Friday, April 20, 2007

Widespread praise for 'dignified and joyful' new Mass translation

The new English translation of the Mass, which bishops and liturgical experts have been working on in secret for more than half a decade, has been published on the internet – and hailed as a triumph.

Although the leak is embarrassing for the Church, [NLM: actually, I'm not certain why it would be so. Various drafts of this have the document have been circulating for some time, as well as news reports of various of the translations with examples, not to mention those who have publicalley opposed it, quoting the specific instances. It was not really a mystery or secret. The text is in the hand of such a broad group of people, it, unlike the motu proprio, would be very hard to keep contained.] has been greeted with delight by Catholic commentators around the English-speaking world, who have spoken of its “reverence” and “dignity”.

Most of the main prayers of the Mass, including the penitential rite, the Gloria, the Nicene Creed and four versions of the Eucharistic prayer, are contained in the leaked copy. They are expected to be approved by the Vatican and the new version of the Mass is predicted to arrive in English and Welsh parishes in early 2009.

As expected, the translation of “Credo” as “We believe” has been scrapped. Congregations will revert to saying: “I believe in one God.”

Compared to the more prosaic language of the current translation, the new text is more elevated in tone and follows the Latin much more closely. It has almost certainly received the personal approval of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made the improvement of standards of worship one of the main themes of his papacy.

In one of the more controversial changes to the Creed, the phrase “of one being with the Father” will become “consubstantial with the Father” – a literal rendering of the Latin.

In one of the few concessions to inclusive language, “For us men and for our salvation” becomes “for us and our salvation”.

The Creed also places greater emphasis on the divine nature of Christ’s birth. “Born of the Virgin Mary” is amended to “incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary”.

In the first form of the Penitential Rite the text reads: “I have sinned greatly... through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” In the current version that prayer is much shorter: “I have sinned through my own fault.”

The new translation re-introduces some concrete biblical metaphors that were removed from the current translation of the Mass of Paul VI. In the Second Eucharistic prayer, the celebrant implores God to sanctify the bread and wine “by the dew of your Spirit”.

The prayer before the Agnus Dei now reads: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” – again, a faithful translation of “sub tectum meum”.

The leaked text was first posted on the website of Fr Seán Finnegan, parish priest of Adur Valley in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. He commented: “I must say that my own reaction to the translation is very favourable. Compared to the current version it is a joy, and it is not so old-fashioned as to really make people complain.” Fr Finnegan claimed that the text would be introduced in South Africa in December this year, and that it was already being used by some South African parishes.

But an official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments insisted that the text was still a draft and had not yet been approved by all of the English-speaking bishops’ conferences.

He predicted that the translation of the entire Missal would be ready by early 2009.
When asked whether he was happy with the translations submitted so far, he said: “Absolutely.”

The release of the text is likely to upset the bishops of England and Wales, who may prefer to introduce the new translation only when the entire Roman Missal has been approved.

Martin Foster, assistant secretary to the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, described the text’s release into the public domain as “unfortunate”. “It does not allow bishops to make their decisions in the best atmosphere,” he said.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and chairman of Vox Clara, a committee of 12 bishops appointed to advise the Vatican on translations, told The Catholic Herald last month that the English Roman Missal was “dangerously close” to completion.

The cardinal, a liturgical traditionalist, added that he was sure the new text would prove to be “generally acceptable”.

“The worst fears of a few will not be realised in any way at all, and it will be rich and nourishing for the religious life of people,” he said.

The new English Mass represents the culmination of a long struggle by liturgical scholars to improve the quality and faithfulness of the translation of the Novus Ordo. In 2001, to the dismay of liberals, the Vatican issued new rules which required liturgical translations to conform more precisely to the original Latin text.

Since then, the re-writing has generated a steady stream of controversy, with much wrangling among bishops over the nature of the text.

In 2004 the bishops of England and Wales threw out an initial draft by ICEL, the main liturgical body responsible for English translations, saying that the language was “clumsy”.

But in August 2005 ICEL rejected many of the bishops’ alterations, and declared that the project would be delayed for a further two years.

Last summer the deadlock appeared to have finally been broken, with most of the English-speaking bishops’ conferences approving main sections of the Mass.

Source: The Catholic Herald - Britain's leading Catholic newspaper

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