says:

    servusmariaen: Yes, it’s interesting what goes around comes around. What the younger generation of priests and bishops did during Vatican II and afterwards, to the horror of such longtime stalwarts such as Cardinals Ottaviani, Siri, and others, is coming back to haunt these “spirit of Vatican II bishops” who are seeing the restoration of the hermeneutic of continuity.

  17. Athelstan says:

    I have seen at least one suggestion that when Bishop Trautman came to Catholic University of America last month to propound these views, he was enthusiastically received by his audience.

    There certainly were those there sympathetic to his views (how else would he be invited?). But there were many there who did not share those concerns, and were even, in some cases, dismayed. That wouldn’t have been the case not so long ago here.

    And so it seems to be in the episcopacy. Five, ten, let alone twenty years ago, Bishop Trautman almost certainly could have lined up the votes for his strategy. Today I doubt that’s the case. Several years of generally solid appointments have left their mark on the bishop’s bench. The tide is running against him – and his letter writers. I only wish they could better understand why.

  18. ALL: Some have mentioned a prayer which Bp. Trautman takes to task.

    That prayer includes, as Bp. Trautman cites: “May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind.”

    This is from the Super Oblata for Monday of the 5th Week of Lent:

    Concede nobis, Domine, quaesumus, ut, celebraturi sancta mysteria, tamquam paenitentiae corporalis fructum, laetam tibi exhibeamus mentium puritatem.


    I like the nice hyperbaton in the last clause. This, and the unapologetic reference to purity of any kind, are clues that the prayer is probably ancient.

    Quickly, I do it this way in a slavishly literal way:

    Grant us, O Lord, we implore You, that we who are about to celebrate the sacred mysteries, may show to You a joyful purity of mind as a fruit of bodily penance.


    How would you do it?

    The prayer is based on an ancient oration in the Gelasian sacramentary for the third day of the 5th week of Lent. It runs like this: Concede nobis, domine, quaesumus, ut celeraturi sancta mysteria non solum abstinentiam corporalem sed, quod est potius, habeamus menitum puritatem.

    I was amused to see that the Collect for that day is: Deus, per cuius ineffabilem gratiam omni benedictione ditamur, praesta nobis ita in novitatem a vetustate transire, ut regni caelestis gloriae praeparemur.

  19. Discipulus Humilis says:

    Latin has sentences without subjects, so the literal translation has produced fragments rather than sentences. A “sentence” for Lent says, “Who, after he told the disciples of his coming death, manifested his glory to them on the holy mountain to show, as the law and the prophets also bear witness, that the path of suffering leads to the glory of the resurrection.”

    Is that right? I thought that the “Qui” or “Who” is the subject of the sentence. The issue is that Latin permits relative pronouns to act as the subject of the main clause. Yes/no?

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    The issue is that Latin permits relative pronouns to act as the subject of the main clause. Yes/no?

    Yes. As does English (as I mentioned previously). No problem here, especially with the relative pronoun referring to a noun in the preceding sentence. Especially in language with a poetic character.

    Even though a 6th grade teacher might object, perhaps properly emphasizing (at that level) “simple rules for simple minds”.

    Perhaps this is the point, that some apparently want a “simple Mass for simple minds”? In which case the interesting question is … Why?

  21. Tominellay says:

    …while we’re (still) at it, “All glory and honor is yours” sounds grammatically incorrect to me…

  22. Ogard says:

    With due respect to His Lordship, he is hair-splitting, from what I can see. The Church faces more important matters than to meditate endlessly on the niceties of English grammar. “I think there will be fewer people coming to Eucharist” sounds like a riot, and “We need to stand up. We still have a chance” sounds like a threat. And I suggest that this is an example of unhealthy individualism, from which nobody can benefit. If those “Ph.D.s, monks, parish priests” have a problem with an occasional word or phrase they can, in these days of electronics, easily find a solution for themselves, and shouldn’t hide behind an ordinary churchgoer who, I am sure, would hardly bother voting if the issues of this kind were put on the agenda. Those who care, certainly do not want a pedestrian but the liturgical language. If His Lordship doesn’t know what it is let him familiarize himself with the Slavonic of the Orthodox Church.

    The “American Catholics” are only a proportion of the English speaking Catholics – and not all that renown for their Catholic orthodoxy in these days, by the way. Add to it the large international gatherings at which the English is imposed to the non-English speaking participants… Why should all of us now not only be deprived of Latin, but also compelled to put up with the imperializm of an Americanized English?

    We need a restoration of the lost, thought-provoking, spiritual vocabulary even it is obsolete in daily usage. It doesn’t matter if something is, here or there, “had to understand”. The Holy Sacrifice is a mystery; it is what the Mass is all about; and nobody can claim – can the Bishop? – that it is easy to understand. So what? Should we dispose with the Sacrifice, and replace it with a jolly good party?

    We are told that “it’s irresponsible to approve prayers that people can’t easily commit to heart”. I think His Lordship underestimates the people’s capabilities. Does he speak off hand, or following a statistical investigation?

    The objection to the “I believe” on the ground that the original Greek says “we believe” is out of place. The former is a liturgical expression of the Creed, affirmed by each participant personally, with the long-standing tradition in all Christian Churches; the latter is expression adopted by the bishops at an ecumenical council, and as such couldn’t have been formulated otherwise.

  23. Scott W. says:

    If the people opposed to the translation are the same people who pester us with multisyllabic words like “sustainability”, I don’t think “ineffable” is too much of an exercise.

  24. irishgirl says:

    No such thing as ‘American Catholics’…should be ‘Catholic Americans’ instead!

  25. Athelstan has it right.

    Things are moving, albeit slowly, in our direction. 20 or 30 years ago, Bishop Trautman’s views would have been i nthe vast majority of American bishops. Now they are probably a minority…and growing ever smaller, as many more conservative/traditionalist bishops are appointed by Rome.

    With Archbishop Burke now heavily involved in selecting American bishops, he’ll help to shape the American episcopacy for the next few decades, if not longer. Hopefully, with almost all the bishops tending to lean conservative/orthodox/traditional in 15 or 20 years, the seminaries will get more traditional, the priests will continue to trend toward the traditional, we’ll have much more Latin, more reverence, and an overall reawakening of traditional Catholicism in the United States.

    I have great hope for the future….Bishop Trautman’s views are of the past (the recent past only). Hundreds of years from now, I firmly believe the period of 1965-2010 or thereabouts will be but an anamoly or a blip on the radar of the history of the Catholic Church.

  26. AndyMo says:

    ..while we’re (still) at it, “All glory and honor is yours” sounds grammatically incorrect to me…

    No. There are plenty of problems with the current translation, but this isn’t one of them. I’ve heard priests change this to “All glory and honor ARE yours,” but that’s wrong.

    1. All apples and oranges ARE yours.
    2. All apple juice and orange juice IS yours.

    Both are correct. Why? Because apples and oranges can be counted. Apple juice, orange juice, glory, and honor cannot be counted.

  27. Tominellay says:

    Thanks, AndyMo…

  28. DrM2B says:

    I have never liked the Post-Gazette, I much prefer the Tribune Review in Pittsburgh. This is just another example of poor reporting and lazy research. I, for one, as a stupid pewsitter, like the new translation. If I have to think about what I’m saying – how is this bad?

  29. Kerry says:

    The Anima Christi prayer from Loyolas Spiritual excercises reads: …Oh good Jesus, hear me, Within thy wounds, hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malignant enemy defend me, At the hour of my death, call be, And bid me come to thee, That with Thy Saints I may praise thee, Forever and ever. I read in a little booklet: “Hide me within your wounds…let me never be separated from you…deliver me from the wicked enemy…And tell me to come to You.

    If the latter is at all ineffable, it is ineffable pablum.

  30. Melody says:

    It is true that some of the translations he cites are run-on sentences. However, I still consider this translation light-years ahead of the current one. They can tinker with the daily prayers and release a revised version in the years ahead. The ordinary itself is fine.

    In tinkering with the grammar, very little change would be necessary. Additionally, speaking some prayers is easier if the text is shown in poetry format.

    Here’s my two cents on this prayer:

    “Almighty and everlasting God, for the honor of your name, surpass Your pledge to the faith of the Patriarchs. By sacred adoption increase the children of promise so that your Church may now see abundantly fulfilled what the holy ones of old never doubted would come to pass.”

    Regarding Bishop Trautman’s rather poor regard for the average person’s intelligence, it is obvious that if a person hears the same words week after week they will eventually come to grasp their meaning contextually.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    “Rome requires one international committee to translate for each major language, and this text is intended to serve nations as diverse as Ireland and Pakistan. The bishops can propose amendments, but Vatican officials have final say over the text.”

    This is the key. Somebody get a boat horn and tell the bishops to okay it or get out of the way. They’re holding up traffic.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    “If you consider all the ways (alternate songs, improvisations, approved replacements, things not in the Missal anyway) by which texts used at a typical Mass are not from the Missal, and add the certainty that the old words will be “allowed” for some burn-in period (a year? two?) it seems to me that the new translation will hardly be noticed in the typical parish. Really.”

    AM, that’s where we laypeople come into the picture. When the lay responses are approved for use, I will be going to a parish using them. When elsewhere, if confronted with “funny” illicit responses (like the old ones), I will not be using them. At. All. By golly, I’ve used the N.O. ones (which sound like Dick, Jane & Sally) for years out of obedience. I’m not changing the emphasis on obedience NOW!

  33. CPKS says:

    I’m not seduced by the counting criterion: “Apple juice and orange juice is more expensive than grapefruit?” – I think not. English grammar and Latin grammar are different!

  34. onesheep says:

    After looking through the changes, I’m having a difficult understanding exactly what it is that people wouldn’t understand. Granted, I have some recollection of the Latin Mass from my childhood so I suppose that could be coloring my views but the changes, to me, only enhance what Mass actually is. It’s as if they believe lay people are unintelligent and incapable of understanding anything more than simple words. As pointed out above, in a few years these changes will not be noticed. For me, it brings back more of the reverence for and adoration of Christ that I recall from childhood, and that has been missing from many parishes since the change to N.O.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    No but that’s different, CPKS. Pricing is assigning numbers by units, thus a form of counting.

  36. Daniel A. says:

    “it’s irresponsible to approve prayers that people can’t easily commit to heart”

    To be honest,what lay person ever actually commits the prayers in question to heart? These aren’t new translations of the Hail Mary or anything…these are all in the Mass. I’ve never heard anyone without a missal in front of them reciting the collect for the first Sunday in Advent from memory…all of these prayers will be readily available written and and spoken.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    Yeah, Daniel, but that’s part of the “Spirit of Vatican II” thing. They got everyone to leave their missals home (remember–people used to carry them), because you were supposed to listen to the mass as it was “proclaimed.” The only parts you were supposed to know were the peoples’ responses anyway and they were so dumbed down, I don’t know how anyone could forget them. The music also turned into a sort of cartoon with a leader and missalettes. It wasn’t supposed to sound good–it was sort of the point. It was supposed to be “spontaneous and new” every time, never mind that it sounds like crap when people don’t practice and it’s not familiar.

    So no one sets out (except maybe seminarians) to memorize anything. Memorizing, BTW, was rote learning–another Spirit of Vatican II NO NO. So I don’t know what the heck this bishop is talking about.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    If the bishops really wanted people to understand their faith, they’d get a decent biblical translation (not the NAB which is awful), and use the same one for everything. That way people really would learn something they could remember, look up, take with them, have in times of trouble and all.

  39. q7swallows says:

    I did this up this morning on the fly and while it sounds a little trite now  in the midst of all this erudition, FWIW, here’s how the English translation of the target prayer struck me, a non-Latinist mother. 

    A Lenten prayer says, “May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind.”

    The beauty of this prayer seems not only grammatically correct in English, but it even seems “methodically correct.”  It proceeds in 1-2-3 order:   (1) The forethought and intention of giving a gift that would be pleasing to God (our own conformance to the standard of Jesus Christ) *precedes* the (2) actual doing of it (prescription of bodily penance) and (3) the result is a joyful one:  “a cheerful purity of mind.”  But to me, that finishing phrase is key because it’s the “take-away.”   

    Message:  God loves a *cheerful* giver–not always easy to remember in the penitential seasons.  That you will be (eventually!) of good cheer if you follow  the Church’s disciplines is the take-away reminder that rings like a bell in the memory–at the *end* of that prayer (so no memorization is necessary).  And the cheer of Our Father is The ultimate end to which we were made.  So, dignum et justum est!

    The prayer’s very structure in English evokes the image of a small child who has a bouquet of hand-picked flowers in a scarred little fist behind his back as he approaches you.  As he makes his enthusiastic presentation, it is blessed with the burst of a smile — from both.

    Can’t see anything mangled here, either, Father.  

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    About the text:
    “Concede nobis, Domine, quaesumus, ut, celebraturi sancta mysteria, tamquam paenitentiae corporalis fructum, laetam tibi exhibeamus mentium puritatem.”
    And Fr. Z’s translation:
    “Grant us, O Lord, we implore You, that we who are about to celebrate the sacred mysteries, may show to You a joyful purity of mind as a fruit of bodily penance.”

    Yes, but this is an ancient text, part of an old sacramentary circa the 8th century. These texts often have deep theological meaning if you connect them back to scriptural and theological roots. They have “layers” of meaning relating how the mass is an integral part of the “analogy of faith” as the CCC terms it (paragraph 114). None if this stands alone, you understand. If you meddle with part of it, you meddle with all of it. This is what is meant by “lex orandi, lex credendi.”

    And yes, in a derivative sense, it can and should be used devotionally, but that’s not its only meaning, in the same sense as one might say that religion is surely affective (meaning dispositional), but it’s not *only* affective. There’s more to it than that. (And lack of recognition of this fact is one of the great flaws of the Spirit of Vatican II approach to liturgy.)

    In fact, the Church makes (and has always made) truth claims about the nature of reality that are not dependent on one’s emotional disposition in any way. Example: The Holy Eucharist is Christ’s Body and that doesn’t depend on whether (or how much) you believe (or not) at any given moment–it just IS because that’s the reality of it. It is even possible that one’s faith can be ultimately (in a dark night) devoid of dependence on the affective and still certainly be faith.

  41. al007italia says:

    Just finished rereading Raymond Arroyo’s Bio of Mother Angelica. In it he mentions how buddy-buddy Bishop Trautman & Cardinal Mahony are. Can’t help but wonder how much of this is Mahony’s pushing behind the scenes while trying to keep himself out of the spotlight.

  42. Jeremy says:

    “Can it be that Trautman has never heard a teenage girl on the telephone?”
    Perhaps that is what he needs.

    The new Mass translations are better (they could hardly be worse) but they are still largely for the cloth-eared. The super oblata prayer you quote is a good example.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    I agree, Jeremy, but I’ve been very welcoming of them because they’re better. They mark a turning point, I think, that demonstrates that the revolution is over.

  44. The Cobbler says:

    “May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind.” Not mangled. Diagram the thing. It’s perfect English and I use sentences like that in instant messaging conversations. Once in a while people other than my friends get lost, and my friends laugh because it’s incurably eccentric, but ungrammatical or mangled sophisticated manipulation of prepositional phrases and subclauses is not. Both can be placed anywhere in the sentence so long as they’re not separated from their objects by something other than more subclauses and/or prepositional phrases. People don’t understand this and don’t follow it merely by neglecting to isolate the phrases/clauses as they read, which can easily be remedied by a decent grammar teacher in grade school, if only we had such things as decent grammar teachers. Also, I’ll second the comments on fragments that refer back to the previous sentence being perfectly acceptable in modern English: years ago MSWord’s grammar check whined about starting a sentence with And, but it does so no longer. Further, I’ll super-duper-second the comment about tricky and rambling sentences being _easier_ to follow in spoken English. I started my rambling megasentences by simply writing the way I talked, and then learned sophisticated prepositional phrase and subclause manipulation in order to condense my writing rather than expand it.

    Put it in terms from my namesake from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”: nothing in the new translation is mangled, nor ungrammatical, but merely a tad cobbled — which done right (as this translation appears to be) can be all the better.

    Also, put those PhDs in terms that a friend was quoting to me just earlier today from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”: “Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a university.”

    Now, is it hard for most people? Of course — and people rise to challenges. People don’t learn most of these words in school, we learn by reading books that use them or, horror though it may be to some, attending a decently-translated Mass.