H.E. Most. Rev. Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie, inveterate champion of inclusive language and die-hard proponent of ever-shifting "dynamic equivalence" for liturgical translations, has a piece in US CATHOLIC. There is also a US CATHOLIC POLL & SURVEY about what you prefer for liturgical language.
Before reading this, keep in mind that at the last USCCB meeting in November, even Roger Card. Mahony shot down Bp. Trautman’s ideas.
Remember… there is a POLL and then a SURVEY.
My emphases and comments.
Lost in translation
American Catholics shouldn’t have to suffer through a liturgy that isn’t even prayed in proper English.
By Bishop Donald W. Trautman, S.T.D., S.S.L., the bishop of Erie, Penn. and former chair of the USCCB Committe on the liturgy.
Please respond to the questionnaire that immediate follows this essay.
I was leading a group discussion on the merits of the renewed liturgy of Vatican II when John, a middle-aged businessman, commented, “I can’t imagine my life without the liturgy; it strengthens me each week—but I never understood the Mass until we had it in English.” Some in the group said the liturgy was why they became Catholic; others said the liturgy was why they stayed in the church. All of these individuals had experienced the power of the liturgy to transform lives. That liturgy is about to undergo a face-lift with a new translation of the texts for the Mass.
What prompts this new translation? In 2000 Pope John Paul II authorized a new edition of the Roman Missal, the book that contains the texts for the celebration of the Mass. The new translation of it will be ready for use as early as next year.
In 2001 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued new principles and directives for translating from the original Latin into the vernacular in a document called Liturgiam authencam. [sic… it should be authenticam] Following these new norms, the translation of the new Missal has intentionally employed a “sacred language,” which tends to be remote from everyday speech and frequently not understandable. For example, the Preface, or opening of the Eucharistic prayer, of the Assumption says of Mary’s delivery of Jesus, “She brought forth ineffably your incarnate Son.” [This is the big problem for Bp. Trautman. He does not think that sacred liturgy should have a sacred language. But we must reject the premises he worked – not very slyly – into that statement. Sacred language does not have to be "remote" or "hard to understand". On the other hand liturgical language shouldn’t be banal to the point of being intellectually offensive and it must accurately convey the content of the original. And it should not be everyday speech.]
When the bishops at Vatican II made the historic decision that the liturgy of the church should be in the vernacular, [Year in and year out Bp. Trautman purposely leaves out the other side of the story: the Council said that Latin was to be retained. He purposely leaves that out.] there was no mention of sacred language or vocabulary. [Nor does the Bible have the word "Trinity" in it. Had you suggested to the Council Fathers that liturgical language didn’t have to be "sacred" in style, they would have laughed at you.]The council’s intent was pastoral—to have the liturgy of the church prayed in living languages. Translated liturgical texts should be reverent, noble, inspiring, and uplifting, but that does not mean archaic, remote, or incomprehensible. [He is back to the premises you should be rejecting.] While the translated texts of the new Missal must be accurate and faithful to the Latin original, they must also be intelligible, proclaimable, and grammatically correct. Regrettably the new translation fails in this regard.
Did Jesus ever speak to the people of his day in words beyond their comprehension? Did Jesus ever use terms or expressions beyond his hearer’s understanding? [ALL THE TIME! He had to go back constantly and explain things! But the Church also has a teaching office, right? We can explain what is hard.] Jesus did explain the parable of the sower privately to his disciples in Mark (4:10-12) and Luke (8:9-10). In John 6 many of Jesus’ disciples found his Bread of Life discourse hard to accept. In these instances it is the message—not its vocabulary—that requires further explanation. [Which is why there have always been problems with translation down through history, right your Excellency?]
[Okay… I have a flight to catch. you WDTPRSers can do this too.
UPDATE 1801 GMT… now working from my seat on the airplane… somewhere over… probably Pennsylvania… maybeeee…. Erie?]
Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy showed pastoral wisdom [This phrase should set off an alarm. Liberals of a certain age will invariably set "pastoral" against anything they don’t like. If they don’t like something, it isn’t "pastoral". Very often anything that requires thought, effort, etc., isn’t pastoral. The "intellectual" is always, in these cases, not "pastoral". ] when it specified that liturgical texts should “be within the peop le’s powers of comprehension and normally not require much explanation” (#34). [His Excellency has repeatedly suggested that people in the pews are not smart enough to understand the new translation. I think he is wrong. Just my opinion, of course.] But in the new Missal, there are whole prayers that are extremely difficult to understand. For example, in the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, the prayer after communion reads, “Let the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, O Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of his dew.” In the epiclesis, or the invocation of the Holy Spirit, in Eucharistic Prayer II the celebrant will pray at the epiclesis: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” [For several years, His Excellency has been going on about dew. Perhaps it will be possible to preach about what this figure means? Dunno… it’s biblical, after all.] What will people understand by “the sprinkling of the Holy Spirit’s dew” and “dewfall”? The words are pregnant with poetry and scriptural meaning, [Wait a minute! You mean to say that the words are actually gravid? They are going to have a baby? Or is this a figure of speech…. like … say "dew"?] but if they fail to be understood by the average worshipper, they fail pastorally. Or consider the opening prayer on the Monday of the fifth week of Lent: “May we bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a cheerful purity of mind.” What do these words mean?
Some proponents [Who could he mean? Hmmm….] of the new translation maintain that obscure words present a catechetical moment for the homilist to explain. But should the homily be used for unraveling technical, archaic, and unusual words? The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says that the homily should be rooted in the biblical readings of the Mass (#24) and should proclaim God’s magnificent works in the history of salvation (#35, 52). [I see. Sooo… you should never mention anything that isn’t specifically about the magnalia Dei? So…never tell a story from your own life or, gasp, a joke. Never cite poetry or mention music, or sports. Never… well… it’s best just not to preach, I guess, except maybe to reread the readings themselves. For pity’s sake, that was a little embarrassing.]
[Okay… I am on board this flight, but the browser is screwing up my formatting… Sorry… I will eventually correct this.]
A major defect of the translated Missal is the number of lengthy, cumbersome sentences. Translated liturgical texts involve public proclamation and must be intelligible to the assembly on first hearing. The prayer after the third reading at the Easter Vigil (#26) has one sentence of 65 words in 10 lines. [Reminds me of the Emperor in Amadeus.] In the Preface of Christ the King there are 13 lines and 88 words in one sentence. Eucharistic Prayer III begins with 70 words in one sentence. How will this promote intelligible and meaningful prayer? How can the assembly remember what is being prayed for?
[Landing soon… must sign off soon.]
In almost all instances the opening prayers, prayers over the gifts, and prayers after communion follow a single-sentence format with one or more clauses. Again and again proclaimability and comprehension are sacrificed for the sake of maintaining the Latin single-sentence structure. [His problem is with Liturgiam authenticam in this matter.]
But Latin word order is not English word order. Rigidly following an artificial word order undermines the natural rhythm and cadence of the English language, thereby stifling comprehension and diminishing participation in the Eucharist. [I don’t think that is what was done, for the most part.]
American Catholics have every right to expect the translation of the new Missal to follow the rules of English grammar. [American Catholics have every right to expect accurate translations which don’t betray a secularist tinge.]
The new translation of the Nicene Creed is a good illustration of flawed English. Presently the creed is divided into four parts, each headed by the phrase “we believe.” In the new translation there is only one introductory phrase (“I believe”). This results in incomplete sentences for the different articles of faith.
For example, the newly-translated creed reads: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” This sentence ends with a period, but the very next article of faith simply begins: “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” Another article of faith begins in the same fashion: “And one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.” Neither is a sentence since they lack a subject and predicate, and they are respectively 26 and 32 lines distant from “I believe.” Such formulations hurt clarity and intelligibility.
The American bishops in 2006 approved and sent to Rome the text of the creed that repeated “I believe” for each article of faith, since that repetition clarified the prayer and provided proper sentence structure. Rome eliminated this recommendation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. [I guess Rome must have a reason.]
Should we pray a text that is grammatically flawed? [Is he advocating that people refuse to use the new translation?] Should we teach our people to pray with incorrect English? Spanish-speaking Catholics pray the new translation of the Nicene Creed repeating “Creo,” “I believe,” four times, but English-speaking Catholics will pray the same new translation saying “I believe” only once. Where is the consistency?
Vatican II specified a pastoral approach [There it is again.] in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: “Both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify. The Christian people, as far as possible, should be able to understand them easily” (#21). Paragraph 34 of the constitution offers an even stronger statement, that rites and texts “should radiate a noble simplicity. They should be short, clear, free from useless repetition. They should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.” [The Second Vatican Council also said that pastors of souls should be sure that their flocks can both sing and speak the parts pertaining to them in Latin.]
These statements of the council constitute a pastoral principle for judging the translation of the new Missal. [See my comment, above.] As texts of a conciliar constitution, they trump all instructions on translation and should be the guiding norm for the translation of the new Missal. [His Excellency is obviously in error on this point, otherwise Rome would not be preparing the translations of the antiphons.]
But this pastoral style [All a bit vauge… right? "Pastoral style"?] is missing in the new translation, which is especially evident in Eucharistic Prayer III. Presently we pray: “Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters and all who have left this world in your friendship.” This is a clear, straightforward, hope-filled, understandable prayer. However in the new Missal it now reads: “To our departed brothers and sisters and to all who are pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom.”
Contrast the phrasing: “welcome into your kingdom” versus “give kind admittance.” The first is inspiring, hope-filled, consoling, memorable. It conveys the thought, “Lord, welcome, open your arms”; “give kind admittance” is dull and lackluster, reminding one of a ticket-taker at the door. At the funeral of your loved one, do you want to pray, “Lord, welcome into your kingdom my loved one,” or do you want to pray, “Lord, give kind admittance to my loved one”? [Is His Excellency suggesting that the sentiments of people who have lost their grandmother should be the criteria for how we prepare a translation?]
When the Holy Father gives approval to the complete text of the new Missal, the real task begins. It will then be incumbent on bishops and pastors of the church, along with others in liturgical and educational ministries, to catechize and convince the people that the new Missal is an improvement on the current one. Is that completely true? [It will be when bishops and priests explain is in a positive light.]
POLL… Pay attention to the US Catholic POLL on liturgical language.
Will you vote?
Results at the time of this first posting….
UPDATE 23:57 GMT:
Look what happened!
UPDATE 8 April 1536:
UPDATE 9 April 1958: