From a priest: “I guess I ought to really learn the EF”

From a priest via e-mail:

Dear Fr. Z,
  Hope all is well.  I am enjoying your foodie kick you’ve been on lately.

I have 2 very short questions.

1. I remember reading somewhere (and it may have been something in an EF hand missal) that every word of the EF Mass was from Scripture or at least based on Scripture.  If this is the case, can you say the same about the OF Mass?  Or shouldn’t that be a key to the new translation of the OF, especially with the collects?

2.  Thank you for the article on the EF from 10/2.  I read it and said "I guess I ought to really learn the EF."  I guess I may actually have time to do that now in my assignment, plus I probably know a few of the newer Priests who are celebrating the EF ….

Thanks for your service to God and the Church

Rev. ____
Diocese of ____

I hope priests continue to write in.  I would like their contributions to be a regular feature here.

1)  I don’t think every word is from Scripture, or that every phrase in Mass has a direct basis in Scripture.  That is surely the case for the proper prayers.  Certainly there are verses of Scripture directly assumed into the texts of the Ordinary.  And nothing in any of the prayers will contradict Scripture.  There will be harmony.  I think this can be said of both the EF and OF.  I know from my study of the Collects, Super Oblata and Post Communions that there are sometimes direct phrases of Scripture to be found in them, but not always.  They are separate compositions for the most part.  And that’s fine!  Our venerable liturgical prayers of Holy Mass constitute their own theological source, as Papa Ratzinger reminded us in The Spirit of the Liturgy.   Translating liturgical texts is not the same thing as translation of Scripture.   That is to say, we mustn’t bend the liturgical texts to say something other than what they say just because there may be connections with verses of Scripture.  That was the dire mistake made years ago in the botched translation of pro multis in the consecration of the Precious Blood.  Because scholars such as Joachim Jeremias had spun an argument that the Lord might have said something in Hebrew or Aramaic (which we really can’t know, can we) therefore in comparison to an assumed connection with versus in Isaiah, etc. etc. etc., we were supposed to make the Latin pro multis and the Greek peri ton pollon mean something they had never meant in the history of either language, and the inspired Greek Scripture account of the Last Supper was wrong.

2) You are welcome!  I am VERY happy to hear that you are going to learn the older form of Mass.  I hope you will drop me a note from time to time to describe how you are progressing and what your impressions are.  I would share them with the readers here.  You could be a real help to other Roman Rite priests who are thinking about learning the rest of the Roman Rite!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TJM says:

    This priest sounds like an absolute jewel. Any parish would be lucky to have him. Tom

  2. TerryC says:

    Father I know that recently you have considered retiring the blog. See how important your blog and the exposure it gives you is to your fellow priest and us, the laity.
    I dare say that it has done more for the mission of the Church than all your other writing or even work at the Congregation.
    I, for one, appreciated it because I believe that it helps priests the world over, who read your words and then go out and think and read and study based on them, be better priests. That has a positive effect on the Church and the laity.
    After all someone has to carry those bricks for the Holy Father.

  3. TerryC: It is costly in time and energy and resources. But I know it is useful.

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