Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

Happy Thursday to one and all.

Arrived back home to Chicago last night. Lots of snow on the ground here. The sun is just coming up here at the WLP offices in Franklin Park. Hard to believe that I woke up very early yesterday morning and watched the awesome sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in South Florida. Actually glad to be back in the Midwest.

This is "New Translation Thursday." Please allow me to mention once again a very helpful resource for priests and lay Catholics as we anticipate the new translation of the Missale Romanum.

Bishop J. Peter Sartain, bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois, has recorded the new translation of the four eucharistic prayers for us here at WLP. Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, IV is now available. You can find it here. The CD comes with a booklet containing the newly translated prayers. I have spent much time listening to these prayers. I find Bishop Sartain's praying of these texts to be quite inspiring. Is the new translation jarring in spots? Yes. Are there sentence structures that are long and awkward? Yes. Are there moments of inspiration? Yes. Does it take time to unpack the meaning as they unfold? Yes.

I see this resource as a great tool for priests. I also see see it as a great tool for liturgy committees and parish groups to begin work right now with the new texts. This is an opportunity to do some mystagogical catechesis. Perhaps we should have included some kind of guide with this resource. Something along the lines of "Plumbing the Depths of the Newly Translated Eucharistic Prayers." If we adhere to the lex orandi lex credendi principle, there is much to be discovered in these prayers. Remember that our beliefs are expressed in our prayer. I believe that we can take advantage of the opportunity for some real theological conversation now that we have these prayers recorded. Pope John Paul II had some great things to say about mystagogical catechesis in his Apostolic Letter Mane Mobiscum Domine:

"The best way to enter into the mystery of salvation made present in the sacred 'signs' remains that of following faithfully the unfolding of the liturgical year. Pastors should be committed to that 'mystagogical' catechesis so dear to the Fathers of the Church, by which the faithful are helped to understand the meaning of the liturgy's words and actions, to pass from its signs to the mystery which they contain, and to enter into that mystery in every aspect of their lives."

I can just imagine parish groups gathering to listen to these prayers. Once the "Oh, I will never get used to these," or "These prayers are hard to understand," or "These are beautiful prayers" comments subside (and the concerns must be addressed!), it will be a great opportunity to ask some probing mystagogical questions: How do these prayers reflect our understanding of God our Creator? How do these prayers express the reality of the Church, God's Holy People? How do these prayers make present the paschal mystery of the Lord Jesus? As you listen to these prayers, how is your understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit enriched? Is there anything that you perceive as "missing" from these newly translated texts?

The questions are limitless. As you have heard me say before, I hope that the implementation of the new translation will be a watershed moment for us; a time to listen to and address deep concerns; but also a time to do some great liturgical and mystagogical catechesis.

I am off to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana later today, leading a two-day RCIA workshop for graduate students there. The workshop is being held at Moreau Seminary, pictured here:

The schedule is quite full for this workshop; I still hope to get an entry or two into the blog over the next few days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


FJH 3rd said...

Perhaps the most important fringe benefit to be realized from this new translation will be that, for a time at least, we will be forced to actually listen and/or read the prayers and be more attuned to what we and the priest are praying.

Chironomo said...

Are these recordings of the chants for these prayers, or are they recited? I certainly wouild hope these are the chanted settings.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hi Chironomo - no these are recited prayers. NPM and another publisher are recording the ICEL chants, which will be made available to the public, I believe, free of charge.

Chironomo said...

Ah... I was rather hoping that the option of reciting the Eucharistic Prayers would be made a lesser desirable one, although I can certainly see the need to hear them. On the other hand... it is English, even if it does some unfamiliar things.

I'm glad to hear that there will be recordings made of the ICEL chants, and even more so if they are distributed ONLINE at no charge. As I'm sure you are aware, there are many who are more than a little miffed about the copyright control that ICEL is weilding with the new translation. Even the recording of the EP's that you noted in the article here has been the subject of discussion, since ICEL would not allow others (CMAA) to make use of these texts up to now, giving the impression that there is an uneven playing field that may affect such things as musical settings in the future.

I'm rather torn about this issue to be quite frank...on one hand, the texts should be unencumbered by copyright if they are to be texts for worship. Something about having your prayers copyrighted seems askew on a very basic level. On the other hand, if the purpose of the copyright is to restrrict the musical settings to specific, approved, limited and truly worthy settings.... I'm all for it. I fear that won't be the case though, and it will simply end up being a "users tax".

Anonymous said...

With reference to the new translation you said " Is the new translation jarring in spots? Yes. Are there sentence structures that are long and awkward? Yes. Are there moments of inspiration? Yes. Does it take time to unpack the meaning as they unfold? Yes.
I am quite concerned because at Mass there are many people who are very tired, even exhausted - those caring for sick or disabled children /partners
elderly parents - those who are working very long hours in order to feed and clothe their families in these tough economic times - those who are ill themselves. There are people present for whom English is not their first language - those who find language and vocabulary difficult - children and young people. These people will not have the energy to work out what these difficult words and long sentences mean. Surely so that everyone can understand we need the words/sentences at Mass to be clear and direct. This does not make the Mass less sacred but it does enable everyone to pray in words they can understand. If people can't understand easily they will stop coming to Mass.