Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: What Are They Thinking?

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Over at WLP's new web site that focuses on our musical settings of the new translation and other resources (www.singthenewmass.com), I added a little news page yesterday. It's just a brief note stating where we are right now with the reception of the new translation. I do have more information in addition to what I posted there.

We are in a very strange situation right now. The texts for the ordo missae (the order of Mass) that were given Rome's recognitio some time ago —and were allowed to be used for catechetical purposes and for composers to work with—will apparently come to us in the final approval with some changes. This is, in a word, a nightmare. Catechetical resources have been developed using texts that had been approved by Rome. Texts have been set to music. I was left with the sentiment: "What are they thinking?"

I guess it just proves that this is an organic process, but why issue a recognitio for something and then backtrack? This undermines the force of the recognitio. Publishers, in good faith, moved forward and created resources based on an officially approved text that we (and the rest of the Church) were told would not be changing. This is quite frustrating.

I believe that we are talking about minor changes here. Rumors abound, and this is what I have heard from those rumors:
Changes to the introduction to the Penitential Act
A reversion back to the present text that begins "May almighty God have mercy on us . . ."
Three insertions of "I believe" into the Nicene Creed
Some changes in the Apostles' Creed
Some not significant changes in Eucharistic Prayer I
Three or four changes in Eucharistic Prayer IV

I've also read elsewhere that there are changes to prefaces as well.

So far, we believe that the only changes to the so called "peoples' parts" of the Mass (from the texts that have been published on line and that had received Rome's recognitio) are to the two creeds.

So, as of this moment, that's where all of this stands. And remember, everything you read here is complete conjecture. We will not have definitive answers until the final text is released and received.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Jeffrey Tucker said...

That's truly remarkable. I feel your pain. Music is critical at liturgy but somehow few people in management seem to consider it when making these changes. Recall that the Trent Missal was issued without a thought to the specifics of the music attached to the ritual. It took hundreds of years for that to stabilize. And then there was 1969/70....

Luke said...

I'm glad the Nicene Creed is likely going to be more grammatically correct with the addition of the repeated "believe's." I also hope one of the changes in the Apostles' Creed is a return to "...to the dead" in place of "...into hell."

But still, I agree wholeheartedly that Rome should have made up its mind and stuck with it, or withheld the recognitio if they were pondering further revisions. My parish's pastor was contemplating ordering WLP's brochure "Understanding The Revised Mass Texts" for our (thousands of) parishioners. I'm glad he didn't go through with the purchase yet, because who knows what will change by the time we finally get to see the definitive, final missal?

Minor or not, a change is a change, and although any alterations to Mass settings to accommodate them will probably require the addition of a note or two here and there, it's still something that shouldn't have to be done.

lynntw said...

Your sentiment "what were they thinking" presumes that they were thinking at all. I'm not sure such was the case.

Chironomo said...

It seems to me at least that there may have been some misunderstanding on everyone's part. When they (Rome) said that the texts could be used for "catechetical purposes" and for "composers to work with", they meant just that. These are texts that we can use to get started with the work that lay ahead.

I didn't assume that these were final versions of the texts, so why did publishers do so? There were rumors (OK, they were rumors, but you have to at least consider them) that changes would be made to the texts before there were "final versions" promulgated.

Even after the recognitio was given, there was a lot of talk that the Holy See would be making changes before there was a final version. It's a pain in the &%$*, I agree, but after so many years of working with the Catholic Church, I've rather come to expect such things.

LynnTW... you seem to be assuming that the main goal is to facilitate the publication and marketing end of the liturgy. I would hope that nothing could be further from the minds of anyone involved in the Missal project. I would not be upset at all if the composition and publication of "new settings" of the Mass texts were held up for, say, a few years.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Chironomo, I think your interpretation of this is not accurate. Your line, "I didn't assume that these were final versions of the texts, so why did publishers do so" is misleading. The publishers were working under the strictest guidelines and, let's face it, a recognitio is a recognitio. Now, of course, that assumption (based in history and practice) is now no longer holding water, which is why I said that this whole mess lessens our understanding of what a recognitio is.

ICEL, the owner of the texts for the Order of Mass, which had received the recognitio, approved and gave permission for and received payment for the use of these approved texts in certain catechetical resources. They understood what a recognitio was. The "rumors" about there being changes to the already approved texts only began to surface a few months ago, long after some of these resources had been produced and sold. Everyone I spoke with—from those at ICEL to those from several conferences worldwide—was stunned by this development, since the recognitio had already been granted for the Oder of Mass texts.

Paul said...

Chironomo, your statement regarding the mass settings being delayed ("I would not be upset")is troubling. How do you expect to implement this change without the music? The chant is nice, but not possible for every parish. Your comments seem mean spirited to the people who are trying to make this work.

Lynntw said...


No, I'm not assuming at all that the main goal is to facilitate publication. Having read the new translations and dug into the story behind how we got to where we are with them, I am unconvinced that there was any sort of worthy thought process behind the whole undertaking. I lack time to go into a detailed rant [probably a good thing] but it sure looks like a power-hungry drive to more centralized control over pretty much everything in the Church. Like you, I'm MORE than willing to wait a while for implementation, preferably forever.

"LynnTW... you seem to be assuming that the main goal is to facilitate the publication and marketing end of the liturgy. I would hope that nothing could be further from the minds of anyone involved in the Missal project. I would not be upset at all if the composition and publication of "new settings" of the Mass texts were held up for, say, a few years."

peregrinus_sg said...

I am a young Catholic from a mission archdiocese in the far east, and I too would be more than willing if some of those new settings of Mass being prepared were held up, perhaps forever.

Then at least we would have the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with singing the new, improved and much more beautiful Mass parts in chant.

Come to think of it, maybe that is part of Rome's grand plan: to change the text at the last possible minute so that we could get to experience the Mass texts in chant first, and have that imprinted in our minds and hearts. Otherwise with all the big names out there jostling for attention, would the simpler chant pieces, which I understand will be printed in every altar Missal, get a fighting chance?

Chironomo said...


I think you may have figured it out....

To others...

It's not mean spirited at all. And why would the chant settings "not be possible" in some parishes? You do have people, yes? They have voices, yes? That's all you need.
I'm frankly a bit tired of this belief that we are somehow entitled to do what we want as regards the music at Mass and that the Church has some kind of obligation to enable us to do so.

As for the recognitio... did everyone suddenly forget LA 104:

104. For the good of the faithful, the Holy See reserves to itself the right to prepare translations in any language, and to approve them for liturgical use.

I noted several YEARS back, long before the recognitio, that this was going to be a factor...it trumps the Bishops Conferences by making their work essentially advisory...even their work that has received a recognitio. I think at the time I characterized it as "we will approve your translation as long as your translation is the one we want to approve". If not, they can just change it and approve the changed translation with no further input from the Bishops. That's what they're doing. Again, no real news here.

I'll be gone for a while from responding to blog posts...

Anonymous said...

"I didn't assume that these were final versions of the texts, so why did publishers do so?"
Because we were involved in ongoing conversations with the BCDW and others about the impending recognition; we have had decades of experience working with the BCDW (in its various formulations) on publishing ritual texts according to bishops' timelines; our occupational mission and our ability to "cover costs" is dependent upon being told when the texts are finalized and when the texts must be available for use.

"It's a pain in the &%$*, I agree, but after so many years of working with the Catholic Church, I've rather come to expect such things."
So if you were the head of a publishing company that employed some hundred people, that had seen your company income slashed by the economic downturn combined with the downward trend in sales of printed materials, that had laid off some employees and had cut the salaries of the remaining employees, you would have jeopardized mission and marketshare by refusing to proceed despite the fact that you have been in contact with the BCDW about the receipt of the recognition? When would you have proceeded? When there was no longer "a lot of talk"? How would you have explained to your staff - to your board of directors - that even though the recognition was received, you weren't going to let work proceed? Perhaps you can share with us a story from your years of working with the church wherein you risked the income of scores of your employees because you decided not to trust the well established and official process of the church.

By its own rules the church cannot have a common liturgy without a published text that it has approved (and has approved not just the texts but which texts are bound together). Publishers are not trying to "wag the dog" when they ask for a finalized text ("recognitio") and for enough time to design and publish. We are partners in mission. We are the ones "playing by the rules." We are not fly-by-night publishers who are making a quick buck producing "Catholic" books and digital apps that purport to be approved by church bodies. These are not simply "oops, I guess we're not really ready yet" moments. These are moments that harm the companies that are trying to serve the church. Sad, isn't it, that you and some of the bishops (and wanna-be bishops) seem willing to simply shrug it off.