Tuesday, June 27, 2006


...is there so much fuss in the Blogosphere about the new ICEL translation of the Mass?

The "problems" with the current one seem pretty trivial to me.

And those who take it even further, and say there are serious mistakes, like pro multis -> for all seem to be barking up the wrong tree (St. John says in one of the Epistles that Christ is the atonement not only for our sins, but for everyone's (or words to that effect), and St. Faustina gave us a prayer offering Christ "for our sins and those of the whole world"... hello? Literalism anyone? I can get that in a Protestant Church!

I hope the new translation will be even better, but I won't be complaining about the one we have now.


Blogger Christiano said...

I think there are several reasons. In the first place, the translation is not especially decent English, even for Americans (apparently).

Secondly there are major flaws (like the one you point out) which mean that often the English text is bordering on paraphrase or interpretation rather than translation. Pro multis is only one example. If the Latin says "for many" the English ought to say "for many" and not "for all", that's not literalism, just good translation. There would need to an excellent reason to render it another way (which in this case there isn't, except a sort of ideology).

Another reason might be that the language lacks beauty and a sense of 'sacredness'. It is *too* vernacular (and no easier to understand for that). No other Litrugical rite has a completely "vernacular" liturgy, even the Orthodox. The language can be understood by the people, but is not the language of everyday speech. Many of their English translations also reflect this (the Liturgikon of the Antiochene patriarchate is one example - off the top of my head).

Eventaully it will also be not just the ordinary of the Mass, but the propers too. Some of the collects particularly are desperately inadequate.

Ultimately, and since the vernacular will (unfortunately) be the main way most of us experience the Roman Liturgy, it is important that it accurately reflects the Latin without losing anything in translation. The faithful - in fact - have the right to the riches and beauty of the Latin texts!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 1:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

That certainly put Radish Malorum in his place... hee hee ;)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 4:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I heard all those arguments before, and they still don't seem convincing.

As far as I can see, the prayers are clear, concise, beautiful and dogmatically iron-clad.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 1:40:00 AM  
Blogger Fr John Boyle said...

As a Canon Lawyer, I look at it from the point of view of the right of the faithful to have a translation of the Latin liturgy, not an interpretation. Whatever one's views about the translations we have now, in many respects they cannot be considered faithful to the original Latin. Some people argue that a text needs to be accessible to the local people, which is fair enough. But there is no reason why beauty should be stripped out in the name of accessibility. When I celebrate the Mass in English, I have a right to celebrate it using a faithful translation of the Latin, so that I can be sure I am truly celebrating in communion with all other Latin-Rite Catholics throught the world.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 3:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every translation is at least partly an interpretation.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 4:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Faithful" here seems to mean "literalistic" and "beauty" seems to mean "anything that was in the Tridentine Rite"... OK, I won't object that these aren't partly true; the literal sense of any text is primary, and the Trid was and is beautiful... it just seems a funny place to stop.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 4:07:00 AM  
Blogger Fr Tim Finigan said...

1dayin7, have you studied Latin? I am not saying this to be pugnacious - it is just that if you cannot read the originals, you may find the present prayers acceptable; but they are impoverished compared to the original texts. It is not a question of literalism, although the new ICEL is indeed intended to be more accurate. The current ICEL simply misses out a lot what is in the original prayers. The omissions are systematic in that they remove sacral language which has an overall effect in the prayers of emphasising our humility and God's grandeur. The current ICEL texts undermine this.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 2:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have studied English & German (both chock full of "latinisms") in depth and I know the choral parts of the latin Mass (Credo, Gloria, Kyrie, Agnus Dei, etc) as well as the latin Lord's prayer and a few others by heart.

So I can pretty much see at a glance what ecclesial Latin prayers are about. It's not hard, especially if you've done translations before, and have a mathematical background (which I do) to see if a translation is basically good or not.

Most of these arguments seem to be conditioned by a Tridentine need to combat a neglect of Original Sin, to emphasise the supernaturality of the Incarnation, the sacerdotal nature of the Mass and the Priesthood etc.

So there is ideology on both "sides", certainly on the Latin Mass Society's webpage!

ICEL could have insisted on stupid "inclusive language" if they wanted to be ideological. As it stands, I think they just dropped a lot of the more "defensive" parts - it's still beautiful and sacral as can be.

It seems more to do with a kind of shallow cultural superiority complex that we Catholics have.

Friday, June 30, 2006 6:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

ICEL could have insisted on stupid "inclusive language" if they wanted to be ideological. As it stands, I think they just dropped a lot of the more "defensive" parts - it's still beautiful and sacral as can be.

No offence but you really are in denial that there is a major problem with the transaltion texts in the current Roman rite. Can you call a rendering of "Simili modo, postquam cenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas" into: "He took the cup" - a truthful "translation"?

Also the lex orandi, lex credendi - what we pray we believe. If most of the sacrifical terminology is removed from the text is it any wonder why people now think the mass is a symbolic meal like Protestants believe?

Friday, June 30, 2006 4:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there is the defensiveness. Thanks for a concrete example, Andrew!

That's a misrepresentation of what the new rite actually says.

The rite refers unambiguously to sacrifice. It just isn't "hammered home" like it used to be.

Saturday, July 01, 2006 3:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I don't understand this logic:

The rite refers unambiguously to sacrifice. It just isn't "hammered home" like it used to be.

And why shouldn't be "hammered" it like before? To further our "ecumenical" ties with out Protestant bretheren?

Monday, July 03, 2006 8:58:00 AM  

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