A flash from the Religious News Service today -- stop the presses! Catholic liturgical tsars and tsarinas are angry that for the first time since the Novus Ordo was instituted in the 1960's, the Mass will be translated into English. For those of you who aren't Roman Catholic, the Latin text had been folded, spindled, and mutilated, stretched like bubble gum, amputated here and there, diluted everywhere, phrases lopped off, others twisted out of joint, in general to bring the Father down to earth where he belongs. Italians say that every traduttore is a traditore, meaning that every translator is a traitor; but that treachery can never be laid to the charge of the people who brought us the Novus Ordo in Anguish, because they never really bothered to translate in the first place.
Still, the press release is a study in bureaucratic vagueness and ecclesiastical subterfuge, such as the faithful of any denomination can enjoy. Since the committee here named is not strong on translating, I will provide the service myself, in interpolated remarks:
The Catholic Academy of Liturgy met on January 4, 2007, in Toronto, Canada, prior to the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy. The keynote speaker was Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania and chair of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Bishop Trautman, who it is said does not like to be called Bishop Trautperson, has been one of the two or three bishops most responsible for the desacralized language of the liturgy. It is no surprise that there are fewer seminarians in his diocese than there used to be fish in Lake Erie. The government cleaned the one pool --
In his address entitled "When Should Liturgists be Prophetic?"
Nothing like donning the mantle of prophecy -- after one has doffed every other liturgical mantle in sight. Of course, bishops should be obedient first, and if they are, they may be granted a gift of prophecy, or even a gift of speaking in tongues. Alas, too often the bishops of every denomination speak out from their balconies, and all the assembled people below hear them -- and they seem to each to be speaking in somebody else's language.
Trautman raised concerns
Everybody these days "raises concerns." If they raised welts, they'd be more honest.
about current directions in the revision
It is, as I've said, the first real translation, rather than paraphrase.
now underway of the English edition of the Roman missal being prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The first edition in English of the Roman Missal was issued in 1973. Drawing on biblical scholarship, historical theology, and his many years of pastoral experience as a bishop,
None of which are to the point. A translator from Latin into English needs to know two things: Latin, and English. Now if the Latin is ecclesiastical, and highly allusive to Scripture, and steeped in theological terminology, in exegesis, and in typological symbolism, then he ought to know those things too, which is another way of saying that he ought to know the peculiar form of the Latin he is translating. But what Bishop Trautman neglects to say is that the old transmuters of the text had bleached away the scriptural allusions. Two egregious examples: the clear and potent spatio-temporal allusion to Malachi, "ab oriente ad occasum," "from the rising of the sun to its setting," has been flattened down to "from east to west"; and the powerful words of the centurion, "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum," "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," has been flattened down to "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." With what pastoral consequences, every wise Catholic knows: empty liturgies in vacuous non-scriptural language make for empty pews and churches converted to antique shops.
he contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the needs of the average Catholic
Note the condescension.
and expressed fears that the significant changes in the texts no longer reflect understandable English usage.
The Bishop is worried about two things. One, he thinks that if you say, "Peace on earth, good will to men," some people will actually be in doubt whether Cissy and Flossie are included. Nobody is in doubt about that; nobody, upon hearing, "It's a night not fit for man nor beast," will recommend that therefore Lulabelle should go out to corral the horses. I could argue at great length that the troweled-over Ken-doll language is unfaithful to the original text, sometimes confusing and often plain dumb in English, and ultimately heretical (for one thing, it leads to the dilution of the name "Father"), but I'll leave that for another blog. His Excellency is also worried that the people will not understand theological terms such as "consubstantial," which will replace "one in being with" in the Creed. No question he's right about that. You dumb down your liturgy, dumb down your sermons, dumb down your catechizing, dumb down your schools, and then, then you discover that your people are not too bright. Well, there is an alternative. Why not try teaching?
Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people's parts during Mass will confuse the faithful and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic church.
He meaneth, forsooth, an even greater number of departures. You're sinking in quicksand and there's a willow branch over your head. Don't grab hold of it -- it might snap. By the way, let it be noted that solicitude for the feelings of Catholics in the pews was never very high among liturgical innovators, who didn't care at all, say, whether anybody would be confused by revisions of well-known Christmas carols. Then the rubes had to learn their lessons. Call it the post-Vatican II Eat Your Peas ecclesiology.
The Bishop cited various problematic texts, criticizing their awkward structure and arcane vocabulary
Repeat after me: nothing is worse than the banal. For the innovators, any periodic sentence was too long; any complex subordination was awkward. As for the arcane vocabulary, well, it's just not the lingo of the man in the street, nor should it be. The Bishop makes it sound as if we'll all be speaking the language of Richard Hooker, rather than some other more recent person of that denomination. 'Tain't so.
that would be very difficult for the priest to pray aloud and for the people to follow. Just as problematic for Trautman was the recent decision to change the words of consecration that refer to Christ's blood being shed "for all" to "for many." That change could easily be misinterpreted as denying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that [sic] Christ died for all people.
The Latin reads "pro multis," "for many" or, thinking of the Greek, "for the many." It does not imply that Christ did not die to save all men; it also does not imply that all men will be saved. Got a problem with it? Change the Latin.
Bishop Trautman challenged Catholic liturgical scholars of North America to assist the bishops in promoting a liturgy that is [sic] accessible and pastorally aware [sic].
A liturgy cannot be "aware". That distinction is reserved for people, and often not for too many of them, either. Of course, he is worried that the liturgy will offend the feminists. If only! As for its being inaccessible, I have a well-worn missal used by my grandmother long ago that makes our current Mass look like The Poky Little Puppy. If she could be taught, so can we.
He urged them, in a spirit of respect and love for the Church,
The Bishops have consistently defied the Church
to be courageous in resisting those developments that would render the liturgy incomprehensible and betray the intention of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Never, though, courageous in opposing the Spirit of the Age, or courageous in calling one's own fraternity to repentance. Note that the Second Vatican Council is called in, exactly as certain justices conjure up not the Constitution (which does not say what they wish) but the Specter of the Constitution (which always does). Such Specters can be awfully obliging -- for a time, and times, and half a time.