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June 19, 2007

Comments

Marcel LeJeune

Haven't we had enough "dumbing down" of the English language? The young people I work with are some of the most intelligent ones on the planet and even they massacre English daily. We need to raise the bar, not drop it any further!

Maclin Horton

It seems slightly spooky that we all decided to jump on this topic in the past day or two, as the article has been out for a couple of weeks.

Joe Magarac

Amy speaks of "liturgical signals and signs coming from Rome." Does anyone know what the status of the translations is? I know that ICEL proposed them and the bishops voted. What happens next? When might they be used in my parish?

Marc

"If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people and expressed in the contemporary language of their culture."

Gotta hand it to da man. That is soo phat!

(That is still contemporary, isn't it?)

Seriously, I remember growing up as an essentially unchurched Lutheran who had the phrase "yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" ringing in my ears from one of our infrequent trips to church (Grandma must have been in town). I'm not sure "gloomy valley" would have left quite the same forceful impression that this anachronistic "set apart" language left on me. The obscure, mysterious tone of that text alone has an evangelistic value to it. Might even get someone to remember it and look it up later on his own...

Ed the Roman

Obviously Bishop Trautman wants a translation that an 18 year old with an IQ of 84 will fully comprehend at first hearing.

Next on the agenda: a new Mass for Toy Piano With One Hand in C by Marty Haugen!

john m

"How will John and Mary Catholic relate to the new words of the Creed: “consubstantial to the Father” and “incarnate of the Virgin Mary?” Will they understand the following words from the various new Collects: “sullied”, “unfeigned”, “ineffable”, “gibbet”, “wrought”, “thwart?”"

Gee whiz, Bishop Trautman. My name is John, I'm Catholic, and I understand every one of these great big difficult words. Go figure.

Thornton

Someone needs to ask His Excellency if he supports the re-translation of the Hail Mary and the Our Father. What the heck does "art in heaven" mean? Does John Catholic know what "hallowed be thy name" is trying to say?

Avril

Just a little story. I am composing Catholic songs for chldren. My objective is to 'raise the bar.' I pass my demos around so that moms can play them for their kids and give me feedback. The other day, while playing the CD for a 5 and 8 year old, the children insisted I supply them with written texts of all the songs on the demo CD so they could sing along. First they read through the texts in order to get the rhythm right. Over and over.
They stumbled over certain words (these kids are not being raised Catholic, but the parents are very open to my sharing the Catholic faith with them)and asked the meaning of each word they did not understand, which developed into very interesting theological discussions. They repeated each word they could not pronounce well the first time until they got it right and in perfect rhythm. When I asked them if they would like me to change the 'difficult' words, they were quite insulted that I would suggest such a thing. And when I turned on the CD for them to sing along, they sang with great joy and delight. Yes, I think our aim should be to raise the bar, and particularly among the children. Peace, Avril

RP Burke

Once again we are all focused on the wrong issue. Current translations are wooden and inartistic, simplistic to the point of inanity, entirely too focused on the pedagogical value of the Mass. Yes, I agree with that.

The proposed solution to this, however, has an "elevated" tone only in the sense that it uses unfamiliar words and a syntax imported from a language that is constructed entirely differently.

Where is the artistry? I submit that, in the excerpts we've seen, there is none. It's nothing more than false nostalgia for the lugubrious translations from old popular missals. Plus the added bonus of using a heavily gendered language as an excuse to inoculate liturgy from inclusive language.

Since when is Mass supposed to be vocabulary class? Where are the real artists, the poets and novelists and essayists who could really bring the presence of God through their art and craft? Nowhere to be seen, just as the real artists in music have been marginalized these last 35 years.

We are about to lose a marvelous opportunity to make real, substantive improvements in our worship: more artistry in music and word, and especially in preaching and teaching. We are going to blow it, big time.

Dale Price

The man is an endless stream of complaints. If the carp isn't a part of his episcopal seal, it should be.

Following the lowering bar, indeed. In five years, he'll be thumping for translating it into text message abbreviations.

"JSS SD, TH S M BDY..."

Inclusive language text messaging, of course. Don't want to confuse or alienate Gen Y's John and Mary Shee--er, Catholic.

Meggan

This is so insulting.

A four year old child can learn the word "consubstantial" if you explain it to him. Then, forever more he knows what it means.

I have always loved how preschoolers can (and do) learn the names of dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Diploducus... They can tell you that Triceratops means "three horned face."
Many years ago the cartoon movie Land Before Time came out in theaters. Instead of Tyrannosaurus Rex, they called the dinosaur "Sharp Tooth" and instead of Brontosaurus or Apatosaurus, they called the dinosaur "long neck." So, for several years I heard preschoolers use these dumbed down names instead of the proper dinosaur names. Thankfully, that's ended.


Keith Strohm

I agree a great deal with RP Burke--though I think that in some areas, the new translation does seem to be an improvement. I dont mind complexity in language, but archaic constructions like "We pray you bid" are anachronistic to the point of drawing attention to themselves rather than pointing to mystery.

Maclin Horton

It's nothing more than false nostalgia for the lugubrious translations from old popular missals.

R.P. Burke, you need a better gun than that if you're going to aim at those of us who prefer what we've seen of the new translations. Many are either post-VII converts, like me, or simply too young for nostalgia to be a factor. I wouldn't be surprised if "most" were applicable instead of "many." In 2007, does anyone under 50 or so really have a very strong memory of the old liturgy?

Dale Price

RP:

Given what I know about your love for dignified liturgy, I can see your point, and am actuallysympathetic with it.

But that's not what Bp. Trautman is arguing for. Those aren't the principles he's defending. He's a consistent defender of the Lowest Common Denominator--except, of course, when it comes to inclusive [sic] language. I would love to see a push for a translation in the style of the 1928 BCP. Unfortunately, that's a movement yet to register. It's either the new translation, or the '70s slapdash, with the trendy ideological emendations.

Dan

"Plus the added bonus of using a heavily gendered language as an excuse to inoculate liturgy from inclusive language."

It's going to be fascinating to see what degree of rebellion the new translation engenders at the parish level. So many priests seem so hung up about this inclusive language thing that it is hard for me to imagine that they are not going to rebel in some fashion against the new translation. I've attended Mass in at least two dozen parishes over the last few years, and I think I've heard "Sisters and brothers, pray that our gift may be acceptable" more than I've heard "Brothers and sisters," or "friends." It is equally common to hear "men" dropped from the Creed.

The hang up about inclusive language is one reason I prefer the old Latin Mass. It is no doubt a failing of mine, but I find it quite distracting when the priest changes the liturgy to remind us all of how dominant feminist ideology has become in our society. Latin sweeps all that nonsense away.

Maureen

Prayers should be "owned by the people", eh?

So Trautman proposes that the NCCSB should release the Missal's English translation copyrights into the public domain?

*eerie silence*

Didn't think so.

Btw, I always thought that people composed prayers to God in a purposefully dumbed down way, in a misguided attempt to be humble and intimate. The idea that they did so in order to _talk over God's head_ and address the _congregation_? Presumptuous and creepy!

Maybe all that glossolalia is God's way of exacting payback.... :)

MAB

How could Bishop Trautman think that several generations of Catholics who've had the USCCB fiddling with the Mass and mininimizing the Almighty wouldn't know the meaning of "thwart"? We know about thwarting; we've felt thwarted for decades.

His bizarre judgments about us indicate that he is really in the wrong post.

Bailey Walker

With all due respect to Bishop Trautman: "Your time is up. Move on."

Seriously, every morning when I pray the Invitatory at the beginning of the Office, the line "Forty years I endured that generation. I said, 'They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways.'" always brings to mind the last 40 years of horrible liturgy. Not only has the Lord had to endure this generation but so have WE.

Usquequo, Domine? Usquequo?

amy

RP:

I don't disagree with you about the flaws of the new translation. Well, I don't totally disagree. But what I really want to come back to and challenge Bishop Trautman on is the issue of principles. This is tricky stuff here, but the appeal that the bishop makes is not grounded in any traditional/historical sense of what liturgy is or what liturgical language is all about.

Because you know, if you want to talk "pastoral," Bishop Elliot's article actually expands on that sense, for his focus is doctrinal and what stripped-down language does to the transmission of doctrine and teaching through prayer. Is it "pastoral" to translate phrases in a way that effectively hides the original meaning of the Latin? See, we can play "pastoral" any way we like, which makes it not a great starting point for discussing the issue.

John Jansen

From Bishop Trautman's column:

In the new Missal you will hear awkward phrases like “We pray you bid.” This is not American English.

So what?

For the life of me, I can't understand why peppering the Mass with archaic words and phrases is worth wringing one's hands over. On the contrary, it reminds us of the timelessness of the worship we owe to God.

A few years ago our family came across a Stations of the Cross book from 1957 (published by Collegeville, if I remember correctly). It's filled with words like "behoove", "gibbet", "beseech" "Thou hast", etc. -- music to my ears, they are. Praying the Stations with this book is now one of the highlights of Lent in our home.

Fr. Daren J. Zehnle

Well said, Amy! I've wondering myself lately about the point you raise in #2. Keep up your good work!

Andrew

In the Preface of the Chrism Mass there are 10 lines in one sentence. How pastoral are the new Collects when they are all in one single sentence containing a jumble of subordinate clauses and commas?

The Declaration of Independence has some long sentences in it. First one runs 71 words. Lots of commas. Subordinate clauses. Would the Bishop call it a "jumble", finding fault in the writer, rather than in reader who does not understand it?

There was a movement afoot in the late '60s to drop the "art thou" and "thy" from the Hail Mary. I think Bill Buckley wrote a column about it, entitled "Blessed are WHO?"

RP Burke

To Amy, Dale, et al.:

The right approach to take is at once pastorally solid and artistically excellent. Hire artists in the written word in English, and then evaluate the artistry and richness of their texts on whether they transmit the multi-layered substance of what the Mass is supposed to say.

The wrong approach is to say that Latinisms, with a few high British archaisms thrown in to show us Americans our place, will automatically transmit all this cognitive and affective substance.

My bottom line is: The 1970 Mass is not our best work, but what's being proposed isn't either. Scrap it and begin again.

Semi-Anonymous Teacher Person

In a highly scientific experiment, I copied and pasted the excerpt from Bishop Trautman's article into a Word document, then ran spell-check.

Flesch Reading Ease: 59.4
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 9.0

I then excised all the quotations he included and ran the scores again.

Flesch Reading Ease: 60.4
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 8.5

So John and Mary are going to need an additional semester of eighth grade before they can understand the translation.

I presume Bishop Trautman realizes that John and Mary are not readers of America, by his logic.

James Kabala

Mr. Burke: I understand what you're saying, and maybe I have a naive opinion of the average American's intelligence, but I don't consider "wrought," "thwart," "sullied," or "unfeigned" to be "high British archaisms." "Gibbet" might be - I confess had to look up what that meant.

Mark Jacobson

I propose a new translation of the Creed for us dumb Catholics:

God is our strong Dad, and he made everything.
He has a Son, Jesus, who tells us what to do. He's a lot like his Dad and has been around forever. He made everything, too. Mary was His Mom because God made it happen and because Jesus wanted to help us.

Jesus had a hard life, died on a piece of wood shaped like an X, and was put in the hole in the ground. After 3 days he was alive and went to a happy place next to his Dad. He's coming back someday to tell us how we're doing.

The good part of God who has no body tells us what to do, too, and keeps us living and he gave some people some good things to write about a long time ago. We clap and sing and thank all of God.

There's one good church that's everywhere and that's been around a long time. There's one washing away of the bad stuff we have. We are happy that we will live after we die. We are happy that we will be happy someday in a happy place for a long, long happy time.

Patrick A

I give you the Bishop Trautman approved version of the 'Hail Mary'

Greetings Mary, jam-packed with grace.
The big Guy is with you.
You are really a stand-out compared to other women.
And awesome is the product of your uterus. Jesus.
Really good person, Mary, God's mommy, Ask God to look the other way at our goof-ups.
Now, and when a doctor decides my quality of life is not worth living. Okay.

Hope you dummies could follow along. But alas, you were probably distracted by something shiny before you could finish it anyway.

RP Burke

Semi-anonymous teacher person:

Wrong comparison. What you needed to run was the text of the Mass we have today and then the proposed new text.

That is, assuming you think these "reading ease" statistics have meaning (they are controversial).

Roz

"Will the priest and people understand the words of Eucharistic Prayer II: 'Make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit?'"

Did I hear correctly? Will the PRIEST understand? If not, we're in worse trouble than I realized. If he understands, then he is in a position to consider what parts of the new translation might need to be clarified with the congregation. End of dilemma.

"All liturgy is pastoral. If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people and expressed in the contemporary language of their culture."

Language in itself has power. Anyone can tell the difference between "Begone!" and "Go!" Even if you can't define it, you know. Liturgy in particular, the language of the Church to God, should evoke more than the humdrum of our daily experience.

The existence of so much of the nuanced, lyrical and pictorial in English is reflective of the depth of our capacity for intuitive, affective, devotional, contemplative appreciation. It's appropriate for the language of the liturgy to go beyond the words we use in our daily lives to express truths that penetrate deeply. If, at first, it's unfamiliar to us, that offers a catechetical opportunity to become open to new depths at which the sacraments can penetrate our beings.

Being "made holy by the dew of the Holy Spirit" invokes a rich image of penetration, universality, gentleness and refreshment that "wash me clean" can never touch.

Roz

"Will the priest and people understand the words of Eucharistic Prayer II: “Make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit?”

Did I hear correctly? "Will the PRIEST understand?" If not, we're in worse trouble than I realized. If he understands, then he is in a position to consider what parts of the new translation might need to be clarified with the congregation. End of dilemma.

All liturgy is pastoral. If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people and expressed in the contemporary language of their culture.

Language in itself has power. Anyone can tell the difference between "Begone!" and "Go!" Even if you can't define it, you know. Liturgy in particular, the language of the Church to God, should evoke more than the humdrum of our daily experience.

The existence of so much of the nuanced, lyrical and pictorial in English is reflective of the depth of our capacity for intuitive, affective, devotional, contemplative appreciation. It's appropriate for the language of the liturgy to go beyond the words we use in our daily lives to express truths that penetrate deeply. If, at first, it's unfamiliar to us, that offers a catechetical opportunity to become open to new depths at which the sacraments can penetrate our beings.

Being "made holy by the dew of the Holy Spirit" invokes a rich image of penetration, universality, gentleness and refreshment that "wash me clean" can never touch.

Darel

Mark Jacobson, your version of the Creed is at Flesch-Kincaid grade level 5.1 -- good job, but I bet you can get that even lower!

Patrick A, your version of the Hail Mary (what does "hail" mean, anyway?) is at Flesch-Kincaid grade level 6.2. That's too high -- try again.

Charles a.

Evelyn Waugh did a 'dumbed down' Hail Mary to send up some 60s vernacularizations - it went something like this: "Hiya, Mary ... you're the tops, and that goes for junior too ... put in a word for us now and when we knock off"

Darel

When I was a Protestant, one of our council members advanced a view of the liturgy as not simply didactic but flat out commercial. We should sell church just like Ford sells cars, he said (I suppose in retrospect he should have said Toyota instead).

Yet another example of the secular invading the sacred.

Tim Ferguson

Since the Holy See today issued a document wherein one of the four chapters is entitled, I kid you not, "On the Pastoral Care for the Homeless (Tramps)", perhaps Bishop Trautmann's maligning of the intelligence of the lay faithful is misdirected and should rather be focused on the linguistic competence of ecclesiastics.

Mark Jacobson

Couldn't resist translating the Our Father...

Dad in the happy place,
What a great name you have!
Have it your way here, like at your place.
Give us food, and forget our bads like we do.
And don't scare us, but keep us safe.
OK?

Semi-Anonymous Teacher Person

RP, you are correct - I was being semi-flippant and following along the lines of Julie D's "he's using awfully big words to communicate to John and Mary Catholic" post.

Mark Windsor

What's it matter? They'll ignore anything Rome says anyway. As someone wiser than I said: we have a shortage of priests in the US, but no shortage of popes.

JACK

I think it is Bishop Trautman who dislikes the "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" response during the Eucharistic prayer. On that one I will agree with him and disagree with all the other bishops who fought to continue that exception.

It's not that there is something inherently wrong with that response, but if feels so out of place. All the others in some fashion acknowledge the presence of Christ.

Al

I recently commented on Bishop Elliot's speech that you made reference to on my blog. The thing that caught my attention was the term used by Bishop Elliot "Mendacious Banality".

Something else I found interesting in the whole thing was the fact that Bishop Elliot used similar (at times identical) words as Bishop Trautman when quoting those who upheld the older translation because they wanted the perpetuate the fact that "our worship in the English language involved telling lies for nearly forty years."

Eric

The prayer that Bishop Trautman was referring to in his article was this:

Accept, O Lord, these gifts,
and by your power change them
into the sacrament of salvation,
in which the prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers have an end
and the true Lamb is offered,
he who was born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin.

Now if we were to apply a readability test such as the Gunning Fog index to this prayer, it scores a 22.5, meaning that it requires more than 22 years of formal education to understand at first reading.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunning_Fog_Index

Of course, hearing is even more complex. Could you not imagine someone hearing the word "inviolate" in this prayer and saying "Huh? In violet?" Or can you explain immediately who "the Fathers" are, or what are the sacrifices that "have an end?"

How's this for a fun test: After reading the above prayer ONCE ONLY-- twice is cheating! :) -- can you say in your own words what it means? And if we are to unite ourselves to the prayers of the Mass, should we not understand what we are praying for? Or do you truly believe that a post-graduate educational level should be required to understand liturgy?

JACK

Eric,

Do you seriously think the Gunning Fog test is the right measurement? I mean, talk about casting a cloak of scientism over this. The Gunning Fog test, in my view, would be a wholly inappropriate test to apply to prayers for a very basic reason: it is designed to rate as harder passages with higher word counts per sentence. Most Catholic prayers are written as a single, long sentence.

Set aside the question of whether a formula that has gone three massive rewrites as having any real credence behind it beyond the obvious rule of thumb about what would be easier to read.

Beyond which, we are talking about prayers that would likely be heard over and over again.

Dave Deavel

I really don't think the translations that have been posted here and on Fr. Z's blog are that bad. They may not be Cranmer or Ronnie Knox, but they're a lot better than what we've got.

I suspect the RP Burke line about starting over again is simply a way to delay any change in hope that the revolution that never came will come charging over the hill and defeat those evil "conservative Catholics."

derringdo

Translation of above prayer for intellectual wusses and the inadequately catechized: Accept, Lord, this bread and wine, that they may be transformed, during the prayer of Consecration which is still to come, into the Body and Blood of Your Son, Our Savior, born of Mary Ever-Virgin.

The "inadequately catechized" part is the key to understanding why Eric's argument is a strawman: the liturgy is supposed to teach at a level analogous to the level at which drama teaches or prayer in general teaches. It's not supposed to be a substitute for the Catechism or the priest's sermon.

Hardman Window

We Australians and other English speakers have been using "incarnate of the Virgin Mary" in the Creed for decades, and whatever factors may impede the spread of the Gospel here, use of "incarnate" to describe the Incarnation is not one!

Doctor Trautman and friends might do well to ponder on the undoubted fact that the prayers at Mass are directed to God, not to the congregation. I'm pretty sure God understands "dew" and "ineffable", and if some in the church do not, they can always learn.

CPKS

JACK makes a very important point. The words of the liturgy are meant to express a mystery. A mystery is not a cloud of unknowing, but a partially intelligible reality that gradually and inexhaustibly unfolds meaning over a lifetime of contemplation. Expressing the liturgy in simple-minded language positively repels the reverent contemplation to which we are called, and thus conceals rather than reveals the underlying reality.

To do its job properly, liturgical language should be beautiful, poetic, and as accurate as we can make it.

I don't think we should be too afraid of "latinisms", and still less of "high British archaisms". For one thing, all English speakers should feel it possible to explore the rich treasure of our linguistic heritage; familiarity is the mother of curiosity and curiosity the mother of learning. For another, no Catholic should fear a gentle introduction to the vast treasury of spiritual expression that comes down to us in Latin. Indeed, anything that might encourage us to think of the people of past ages, or weird barbarians like the Archaic British, as "not like us" and something we should be protected from, has perhaps failed to grasp how liturgical language has a duty to express what that mysterious word "catholic" means.

Eric

"Beyond which, we are talking about prayers that would likely be heard over and over again."

Sorry, Jack, I am remiss in not noting what the prayer is: It is a prayer over the gifts from Advent. So one would only hear it once a year (unless it is rotated during weekdays -- I don't know 'cause I don't have the missal).

Red Cardigan

I'd probably have a little more sympathy for Bishop Trautman if he and other bishops weren't so fond of using words like marginalized, inclusivity, devotionalism, inculturation, proclaimable, and other polysyllabic ecclesial buzz words.

It's not about John and Mary at all, is it?

RAP

A year or so ago, I responded to one of the bishop's published articles as follows:

"I think the bishop, in this instance, fails to recognize that people can learn the meanings of words that they may not currently know. If we always speak to people using only words they know, how will their vocabulary and concepts grow? We learn their meanings from experience and in context. Such learning is enhanced through instruction. Would it be so objectionable if the language of the Mass were a bit out of the ordinary?"

I stand by that opinion today. We can learn!

Peace!

Mark

"Hire artists in the written word in English, and then evaluate the artistry and richness of their texts on whether they transmit the multi-layered substance of what the Mass is supposed to say."

RP Burke, are you "nuts"? Artists translating the liturgy - please! We do NOT wish for, nor desire an equivalent of "liturgical dancers" messing with our liturgy.

I beseech you all to spend some time learning Latin and you will understand, and clearly see, just how foolish the current translations really are.

Con Fides,

Mark

Rich Leonardi

In fairness to RP, I suspect by "artists" he means artistic Latinists, i.e., not mere translators. That said, wouldn't such an approach represent yet another inorganic development of the liturgy? At the very least the bishops' chosen path, by rendering the vernacular closer to the Latin original, avoids this problem.

RP Burke

Mark,

As a graduate of the Boston Latin School, I can personally attest that some of the translations I have seen, including such things as a literal version of the ablative absolute, would earn a C or worse in any Latin class.

Further, it's clear you didn't read the whole sentence, where I said that, upon receiving their texts, the powers that be need to "evaluate the artistry ... on whether they transmit ..." et reliqua.

Anna

Mark,

Since the Mass is mystery, and poetry, who better to translate than poets?

It's a whole lot easier to translate prose into prose than poetry into poetry.

RP Burke

Dave, you suspect wrongly. Change is necessary but as a means to improvement. This change is not an improvement, and we're better off making no change until an actual improvement emerges.

Mary

I realize people are responding to Bishop Trautman's arguments about the liturgy but I would like to take the time to remind people that in the 1990s Bishop Trautman took a stand against politicians and abortion. Catholic politicians who supported abortion were warned against speaking at Catholic events in Erie - in particular, then Gov. Ridge. Although I don't believe he denied communion, he showed courage for his policy and paid a price for it. While you and I, may disagree with the Bishop on this liturgical question, I hope that some of you may come to know that he is somewhat more complex than the issues being discussed.

Maclin Horton

Good to know, Mary--thanks. I will try to be more charitable.

Re poets translating the Mass: I don't really think that's what's needed, although it sounds plausible. Mark's reaction (9:06pm) is maybe just a touch over the top, but he has a point: I do think professional artists would be much too apt to do idiosyncratic things, push for effect, and so forth. I'm thinking now that a more literal but fairly plain rendering of the Latin may be the best thing as groundwork for slow revision and polishing over generations.

Todd

I think the easy accusation flung at Bishop Trautman is also flimsy.

ICEL and Vox Clara consulted very little outside clerical circles. Their work on the actual Latin text of Roman Missal III is questionable.

If anything, the curia is treating lay Catholics as stupid for narrowing the circle of consultation and sidestepping important expertise.

reluctant penitent

RP is absolutely right--no change is better than imperfect change. However, it's unfortunate that he chose 1970 as the moment in Church history when imperfect liturgical change must stop. I propose an alternative. Let it be resolved that all parishes in the US shall use the 1962 missal until a committee of Boston Latin School graduates (headed by RP) comes up with a translation of the novus ordo missae that will be approved unanimously by the USCCB. Since we are seeking perfection, it is imperative that the approval should be unanimous.

john m

The preface to the second edition of the hymnal 'Worship', produced by G.I.A. in 1975, questioned the necessity of translating English into English, i.e. the simplification and flattening of what have been referred to above as 'high British archaisms'. Even though G.I.A. changed its tune, as it were, with the release of Worship, Third Edition, I find myself concurring with its former premise: there are surely few literate English-speaking Catholics who have insurmountable difficulties with sacral English in a situation, such as the liturgy, in which it is warranted.

It would be interesting to see what Bishop Trautman would do were he placed in charge of producing an edition of Shakespeare.

As speakers of English, there is no good reason that we should be unprepared to comprehend in worship the English language as it is employed by those acknowledged to be the best of its speakers and authors. Where understanding is lacking, the solution is education, not pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Mark

RP Burke:

"Further, it's clear you didn't read the whole sentence, where I said that, upon receiving their texts, the powers that be need to "evaluate the artistry ... on whether they transmit ..." et reliqua."

On the contrary, the problem is that the "powers that be" is part of the problem! Many of the individuals in power are "liberals" and therefore, relativists. These people are the ones who are resisting a return to "orthodoxy" and by extension ignoring the magisterial teaching of the Church. Those for whom Vatican II is interpreted as supporting their humanistic philosophical errors which justify their relativism. They hardly ever refer to prior Councils of the Church where great wisdom and teaching enlightened the world.

No thank you! Please leave the translations to conservative, faithful, professional Catholic Latinists who will not be subject to the "liberal" mentality that has infected the Church over the past 40 to 60 years. We don't need another debacle by the Latinists at the Vatican who greatly distorted "Sacramentum Caritatis." in the English rendition.

Anna - Have you read the Iliad or the Odyssey which was translated by Alexander Pope? If so, did you have a chance to read Robert Fagels recent translations? I don't think we need poets obfuscating the liturgy for poetic effect - do you?

Again, I beseech you all to learn Latin and start attending the Indult Masses - don't settle for Novus Ordo when you can have a "slice of Heaven". :-)

If I can do it, you can... I have spent at least 20 minutes every single day reading and studying Latin for the past 2 years now. Am I fluent, not yet – I suspect and hope to be completely fluent in another 3 years and then on to Greek. And I had failed miserably to master French a number of times over the past 20 years. Of course, I am highly motivated by my faith to learn Latin on my own after my reversion a little over a year ago.

Also, I would encourage you all to read encyclicals from the Popes prior to the Vatican II Council. I just received a wonderful copy of Pope Pius XI Encyclical on Christian Marriage (in Latin and English) entitled, Casti Connubii (Dec 31st 1930) – refer to: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11CASTI.HTM. I’m half way through it and I shed tears reading parts of it today – it’s an amazing gift to us Catholics. There are so many treasures of the Church which John and Mary Catholic are ignorant of their existence nor perhaps necessarily care to uncover.

Forgive my “grandstanding” here. I couldn’t help it since I have your attention. I thought I would do a little “plug” for Latin and encourage attendance at an indult Mass, et cetera.

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis.

Con Fides,

Mark

David Billington

Just a quick point. The Australian version of the creed in use for the last 40 years is as follows:-

"by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man"

AS far as I can see we have no problems understanding this nor have I seen anyone complain about the 'unaustralianness' of the expression.

Bishop Trautman is a fossil trying to hang on to a revolution that is already dead. Old revolutionaries never die they just whine away the time.

Leo Wong

Every century . . . tries to make the sacred common, the difficult easy, and the serious amusing — to which there really could be no objection if it were not that in the process seriousness and amusement are destroyed together.
— Goethe, quoted in Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p. 266

Steve Cavanaugh

Just to see how elevated the language in the new translation of the Missal is, I searched various words in the text of the Boston Globe.

For Vanquished I found it occurred in 664 articles, including

from June 17 story "Fatah storms Hamas parliament "
reaching out to his vanquished foes, Haniyeh named two former commanders from Fatah to head the police and national security branches.

For Suffused I found it occurred in 413 articles, including:

from Feb 26, 2007 story "Who'll win these duels? Who cares? "
Remember the Iran-Iraq war? How great was that? Two powerful Islamic states, suffused with hatred of the United States, bent on mutual destruction.

For Sullied I found it occurred in 373 articles, including:

from May 23, 2007 story "Ex-KGB agent sought in poisoning death"
Lugovoy has been a key figure in the international drama of wealth, crime, and politics that has sullied relations between London and Moscow.

For Wrought I found it occurred in 2897 articles, including:

from June 9, 2007 story "Mountain of litter mars Mount Fuji "
Fuji's garbage problem is a potent symbol of the general environmental destruction wrought by decades of industrialization in a nation with one of the highest population densities on Earth.

For Ineffable I found it occurred in 349 articles, including:

from April 1, 2007 article "Hardball havens"
Why, for instance, should the tie go to the runner? Kurkjian conveys a sense of the game's ineffable wholeness, instead, as is becoming too common, dissolving it into abstract elements.

I have no doubt that most of the words in the bishop's list could be found in the Globe many times as well. Note: none of these articles are by a religion writer; not a high-Church Anglican or Latin Mass devotee among them. As soon as I saw his comment about the collect (Does he think the average church-going Catholic knows what a collect is? Isn't that "opening prayer", Your Excellency?) with the word "vanquished" I realized he was pretty out of touch with John and Mary Catholic. For crying out loud, has he ever looked at the Sports page. I bet vanquished gets used several times a week there!

Jordan Potter

_This change is not an improvement, and we're better off making no change until an actual improvement emerges._

I have to disagree, RP. The first-ever approved English translation of the Roman Missal that is now underway may not be perfect, but simply by being a translation it is already infinitely better than the spurious impersonation of a translation that we've been enduring these past 30 odd years. Since this is the Church's first attempt at a translation, it's bound to be less than satisfactory, even though it's such a vast improvement.

_After reading the above prayer ONCE ONLY-- twice is cheating! :) -- can you say in your own words what it means?_

Of course. Every adult, or even young adult Catholic, ought to be able to do that. If they can't, then they've not been catechized very well. The prayer asks God to effect the transubstantiation of the oblation ("gifts") of bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord. Thus, the gifts become the Blessed Sacrament, which brings salvation. The Blessed Sacrament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices, in particular the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, and therefore Jesus is the True Lamb whose sacrifice atones for our sins. Now that we have the True Lamb, there is no more need for the Old Covenant sacrifices instituted by God through Moses. Finally, the prayer says that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was born in an unfathomably mysteriously way of the Virgin Mary, who was and is immaculate and ever-virgin, and free from all sin.

That prayer encapsulates the Catholic faith. Any Catholic ought to be able to grasp what it's referring to at least by the time they reach high school.

_And if we are to unite ourselves to the prayers of the Mass, should we not understand what we are praying for?_

Sure, that would help, although it's not strictly necessary. Those who want to understand what the prayer means can study and ask questions and use their dictionary to find out.

_Or do you truly believe that a post-graduate educational level should be required to understand liturgy?_

I hope you're using hyperbole. If only people with Masters degrees can understand that prayer, then those people should demand a refund from their alma maters for awarding degrees to people who haven't earned them. That prayer uses language that should be familiar to high school students, and if it's not familiar, then shame on us.

Steve Cavanaugh

"All liturgy is pastoral. If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people and expressed in the contemporary language of their culture."

I think this is just a misunderstanding, which a better appreciation for the Eastern Liturgy would help dispel. All liturgy is NOT the "prayer of the people". The people have their own proper liturgy, as do the different orders of the clergy. When the priest intones "Let us pray", that is an invitation to the people to pray, in silence. The priest then makes his prayer in the collect. The Collect is not the people's prayer, it is the prayer of the whole Church, militant, suffering and triumphant.

John Rayner

Although I use the Daily Prayer of the Church my version is just a little different from that of Bailey Walker. However I do recognise his, and agree with him:-
For forty years I was wearied of these people,
And I said:"Their hearts are astray,
these people do not know my ways"
Then I took an oath in my anger:
"Never shall they enter my rest".

That is the version which is used in England, Australia etc..

All of the words which Bp. Trauman finds difficult are part of my normal vocabulary.
I grew up with them.
I do not say "Thou, Thy, Thine" any more but I do know how to use them properly.
I believe that we have different vocabularies for different situations.
I believe that the significance of the occasion of talking to Almighty God calls for a suitable vocabulary due to the reverence which we owe to Him.
And, indeed, in my case, that vocabulary sometimes spills over when I'm talking to others in secular matters.

Beseeched peach

I was surprised at most of the words he rattled off as being incomprehensible to average Catholics - I understood all but "gibbet."

and I can't resist, though I'm sure everyone will think it's dumb:

Yo, womun who is gud
God like u
He like u more than other womuns
an we like ur kid, Jesus
Nice womun, God's mommy
B nice to us now
and when we die
yay

Dave Deavel

RP,

I'm glad my suspicion is wrong, but I'm with Jordan Potter and others--I repeat, it ain't Ronnie Knox, but it's much better than what we have. Or to use big words, it's an "improvement."

RP Burke

Dave, I see the new texts as being just as bad as the current ones, only for a different reason. And that's where we disagree.

Mark, what a fascinating circle your argument travels.

Jordan, there's more than one way to translate something, and in my studies, a fussy literal translation heavily dependent on the syntax of the source language and cognates in the target language would be considered amateurish at best. That's first-year Latin class work, hardly the "elevated" language that this Mass translation claims to offer.

John Murray

It is interesting to note that the Byzantine (i.e., Ruthenian) Catholic church is having a similar debate about translations. Only we're about 40 years behind the Latin rite, and we're not actually having a debate.

A new translation of the Divine Liturgy has imposed some inclusive language ("That 70s Mass") and changed some language with potential theological implications. I get the distinct impression that the title of this thread could be changed only marginally and hold true for our Rite as well ("Note to Ivan and Maria Catholic...").

Our translators seem to think that we can follow the RCC 40 years late but without the negative consequences. As Homer Simpson says, "But it's cute when I do it." Aaargh.

john m

I suppose it is possible that the words "sullied”, “unfeigned”, “ineffable”, “gibbet”, “wrought”, and “thwart" are unknown to Bishop Trautman, and that he is simply projecting the deficiencies in his own education upon John and Mary Catholic.

Ed the Roman

As I alluded to earlier, there will always be people who don't understand a given piece immediately. Some of them will understand it eventually as they mature and are further educated, but some will never understand it because they just "don't pack the [mental] gear."

I have fostered children who, barring a miracle, will never understand the 1970 Missal. Why is it OK for Bishop Trautman to leave them out in the fog?

Now some people might say that the efficacy of the Mass depends on a faith that need not comprise perfect understanding. Which is a good thing for those of us who don't fully comprehend the Trinity.

R. Turek

I think that an important part of the discussion is being overlooked. A person can feel many different ways about about a proposed translation. That is where much of the discussion seems to be centered, and maybe rightly so because that is the primary concern.
The factor that I think is being overlooked in the whole discussion is Bishop Trautman's role. First, he is not happy with the translation. Second, he made a presentation voicing his displeasure which was published in America magazine. Third, with the permission of the magazine, that article, normally not accessible online, was presented on the Diocese of Erie's website. And fourth, on that same diocesan website, Bishop Trautman is asking one and all to voice their displeasure with the proposed translation to various people and offices.
Would you say that Bishop Trautman has gone a bit beyond a simple expression of dissatisfaction?

Jordan Potter

_Jordan, there's more than one way to translate something, and in my studies, a fussy literal translation heavily dependent on the syntax of the source language and cognates in the target language would be considered amateurish at best._

Maybe so (or maybe not), but if the forthcoming translation is amateurish, then we'd have to conclude that the current botch-job was created out of malice.

mt

Hire artists in the written word in English, and then evaluate the artistry and richness of their texts on whether they transmit the multi-layered substance of what the Mass is supposed to say.

Yikes. One nonliturgical problem is that students (and adults) no longer recognize lines from literature that come from the Bible and the liturgy. I once had a list of phrases known to most of us that were not recognized by Engligh PhD professors. When Shakespeare or Yeats or Eliot alludes to Scripture, and even the English teachers don't recognize the allusion, much meaning - maybe almost all - is lost.

In the Bible, "I have fought the good fight" becomes "I have competed well." We can all come up with many examples. Rather than let the latest crop of writers come start from scratch, I prefer to go back as closely as possible to the translations that have served so well for so long, both in the Bible and the Liturgy, with only minor changes.

kentuckyliz

Pastoral...contemporary American English in short understandable sentences?! Libera me!

Here's the new Sacrament of We Cool. (Formerly known as Confession or Reconciliation.)

Penitent: Hey, long time no see!
Priest: Hey....wahzzzup?
Penitent: My bad. (Strikes breast, looks sad.)
Priest: Oh, we cool, man, no worries.
Penitent: That's phat! Smell ya later!

Richard Vigilante

I am instinctively unsympathetic to Bp. Trautman's argument. Unfortunately most of the examples he has presented here and in other pieces have been worriesome. "Incarnate" is certainly less powerful writing then "born", for instance.

kentuckyliz

Pastoral...contemporary American English in short understandable sentences?! Libera me!

Here's the new Sacrament of We Cool. (Formerly known as Confession or Reconciliation.)

Penitent: Hey, long time no see!
Priest: Hey....wahzzzup?
Penitent: My bad. (Strikes breast, looks sad.)
Priest: Oh, we cool, man, no worries. (Street-manly half-hug.)
Penitent: That's phat! Smell ya later!

Ben Yachov(Jim Scott IV)

>Hope you dummies could follow along. But alas, you were probably distracted by something shiny before you could finish it anyway.

Mmmmmmmmmm . . . shiny.

Eileen R

Well, I went through something like this when I started attending the Divine Liturgy in English at the local Ukrainian Catholic Church. You get in there and they're suddenly using words like ineffable and never using one adjective where three can do. And it's a very disorienting experience.

For a while. A short while.

The whole family is now completely at home with the Divine Liturgy.

Roman Sacristan

At least with the literal translation we are getting what the prayer says. I am amazed at how absolutely shoddy the current translations are.
As for RPBurk's griping about things being archaic, of course they are archaic, because we haven't heard them in so long, but I guarentee if you bring them back they will no longer be archaic.
I don't hear you complaining about "Our Father, Who ART in Heaven, HALLOWED be Thy Name..." It doesn't sound archaic because we still hear it all the time.
Certainly there will be an awkward bit while people get used to the new translations, but if I remember right, people got used to the change from the old rite to the Novus Ordo. I think we are capable of getting used to the next changes.
Your "too archaic" argument seems to sound just like Trautman's "too complicated" argument.

James Kabala

"he who was born ineffably"

I do agree that this is awkward. Can one be born in a way that is uncapable of being expressed in words? What does the Latin say here?
The rest of that prayer seems fine.

RP Burke

Sacristan, I'm puzzled as to how:

a few high British archaisms thrown in ...

became:

"too archaic"

For the record, I don't object in principle to all uses of archaic texts, and especially if it represents a higher form of art. I really don't like most modernizing of hymn texts, for example. But the proposed new Mass texts are not going to be used as they were in the old days: read silently in books in the pews while the real action takes place, sotto voce, on the distant altar. They are to be read aloud, and the Latinate syntax and fussy words will be a barrier to transmission and receipt of the Mass.

Mark

RP Burke:

"what a fascinating circle your argument travels"

You may feel that I am circling - however, I submit to you that my “argument” or position (as I prefer to view it) is only in response to our enemies who stalk and circle around us...

"I sobrii estote vigilate quia adversarius vester diabolus tamquam leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret" - I Epistula Petri V:VIII

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Con fides,

Mark

Jordan Potter

"Incarnate" is certainly less powerful writing then "born", for instance.

Not sure what you mean. "Incarnate" and "born" don't even mean the same thing -- they're not synonymous. So how can one be stronger than the other? Saying that Jesus was "born" of the Virgin Mary is not the same as saying He was "incarnate" of the Virgin Mary. One statement affirms the doctrine of the incarnation, the other does not, making it necessary to add words to cover the doctrine of the incarnation.

Can one be born in a way that is uncapable of being expressed in words?

Yes, one can. Jesus' birth is a mystery beyond our ability to describe. We don't know how it happened, only that it happened. I mean, usually when a baby is born, the mother is not an intact virgin any more, but Mary was. If you can explain how that could happen, then I would agree that the Church is wrong to use "ineffable."

Christine

"Accept, O Lord, these gifts,
and by your power change them
into the sacrament of salvation,
in which the prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers have an end
and the true Lamb is offered,
he who was born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin."

Beautiful language.

I am a home schooling mother. I find it difficult to find texts which contain such rich language. Even many of the "Classics" have been dumbed down in the newest editions. It is irksome at best when a book has descriptions removed, or even worse, HALF of a description removed as this leads to contextual disparity.

We should rejoice if the new translations, while not perfect, are closer to the original INTENT. As a post VII child, (1965) I know how poorly catechized my generation is. I also know that I have actively sought to learn the tenets of my faith. I know I am not alone in this. I really know nothing of Bishop Trautman except what I have read in this post and commentary, but I would have to agree that his complaint about the language is unnecessary. I know many people who have little formal education, yet they would easily outstrip some of those new college graduates in vocabulary, understanding and ability to communicate articulately.

Christine

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