Bp. Trautman is fighting the “ineffable” fight

Bp. Trautman is still on his pogrom against the word "ineffable".

The Committee on Divine Worship is recommending that they keep "ineffable" because it is an accurate translation.   Trautman wants "ineffable" replaced with "divine".

This is crazy stuff.

At least one bishop rose to talk about a sacral language which stretches people.  Thank you!

Remember folks: many of the people dragging their feet on these points do so because they think you are not very smart.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. joy says:

    Ineffable just passed.


  2. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    ineffabilis = Divine?

    What kind of Latin scholar is this guy?

  3. Why are good/accurate/big words such a problem? The average Catholic in the pews probably doesn’t even listen to the prayers. It’s the otherwise interested Catholics who have their own missals who would be the type to reflect on such words. Why water down the language for the sake of those who won’t care, appreciate it, or even notice anyways?

  4. Fr. J says:

    I was skimming “Entertainment Weekly” in my eye-doctor’s office recently, and I counted three uses of the word “ineffable.” Two times, it was used to describe the beauty of Kiera Knightly, and once it was used to describe a particular landscape in Vancouver. Hmmmm.Shame on “Entertainment Weekly” for using a word the general populace could not possibly understand!!! LOL!!!

  5. RichR says:

    If this whole translation debacle has taught me anything, it’s that there is definitely a place for using the Latin missal…even in the Novus Ordo.

  6. dominic1962 says:

    Why does Rome even bother to “recommend” things? Why not just say, “This is your official translation. If you don’t like it, tough.”

  7. Kristen says:

    And once again, my beloved Bishop makes me glad I am moving to San Antonio.

  8. enough with the watered down language…if the Pope can use huge words with teens, the least we can have is ineffable

  9. Just saw my bishop, Victor Galeone, give his comments. Sigh. I had to smile when he quoted the beginning of a collect and said “Sounds beautiful in Latin, but in English…” If only we could just stop right there.

  10. Will says:

    Dominic, I agree heartily. Rome has given the various bishops’ conferences far too loose a rein.

  11. Christina says:

    I think divine is a very poor substitute for ineffable…and this is from someone who just googled it for the definition. Personally, I believe one reason why I do so poorly at scrabble is because everything is lowered for the “least intelligent” among us. Why do they want to keep us uneducated?

  12. joy says:

    Looks like Bp. Trautman now has a problem with the psalter.

  13. I thought the new Bishop of Lansing, Michigan, Earl Boyea, formerly a Detroit Auxiliary, won the day with his response to the whole discussion:

    “Just teach the people what ‘ineffable’ means!”

    There were some hardy chuckles.

  14. joy says:

    So we have to have a crummy psalter because of royalties?
    Explains a lot…

  15. Emilio III says:

    The problem is that until they get rid of the NAB they cannot “fight the good fight”. The best they can do is to “compete well”. (I have to shudder whenever I hear that phrase. :-)

  16. opey124 says:

    Good GRIEF! If we can find our way to mass and back home, can’t we look up words and ask about things we don’t understand?

  17. mpm says:

    Shame on Bishop Trautman — at his age he should be cutting down on the psalt!

  18. LeeB says:

    They have changed “visible and invisible” to “seen and unseen”….not the same thing.

    They have changed “creator” to “maker”….also not the same thing.

    All this dumbed-down bland terminology makes me ill.

  19. Sean says:

    Hey, I ain’t dumb! I know what ineffable means. It means it can’t be effed.

  20. Sean says:

    Whoops, I didn’t know eff was a vulgar British term.

  21. Matt says:

    Does anyone know where we can take a look at the new Revised Grail Psalter? The ineffable internet has a lot of links to news stories about it but nowhere can one actually read it apparently…

  22. joy says:

    Fr. Z,

    Can we email the Vatican and ask for the original to be approved without the ‘downgrades’?

  23. Jordanes says:

    LeeB said: They have changed “visible and invisible” to “seen and unseen”….not the same thing. They have changed “creator” to “maker”….also not the same thing.

    They changed those things in the current (mis)translation of the Missal, but in the corrected translation that is expected to be ready for use by 2012, it is once again “visible and invisible” in the Creed, not “seen and unseen.” As for “Creator” vs. “Maker,” the Latin of the Nicene Creed says factor, maker, not creator, which is what it says in the Latin of the Apostles’ Creed.

  24. ThomasB says:

    Why do they want to keep us uneducated?

    Christina – did you miss the election results last week?

  25. Jordanes says:

    P.S. I have known what “ineffable” means since high school, and I was no straight-A student. The idea that people don’t know how to use Dictionary.com so we shouldn’t translate ineffabilis but substitute a completely different word altogether is simply absurd, and I am embarrassed for Bishop Trautman that he would even contemplate it let alone persist in advocating it publicly.

  26. patrick f says:

    About to go to a council meeting tonight, so feeling particularly “church militant”.

    I think part of the problem is some of these men, are to quote mother angelica “more educated than their intelligence can handle”. I will give you an example. I work in IT. I know lots of brilliant tech people that dont know the first thing about how to fix anything. I think there are some “scholarly” people like that. They can tell you a whole bunch of whatever, and not really show they know anything. Personally I think people who are opponents of others being educated are some what insecure in their own knowledge base. Sometimes even men of “Pius” job scopes sometimes forget that they too are human.

  27. Baron Korf says:

    “How shall our thoughts be elevated if our words never are?”

    –Table of Contents in the Pontifical North American College Manual of Prayers

  28. Christina says:

    Christina – did you miss the election results last week?

    There was an election?

    Joking somewhat aside, if they had allowed us to be educated maybe we would have understood what an “informed conscious” really meant. I wonder how many of the bishops who are advocating for dumb language softened their preaching so people would feel OK voting against life…

    ineffable aside, I think I agree with changing gibbet (as long as they do a good substitution…perhaps gallows?) Why, you ask? Well, “The gibbet of the cross” sounds a lot like “the giblets of the cross”. Although it may cause people to question the Eucharistic aspect of the cross (giblet, thanksgiving, eating, Eucharist…etc) it may not be the best vernacular word to use.

  29. Andrew says:

    Since most pews are already crowded with books that shouldn’t be there like missals, missaletes, hymnals (hymnals with no Nihil obstat or Imprimatur where I am), newsletters, donation envelopes…why not just plunk a dictionary in for those who can’t figure it out from the context.

    May I recommend something by Lewis and Short or Stelten’s “Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin”…they’d go nicely with bilingual missals.

    Of course, if the black was said and the red was done, in either form, then people might grasp ineffable.

  30. Christa says:

    Father Z,

    I hope you got to see the afternoon session…PLENTY of good stuff. Lots of bishops making strong pro-life statements, and the Bishop of Scranton was especially effective.

    Also, they passed the psalter (I think) and the wording for the translation (again, I THINK this is what they did) and also continued non-funding of Acorn.

    They also let it be known they hired a FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT to go over Acorn’s books!

    Fascinating and cheered me up immensely!

  31. Jonathan says:

    I am a regular reader of this blog and also a resident of Erie, PA, of which Donald Trautman is the bishop.
    While I consider myself to be somewhat of a traditionalist, and while I don’t always agree with the opinons of Bishop Trautman on the liturgy, I think his intentions are truly good.
    Anything I’ve heard or read from him on this issue, he always seems to genuinly care about the people being able to understand and participate in the liturgy.
    Aside from the liturgy, Bishop Trautman is a kind, prayerful leader of my church and I respect him.
    I think it is very wrong to allow opinions on translations to cause us to put people down and call them names, such as a clown. As followers of Christ, we are called to love one another, even if we have different opinions on translations. Honestly, what is more important? Translations or our love of God and one another?
    It is fine to disagree, but be respectful about it.

  32. Tominellay says:

    Can we expect an improved translation of the “Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso…” prayer coming out of these discussions?

  33. Angelo says:

    Bp. Trautman attempts to dumbdown for the same reason other liberals like to do it. That way, little by little they can whittle, whittle, whittle away the truth of things and replace it with their intentional misleadings. He’s my bishop and I have been watching his shinanigans for years. “Must….keep…pushing…agenda!”

  34. sacredosinaeternum says:

    The translation has passed. Deo gratias. It’s about time!

  35. ckdexterhaven says:

    I’m so unedumacated, I think I’m going to call him Bishop FISHman. sincerely, Joe Sixpack

  36. Jack007 says:

    How long, O Lord, do we have to suffer through Trautman? Anyone know when he reaches 75?

    June of 2011.

    This too… err, he too shall pass…

    Jack in KC

  37. Jordanes says:

    Bishop Trautman will be 75 on June 24, 2011. That’s less than 2 years and 8 months away. Not very long, and he’ll be gone when the new translation is finally implemented.

  38. TNCath says:

    “Ineffable” is a vocabulary word in my 9th grade students’ vocabulary list. If they can handle it, I feel sure Bishop Trautman will eventually get the hang of it.

  39. Franzjosf says:

    I have to disagree with two of you:

    Christina: I think that we ought to be able to suffer through “sounds like” and keep our dignity. Every year I have to each ‘cum’ to my Latin I students; inevitably, I see a smile register on the faces of a couple of students. We make it through, and in a day the potential snickers dissipate.

    Jonathan: “I think his intentions are truly good.” “He always seems to geniunely care about people . . .” I don’t doubt you, but he doesn’t deserve any special credit for normal Christian behavior. Certain laudable Christian virtues don’t prevent one from being wrong on specifics or from having a wrong-headedness on a given issue. In fact, he has a stubborn, unteachable attitude on these translation issues. The premise behind his agruments is flawed, intentions notwithstanding. One cannot always refrain from pointing out error simply because the person in error is nice.

  40. GJP says:

    The richest irony would be if Fr. Trigilio was named Bishop of Erie to replace him. It probably wouldn’t happen, though.

  41. shadrach says:

    Gibbet must stay. It does have meaning, and will gain meaning once it is used.

  42. joy says:

    Recently I came across an article on education which stated that for whatever reading level a child is at, he or she can comfortably handle two new words per page of text. Ineffable and gibbet can be the two words for the first page, and then we can have two more on the next, and so on. Before you know it we will have mastered Missale Romanum!

  43. Nicola C says:

    I have been following the new translation process with interest. If I can teach my soon to be 9 year old what ineffable means (which is my job as Mum), why is it that some of our Bishops think that the congregation as a whole won’t be able to understand? Apologies if that sounds sarcastic, I don’t mean it that way, it is something that has bothered me since I first read about it.

    I’m not a big fan of dumbing something down to make it more accessible. People use the same argument to water down Shakespeare too, and you know what? Shakespeare is so much more beautiful in it’s original prose. I refuse to believe that having to go look up a word in the dictionary, or having to read a phrase a couple of times in order to understand it is a bad thing. Whether it is me looking it up to explain it to the children, or us all looking it up together. God bless the Bishop who “rose to talk about a sacral language which stretches people”. That’s my kind of Bishop!

  44. Mark says:

    The Ordinary Form of the Mass is itself a dumbed-down “translation” of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass… always inferior, always oversimplified, always less… when they are finally done tinkering with the inferior form, I pray they will all come running back to the clearly Superior Form once and for all. Why do they even bother with a new translation? The Novus Ordo is a sinking ship with too many holes to plug… I say let it sink out of sight.

  45. Jimbo says:

    Bishop Trautperson tried Bishop Trautperson’s best, but evidently the word ineffable IS capable of being uttered, and will be, in the new missal.

  46. If he wanted the language used at Mass to be simpler, he could appeal to Rome to have them change “ineffable” to “divine” in the Latin. But, regardless, the translation shouldn’t be the place to make such changes.

  47. Trevor says:

    Anyone else notice many of these “improvements” are not substantially different from the originals from ICEL? It really just seems the USCCB is tweaking the translation for the sake of tweaking the translation.

  48. RBrown says:

    I have been following the new translation process with interest. If I can teach my soon to be 9 year old what ineffable means (which is my job as Mum), why is it that some of our Bishops think that the congregation as a whole won’t be able to understand?
    Comment by Nicola C

    The truth is that men like Bp Trautman are pathetically out of touch, lost in the clerical liberalism of late 60’s and 70’s. Their dioceses are the ecclesial version of ENRON.

  49. MPod says:

    “He’s my bishop and I have been watching his shinanigans for years.”

    What precisely would these be?

    “One cannot always refrain from pointing out error simply because the person in error is nice.”

    I believe Jonathan’s point was that it’s okay to do this, but it must avoid name-calling and the kind of utter nonsense one finds all-too-often in this comment box.

    Bishop Trautman is fundamentally wrong on the principles of liturgical translation, and the new translation will be a huge improvement over what we have now. Yes, it will take some time for us to get used to it, but it will be for many of us a most welcome opportunity.

    That having been said, Bishop Trautment is still a bishop, a successor to the apostles, and is more than just nice. Let the one who would maliciously mock his age, his name, or his intention, suggesting that he is trying to destroy the faith or the Church, tread rather with charity. What would the Master say?

  50. A person can be sincere, but they can also be sincerely wrong.

  51. joy says:

    Did the psalter pass?

  52. Franzjosf says:

    “Bishop Trautment is still a bishop…”

    If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Bologna, as soon as you enter Saint Petronius Cathedral turn immediately to your left and walk toward the first chapel. Place a coin in the slot, and look at the fresco on the left wall. There you will see bishops in Hell.

    Yes, I know my response is out of proportion to your remark. But do you get my point? I must respect the office of bishop, not the man. Lest you misread me: No, I do not think Bishop Trautman is going to hell over a word, nor do I condone ad hominem attacks, but what is your difinition of ad hominem? If one hears quacking and sees webbed feet, is it wrong to call it a duck? Is ‘shenanigans’ ad hominem? No, it is speaking of actions, not the person. There is a difference between saying, “He did a stupid thing,” and, “He is stupid.”

  53. AnAnonymousSeminarian says:

    RBrown (and likewise for several others here),

    The truth is that men like Bp Trautman are pathetically out of touch, lost in the clerical liberalism of late 60’s and 70’s. Their dioceses are the ecclesial version of ENRON.

    I’m studying in Erie for an outside diocese. I assure you, it has its rough spots (I’d even say there are many), but this is completely off base. I can’t say that I always agree with the Bishop, but he is hardly “pathetically out of touch,” and the Diocese is nowhere nearly as bad as an “ecclesial version of ENRON.”

    I would agree with Jonathan’s analysis above.

    If you don’t agree with Bishop Trautman on this issue, that’s fine, but don’t go jumping to conclusions about people that you do not know.



    Christian charity demands we not attribute motives unless we have certainty of them. Regardless of what “shinanigans” (sic) you have noted from the Bishop in the past, I doubt they are enough to conclude what you have concluded.

  54. MPod says:

    “Is ‘shenanigans’ ad hominem? No, it is speaking of actions, not the person. There is a difference between saying, ‘He did a stupid thing,’ and, ‘He is stupid.'”

    I couldn’t agree more. I am not questioning the meaning of an “ad hominem” attack (I never even used the term). But what are the “shenanigans” he has been up to in his diocese? Angelo’s contention was that he’s guilty of years of “shenanigans”. I would simply like to know what they have been, that’s all.

    I understand well the difference between a bishop’s office and his use of it. I would just like to know what Bishop Trautman has done to warrant such calumny against his person as is often seen here. Like I said before, I believe he is very wrong in his opinions on the issue of translation.

    But it’s one thing to be wrong on the issue of translation and another to be systematically trying to destroy the Catholic faith. He’s been accused of both. I find no substantiated grounds for the latter charge.

    You see, it’s really easy to pen in these comment boxes all kinds of things. I for one would just like to see more facts and less rhetoric, or at least a balance of facts with rhetoric. When someone rolls out name-calling, non-factual attacks, generalities, judgements of motive, and the like, I can’t respect that. No one should.

  55. Matt Q says:

    Here’s the short of it. These coots who are supposed to be pastors, and the liberal Democratic politicians and policy wonks are of the same ilk. They think they know better, we’re stupid and know nothing and therefore need them to make decisions for us.

    A true Conservative would teach one how to fish so that he may fish for himself. A liberal insists he provide you with the fish, how you may obtain the fish and how to eat it. If you complain about the fish, well how dare you. You’re ungrateful, you’re making yourself sound better than the next guy, and of course, we know that’s hate speech.

    This is the world we live in and this election will solidify everything. PC run amok. People cluck now. We’ll see even at least one year from now what we’re chatting about.

  56. Father Bartoloma says:

    Fr. Z,
    I’m surprised you let the com box open on this one!

  57. Maureen says:

    The good bishop Trautman may indeed be a man of outstanding virtue and piety. But every time we non-Erie folks see a statement by him, it seems to be all about how John and Mary American Catholic are stupid, and that’s why we can’t have nice things.

    No doubt these things leave a misleading impression of him, but he does say these things and stand behind them. Gosh, I wonder why anyone would be upset.

  58. Akira Yamadori says:

    Bishop Trautman should resign.

  59. Akira Yamadori says:

    I think maybe that it is accurate to say that Bishop Trautman represent a mindset in litrugy etc. which is of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. At that time, everything was swept away replaced by relaxed and easy to understand modern liturgy. The more sacral language to them is reminicent of the past they tried so much to destroy….including maybe Pope Paul VI also tried to destroy it.

    It must be very frustrating for these people who so much tried to destroy the liturgical treasures of the Church, to see the very language and other expressions of Catholicity returning…not as nostaliga for the aged Catholics, but as reference points of devotion for millions of young Catholics who love it.

    Best thing for people like that, including Trautman, is to resign if they can not accept the inevitible.

  60. PNP, OP says:

    Perhaps my brother priests will back me up on this…I often see (especially in the US) a sort of embarrassment among the older clergy (50’s-60’s) regarding the Rules of the Church. It’s hard to describe, but it’s something like a reluctance to represent the Church as she is…a kind of shame around the obligations Catholics have freely taken on by becoming or remaining Catholic. Back in the mid-1980’s when I was an Episcopalian, we had a priest at my university who twisted himself into knots apologizing for having the Eucharist celebrated on Sunday evening. He was forever trying to get his student advisory council to plan some event to replace the Eucharist b/c he just knew that students were coming to Church out of a sense of “have to.” He simply refused to believe us when we told him that we wanted the Eucharist. Finally, someone said to him, “Father, is it that you think we don’t want the Mass, or are you the one who doesn’t want the Mass?” That seemed to open his eyes. He’s now an Episcopal bishop.

    Advocates of what I call “fish market English” in the Mass disguise their contempt for beautiful language by appealing to the alleged stupidity of the folks in the pew. I don’t know and can’t know absent a confession from the man himself what Bishop Trautman’s motives are for opposing perfectly good English words. What I would really love to ask Bishop Trautman is, “Bishop, regardless of the alleged stupidity of the laity, why do YOU hate this language so much?”

    Fr. Philip, OP

  61. It is time to close this down. Again, those who don’t know how to self-edit are out in force.

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