On the new, corrected translation. Wherein Fr. Z rants and reacts.

Liberals who don’t like the new translation either don’t like the clearer theology of the prayers or the sound of the prayers.

The usual tack they take is people are too stupid to understand the new texts.  This has been the mantra for a long time now, since long before the new translation was approved by the bishops conferences and then by Rome and then emended by Rome.

I think people will take to the new translation pretty well.  Yes, there will be a period of adjustment.  It’ll be okay.

As far as being too dumb… well… when I was seven years old my grandmother, who had been in her long life a school teacher, gave me sets of LP records of Shakespeare plays.  At first I didn’t understand them at first, but I was fascinated by the sound of it and in time I got them just fine, thank you very much.  I was changed by them.

I am not saying that the new translation is anything like Shakespeare.   Not at all.   I have read the Eucharistic Prayers aloud in PODCAzTs.  During Lent I have include the corrected versions of Collects in LENTCAzTs.   They are not Shakespeare, folks.   They are in some respects more challenging and awkward to read than many of my own slavishly literal versions I worked up for the sake of prying the Latin originals open, versions I never intended to be anything like liturgical, blunt instruments for the sake of study.

When I read them and heard them read aloud, the new, corrected translations do sound like translations.  But I have gotten to the point, as I have said before, it is often okay for a translation to sound like a translation.

Ehem… they are translations.  Latin is our liturgical language, not English.

With that as a prelude, there is a good post at CMR about the different sound of the language of the new, corrected English translation of Mass.

My emphases and comments.

The New Mass Translation – The Power of Fancy

by Pat Archbold Tuesday,

I may be weird, but I am looking forward to the new translation of the Mass.

It’s not that I am secretly a Latin scholar who has for years lamented improper translations. I am not. I don’t know my e pluribus unum from my ad nauseum. But I like the idea that the language will be fancier. I like fancy language. Fancy makes things seem special. [He is on the right track here.]

Fancy can take the the otherwise mundane and elevate it and make it memorable. [the lame-duck texts are so indecorous, any new translation would have meant an elevation.]

Do you remember those Merchant Ivory films from twenty years ago? They were all the rage back then. They won all kinds of awards and stuff. One I remember in particular, Remains of the Day.

Remains of the Day starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Hopkins plays a stuffy, emotionally repressed butler who never gets up the nerve to ask the maid out until it’s too late. This plot isn’t just mundane, this plot is mundane’s older but even more boring brother, humdrum. I would rather read Brecht while listening to Zamfir on the pan flute than watch this movie.


You throw in some fancy tuxedos, fancy language and some fancy British accents and Bam!! Eight academy award nominations. Fancy did that.

And I remember it twenty years later. Fancy did that, too.

I have been convinced for years that if men started wearing bowler hats again, workplace productivity would go up 20%. It’s the power of fancy. [What he is really dealing with here is called decorum theory. He is talking about the effect of our contact with and pursuit of the aptum and pulchrum.]

Who among us, after watching a Shakespeare play, does not feel as if their IQ went up 20 points? I like to watch Shakespeare movies for no other reason than to look down on the people coming out of the Matt Damon movie in the next theater.  [He lost me with the second part, even though I am sure he is making a funny, but that first part is surely right.  Especially in this day of horrific English, which makes us stupider day by day, hearing Shakespeare does make us smarter.]

Let’s look at this another way. What happens if you take away the fancy? Would the prom still be the prom if everyone wore shorts and flip flops? No, then it would be like a regular summer Mass. But I digress…  [Has the big question occurred to you yet?]

Fancy matters because fancy helps us remember that what is going on is special. And what is more special than the Mass? If a little elevated language can remind us how special the Mass really is, isn’t that a good thing? If a few thees and thous and a consubstantial can remind us to lift up our hearts, to lift them up to the Lord, I say all the better.

So while some may lament that the new translation is too, for lack of a better word, fancy, I say bring it on. Bring on the fancy. Sursum corda and all, whatever that means? But it sure sounds fancy.

His scriptis, do you want fancy?  Want elevated language?

Just. Use. Latin.

Why is this so hard for the Latin Church to remember?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I suspect you’re mostly speaking to the converted. We’re not bringing Christ to the world thru the church, we’ve been worlding the church.There’s a lot of oft repeated but no less true for that,on how each of we post-war generations have got the more used to being spoonfed with pap, drive-in conveniences…….. I too, am a victim if I don’t get what I want when I want it, already.
    But may I add another from experience? 11 kids as we have been blessed with imposes a number of differences willy-nilly. My singlechild Godmother was struck , on becoming Catholic, by the question of dressing and undressing immodestly, it had never ocurred to her”I just dress!” ( 40s brit etc then lacks of central(or much) heating, yearround openwindows and scarce hot water, if any, meant you didn’t linger, neither!).With 13 people huggermugger in a 3 bedroomed flat with one bathroom, the issue arises and is dealt with as you go along. Equally with doors: openplan offices are a con , but near doorless homes – all the magazines have openplan homes, even spacious ones we’ve been shown are ..well , I remember a dwelling we were shown with only 2 doors: the entrance and the loo. You gotta large family, you find you need lotsa rooms, lotsa doors, lotsa different behaviour in different spaces, just to survive sane from day to day. One doesn’t need much prodding to appreciate the value of sitting a touch formally as a family at one meal a day….
    I’m NOT saying a large family member gonna be ipso facto godlier.(DV it may be so!) Rather, on the question of liturgy etc , will they be the more predisposed, of necessity, to the idea that through each different door , that of the church the moreso, is a difference in what you can expect and experience and what is expected of you, that doyourownthing and let it all hang out wherever, whenever is a nonstarter in this life.

  2. becket1 says:

    The translation may be better Father. But by watching these instruction videos from the USCCB website. Everything else hasn’t changed one bit. Not one mention of Gregorian Chant or ad-orientum. Still, contemporary music, priest facing people, altar girls and EMHC will dominate the NO Mass. Where is the hermeneutic of continuity were waiting for?. http://www.youtube.com/user/usccb?feature=mhsn#p/c/2/Bh-jp7RYsTE

    [You make a good point. There is still a long way to go. The biological solution is going to be of great help. As younger men start taking positions of power, things will change more quickly.]

  3. markomalley says:

    I think that one other reason why liberals don’t like the corrected translation is that it won’t be nearly as easy for them to ad lib. (At least some of) The laity in the pews are actually going to have to pay attention and follow along with the Ordinary…at least for a while. And then they will recognize when Father is winging it and when he is actually “saying the black.”

    ((insert evil horror-film bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah here))

  4. sulldjjr says:

    Not exactly on point, but related: I have a professor at Catholic U who begins every semester with the following statement – if we cannot bring ourselves to dress as if something special were happening, perhaps nothing special is happening at all…

  5. anilwang says:

    Yes and no.

    The key thing I see is that there are two types of “fancy” just as there are two types of beauty. It’s easier to explain from the perspective of beauty, so I’ll do so. One type of beauty is secular beauty. It invites you to take pictures, to get lost in the wonder of the art, and to tell the world about the art. The second type of beauty is sacred beauty. It makes you go down on your knees and worship God. It elevates your soul towards God and causes your to not think of yourself or your emotions and instead on the mystery spread before you. The first type of beauty is a distraction and detriment to the faith. The latter type, is essential to the faith. The first type is the face of a fashion model. The second type is the face of a saint which might not be beautiful by secular standards (e.g. Mother Teresa).

    Fancy is this way too. I’ve known more than a few lofty speeches that get standing ovations that people forget two minutes after it’s presented. I’ve also known simple but profound speeches that left people cold (at the time), but left an impression on peoples minds for decades.

    The mass should contain both sacred beauty and sacred loftiness. While not perfect, I agree, we are moving in the right direction.

  6. benedetta says:

    In areas where the liturgy has become warped into a lot of unpredictable practices, it is also pretty typical that children are taught that the Eucharist itself is a mere symbol, or a banquet or meal, or mostly bread. In my formation in this approach, when I eventually had opportunity to attend Mass where the belief and teaching in the Eucharist went hand in hand with the celebration of the liturgy, I too came to believe more intensely and it was the first time in my life when I experienced the reality of prayer. So I am not entirely sure that, in the places where liturgy has become a just as superficial show as in the eras which are so vociferously criticized, we are given the opportunity to pray, to connect. So depth of prayer which can come with a more beautiful or intense translation, is simply, not appreciated. While people are interested in the arts and culture and demand that their children study Latin roots in school in order to perform that much better on the SAT test, the idea that it still serves as an excellent basis for prayer is entirely foreign. I myself have to remind myself frequently when I discover the life of one saint or another revered by the Church that the Mass was not as it is now. It points to the disconnect at work in the asserted propaganda: surely a liturgy that has been so derided and condemned, by our Church leaders, cannot have been so fundamentally “evil”. And, contrary to what the elitists would say to someone like me, when I was permitted to also adore Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist in beautiful liturgy, I got the social teaching of the Church, that much more so, and my comprehension of the preferential option for the poor, that much more energized into concrete acts. Beautiful liturgy does not always mean “expensive finery” or “aristocracy” as has been portrayed erroneously. There are many places in the world in which there is that noble simplicity, joy, and silence in adoration of Our Lord, and it served, still serves, as the real basis for many in the Church who only want to serve the poorest among us in concrete actions of mercy, justice.

  7. digdigby says:


    That was well said. As a participant in the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest at their magnificent (sometimes a trifle overdone) oratory, I always remember the German laborers who built and adorned it with their nickels and dimes and I love every gilt inch of the place. Chesterton made his vow before a ‘gaudy little image of the Virgin’ in Brindisi.

    The ICKSP is unabashedly counter-reformation with a predilection for the Baroque and I converted at that ‘angle’ of entrance into my salvation. With a modern upper class elitist snobbery that embraces minimalism even ugliness, give me splendor and ‘fancy’ for an antidote.

  8. Just. Use. Latin.
    Sounds like a great line to put on a mug, Father!

  9. David Homoney says:

    I was at a conference recently and asked this of two Bishops. “Why as the universal church which has a defined universal language, Latin, is it not used. Why do we need a English Mass, Spanish Mass, Vietnamese Mass, ad infinitum, when if we just used Missels as in the past we could have Latin used in Mass with the translated Missels? Why can’t I get the same Mass where ever I go?”

    The response was interesting, but not, in my humble opinion, a great one. Essentially it was said that for people who have a romance language as their primary language Latin is easier since they root from Latin. English/Germanic are tougher, and Asian and other languages have an even tougher time with Latin as a language.

    I wasn’t able to follow up, but I wanted to ask in response “Well how was it done when the rule of the day was the 1962 Missel and when the Church used nothing but Latin? If the vernacular is so much better and more accomodating than why have we seen Mass attendance go from 75% to 25% in post-conciliar years and since the introduction of Novus Ordo?” That said, I know in the vernacular it can be done with great reverence. My grandparents were Eastern Orthodox and I have been to their Mass as a child and they were wonderfully reverent and beautiful.

    I guess my issue is that in the post-conciliar world we have seen a abandoning of the faith and a mass scale. It would appear that the changes implemented have been abject failures by every measurable way. Why must we continue with what we know fails? It makes me sad to watch what has been and continues to be done to Holy Mother Church. It also makes me thank God for our Holy Father and pray that he has the strength to right the course of the Church.

  10. Malateste says:

    I think way too little attention is generally paid to the distinction between “fancy” and “beautiful.” They’re really not the same thing! I’ve spent a lot of time working on older literature, and I love archaic language– I’ve read many works that were both fancy/ornate/foreign-sounding and beautiful. I’ve also read older plays and poems where the language, despite being “fancy,” is just frankly bad– ugly, stilted, faintly ridiculous.

    The same goes for clothing, architecture, decoration, music, everything– just because it’s ornate, exotic or antique, doesn’t mean it’s not still ugly. Some of the ugliness may be discernible only to experts in the particular period, but I think even unsophisticated audiences tend to instinctively register the distinctions between good, mediocre and bad aesthetics. There’s a reason why Shakespeare is still wildly popular today, but Philip Massinger continues to languish in obscurity.

    I hope they’ve been non-representative samples, but from what I’ve seen, a lot of the new translation is just objectively ugly– poorly balanced, unwieldy, obscure, wordy without being natural or graceful. This is a problem not because the people won’t understand, but because it is fitting that we use beautiful things to praise God, Who gave us our sense of the beautiful in the first place.

    It’s silly to say that it’s not possible to make a translation that’s both faithful and lovely in itself; you can find dozens of examples to the contrary from practically any literary context you can name. So we could have had a beautiful liturgy, but now we’ll have an ugly and ridiculous one, and the people sitting in the pews, whether they understand a word of it or not, will go away feeling vaguely confirmed in the general belief that the World pushes anyway: that Catholicism is silly, outmoded, old-fashioned rather than timeless.

    I think it’s a shame, and one not in the least ameliorated by having Latin remain as an ongoing liturgical option. What does it say about our Church– the church of Michelangelo, Dufay, Palestrina, Dante (who wrote in the vernacular, btw)– that we can’t find anyone who can put together some decent English free verse? What does it say about the liturgical conservatives if we don’t notice, or don’t care? Think what you want about the inanity of the lame-duck translation (and I agree that a more faithful reworking was a great idea, if it could have been accomplished properly), at least it generally wasn’t ugly.

  11. o.h. says:

    “sets of LP records of Shakespeare plays”

    Abridged, but not adapted, plays on LP? In wine-colored boxes, with 12″ x 12″ booklets with the words, four records to a box? We have them, and start the children on them at a young age. (We’ve had to burn them to CD.) A treasure trove which, as far as I know, has never been reissued in a more up-to-date format. We also start Latin young. Oldest child got a perfect score on the SAT verbal. I credit Latin, Shakespeare, and the KJV (you know you can get them with the Deuterocanon included…).

  12. David Homoney says:

    @Malateste – No ugly? Maybe. But it was highly dumbed down and doesn’t follow the appoved Latin text for the Mass. It doesn’t have any of the grandeur, beauty, mystery, or majesty and the proof is in the way people behave at the Mass, how they dress at the Mass, and how they walk up to receive our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The awe has been lost with the lame duck, in that way it is very ugly.

  13. a catechist says:

    “Especially in this day of horrific English, which makes us stupider day by day, hearing Shakespeare does make us smarter.”

    And here’s the trouble….the U.S. public school students to whom I pass on the faith do not understand the plain sense of Scripture. I’m in the Midwest, in a state where the schools are well ranked nationally, and a number of my students are in gifted and talented programs. But neither the 8th graders nor 10th graders understand the words of the NAB they hear read from the Lectionary. That’s what I want to holler at the folks who whine about “elitist” translations or a lack of “authentic participation” in the ’62 Mass–our kids ALREADY don’t know what’s being said at Mass because of the adults who have failed in the basic duty of making them literate in their mother tongue.

  14. Kerry says:

    ” Habemus ad Dominum”.

  15. Andrew says:

    We expect people in China and India and Africa to learn English, but “Latin is too hard” for everyone. It’s a tough challenge to convince people that Latin is a language. And many bishops are probably embarassed when the subject of Latin comes up because they have no clue. There’s a gaping hole in their education. How do you fix that?

  16. AnAmericanMother says:

    The obvious alternative is Thomas Cranmer’s beautiful translation — with appropriate revisions to bring the Eucharistic Prayers back into line with the Latin. Easy enough to do with the side-by-side comparison in Proctor’s History of the Book of Common Prayer.

    The language is elevated, balanced, beautiful, a good translation, and has the benefit of sounding appropriate for worship to most English speakers because of the long association of 17th c. English with the BCP and the King James Bible (at least those who have heard of the King James Bible).

  17. wmeyer says:

    My parish priest had minimal Latin training at seminary, and doesn’t “like” Latin. I began following the Latin at Mass from the age of seven, obviously not understanding it, but learning to fit the sounds to the written words. I was in high school while Vatican II was under way. In college, I was appalled at what had been done to the Mass. Later, I was appalled at nuns going to street clothes, forsaking their habits. And later still, I was even more appalled when priests began leaving their vocations. But perhaps that last was a Good Thing, as those who left at least did not become part of the wave of those who betrayed their vows, molesting minors.

    When I attend a Mass which is even partly in Latin, I find there is inevitably a reverence before and during the Mass. Even when my uncle’s parish was celebrating Mass in the school gym, while the church building was completed, there was a deeper reverence than I find in my own parish. Of course, in my parish, the tabernacle has been banished to the chapel. the Religious Ed. dept. nearly quit when our Pastor installed a life size crucifix over the altar. And I can’t imagine what they must have thought when statues of St. Thomas Aquinas (our parish patron) and Pope St. Pius X were installed in the narthex, and some very nice icons were placed in hallways in the school.

    Reverence. We come to worship, not to picnic, nor to have a communal gathering. We’re not there to worship the priest, nor to disrespect him. Reverence. Worship. Respectful silence is a part of worship, too.

  18. Centristian says:

    Let anyone say what he will about the ordinary form of the Mass of the Roman Rite (I once said about it many of those uncomplimentary things, myself), I do believe that our current Catholic Mass is not the villain, but a victim of abuse by the contemporary clergy and laity, alike.

    There is much about the ordinary form of Mass that is very good, very beautiful, and in some ways (not in every way) there can be seen real improvements, I think, over what the extraordinary form of Mass offers. The problem is that the ordinary form suffers from poor presentation most of the time. Even when no abuse can be seen, the usual way the ordinary form of Mass is presented is dull, uninspiring, uninteresting, vanilla. Despite itself, however. It should not be like that and need not be like that. There is nothing inherently lame about the ordinary form of Mass!

    I couldn’t agree more with the argument that the ordinary form of the Mass of the Latin Church should be celebrated in Latin. It seems like a bit of a no-brainer, when using terms such as “Latin Church” and “Latin Rite” that the Mass of that Church, that Rite, should be a “Latin Mass”. Otherwise, really, how are the Latin Rite and the Latin Church “Latin” anymore?

    But we live with the realities of the age in which we find ourselves, and one of the elements of that age is a Church that would find the total abandonment of vernacular worship unthinkable, therefore we have our English language Mass. It has now been much improved and for that I am grateful, as should all Anglophone Catholics be. In my humble opinion, it could have been more improved. I would have been glad of more of the “high church” flavour of archaic “Shakespearean” English. A return to “Thees” and “Thous” and “Vouchsafeths” would not have killed us, I think. But today, perhaps, that sort of English is as foreign to contemporary ears as Latin. And so in avoiding that sort of English, the Anglophone Church misses something of an opportunity, I think, to remind, to teach, to preserve, and to broaden…and to put on a top hat.

    Oh well. At least the new text is a very real improvement over what we have at the moment, and I’m looking forward to it. It may not be as fancy as I would like it to be (If Latin is white tie, and archaic English is morning attire, the new translation is black tie), but it’s still fancier. And the ordinary form of Mass needs some fancying-up. Our poor liturgy has been forced to wear jeans and a hoodie for so long. It deserves so much better. It deserves, in fact, no less than the very best.

    If Mass cannot always be presented in Latin and must be celebrated in the vernacular, let the vernacular be good and elevated English…and let it be faithful to the Latin. Just as importantly, however, let Mass be celebrated beautifully. Even a vernacular Mass using the 1970 English Sacramentary can be celebrated magnificently. I’ll share this video clip of a solemn pontifical Mass (in English) according to the ordinary form as proof:


    Look at that. I don’t know that I have ever seen a Tridentine Mass celebrated with such precision and dignity as this “New Mass”. It utterly defies the expectations that traditionalists and liberals alike have concerning the ordinary form of Mass. But I have to think that is more or less the way Mass is always meant to be celebrated.

    Imagine a “Novus Ordo” Mass in English that looks, sounds, smells, and feels like a Tridentine Mass!

    Fancy did that.

  19. Deo volente says:

    Just.Use.Latin would seem to be a perfect name for a blog, Father. Perhaps it would be a good idea to grab that URL and sign it up for oh, 25 years or so? As for translations, choose one to our liking if we have a mind to…


  20. Fr. Basil says:

    I believe the language of the Liturgy, especially in the vernacular, should be both elevated and elevating, but never obscure.

    But remember there are some terms that are proper to theology (which includes liturgy) which simply cannot be abandoned for common language without doing violence to the context.

  21. Pachomius says:

    “Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin?”
    I’m no fan of the present translation, or of polyester chasubles and the liturgy-a-la-mode, but I think we need to be rather careful with concepts like fanciness. [I am not sure “fanciness” is a concept. That’s why I added my corrective of “decorum theory”. Perhaps that escaped your notice.]

    There is no reason the vernacular Mass, even with the present, “lame duck” translation, cannot be dignified and solemn (NB: as opposed to beautiful or “inclusive”, per se). Obviously we should show due reverence for our historical language as the Latin church. But at present, there is little point in using Latin; it threatens to alienate the faithful at the present time.

    There may be a point in the future when we can return to a Latin liturgy, but not before there is a wider awareness of Classical culture and a wider understanding of the classical languages.

    I have been wondering if the Church should perhaps take a page from the practice of Judaeism, and, as part of Sunday catechesis, teach children Latin sufficient that they can read the Vulgate and understand the Latin used by Church documents, and, most importantly, the Mass. [A very good idea!] Then, when we have a laity who literally have grown up with Latin drilled into them, we can consider the Liturgy in Latin, but not before. [Before, during, and after.] I know this won’t be a popular view-point around here, but there we are.

  22. wmeyer says:

    Decorum is a word which rarely would be applied in my parish. :-(

  23. becket1 says:

    Quote: “Imagine a “Novus Ordo” Mass in English that looks, sounds, smells, and feels like a Tridentine Mass! ”

    That’s what I had hoped to see before I die. That is what I had hoped the NO Mass would become. But the USCCB and elsewhere seems to have other plans for the NO Mass. Plans which I can never be part of in good conscious. The Anglican Use Mass as well as the EF Mass are the only “Western” Masses I could now attend with a good conscious. The Eastern Liturgies have always been acceptable to me as well as others.

  24. MichaelJ says:

    Speaking as the father of three boys, I can state unequivocably that the Least Common Denominator approach never works. I have found that whenever I begin to try and make thing simpler and easier for my boys by relaxing expectations, their behavior sinks far below any acceptable point. This is not a result of immaturity, but instead is the result of our fallen nature.

    So, while I agree that the current Novus Ordo in and of itself is not the cause of our current Liturgical crisis, the very reason for its existence is. I agree that it is victim of abuse by the contemporary clergy and laity, alike, but find myself asking “What did you expect?”

    The time has come to stop pandering to our baser side (as the current “translation” does) and start appealing to our nobler side

  25. anilwang says:

    @Deo volente says: “Just.Use.Latin would seem to be a perfect name for a blog,”

    Except that it’s in English.;-)

    Unless you mean the Latin translation of the original English:-)

    How about the old untranslated saying: “Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.” or “omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina”?

  26. Deo volente says:


    @Deo volente says: “Just.Use.Latin would seem to be a perfect name for a blog,”
    Except that it’s in English.;-)
    Unless you mean the Latin translation of the original English:-)
    How about the old untranslated saying: “Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.” or “omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina”?

    WDTPRS or What Does the Prayer Really Say (to use the Wanderer title) is not in Latin and doesn’t have to be. Just.Use.Latin conveys what Father stands for in many respects: the Patrimony and History of the Church as expressed over these many centuries. Subtitles such as those given above are fantastic for Latinists, but Just.Use.Latin seems fine for a huge and general audience. Nice translations, by the way!

  27. muckemdanno says:

    Great post. Praising fancy language using simple language.

  28. Reginald Pole says:

    AnAmericanMother says:
    “The obvious alternative is Thomas Cranmer’s beautiful translation — with appropriate revisions to bring the Eucharistic Prayers back into line with the Latin. Easy enough to do with the side-by-side comparison in Proctor’s History of the Book of Common Prayer.”

    This has already been done. In July of 1980 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
    Faith issued an Accord for Sacraments and Divine Worship for Catholics of the Anglican Tradition. The Book of Divine Worship sets forth the liturgy for such congregations. Fundamentally, it consists of portions of the 1979 and the 1928 Book of Common Prayer adapted for use in the Catholic Church. Why the US Bishops did not adapt this beautiful translation for use in the Roman rite is beyond me. The entire Book of Divine can be found at http://www.atonementonline.com/BODW.pdf

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    I think the question is how one is to support the transition among fellow parishioners in a way that is patient, kind, and, well, all the really important things. At least a few of us who are thrilled about this change must still remember some less-than-charitable treatment after the first translation and liturgical changes were introduced. I was very young at the time, but by all accounts it was not always pretty. There were hard feelings that could have been avoided or lessened.

    That the changes are happening is a foregone conclusion, but some of us are in a position to either strengthen the weak who fear the change or increase the division between those who fear or oppose the change and those who welcome it. The Mass, after all, never reaches its intended splendor when there is open division in the pews. Since there are those among the baptised who believe division is an ethical means to effect desired changes in the Church, I think that those who see the folly of that have our work cut out for us, whether we like these changes or not. If we have been given the grace to welcome the changes with joy, we must have an obligation to let that joy be translated in how we treat those who are tempted to disobedience, division, and resistance. We have a duty to lift each other up. How do we go about doing that? It is “just love them”, or is there some more concrete principles we might keep in mind?

    Of course, reminding people of the good things about the change whenever they grumble about the negatives is one. I think that stating our faith in the ability of others to make this change in a way that is confident and encouraging, rather than being negative about those who fear, is another way: Not, “Oh, they can just get over it” but “They can do it. They need to be given encouragement, but they can do this, and do it well.” I think that recognizing that people sometimes need to grieve a little whenever there is a change is another. It doesn’t degrade the new translation to allow that even good changes are difficult for some of us.

  30. Johnny Domer says:

    I don’t understand the intransigent opposition of actually using “thee” or “thou” in the Mass translations, the opinion (present seemingly among everyone at ICEL and the USCCB) that it would just be ridiculous or totally inappropriate. It’s not like people don’t understand what thee and thou mean. Yes, it is an older custom that is hardly used anymore in common parlance–but the Latin language is far less common. If you’re going to say that a kind of hieratic English is completely inappropriate for the Mass, then you logically need to exclude the possibility of Latin.

    I remembered in some Dickens novel (maybe Tale of Two Cities) wherein Dickens switches from a normal style of English to a hieratic style at certain dramatic points where the narrator of the story would discuss the character’s fate. It was a beautiful literary device, to separate this part of the narrative from the rest and emphasize its importance by using a more elevated and “sacred” (set apart) form of speech. The Liturgy should be similarly set apart from our humdrum lives with that kind of particular beauty.

    While the new translations are certainly a step up, I think in some small ways they still are lacking in some of these qualities of beauty and sacred/set apart-ness. We’re still going to hear about the “ever-living, ever-loving” God (because apparently Yosemite Sam is one of ICEL’s top translators). Still, I have high hopes that they will bring about tremendous fruits.

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