Bishops of England and Wales on the New Corrected Translation

The bishops of England and Wales are asking that a Pastoral Letter about the new, corrected translation of the Roman Missal be read on Sunday 29 May.  I noticed it on the blog Caritas in Veritate of my friend Fr. John Boyle

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

At the beginning of Advent this year, when we gather for Mass, we shall be using the new translation of the Roman Missal. This will be the case not only in England and Wales but throughout the English?speaking world. The Mass will remain the same but parts of it will sound different.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has produced three Latin editions of the Roman Missal. [Three issues of the Novus Ordo.  There were transitional editions.] At present, we are still using a [“]translation[“] of the first edition which was published in 1973. Although the texts we have been using have served us well, [!?!?] since that time there has been much development in the liturgical texts themselves and in our understanding of them. [In other words, more people started looking at the Latin again.]

We all become very accustomed to the words we hear; and the fact that we have been praying in a certain way for so long has imprinted that style of language and words upon our consciousness and made them very special. [read: familiar] The changes in the language now to be introduced, however, do not represent change for change’s sake, but are being made in order to ensure greater fidelity to the liturgical tradition of the Church. In the earlier translation not all the meaning of the original Latin text was fully expressed and a number of the terms that were used to convey the teachings of the faith were lost. This was readily acknowledged by the bishops of the Church, even back in the 1970s, and has become an increasing cause of concern since then.

There is an old adage in Latin which states that the way we pray forms the way we believe. So words and language are important for the teaching and the handing?on of the faith.

[Quaeritur:] So what does this new translation offer us? [1] First of all, there is a fuller expression of the content of the original texts. Then, [2] there is a closer connection with the Sacred Scriptures which inspire so much of our liturgy. Also, [3] there is a recovery of a vocabulary that enriches our understanding of the mystery we celebrate. [Good to see “mystery” here.] All of this requires a unique style of language and expression, one that takes us out of ourselves and draws us into the sacred, the transcendent and the divine. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

The publication of the new translation of the Missal is a special moment of grace [not to mention relief] in the English speaking world. It offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery we celebrate each week. This itself will help us to move towards that fuller and more conscious and active participation in the liturgy to which the Church invites us. It will help us also to examine the dignity with which we celebrate the ‘source and summit’ of the Church’s life.

At the end of his visit last year, Pope Benedict asked us to use this moment for genuine renewal. He said: “I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in depth catechesis on the Eucharist, and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration. ‘The more lively the Eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples’” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6). [When we talk about “Eucharist” we are talking not only about the Blessed Sacrament and the graces it imparts to those who are disposed to receive them, but also the liturgical celebration of the sacrament, which is Holy Mass, the the graces conveyed to those disposed to receive them.]

In order to achieve this, the bishops have produced resources for all our parishes and, as from September, we will gradually begin to use the new liturgical texts at Mass [starting already in September] and hear why certain changes have been made. Each diocese is already preparing its priests and deacons, catechists and liturgical ministers. Programmes for schools are being developed and new musical settings are being composed. From September until Advent everyone will have the opportunity to study the new texts and familiarise themselves with the prayers and chants. In addition, this period of preparation will allow us to pray these new texts.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a gift, something we receive from God through the Church. Saint Paul spoke of it as coming from the Lord Jesus himself. Writing to the Church in Corinth, he said, “for I received from the Lord what I in turn also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23). So Eucharist is not something of our making but a gift received. [This is very good news for Catholics in England and Wales who are attached to the Extraordinary Form.] Like Saint Paul, therefore, let us receive it with reverence and care, knowing that we are being faithful to what the Lord himself passed on to the Apostles, which has been handed on since, in faithfulness, by their successors to every generation of the Church.  [I just can’t help it.  A biological generation has certainly shifted, become longer over the centuries.  A biblical generation is roughly 40 years.  So there has been about a generation since the Novus Ordo went into effect, Advent 1969.  Right?  Even though the older form of Mass, the Usus Antiquior goes back before 1570, there have been roughly 11 generations since the 1570 Missale Romanum was issued.  Universae Ecclesiae reminds us that the older form is a treasure and it is for all Catholics.  Sorry… I couldn’t help it.  Let’s go on.]

Let us welcome the new translation of the Roman Missal as a sign of our unity and a powerful instrument of God’s grace in our lives.

Published by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales
Thursday 12 May 2011
To be read on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, 29 May 2011

When the waters rise, all boats rise with the waters.

A good letter.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    At last our Bishops are getting their act together: Friday Abstinence, Holydays of Obligation, now the new translations. There has been no wave of objections here except by the pseudo-intelligentia (Tableteers and the like). They handle it here with confidence and even a hint of regret, by default, that the previous texts were so inaccurate that they now require correction — a pity they ever authorised them in the first place, but that is in the past.

    The tide is turning. All they need to do now is make any mention whatever of Summorum Pontificum, which has never been referred to in any public context or to be read out in churches at all in the last three years. But you can’t have everything….

  2. shane says:

    Generational ageing has done no end of good but I suggest that a large part of the credit should also go to the internet, and this blog in particular. Catholic Bloggers are overwhelmingly orthodox; in an institution that is so international (there is no institution more international than the Catholic Church) that has potentially very extensive ramifications for episcopal appointments and the way bishops conduct themselves. I for one hardly ever read the Catholic print press anymore — in fact, I barely ever read print press of any description. There’s no need to; the internet has democratized information communication, and that is VERY good news for Catholic tradition. (The print media has been the committed enemy of the Church since the 16th century.)

  3. Pachomius says:

    asperges, I think expecting a mention of SP is wishful thinking. It’s not so long ago that a pastoral letter quoting St Paul was about as likely as one that didn’t mention CAFOD. The bishops have gone with a tempo set in no uncertain times by Rome on these issues; they aren’t going to rock the boat with the EF now. Maybe in 5-10 years.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    This is splendid! Obviously the bishops, out of care and concern for the more loony members of their flock, were a bit restrained in their language. But, reading between the lines, this is as whole-hearted and enthusiastic as anyone could wish.
    This and the Friday abstinence and change re Holy Days are signs of a major, major shift in the attitude of the English bishops. Did the Holy Father have what we in the South call a “Come to Jesus meetin'” with them?
    Whatever happened, may it come to these shores VERY soon!

  5. Glen M says:

    Was there this much fuss when the Novus Ordo was released? If I was still attending the O.F. this new/corrected translation would have given me pause: why was the old so badly translated? What was the motivation? As Shane points out the laity are much better informed today with the Internet and access to websites and blogs such as this (and his). Change Agents may still hold influencial positions in the Church, but orthodox laity are waking up, organizating, and have 2,000 years of tradition and the Eternal Truth behind them.

  6. Nathan says:

    Fr Z: I just can’t help it.

    Father, thank you for that aside. For at least twenty or so years, I would think “the TLM is our treasure” and wonder why we were so ready to toss aside our patrimony. I also thought I was the only person on the earth (ok, with a few Wanderer and Remnant readers as well) who thought that way, especially since, whenever I would mention it, both laity and priests would look at me as if I were growing horns out of my head.

    It is gratifying to know that the Latin Church, writ large, is moving back, brick by brick, towards regaining an appreciation of the TLM as our treasure and our patrimony.

    In Christ,

  7. “Programmes for schools are being developed and new musical settings are being composed. From September until Advent everyone will have the opportunity to study the new texts and familiarise themselves with the prayers and chants.”

    New musical settings being composed and chants to learn. What does this mean? No more folk music? No more kiddy melodies for the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei? Or is that too much to hope for?

  8. John Nolan says:

    I thought something was up when Malcolm McMahon OP, Bishop of Nottingham, chose to mark the 10th anniversary of his consecration by celebrating Pontifical High Mass in the EF and in his own diocese. Then a well-known liberal bishop on the south coast actually came out with some sensible remarks.

    In the UK you don’t see bishops presiding over neo-pagan rituals like their Californian counterparts. What you see in most parishes are low-level liturgical abuses, often arising from apathy and ignorance, and a sloppy lack of proper reverence and attention to detail. Oh, and crap music, of course. If their lordships are finally going to do something about it, they’ll have my three times three.

    BTW, I would love to know who penned this document and who had reservations about it, because some certainly would have.

  9. jdscotus says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I am glad you predicted that the influence the new translation of the Mass will lead to a rising tide lifting all boats. But, seriously, do you really think that will happen? [Yes.] I’m trying to place myself in the shoes of a choir member (or what passes for one) or a Eucharistic Minister, and the sense I get is that these are the very types of laypeople who are most likely to see themselves in an even more extra-special light as a result of the Mass becoming slightly more solemn. They are cut from the same cloth as the parish priest–they would not be welcome at or would protest by leaving any parish where the pastor insisted on following the rubrics or any of the other laws that govern the liturgy that are routinely ignored. I’m afraid the innovators are going to impose what Evelyn Waugh yearned for before the Council: more of the same again. [The Biological Solution is also part of the equation, as will be the rise of the Extraordinary Form. Brick by brick.]

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    That’s why we sit in the back, in the choir loft. That’s also why we cultivate a choral rather than solo sound, both in Gregorian chant and in motets. We are by and large serious church musicians, not ‘performers’ (or at least we know the difference and when each is appropriate.)
    Of course, I think our parish is Catholic-musically-speaking years ahead (or behind, but I prefer to think we’re making progress) of a lot of places . . . but that’s why good musicians join this parish.

    The new, corrected translation has been a great opportunity for us to at last get rid of the horrible Massof Creationive Cremation. Our music director has composed a lovely new Mass setting that is chant based, the choir has test driven it as a work-in-progress and it is very good indeed. We already sing on First Sundays the old composite Latin Mass chant setting (mostly Missa de Angelis but with additions) that was one of the first out when people understood that VCII meant that we were all supposed to sing chant.

  11. Luka says:

    I am new here, so please forgive me if this has already been told. What about pro multis in the new translation? Corrected or not?

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    Luka: What about pro multis in the new translation? Corrected or not?

    YES. Corrected, by explicit instruction of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. Folks are really howling about this at some of the liberal blogs. Too bad. Time has passed them by.

  13. BobP says:

    The only lesson I see in all this is not to get too enamored with any translation. It’s still the Latin Mass and I will continue to pray the Mass in Latin, even in my mind.

  14. Mary G says:

    Fr. Z.,
    In Australia, we will begin introducing the corrected Liturgical texts at Mass on Pentecost Sunday. Then by Advent, we hope to be quite familiar with them.

  15. jaykay says:

    This is a very good letter indeed. I do hope that the Irish Bishops will follow suit, as they had been quite slow – up to very recently – to acknowledge what is coming e.g. the draft texts and lots of information were up on the USCCB website since 2009(?) but there was nothing… at all… on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It almost gave the impression they were in denial about the whole thing!

    However, almost overnight things have improved vastly! Their website now includes a very comprehensive guide with the texts, a video presentation etc. It also explains that, like the UK, we will begin using the “peoples’ prayers” from September 11th in advance of the whole missal being introduced from 27th November. In addition, they explain: “A Congregational Card with the changes will be available shortly. It could be used for an explanation of the changes but also it could be introduced in a sensitive way at weekday Mass and even on Sundays. ” This last clause would actually appear to be saying that the changes can be introduced even before the September 11th date? Great… bring it on!!!

    It’s all very encouraging. They got off to a late start but are certainly setting the pace now. However I would love to see a letter along the lines of the England & Wales one which would be mandated to be read out at Masses (and distributed) as soon as possible because… strange as it might seem… odd, I know… well, some parishes/liturgy committees might just not, y’know, make resources such as the Congregational Card available. Not that they’d have any ideological bias, mind you, heavens no, Gaia forfend, but, well…

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