From the Archive: Priest refuses to use new translation in consecration of Precious Blood. Invalid?

FROM THE ARCHIVE. (Since a couple people have recently asked about this through email.)

From a reader:

If I had to guess, there are probably many priests throughout the US who are refusing to celebrate the Mass according to the new translation.

My question is, “Is the Mass invalid if a priest uses the old words of consecration?” I am sure we can all agree that it would be illicit, but is it invalid? I am asking this because I am wondering what I should do if I encounter a Mass where the priest uses the old translation.

The consecration is NOT invalid if the priest uses the obsolete, incorrect words for the consecration as they were in the obsolete, incorrect and now illicit-to-use old ICEL version.  If the priest says, for example the incorrect and now illicit, “for all”, purposely, he is probably committing a sin if he is doing so out of contempt for authority and because he thinks he knows better.  It would, nevertheless, be a valid consecration.

What should you do?

If you are just dropping by that parish and you don’t have regular ties there, think twice before doing something.  You are not there often enough to know if the priest is simply making a mistake because of an old habit – it happens! – or whether he is defying the Church’s authority and causing scandal at the most solemn moment of Holy Mass.

If are at your regular parish, then I suggest you consult my tips for writing to bishops or offices of the Holy See.

I suggest, first, a conversation with the priest if possible.  Then follow up that conversation with a writing letter about what was said.  If that doesn’t bear fruit, then send copies to the local bishop.  If that doesn’t bear fruit, send copies to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.  I think it is always best to work on these things at the lowest possible level of authority, (parish – diocese – congregation).  The same applies if the priest is a member of a religious order in one of their chapels or churches or institutions.

At the end of Redemptionis Sacramentum we read:

6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

Again, priests can slip up out of habit.  I knew a priest who – once in a while  - used to say “Paul, our Pope” during the Canon… in the ’90′s!  Words repeated every day of a priest’s life can become ingrained and pop out unexpectedly.  If a priest is doing something all the time, that is another issue.

But if he slips here and there, cut him a little slack.

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24 Responses to From the Archive: Priest refuses to use new translation in consecration of Precious Blood. Invalid?

  1. frjim4321 says:

    It would probably take a lot to render any Eucharistic prayer invalid inasmuch as their are anaphoras which have no institution narrative which are nevertheless valid.

    This evening after the second time through the Advent I presidential prayers I just had to laugh about how horrible they are. “Profit us?” LOL.

    After a year I have found its not to hard to tidy up the prayers on the fly, there are a few simple rules for doing so.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    their = there

    the iPhone did that, not me, I know how to spell (really hate how iPhone takes control of my typing)

  3. oldcanon2257 says:

    frjim4321 says:
    1 December 2012 at 8:29 pm

    This evening after the second time through the Advent I presidential prayers I just had to laugh about how horrible they are. “Profit us?” LOL.

    @frjim4321

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/advent/commentary-on-advent-proper-prayers.cfm

    Comments from text in the above link stated, “This prayer was newly composed for the 1970 Latin edition of the Roman Missal and is based on two sixth-century Roman prayers that were subsequently lost to the liturgical tradition.

    I only have 2 words to offer you: “Bugnini” (artificially constructed/re-constructed) and “antiquarianism” (Remember the condemnation of antiquarianism in Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Mediator Dei“?)

    There were many more laughable translation in the now-obsolete/illicit old ICEL translation of the OF Roman Missal, but I don’t remember having seen you complaining about them here?

    Since you’re laughing at “profit us”, you would most likely LOL at the “Common Preface IV” as well, since it says:

    It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
    always and everywhere to give you thanks,
    Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

    For, although you have no need of our praise,
    yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift,
    since our praises add nothing to your greatness
    but profit us for salvation
    through Christ our Lord.

    ==> If you find certain parts of the new ICEL translation laughable, then by all means, you ALWAYS have the option of saying the either part or the entire Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in its original Latin text according to the Missale Romanum Editio Typica Tertia. If you did so, wouldn’t you be truly obedient to the true spirit of Vatican II which the council fathers had envisioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium, #36 (“. . .the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”)?

    Simple solution, yes? Whichever priest of the Latin Church having some complaints about the new vernacular translation of the Mass text, let him simply say the Mass using the original text in the mother-tongue and universal liturgical language of the Latin Church as it has been originally intended.

  4. frjim4321 says:

    oc, neither I nor anyone I know saw the 1973 product as being any more than a temporary text while a fitting and beautiful text was prepared. We are still waiting, on both counts.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    My pastor began saying the new translation pretty faithfully, with some honest mistakes here and there. Then a month or so later he began saying “for all” and changing several other words, phrases, etc. I waited a while to see if these were honest mistakes or what. It was a month or 2 later that I wrote a very nice letter to him. About 3-4 months after that he suddenly began saying “for the many”, and has been ever since. Perfect? No… but at this point, I’ll take what I can get!

  6. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    It would probably take a lot to render any Eucharistic prayer invalid inasmuch as their are anaphoras which have no institution narrative which are nevertheless valid.

    The only one I know of is the anaphora of Addai and Mari.

    1. I think it makes little sense to compare the Roman Rite, whose liturgy is a linear movement toward the Institutional Narrative, with the anaphora of Addai and Mari, in which the intention to consecrate the species into the Body and Blood is obviously present but without such a direction.

    2.Minimal intention (always general–to do what the Church does) is only valid because the Intention of the Church is specified via the liturgy (Sacramental Form, e.g., Hoc est enim corpus meum). This guarantees validity for very active priests whose minds can be occupied with non Sacramental obligations.

    3.It seems to me that with the anaphora of Addai and Mari minimal intention would not suffice for validity.

    4. Generally, the rites of the Eastern Churches tend to be contemplative (cf Vat II). They are not intended for busy parochial clergy who celebrate the Eucharist with parish problems on their mind. And so it is unlikely that minimal intention is a factor. IMHO, the Roman Rite (i.e., 1962 Missal) serves well both contemplative and very active clergy. In fact, one of my chief criticisms of the present way mass is celebrated (Novus Ordo, vernacular, versus populum) is that it tends to militate against the contemplative core of Catholic life (cf. The Soul of the Apostolate—Dom Chautard).

    This evening after the second time through the Advent I presidential prayers I just had to laugh about how horrible they are. “Profit us?” LOL.

    At least, you’re laughing. For 40 years I have often left parochial mass disgusted and insulted by the superficial posings served up by the clergy and various “ministers”.

  7. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z said, ” I think it is always best to work on these things at the lowest possible level of authority, (parish – diocese – congregation). “

    What about writing to the Apostolic Nuncio, too? Is that appropriate?

  8. smad0142 says:

    Few people have actually looked at the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. It does lack the traditional Institution Narriative, but it clearly has moments such as, “The Holy Body and Blood of Christ our God is present on the Holy Table.” That is a paraphrase, but the formula is fairly common for the East. For example Byzantines baptize, “The Servant of God is N. is baptized in the Name of…” So while the Narrative may be absent there are obviously places wherein the Celebrant has the intention to consecrate and words that closely mirror such an intention.

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    This evening after the second time through the Advent I presidential prayers I just had to laugh about how horrible they are. “Profit us?” LOL.
    Spoken by the truly impoverished. Refusing to use Latin, but unwilling to become even marginally educated in his supposed mother tongue. So fixated on the dumbed-down, lowest-common-denominator, elementary-reading-assessment approach to the language that he sells his birthright for a mess of pottage.
    Even Cranmer, with all his faults, understood the depth and richness of timeless English. The trendy pablum of 1973 is, in contrast, horribly dated and chained to a brief (and soon to be forgotten) nadir of the English language.
    For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?

  10. LisaP. says:

    Is there a simple list somewhere to help identify if a consecration is invalid? Visiting a parish today and many things seemed hinky. When the priest elevated the host, he raised a whole pile in a dish ( forgive my ignorance, I don’t know the terms) . Is this normal? I’ve only ever seen, to my bad memory, the priest raise one host. In addition, he may have broken off a piece of the host and place it in the chalice, but if he did I missed it. I got concerned and directed my daughter not to go up, stayed in the pew myself, but we remained kneeling in case I was making something of nothing.

    Is there a good reference for really clueless folks like me for this stuff?

  11. Random Friar says:

    Yes, please start at the lowest level possible, preferably with the “offending” priest. Escalate only if necessary. You parents would rather have your kids work out their differences among themselves, right? Work it out with the priest first, if possible.

    I also struggle with a couple of words out of habit. The big one being “everlasting” and “eternal.” I see the ‘e’ and go into automatic. I can no longer remember some of the English of the older translation for the Order of the Mass, which helps.

  12. Fr AJ says:

    After a year of the new translation I’m loving it. It has taken some getting used to but it’s simply so much better than what we had before.

    I feel so bad for those who have to endure liturgical abuse. If I were not a priest, I’d have to seek out an Extraordinary Form parish or Eastern Rite, I just couldn’t take much of what I read here of what people experience in the OF.

  13. acardnal says:

    Lisa P., get a copy of the GIRM (the General Instruction on the the Roman Missal). It’s available via Amazon. It explains what the priest is supposed to do at Mass.

    http://www.amazon.com/General-Instruction-Missal-Liturgy-Documentary/dp/1601371764/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354497832&sr=8-1&keywords=girm

  14. ordinary means says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong here but if a priest purposefully used the incorrect words. He would be Anathema.

    Trent VII CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at pleasure by the ministers, or be changed, by every pastor of the churches, into other new ones; let him be anathema.

    Plain english
    Canon 13. If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, accustomed to be used in the administration of the sacraments, may be despised or omitted by the ministers without sin and at their pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones, let him be anathema.

  15. LisaP. says:

    acardnal,
    I always assumed the GIRM was a huge book with a leather cover that cost $215 that I couldn’t understand anyway! Thanks very much, it’s on the list for the next round of purchase.

  16. frjim4321 says:

    american mother, you have committed the common error of presenting the false dichotomy of ICEL 1973 vs. VC 2010. We easily could have had elevated language that was not a cumbersome of oafish as the present text while still being a much more polished product. For instance ICEL 1998. You seem to purposely ignore that I have frequently acknowledged that nobody thought the ICEL 1973 was meant to be a permanent text, nor that it was perfect.

  17. pmullane says:

    One of the many positives I have noticed since the introduction of the improved translation is that Priests who would ‘tidy up prayers on the fly’ in the older, poorer translation (because they thought they new better than Holy Mother Church) are less likely to do so with the new, improved translation. Only at one local parish does the priest use the older translation for some of the propers of the Mass due to the use of peoples missals by the parish which have all the old translations. I suspect this will be remedied when these books are replaced, and it would be churlish of me to complain too much unless I offered to stump up the cash to replace the out of date books. It seems that a better translation of the prayers of the Mass have had the effect of making things more standardised ansd helped to cut out the abuses though.

  18. mhazell says:

    @frjim4321: We easily could have had elevated language that was not a cumbersome of oafish as the present text while still being a much more polished product. For instance ICEL 1998.

    Sorry, Father, ICEL 1998 was and still is garbage. A prime example of translators overstepping their remit and boundaries. Thank God we didn’t end up with that mess.

    However, it’s probably ICEL 1998 that we have to thank for Liturgiam authenticam, and thus also the new improved translation we now have – you know, the translation that 70% of people in the USA think is a good thing! So I suppose there is a silver lining after all… :-)

    And if you don’t like the new translation, get yourself the 2008 Latin editio typica tertia and use that instead.

  19. robtbrown says:

    LisaP. says:

    Is there a simple list somewhere to help identify if a consecration is invalid?

    If the priest designates the bread and wine as the Body and Blood. Thus:

    “This is My Body” and ‘This is . . . My Blood” suffice for validity.

  20. LisaP. says:

    robtbrown,
    Thank you, that makes things much more straightforward for me.

  21. acardnal says:

    robtbrown, you are correct assuming valid matter was used. I have unfortunately attended at least one Latin Mass where it was not.

  22. An American Mother says:

    frjim,
    I’m well aware of 1998, which was rejected out of hand for good and sufficient reason (such as “gender inclusive language” and other abominations, to-wit doubling down on “dynamic translation,” usually called by reasonable people “making stuff up”.)
    The usual consequence of the application of doctrinaire political thinking to sacred matters.
    The fact that some of 1998′s language was less flat and banal than 1973 (talk about damning with faint praise!) does not redeem these serious flaws. Literary merit (such as it is) has to come after accurate translation.

  23. ajf1984 says:

    A related question (and maybe it’s overly-scrupulous to be concerned with this…): if, in fact, the priest uses the illicit translation (for all/for THE many, for example) either deliberately or accidentally in confecting the sacrament, is there any reason for a member of the congregation to refrain from receiving the Sacred Species so consecrated (assuming he is properly disposed to receive, of course!)? I’m not speaking of a canonical directive or anything of that nature, mind. I would think that, since It really and truly is Christ made present, there would be no reason not to receive. But…any thoughts?