At the blog Musings of a Pertinacious Papist, there is a post you must see and remember. I’ll post the whole thing here, simply because I want many people to see it and because I also want to archive it here for my future reference. However, be sure to go over there to watch his combox, which is open.
Liturgist of the renewal: translation changes the form, which changes the rite
Fr. Joseph Gelineua, S.J. was described by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the chief architect of the New Mass, as “one of the great masters of the international liturgical world” in his The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948-1975 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), p. 221. It is interesting, and telling, to go back and read what was being written back in those days. Here is an excerpt from a book by Joseph Gelineau, S.J., The Liturgy: Today and Tomorrow, tr. by Dinah Livingstone (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), p. 11 …:
Let’s make no mistake: translating does not mean saying the same thing in equivalent words. It changes the form. And liturgy is not information or teaching, whose only importance is its content. It is also symbolic action by means of significant ‘forms’. If the forms change, the rite changes. If one element changes the total meaning changes. Think back, if you remember it, to the Latin sung High mass with Gregorian chant. Compare it with the modern post-Vatican II mass. It is not only the words, but also the tunes and even certain actions that are different. In fact it is a different liturgy of the mass. We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered; we can look at it as a ruin or as the partial foundation of a new building.
We must not weep over ruins or dream of an historical reconstruction. The liturgical renewal is a sign of the church’s will to live — just as the missionary and biblical renewals are. When the poor are dying of hunger because no one breaks the bread of the Word for them, something must be done. When we know what treasures of hope are contained in the liturgy but find that the ‘key of knowledge’ has been taken away and ‘those who were entering hindered’ (Lk. 11:52), we must open new ways to the sources of life, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees. But it would not be right to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further and forward beyond the conciliar prescriptions. The liturgy is a permanent workshop.
One thing is abundantly clear: some of the liberals in the liturgical movement understood the radical revisionist implications of the movement far more clearly than many of the conservatives.
Kudos for finding and posting this.
This also explains why some people think that liturgical translations should be constantly changing, to fit the way people talk in any given moment.
But… change the words, and you change the meaning. To translate is, to some extent, to “betray” the original. To change the movement and gestures of Mass, is to change the rite.
When you change our Rites you change our identity.
We need Summorum Pontificum now, more than ever.