Interesting news regarding the new upcoming English translation of the Roman Rite mass. I've been following what the Vox Clara committee has been doing for a while, and I have had hints as to what the new translation of the Mass in English would look like, knowing that it would be more faithful to the Latin as other translations are (e.g. French, Spanish, Italian).
John Allen, probably the best reporter from the National Catholic Reporter, offers us a glimpse into one of the preliminary drafts and also touches on various points of debate:
While Rome has repeatedly insisted on more traditional texts in recent years, the new translation, produced by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy -- ICEL -- is the first application of these principles to the Order of the Mass, the key prayers in the preeminent Roman Catholic act of worship. For this reason, it has been much anticipated by liturgical experts and church officials.He discusses some of the objections to the new translation, some of which I consider to be valid concerns. But generally, I think that this is the right direction. Some examples of what may be different based on the preliminary draft include:
If the process of seeking approval from English-speaking bishops' conferences and the Vatican does not hit any snags, the new translation could be in use in American parishes by early 2005.
- Gone is the familiar "And also with you" response to the priest's greeting, "The Lord be with you." According to the draft translation, the congregation would respond, "And with your spirit," a more literal rendering of the Latin.I have really longed to be able to respond "and with your spirit" rather than "and also with you" because it reminds us that our connection during the liturgy is not just personal but also spiritual. This is what we say in the English translation of the eastern Divine Liturgy, and it's actually the sense that is conveyed by the Latin phrase "et cum spiritu tuo."
- In the Creed, the congregation would begin each section by saying "I believe" rather than "We believe," a shift to the plural seen by some critics as part of an excessive post-Vatican II emphasis on the communal dimension of worship.
- In the penitential rite (often known by its Latin opening word, Confiteor), the congregation would recite "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault" while striking their breasts, a custom that hearkens back to the mea culpa from the Latin Mass prior to Vatican II.
- In the "Glory to God," an extra phrase is added: "We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory." This restores Latin phrases originally dropped from English translations in order to avoid what was seen as redundancy.
- In the eucharistic prayer, when the priest says, "Let our hearts be lifted high," the people would respond, "We hold them before the Lord," rather than the familiar "We lift them up to the Lord."
In a related (and heavily biased) article, Austen Ivereigh also discusses the new draft, pointing to some other translation changes that we may see:
[The celebrant] says: "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God." [the congregation] replies: "It is right and just." ... At the consecration he says: "Who on the day before he was to suffer / took bread into his holy and venerable hands."I know this new translation will be met with resistance by some, but on the whole, I see it as being part of genuine liturgical reform that will produce much fruit. Contrary to what Ivereigh thinks, I think that it is important that liturgical language be different than standard street language. It should invite us to something more. Words, like symbols, often communicate more than just what they mean superficially.
I'm curious as to what it will be like when this new translation hits parishes in the United States. How do we collectively change what we've been saying for all of these years, words that have become merely reflexive? It's not an easy task, but that is the point of reform. It must be a catalyst for growth. With education, it must prompt us to think. It must challenge us to think. So let us continue to pray that liturgical renewal will provide moments for catechesis and transformation. Let us pray that the Roman Rite liturgy will continue to be fitting, reverent, edifying, and inviting.