Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The New Translation

Zenit is reporting that the new translation of the Mass in English has been approved! Details:
BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference completed its approval of the final portions of the new translation of the Roman Missal for use in its country. It now awaits the Vatican's confirmation.

The vote took place today at the conference's fall general assembly, which is under way in Baltimore through Thursday.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, explained today before the vote that this was the conference's last chance to send its recommendations to the Holy See. The Vatican has asked for the submission of all input by the end of this month.

The translation has been in progress for the past six years, and the conference has been gradually voting on the various parts of it in their assemblies.

The translation of the Proper of Saints, the Mass prayers for the feast days of saints, was approved by 195 prelates, with 23 opposing and 4 abstaining, thereby winning the necessary two-thirds of the conference's bishops.
This is news of ineffable joy for English-speaking Catholics! While the precursor to the new translation was probably well meant, there's no doubt that some ignominy of language more profane than sacred crept in here and there; and the whole became suffused with a mundanity completely unsuited to the Holy Sacrifice, as when words like "cup" replaced the nobler "chalice."

Though some bishops argued that the old translation ought nevertheless remain inviolate, wiser heads have prevailed; the new translation rises unvanquished by the voting process. Deo Gratias!

Of course, not everyone will be happy about this. Bishop Donald Trautman recently said the following, during a lecture (PDF file here):
The English translation of the New Missal has intentionally employed a “sacred
language” which tends to be elitist and remote from everyday speech and frequently not understandable. For example, the Preface of the Assumption reads: “She brought forth ineffably your Incarnate Son.” There is repeated use of the word “ineffable” throughout the New Translation of the Missal. In the Nicene Creed we will pray “consubstantial with the Father” which replaces the present wording “one in being with the Father”. Also in the Creed the new wording “by the Holy Spirit he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary” replaces “he was born of the Virgin Mary”. The vast majority of God’s people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the New Missal like “ineffable”, “consubstantial”, “incarnate”, “Inviolate”, “oblation”, “ignominy”, “precursor”, “suffused”, and “unvanquished”. This vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic.
I suppose the good bishop has a point. It's not like a typical lay Catholic could take, oh, say, five or six of those words and toss them off casually in a couple of paragraphs celebrating the new translation, for example, or anything.


Dirtdartwife said...

It's actually more unfortunate that we'll probably hear more complaints than anything about the "new words" than for people to smarten up and just go get a dictionary and learn the meaning of the words.

I'm glad for the change.

Magister Christianus said...

As Charlie Brown used to exclaim, "Oh, good grief!" There are words in English for which there simply are no good synonyms and for which periphrastic expressions are clumsy, bordering on inaccurate. All the words you cited, “ineffable”, “consubstantial”, “incarnate”, “Inviolate”, “oblation”, “ignominy”, “precursor”, “suffused”, and “unvanquished” are good words and should be learned.

Seriously, how many average Americans knew what a pandemic was before every media outlet began affixing it to the acronym "A.I.D.S." in reference to Africa? Guess what...everyone learned it. And they learned it the way people learn their native language...through regular use.

Irenaeus said...

The irony of the debate is that we (in the West at least) are living in the most educated age *in history*. More people go to school and to higher levels of school than ever before. Why, then, the need to dumb down language?

Keep in mind, though, Red, that you're a skilled writer in a way that most people -- including those PhDs who read your blog -- aren't.

Anonymous said...

I like your paragraph..

freddy said...

Great news! (And I totally don't suspect you of trying to raise your blog's reading level, or anything!) :)

Or, gosh: you're going to lose readers with this post: we just won't be able to understand you!

Anonymous said...

You get my WordGirl award!

kkollwitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kkollwitz said...

Examples of the changes. Many are closer to the Latin of my pre-V2 childhood.


Scott W. said...

How come the usual suspects can toss around mutlisyllabic words like "sustainability" but bristle at "ineffable"?

Red Cardigan said...

Irenaeus, you're too kind.

Freddy-- :)

opey124, thanks so much!!

Scott W., there's a poem in there somewhere...

Nancy said...

So what gives? Weren't these the folks that said average Catholics were too smart for the rosary, devotion to the saints, Eucharistic adoration and all the other traditional pious devotions. Now all of a sudden we're too stupid to understand words like "ineffable"