Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The New Mass Translation

Two years ago I picked up a copy of the booklet Understanding the Revised Mass Texts by Fr. Paul Turner. It served as a nice preview of things to come. And as it turns out, Fr. Turner is a local priest in the nearby Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and I had the chance tonight to hear him speak in person regarding the new Mass translation.

For those who do not know, the current translation of the Mass into English is a “dynamic equivalent” of the original Latin whereby the “spirit” of the Latin is used in the English text rather than a literal, roughly word-for-word translation. The new translation, however, will be direct. Now, if you’d like to get a nicely packaged rundown which explains the new translation process, check out the video here. In short, the new translation will more accurately convey the Latin and restore some of the prayers and gestures that have been set aside since the 1960s. There will also be some new prayers. For example, priests currently have four Eucharistic prayers to choose from when they celebrate Mass – but the new texts have increased that number to sixteen. Sadly, these new prayers for the priests will not be published for general readership until October 1.

But if you’d like to start learning your new prayers and responses, check out this PDF from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Back to Fr. Turner. During the translation process, each of the eleven English-speaking bishop’s conferences has sent one of its bishops to meet and discuss the translation. Fr. Turner has served for the past five years as a secretary to that international group of bishops. Given his excellent booklet and eyewitness account of the translation process, I was very excited to hear him speak. Overall Fr. Turner gave a wonderfully erudite presentation. I was left, however, with a sense of tension between the new text’s faithfulness to the Latin versus its attempt to draw in more scriptural grounding.

One example of this is the neutering of the Holy Spirit in revised Creed.

Fr. Turner explained to me that the Latin text doesn’t use a gendered pronoun for the Holy Spirit, so in this case they opted for a neutered translation in order to be “more faithful” to the original Latin even though Jesus clearly uses the masculine pronoun for the Holy Spirit (see John 16:8, 13-15) and the Holy Spirit acts in a very masculine way during the Annunciation and Pentecost. Indeed, if Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, then we are certainly dealing in masculine-feminine imagery. Fr. Turner, however, left everyone with the strong impression that this was done in order to appease the feminist, gender-neutral crowd within the Church.

In other words, the bishops are allowing bad philosophy to guide them into questionable theology in order to score political points with heretics. Let us be clear: we will not be able to extricate the feminist implant from society until we exorcise it from our clergy and from our liturgy, which is the "source and summit" of the Christian life.

In the end, no translation is perfect but I am very pleased with much of the new wording coming out on the first Sunday of Advent. And if you’re looking for ways to get ready, I recommend checking out the links above – or you could also get yourself a copy of Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper on the scriptural basis of the Mass. Let’s get ready!

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