Friday, October 02, 2009

The New English Translation of the Roman Missal: An Important Step in Building the Culture of Life

This past week, I have heard from some who are concerned the Church is wasting time on the new English translation of the Roman Missal when there are seemingly more important problems in the Church, in particular, the fact that many Mass-going Catholics support legal abortion to some greater or lesser degree.

In response to those concerned, one can confidently say: the time spent on the new translation is, indeed, time well spent. The texts used in the liturgy have a direct impact on the moral and spiritual lives of the faithful, and insofar as this is the case, relates to the important matter of building a culture of life.

Liturgiam Authenticam, the instruction on the use of vernacular languages within the liturgical books of the Roman liturgy, expresses how the proper and faithful translations of liturgical texts will flow into the hearts of the faithful having a 'very powerful' influence in their lives:

By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God's majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself.

The liturgical texts' character as a very powerful instrument for instilling in the lives of the Christian faithful the elements of faith and Christian morality is to be maintained in the translations with the utmost solicitude. The translation, furthermore, must always be in accord with sound doctrine.

As well, in 2002, John Paul II spoke of the direct link between the texts used within the liturgy and the Christian life in a letter to the international committee overseeing the English translation of the Roman Missal, Vox Clara:
Since the lex orandi conforms to the lex credendi, fidelity to the rites and texts of the Liturgy is of paramount importance for the Church and the Christian life.

Now, in considering the statements above it is quite clear that the texts of the sacred liturgy are of great importance and should not be dismissed as inconsequential. That said, we should also be clear that this worthy project of re-translating the English edition of the Roman Missal is only one of a series of necessary steps that will bring us toward a more reverent and transcendent liturgy. Matters such as sacred music, sacred art and liturgical orientation are also crucial; further, we need to pursue mystagogical catechesis; all of these assist the faithful in uniting themselves to the sacred mysteries being celebrated.

The sacred liturgy is the source and summit from which all else flows. The newly re-translated texts will contribute to a greater sense of transcendence, drawing the faithful outside of themselves and to God. This in turn is more likely to lead one to conversion of the heart and mind; to a more profound love of God and neighbour. From that, of course, flows the keener awareness of the value and dignity of each human being, and that all life is sacred from conception to natural death.

The sacred liturgy is the foundation for the culture of life. Therefore, rather than the new, and better, English translation being a waste of time, it is precisely time well spent. Time that will help in building a culture of life among the Cathlic faithful, and, further, build up the entire life of the Church.

Related NLM articles:

The Sacred Liturgy: The Neglected Foundation to Building the Culture of Life

Pro-Life News Site Lists the Liturgy as the First Priority in Building the Culture of Life

U.S. Bishops Approve to add Votive Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life

Prefect of the CDW: "The future of humanity is in the liturgy"

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