Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Translation Wednesday!

Hello everyone. Me deep apologies about yesterday. I actually did post something, written from my phone in the Baltimore airport as I awaited my flight. I hit the "publish post" button and everything I had typed with my thumbs on my tiny keyboard was wiped away. Just didn't have the time and energy to type it all out again.

And thanks to those of you who were kind enough to inquire about whether or not I am OK. All is fine here. Thanks for your loyalty and concern.

So today's edition of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray is a new twist: "New Translation Wednesday."

As many of you know, last week I was asked to speak with some priests here in the Archdiocese of Chicago about the issues surrounding the new translation. One of those priests wrote about the experience in his "notes from the pastor" area of the parish bulletin. Here's an excerpt from the column that he entitles "Isn't Prayer a Discovery?":

Isn’t Prayer a Discovery?

Older folks will remember that 50 years ago the mass was celebrated in Latin. After the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) prayers were translated into English and other languages. At that time, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) was charged with translating into English prayers that had been prayed only in Latin for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Within a very brief period, ICEL needed to compile liturgical prayers, which generations of Catholic Christians took centuries to gather together.

Those of us who for the past 50 years have only known the Mass celebrated in English may have a hard time understanding why it is being changed. We love the Mass. The prayers have become familiar to us. They have become so much a part of our fabric that we instinctively know how to respond. We find ourselves reflecting throughout the week on prayers we have heard during the mass. Certainly, the prayer of the Church in English that we have been praying and singing for the past 50 years is dear to us.

So, why change? We must acknowledge that this was the same question many who loved mass in Latin asked before the prayers were translated! We seldom welcome change and often avoid it whenever possible. However, we all have the experience of something wonderful happening because of the changes in our life that we have most tried to escape. After 50 years, those studying the liturgy have become aware that something of the richness of prayers composed since the ancient beginnings of the church is missing. After all, the translations we now pray were composed only within a few short years. Certainly, so much of the richness is already within the translations we now use. But the liturgy is being translated again to insert the richness that our collective Christian Conscience finds missing.

I need to tell you that this particular pastor was one of those that was most adamantly against the idea of the new translation. A few days after the meeting, he sent me a brief e-mail. Here is what he had to say:

"Hi Jerry. I just finished reading the introduction to Fr. Paul Turner's book by Bishop Roche that you left with us. Along with our discussion Monday, it has helped me understand and feel better about this translation business. I am almost even excited! Thanks for sharing it."

Folks, I have a feeling that with the right kind of honest dialogue with our bishops and priests, one of the great things that may come out of this whole "translation business" might just be a real liturgical renewal among these men. To be reminded and then once again take to heart that one of their primary roles is to be for us that person who is in persona Christi capitis is a real gift for the Church. Taking seriously the responsibility to pray texts in the liturgy can only result in a fuller and more meaningful celebration of Mass. We still need to wonder if the actual translation might get in the way at times. Only the actual experience of praying these texts will or will not bear that out. Even if there are moments of stumbling, a priest or bishop re-dedicated to studying and preparing these texts for liturgical proclamation and public prayer will be a gift to the liturgical reform begun by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

Today, as that day for the reception of the texts draws near, I am hopeful. Let's keep the dialogue open and honest as we move forward.

Again, thanks for understanding about yesterday. Hopefully I am back on track now.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. 


Diezba said...

Jerry: glad to hear you're ok.

AND THIS POST HAS ME SUPER-EXCITED! If someone who was "adamantly against" the new translation can then write that "From the Pastor" article and the email he sent you, then I believe there is a great chance that this transition will be the time of fruitful rediscovery that the Bishops' Conference seems to think it will be.

Deo volente!

Chironomo said...

The Good Father is indeed right... these are prayers and texts that carry more than a millenium of meaning and liturgical context. To believe so adamantly that they were somehow definitively and finally presented in English in 1972 like the Tablets on Mount Sinai is more than a little naiive.

As much as I welcome and support the idea of the New Translation, that is very different from supporting "this translation". Many supporters of the new translation are quick to point out that this is a "first step" on the way to more faithful liturgical texts... suggesting that they are already acknowledging that there will no doubt be future revisions. I would hope so!

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

This comment came in this morning:

I was also concerned about missing Tuesday’s post. Glad everything is okay. I just finished reading the USCCB essays in With One Voice. I’m sure you have seen it. Paul Turner has the last essay. I especially liked the suggestion that was kind of woven into the essays about going back to Sacrosanctum Concilium from Vatican II and helping people appreciate the importance of Liturgy in our lives. The missing piece after Vatican II was always the lack of good catechesis. Also liked the comments in Paul Turner’s essay about how the new translation lends itself well to singing. Even as children we learn better if we can sing it! Think of the ABC’s!
Anyway we are all looking forward to your visit with us in December. Thank you for all you do. Your outlook on our faith journeys is always so upbeat and hopeful.
Micky Zielinski