Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."
Allow me to begin this post with a big triple whistle for our Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup championship last night by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime. I was watching the game at my home in Chicago's West Loop, where the United Center, and many Blackhawks "establishments" are located. It was just a wonderful celebration. Here's a photo taken a few minutes ago of yours truly here at the "home office."
As you know, WLP's survey about the new English translation of the Missale Romanum has been up for quite a few weeks now. If you haven't yet taken the survey, you can do so by clicking here.
There was a rather long comment left there, which I want to share with you for your reactions. It's from a twenty-eight year old Catholic from Texas. This is long, but worth reading:
I am a 28-year-old parishioner at a suburban parish in Texas, and a "cradle Catholic."
I have been aware of the impending changes in some way ever since Liturgiam Authenticam debuted 9 years ago. When I read its instructions I was filled with a mixture of surprise and dread, but those negative feelings were tempered by some degree of hope that LA's directives either would not be implemented, or, if they were, that the changes to the liturgy would not be too hard to deal with. Regrettably, neither has been the case.
I do not speak Latin, but I am a fluent speaker of Spanish, after having studied it as my second language in one way or another for over half my life. That said, I have a "reading knowledge" of the Latin language. While I can certainly appreciate that the new translation is indeed truer to the Latin, but I am a strong believer in the principle that liturgy must be accessible to the people in order to move their hearts. I realize that there are some who do not see things that way, instead believing that the sacral nature of the language befits the worship of God more than does common speech. However, in mandating the use of the new texts, I believe the Vatican is trying to "homogenize" the faith of all Catholics by forcing us to use precisely the same terminology the world over, with limited or no adaptations for the nuance of individual languages.
Further, this whole development seems to underscore what may be a Roman tendency to see the Latin texts as "perfect," something which they most certainly are not. Take, for example, the Nicene Creed. In its current English rendering, it is a series of sentences which clearly delineate each article of belief. "We believe in one God... We believe in... Jesus Christ...", etc. In the new translation, the "believe" is not repeated, forming the Creed into one jumbled run-on sentence. I am infuriated that Rome will not allow simple additions of verbs that are not in the original for the simple purpose of clarifying the meaning without changing the Creed's content at all. And why must "consubstantial" be rendered so literally? Why not say "of one substance with the Father"? That is what "consubstantial" MEANS, in the most precise way possible, so why can't we say it that way? One does not have to use exactly the same words to convey exactly the same meaning.
The same thing can be said for the institution narrative, specifically the verbiage referring to the cup. "This precious chalice"? First of all, the word in Greek clearly means "cup," drinking vessel," etc., without the connotation of "chalice." Just because Latin USES the word "chalice" does not mean Jesus used one. The same can be said for the word "this." The cup is, quite clearly, not the Holy Grail, so it makes perfect sense to replace "this" with the definite article, "the."
I recently obtained a copy of the rejected 1998 sacramentary, and almost cried in frustration when I began to look through it. The changes were tasteful and brought the prayers into closer harmony with the Latin than our current translation, but the language remained immediately accessible. If we want accuracy, by all means, do it. However, great care must be taken to ensure that the language employed at least respects the target tongue's grammar and structure. English is not Latin, and it should not sound as if it is.
I am also petrified to see the effects this will have on the ecumenical scene. When the Episcopal Church updated its liturgy in the 70's, it directly adapted ours. Lutheran, Methodist, and other Christian groups quickly followed suit. What will happen now? I think there is something to be said for allowing both translations to be used. The Episcopalians do it, and admittedly, their "old rite" is much more true to the Latin. Rome seems to want blind control and refuses to think about the interests of the people in the pews.
I hate to say it, but the new translation is the last straw for me. Once it takes effect, I will probably convert to Lutheranism, or at least attend Sunday liturgy at a Lutheran parish. However, I am also planning on pursuing the priesthood in the Old Catholic movement, a calling I have felt for many years. I would no doubt use the old translation--or a minor adaptation of it--exclusively. It must be kept alive, and part of me would not be surprised if there is some kind of schism on the Roman Church because of this whole Liturgy War. The Church seems to be obsessed with centralized, iron-handed control over liturgy and practice, and in insisting on such an approach, it is losing sight of its mission--to bring people to God through Christ. As one of your previous respondents said, many people will see the new translation efforts as a waste of time and energy when the Church is suffering worldwide because of the sex abuse scandals and other issues.
I am sharing these comments with all of you who read this blog so that you can get a sense of what a small sample of opinions is on the issues surrounding the new translation. I found one particular section of this young adult's comments to make much sense for me: "If we want accuracy, by all means, do it. However, great care must be taken to ensure that the language employed at least respects the target tongue's grammar and structure. English is not Latin, and it should not sound as if it is." There are those—closely associated with the current translation process that produced the new English translation—who argue strongly that this new translation does indeed respect the "target tongue's grammar and structure." However, I have not heard one of these people say that there are not places where the translation has some structural flaws in English. The translators were working with rules from Liturgiam Authenticam that needed to be strictly followed. This process was more painstaking because these rules needed to be followed. I have searched my brain for an analogy here, but I am coming up empty.
I respect the position of this young adult. I think this person is a solid critical thinker. This is the kind of person the Catholic Church needs. His last paragraph, however, greatly saddens me.
Please feel free to comment.
Gotta sing! Gotta pray!