ASK FATHER: Priest continues to use old, outdated translation for Mass

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Pater, our parish priest has this book “Vatican II Weekday Missal” which he uses to celebrate Holy Mass. The problem that it is the old translation of the Missal.

My question is, when we attend that Mass using the old translation, does the bread and wine transubstantiates into the Body and Blood of Christ? Is that Mass valid or not?

If he sticks to the book, the text as it is in the now outdated and illicit book, he consecrates validly.  Provided there are no other serious problems, Mass is celebrated.

He should not be using that book.  He is obligation to use the current translation.

You might drop him a note asking, politely, why he is using the outdated and illicit text.  I suspect that his reason is that he doesn’t like the new one, for one reason or another.  If he persists in using the outdated text, you should inform your diocesan bishop, with a copy of the priest’s response.

If that doesn’t produce any results, you should notify the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

By the way… if he doesn’t like the new translation, he can always use the proper language our our sacred worship, Latin.

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24 Responses to ASK FATHER: Priest continues to use old, outdated translation for Mass

  1. Gerard Plourde says:

    I have to say that I was surprised by the initial opposition to the revised translation. I found the more formal and more precise language to be welcome. The Church has given us a great gift to hear the and participate in the great prayer and sacrifice that is the Mass in our native languages. To hear that a priest is stubbornly resisting use of the approved translation is disheartening.

  2. Papabile says:

    Simply because I am interested, not with an intent to indict particular people (read Pastors/Priests), I have set up a google form to record liturgical abuses. It requests a Date, Name of Diocese, Name of Parish, Zip Code and a Description of the type of liturgical abuse.

    My intent here is to geographically group what’s going on by zip code, and overlay it on a google map with dioceses identified by location.

    I am going to give this form a few weeks to see if it catches on.

    The link is here: https://goo.gl/eIYQal

    Have fun.

  3. Veritatis Splendor says:

    Papabile, I really like that idea. I’ve always been of the opinion, mainly based on the lack of extraordinary forms(which emerge around kookiness) and personal experience, that my area of the country, the northeast, while not all that great, is a lot more consistantly liturgically okay than other areas. Some more data would be most helpful.

  4. While I don’t deny the new translation has some bumps, the histrionics about it deserve to be recalled, in order to tell the truth about so much of what is really going on in these matters. There is a problem of narcissism at work in much of the Church in the U.S., affecting clergy and laity. We absorb it from the ambient culture.

    A side note: in case anyone is wondering, the illustration our genial host provides with this article is surely not of the outdated Missal. The artwork in the old missals were every bit as drab and insipid as the translation, at least as were produced by a certain publishing company I would rather not name, but it rhymes with Rapholic Nook Mublishing. Their newer missal, to their credit, was a major step up.

  5. VeritasVereVincet says:

    I don’t deny the new translation has some bumps

    Quite literally the only thing that ever convinced me any part of the retranslation was necessary is Father Z’s weekly collect posts. I can’t stand the clunkiness of other parts, especially the Nicene creed. Good heavens, the poor Nicene creed.

  6. friarpark says:

    I’ve been told that the current translation does not make sense in some of the Eucharistic Prayers, I suspect that there is a lack of understanding of the Prayers and how and whom they are to be addressed.

  7. Charles E Flynn says:

    @Papabile,

    Here in Rhode Island, both our electricity and our natural gas are provided by National Grid Plc, of London, England (not London, Connecticut).

    While one might object to the obvious disadvantages of such an energy monopoly, it must be acknowledged that the company makes regular helpful improvments to its electrical power outage map. In a recent development, as soon as a crew has been assigned to repair a particular electrical power outage, a tiny hard hat icon appears at the map location of the outage. If only the Catholic Church could provide, updated every fifteen minutes, estimates of when liturgical abuses were expected to be remedied.

  8. Scott W. says:

    Perhaps start a little more subtle. That is, get a group to offer to donate a new missal and don’t even mention it is updated.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I like Scott W’s suggestion. It is charitable and gentle.

    And heck, it could be that Father is just reluctant to lay out cash, or wants to see the new weekday missals before buying one, or is so used to his old book that he has a hard time getting a new one. Some people just are natural late-adopters or have a lot of inertia and procrastination. (As a procrastinator, I can relate.)

  10. frjim4321 says:

    I suspect that one of the reasons they changed the color of the new sacramentary was because the older one would stick out like a sore thumb..

    I’ve figured out how to clean up many of the orations on the fly so that they don’t sound so bad. I had the ’73 EP’s memorized so I don’t need the older book.

    Count me among the significant cohort that finds the 2010 Vox Clara work to be a grotesque parody of liturgical prayer, both an insult and a heart breaking disappointment.

  11. Papabile says:

    I do need to clarify, that I am actually sympathetic to those Priests who may not want to change the translation. It is what they were formed with, and if we truly believe lex orendi forms one, I understand the resistance to change.

    I do think the idea of wholesale change by“date certain” is something that is NOT in accord with tradition. Of course, in the past, the easy changes were done with a pencil to the latin. And, it is NOT that way with translations. However, I do think it was short sighted to mandate a date certain change in the translation. I would have made it a 5-7 year process. That’s pretty short in the span of history.

    And this is coming from someone who almost always attends the Pian rite now.

    With that said, not using the new rite is an abuse, and I want to overlay where this, and other abuses, are happening … so please fill out the form.

    https://goo.gl/eIYQal

  12. Papabile says:

    I also have to comment… one of the first responses to the form I received was from St. George in the Hartford Archdiocese.

    I was confirmed in that parish from the days of Father McSheffrey…..

    I will always remember the time he walked up to me (in the fifth row back — when I was 12 — at the Kiss of peace and said “Pax Vobiscum.” It was out of the blue, and everyone was clapping their hands and chanting “Amen” (quasi-evangelical stuff — no tounges). I responded, somewhat ironically, “Pax tibi, Pater McSheffreyiensis” (yes.. I know)…..

    He looked at me in stunned silence.

    Then, he moved on quickly. He looked uncomfortable and distressed. I still snort a little inside.

  13. mpolo says:

    Wholesale change by “date certain” is how the ordinary form was introduced in the first place. I know a priest who was ordained in November just before “date certain” and was instructed to celebrate the first month in Latin and only from the beginning of Advent begin with the newer form.

    I was recently visiting the States and found it interesting how subtly strangeness creeps in. In our parish, a liturgist had convinced the pastor that the ordinary form forbids genuflection in the entrance (and exit) rites. I showed the associate pastor where the GIRM makes it clear that genuflection is done at those points, so at least he has changed back… And of course the “blessings” at communion, which are essentially unavoidable there, especially at the school Masses, where some 10-15% came up with crossed arms to request it.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    The artwork in the old missals were every bit as drab and insipid as the translation… Martin

    First of all, that’s a very subjective opinion.

    Second, as almost everyone knows, the 1973 ICEL product was never intended to be permanent.

    Rationalizing the imposition of the 2010 Vox Clara tripe on the basis of it correcting certain aspects of the 1973 ICEL work is disingenuous at best.

  15. robtbrown says:

    Papabile says,

    I do need to clarify, that I am actually sympathetic to those Priests who may not want to change the translation. It is what they were formed with, and if we truly believe lex orendi forms one, I understand the resistance to change.

    A priest friend now in his late 60s would laugh and shake his head about the reaction of many veteran priests to the new translation. “You would think they were being told to say mass in Greek.”

    Which reaction raises the question whether vernacular liturgy produces narrow minded, inflexible people.

  16. robtbrown says:

    FrJim4321 says,

    Second, as almost everyone knows, the 1973 ICEL product was never intended to be permanent.

    Which of course was a prime reason for the importance of Latin liturgy Cf. John XXIII Veterum Sapientia.

    Ironic that permanence of life is expected in marriages, religious vows, and Orders when the liturgy, the source and summit of the Faith, is anything but.

  17. JamesM says:

    FrJim4321 says,

    Rationalizing the imposition of the 2010 Vox Clara tripe on the basis of it correcting certain aspects of the 1973 ICEL work is disingenuous at best.

    First of all, that’s a very subjective opinion.

    Second of all, the clergy around the world just had to “suck it up” when the 1973 ICEL was published. I wish those who had been so happy to use the translation thrust upon them then, were so willing to use what they were instructed to use now.

    When it comes to approved translations, for better or worse, opinions don’t matter. (Subjective or not) Clergy are only permitted to use those liturgical books which the Holy See has authorised.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    James,

    Yes, I agree that my assessment of the VC2010 is subjective, but it is shared by many as a recent poll has verified.

    Second, I’m not willing to “suck it up,” as you said. To much ego strength, I guess.

    Finally, I don’t know of any presider anywhere who follows the rite perfectly. I’ve yet to see it.

  19. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear frjim,

    I think that one of the reasons for the division of opinion lies in the differing views of what a translation should do, that is, whether a translation should adhere closely to the words of the original or whether it should try to capture the essence of what is being said and express that essence in a way that is proper to the aesthetics of the recipient language. Unfortunately, English prose writing (and most certainly American English prose writing) has adopted an aesthetic of “simple and direct” thanks to Hemingway and Strunk and White. While this may serve well in our native prose writing, it may be inappropriate for liturgical language which attempts to convey complex theological concepts (although I think it could be argued that Strunk and White would probably prefer the single word “consubstantial” to the three “one in substance” even if it meant a trip to the dictionary”). I, for one, find that the new translations give me more “meat” to consider and in some cases to give me wonderful images to contemplate. (To cite two of the more commonly recognized examples from the Eucharistic Prayers – “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall” as opposed to “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy” and “you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name” as opposed to “From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name”). I should add that as a lawyer I am susceptible to the occupational hazard of desiring more complex sentence structure.

  20. KatieL56 says:

    At least he used the old form ‘by the book’. The priest at my territorial parish (I’ve been stuck here since January 2014) ad libs THE ENTIRE MASS. He uses bits and pieces which paraphrase some of the older Prayers (especially the cup shed for all part) along with the distressing habit of many in this and nearby dioceses through the 70s and beyond, the ‘balancing’ act of adding in words. For example, if a prayer mentioned something like, “accept Lord the sacrifice of our hands” he will say, “accept, Lord Father God, the work and wonder of these, the gifts and goodness of our hands and our hearts”. . .you get the picture. He never says a penitential rite of any kind, no Kyrie, no Gloria, no Creed of any kind. . .because you see, we are supposed to ignore the ‘front pages in the song book’ in order to ‘engage in active participation’. Unfortunately, ‘active participation doesn’t mean that the PEOPLE are doing any of the prayers (such as the Gloria, Creed, etc.), it is FATHER who is doing all the speaking. (He is of course wildly popular among ‘the people’). I’m raising my 2 and 4 year old grandsons and I can’t even take them to our nearby church to Mass (though we often go in and pray and light candles for their departed grandpa); we have to travel miles away (to another state yet) because I can’t even be sure Mass was valid. Always illicit of course but to even have the validity a constant question tears at my soul. And yet, as I said, he is very popular and I think truly means well. . . but I think he’s tragically wrong.

  21. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    James,

    Second, I’m not willing to “suck it up,” as you said. To much ego strength, I guess.

    See my comment above about narrow, minded inflexible people.

  22. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear KatieI56,

    What you describe is liturgical abuse on the grand scale. The Gloria (except in Advent and Lent) and Profession of Faith are indispensable parts of the Sunday celebration of Mass. And, as for ad libbing, I understand the desire for spontaneous prayer in the context of privately addressing God with one’s own needs but that has no place in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  23. Iacobus M says:

    “By the way… if he doesn’t like the new translation, he can always use the proper language our our sacred worship, Latin.”

    Good point, Fr. Z. Latin is still the official language of the Mass, including the Ordinary Form. And everything sounds better in Latin.

  24. Fr. Jim: “Finally, I don’t know of any presider (sic) anywhere who follows the rite perfectly. I’ve yet to see it.”

    Nor have I seen any priest follow liturgical norms properly who refers to himself as a “presider”. [BAM! Direct hit.] Consequently, the term “presider” invariably brings to my mind the phrase “liturgical abuse”.

    But I’ve seen numerous celebrants who follow the OF norms carefully, precisely, and reverently in celebrating Holy Mass.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award