QUAERITUR: Using the new, corrected translation before Advent in private concelebration.

From a priest:

Dear Fr. Z, I’d be interested in your thoughts on this: The new translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal (Ordinary Form) becomes the official text for Mass in the United States on the first Sunday of Advent this year. However, it is now possible to find the complete text of this new Missal online. Do you think it would be wrong (disobedient, sinful) to use the new translation in Masses celebrated privately (sine populo)? My own preference would be to use the Extraordinary Form whenever possible. But next month I will be traveling with two priests who are not familiar with the TLM, and, for the sake of fraternity, thought we might concelebrate using the new translation of the Ordinary Form.

Good question!

First, I am glad that you are interested in the TLM.  I know that travel with brother priests isn’t always the best time for work, but if they are interested in learning… I’m just sayin’….

Second, when you are traveling with priests you don’t want to spend most of your morning serving one Mass after another (though I have also done that). Concelebration allows you to have a smaller Mass kit and save time.  This is one of those situations when my adage that “Concelebration: Safe, Legal, and Rare.” is best applied.

Third, I am a Say The Black – Do The Red fellow, and I know you are too, if you are interested in the TLM.   The new translation officially becomes The Black (in the USA at least, for the Ordinary and Proper) on the vigil of the 1st Sunday of Advent.

However… after deep reflection…. (tick… tick…. there, that’s enough)…. I say just use it.

If you are concelebrating privately with only priests present, I would say go ahead and use it.

“But Father! But Father!”, you Say The Blackers Do The Reders are now howling in confusion and dismay.  “Haven’t you just undermined everything you have been saying all this time?  Wouldn’t that be illicit?”

tick… tick… tick… tick….

Yahhhhhh, I guess so  ….. I can live with that, in this instance.  Illicit schmillicit.

The preparation time before the implementation of the new translation is important.  I suspect a lot of priests haven’t put 10 minutes of their own time into working on the new texts.  Priests quite simply must get this new text into their heads and onto their tongues before Advent.  They simply have to do this.  They must start practicing the saying texts aloud in a meaningful way.

A few priests concelebrating Mass privately (no lay people present) could be one way to do that, particularly because you are going to be praying with that much more attention by the fact that it is Mass and not just private session at the shaving mirror or an impromptu, or even organized, workshop.

Then you guys can discuss the text at breakfast or in the car to your next destination.

Saying this, I acknowledge and respect those priests who disagree with my answer.  It is surely proper also to say, stick with the official text and then find other ways to practice the new, corrected translation.  I’ll so stipulate.

But… would it be sinful?   No, I doubt it.

Would it be disobedient?  No, I doubt it, so long as you stick to the Black and Red in the new, corrected text.

If in doubt, ask your bishop or religious superior for an opinion.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I agree with fr. Z. It is important to use those texts in real celebrations, so as to put attention and due reverence in what you are saying as a priest.
    Go on confreres, get ready: Advent is near.

  2. John Nolan says:

    Why not concelebrate with the OF in Latin? [That’s nice, but it was not the question.]

  3. david andrew says:

    Priests quite simply must get this new text into their heads and onto their tongues before Advent. They simply have to do this. They must start practicing the saying texts aloud in a meaningful way.

    I beg to differ . . . they must start practicing chanting the texts aloud in a meaningful way.

    Of course, being a sacred musician, I much prefer hearing them chanted.

    BTW, I’ve already had my Pastor asking me to help him learn how to chant these new prayers correctly, according to the formula that will appear in the new missal. He, and so many other priests who received their formation at the hands of progressive priests, lay people and “lapel pin” nuns never (never) learned how to correctly chant any of the prayers. He knows this, and wants to correct the problem. Unlike many of his brother priests, he sees this as an opportunity to correct the problem, not an opportunity to balk, resist and defy the wishes of Holy Mother Church. How refreshing!

    As I’m now teaching this material in a local independent seminary, I must say that I’m impressed by the work ICEL has done to make the chant formularies available online for free download, in a format resembling the way they’ll be encountered in the final bound publications available for sale. It has made my job of teaching these chants so much easier.

    I am hoping to institute a training program for priests in the archdiocese that will be offered at several locations throughout the archdiocese. Please pray for me, and ask St. Cecilia and St. Gregory for their intercessions!

  4. inara says:

    “praying that much more attention”…LOL, something I need to work on as well!

  5. BobP says:

    >Why not concelebrate with the OF in Latin?<

    Precisely. Enough with the ICEL. Enough with the translations. Let the Mass be what it is.

  6. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Sigh that’s no fair you priests get to practice with the New Mass and all your cool Collects and Propers that we the laity who actually care about our Church WANT to hear, and we have to sit on our butts and wait till Advent this year to hear the new beautiful vernacular NO. pootz :(.

    Fine I do understand the USCCB website has all the laity responses, but you keep feeding us WDTPRS readers all the cooler stuff and show us the error of the ICELs ways and how much awesomer the new collects are. You’ve made me eager Fr Z!

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Not only do we laity not have to wait, this may be one advantage we have over our priests! Because they but not us have some obligation of obedience in these matters. Just as in a Latin Mass, where the celebrant must “say the black” but the layman in the pew can read any official or unofficial translation he wishes.

    So each Friday afternoon, I print out (for each day of the next week) a little Latin-English sheet having the Latin collect, super oblata, and postcommunion prayers on the left, and the corrected new English translations on the right. Then, five or six times daily–at the conclusion of each hour of the LOH, I use these prayers as multiple concluding prayers–actually saying the Latin but reading the English translations to gain familiarity with them.

    Incidentally, in doing this all Lent, my appreciation of the new English translation has steadily increased. Initially I probably bought at least slightly into the complaints of certain lefty liturgists that they were far from perfect, and at best clunky when correct. Of course, any individual can well think he could have better translated a particular prayer, but now having read many of these out loud for myself, the howlers and screamers are losing credibility with me.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    When I’ve attended OF Masses during this liturgical year I usually just listen to each of the proper prayers and happily think, “Goodbye! You won’t be missed.” :)

  9. sulpicius says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful answer to my question, Fr. Z. At the present time, my diocese is between bishops. Our former bishop was asked this question by another priest and was simply told, “Well, you shouldn’t be saying Mass without the faithful present anyway.” Bah! We are happily awaiting a new bishop… My own sense of this is: The corrected English Missal is an approved translation of the Mass. While bishops conferences and/or individual bishops have authority to regulate the public celebration of the sacraments, certainly priests are permitted to use any approved translation in a private celebration. Anyway, that’s my operating assumption! –Fr. TWC

  10. Will D. says:

    So each Friday afternoon, I print out (for each day of the next week) a little Latin-English sheet having the Latin collect, super oblata, and postcommunion prayers on the left, and the corrected new English translations on the right.

    Where are you and Fr. Z getting these texts? I’ve only seen the ordinary parts on the USCCB website. I’d like to see the propers and do this as well.

  11. LouiseA says:

    I predict that one day, Father, you eventually come to say “Illicit schmillicit” about the SSPX, too. :)

  12. Random Friar says:


    This includes the text of the Mass parts, plus, plus, sound files!

    As for me, I personally believe that even what we do in private should follow rubrics, and if a Mass is not promulgated yet, then it would be disobedient, but I’m not going to fault too much anyone who chooses to do so.

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