Bp. D’Arcy on the new translation

A kind reader alerts us to this:

Please find below a statement from my diocesan bishop, His Excellency the Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy [of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend] regarding the recently-approved new translations of the propers of the season.  He describes the Mass as ineffable!  The excerpt is below and the issue of the diocesan newspaper in which it appears is attached.

So here is the piece, with my emphases and comments.

A new translation

We also approved, after intense discussion, and a number of amendments, many prayers to be included in the new missal. [It must go to the Holy See for approval.]  Our readers may wonder why the church is, once again, looking to change the prayers at Mass, which we have been praying now for many years. Let me say, that I am entirely supportive of this change. [Wise.] The new translations restore a certain sacredness to the words in these prayers.

My old friend and former colleague, Archbishop Al Hughes, served on a commission in Rome, where he goes several times a year, called “Vox Clara” (“Clear Voice”). The archbishop, like myself, graduated from Boston College High School, but I dare say he is a much better Latinist than I am. Remember, the church has very little experience with Mass in modern languages. [Good point.  It is really an unheard of aberration.] For 500 years, the text of the Mass of the Roman rite was Latin, which at one time was almost a universal language.

The effort was to protect the sacredness of the text, and also to protect sound theology. An excellent job has been done, and we expect within a few years there will be a whole new translation of the Mass. I am not anxious about that change. I welcome it and support it.

Surely, there will be a serious pastoral responsibility, especially on the part of priests and bishops to work hard to prepare our people for this change. But I have always found
that if we catechize and teach properly, if we explain the reasons for it and show that this is better and more beautiful, our people will rally behind it. It is a pastoral task, which we can face together. 

Also, the Mass is not something that we make up. [Amen and amen.] We receive it as a gift, an enormous and ineffable gift from Christ through the church. This translation would be better English, more sacred, and will help us to pray. It is a change, which is foundational and helpful and will require the collaboration of all of us. 

Also, this is favored by the Holy See, and a keen obligation of the bishop is always to be in communion with the successor of Peter.

WDTPRS kudos to Bp. D’Arcy.

Also, on p. 16 check out the good commentary on posture for Mass during the Our Father.  There are commonsense observations about holding hands, etc.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Improved translations are indeed an improvement, but what guarantee are they that the celebrant will actually use them? A priest I know has excised the word “sacrifice” from the translation of the Orate Fratres.

  2. TJM says:

    I used to live in Bishop Darcy’s Diocese and I am proud to say he was one of the few bishops who distinguished themselves in the clerical sexual
    scandals. He dealt with errant priests as one would hope. He is very orthodox. I chuckled when I saw him use the word “ineffable.” Apparently
    the good bishop does not feel such words are above the mental capacity of his flock. Good for him. Tom

  3. Deo gratias…Hopefully the texts will actually be used. I know of some places where sacrifice has been moved from the Orate Fratres as well. One of the greatest things about having Mass in a language you don’t necessarily speak, you can’t make up things on your own, since if you do, you could possibly say something completely different than what’s intended.

  4. Joe says:

    what does this mean? “For 500 years, the text of the Mass of the Roman rite was Latin, which at one time was almost a universal language.”

  5. Joe says:

    Isn’t it literally incorrect to say that the Mass is ineffable? The Mystery of the Eucharist is ineffable, but the Mass as a form of words is effability par excellence! (I’m grinning as I type this if you can’t tell)

  6. dcs says:

    what does this mean? “For 500 years, the text of the Mass of the Roman rite was Latin, which at one time was almost a universal language.”

    It means that His Excellency Bp. D’Arcy forgot a 1 – it should be “1,500 years.”

  7. Maureen says:

    Please fix the italics on the main page!

  8. Thomas says:

    Yeah, baby! Shout out to my alma mater, Boston College High School. Add Cardinal Cushing to the list, too.

  9. Did he say, “ineffable?”

  10. Jayna says:

    Amen on all counts. I will be printing a copy of that page about the Our Father and giving it to a few people around the church. I have tried from time to time to just keep my hands folded, but I’ve had people actually grab my elbow and pull my hands apart. So it’s forced, but it’s not technically official. This is what it looks like at my parish during the Our Father. You see all those people in front of me? That’s the center aisle of the church. Now, if that’s not “promot[ing] a sense of unity or community that is allegedly lacking in the liturgy”, then I don’t know what is.

    RBrown: There’s no way they could get away with a wholesale rejection of the new text. Frankly, even if they’re screwy with one word, I’d still be happy about the translation. As it stands now, when they change or omit words (my parish has completely eliminated any gender specific words) it’s only going from bad to worse.

  11. RCABSem says:

    A very good article, It’s nice to see that some BC High grads get it as well!

    God bless him.

  12. shadrach says:

    Might this have an impact on the way students act during masses in Residence Halls at the University of Notre Dame?

  13. shadrach says:

    Can anyone account for the (re)introduction of the ‘orans’ position into common usage among congregations in the latter twentieth century? Who started it? Who spread it?

  14. Jayna says:

    shadrach: As far as I know, using the orans position for prayer came out of the Catholic Charismatic movement (which started with the Pentecostals) that emerged in the late 60s (big surprise there). I imagine that it was able to sneak its way into the mainline Church in large part because of Vatican II. It severely deemphasizes the role and importance of the priest, and some of the more radical ones do the whole healing and speaking in tongues routine.

  15. TJM says:

    Well shadrach, the Notre Dame students who attend the TLM in Alumni Hall are very well
    behaved. I’ve seen it personally. Tom

  16. Tomás López says:

    Shadrach (May I call you Hananiah?)–

    It seems to come from the charismatic renewal, see here: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/07/orans-posture-and-hand-holding-during.html.

  17. Bishop D’Arcy will be offering the Traditional Latin Mass for the diocese and particularly for the members of the St. Mother Theodore Guerin Latin Mass Community in both Fort Wayne and South Bend. I do not know about Fort Wayne, but he will offer the TLM in South Bend on January 18th at St. Patrick Catholic Church, South Bend, 7:45 am.

  18. Dr. Eric says:


    Your picture isn’t half as bad as I’ve seen this aberration. I’ve seen people reach across several pews to grab someone else’s hand. I’ve seen people turned around facing away from the altar. I’ve seen a person’s arms crossed in front because s/he had to hold other free arms. I’ve personally had my hand pried out from under my child as I was holding him.

    As and aside, the Maronites all use the Orans, I don’t know if it is an abuse or not. But they do use the posture during The Lord’s Prayer.

  19. Matt says:

    The article on the Pater Noster posture misses (perhaps deliberately) a key argument against the use of the orans posture by the faithful. While the norms do not comment on the posture of the people, I’m quite certain they clearly delineate the posture of the deacon and altar servers who are to adopt the traditional posture of hands together throughout the prayer. It seems to be an obvious dischord to have the people adopt posture o fthe priest and not that of the altar servers in this case.


  20. Michael J says:

    Zenit (http://www.zenit.org/article-8728?l=english)seems to give contradictory advice about this. They state (when discussing hand-holding) that
    “The process for introducing any new rite or gesture into the liturgy in a stable or even binding manner is already contemplated in liturgical law. This process entails a two-thirds majority vote in the bishops’ conference and the go-ahead from the Holy See before any change may take effect.”

    and when discussing the orantes posture by the faithful:

    “Therefore, in the case of the Our Father, the orantes posture expresses the prayer directed to God by his children.” indicating that there is no problem with it,

    but then follow up with:

    “The U.S. bishops’ conference debated a proposal by some bishops to allow the use of the orantes posture while discussing the “American Adaptations to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal” last year. Some bishops even argued that it was the best way of ridding the country of holding hands. The proposal failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of votes, however, and was dropped from the agenda.”

    The best I can come up with is that it probably should be discouraged. Yes, I know that many europeans think nothing of it, and that it is an ancient practice depicted in the catacombs and that it still is preserved in the Eastern rites, but in the English speaking world, this gesture does not seem to carry the same meaning.

  21. Jayna says:

    Matt: Some parishes (including mine) have the priest holding hands with the deacon and altar servers, so everyone adopts the same position. The reason that is problematic is because it gives the impression that it is an official stance of the particular parish and that not doing it is somehow presenting oneself has not engaging with the rest of the congregation. Last week at Mass I had a cold, so I was able to get out of hand holding. It’s too bad I can’t use that excuse every time without someone thinking there’s something terribly wrong with my health.

  22. Joe says:

    With respect, I think Mr MacMichael’s comments about holding hands, while perhaps commensensical, somewhat on-target, and even well-intended, are counter-productive. For example, he says “it would be misguided to hold hands during the Our Father if it is meant to promote a sense of unity or community that is allegedly lacking in the Liturgy. Not only can this easily become superficial or devolve into a wordly understanding of solidarity, but the principle source of unity should always be the Liturgy.” First, where does he think the idea of holding hands came from in the first place? Secondly, the Liturgy has a structure and a dynamic. To hold hands during the Our Father is to pre-empt the Sign of Peace which is to come – it is like telling the groom he may kiss the bride before before the Gospel is read. It isn’t wicked or anything, but it contradicts the flow of signs and symbols that inform the Liturgy. It is not an ancient liturgical gesture. To say that it should not be mandated, and those who wish to do it “should recognize and respect that many are uncomfortable with such an intimate gesture” assumes that the rightness is with those who do choose to hold hands. And in fact it is unreasonable to believe that it is possible to do something that is entirely at the choice of individuals that others will not feel pressured to do. The first person who holds out a hand to a stranger is pressuring them – to reject a hand held out is a very strong gesture in the West.
    I think Mr MacMichael would have done better to stick to the good liturgical principle that nothing unnecessary, no matter how well intended, should be added to a public celebration of the Liturgy.

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