Welcome to this latest installment of "New Translation Thursday."
What a few weeks this has been, wouldn't you say? Thanks to all who have provided comments here on the blog. I want you to know how much I appreciate words of encouragement; they mean a lot to me.
I want to be clear about the intention of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. This blog is meant to be a forum for people who are interested in issues surrounding liturgy, music, Christian initiation, and catechesis. For the most part, I publish the vast majority of comments that come my way. By publishing them, I am in no way endorsing the opinions contained therein. My aim here is to provide a place where honest dialogue can ensue; and that has certainly been true regarding the new translation.
Examining my friend Fr. Anthony Ruff's blog, I find myself getting more and more concerned about what is going on with the so-called "2010 text." Over the past several years I have been saying that my strong belief is that the peoples' parts of the Mass will be received with some frustration (change always does that), as well as a sense of joy and satisfaction by some. The vast majority of Catholics will pray and sing the new translation in time. Composers have done a great service to the Church as they have spent so much time and energy composing new musical settings that will assist in the reception. The chant settings (both those in the Missal itself, as well as those chant settings recently composed—listen to Richard Proulx's Gloria Simplex at the bottom right hand corner of this page of singthenewmass.com) will help the text land in the minds and hearts of Catholics.
The biggest concern I have had throughout the translation process has been for bishops and priests who will be entrusted with praying the collects, prayers over the gifts, post-communion prayers, as well as the other "presidential" texts. The so-called "2008 text" presented many challenges for celebrants. Bishops and priests would have needed to spend much time examining these texts before they were proclaimed, probing their meaning, and then practicing out loud so that the meaning was communicated to the greatest extent possible. Father Anthony's post yesterday included this "leaked" text from the changes made since 2008, into what is now referred to as the "2010 text."
Here's the post-communion prayer for the First Sunday of Advent in the 2008 text:
May the mysteries we have celebrated
profit us, we pray, O Lord,
for even now, as we journey
through this passing world,
you teach us by them
to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what will endure.
Through Christ our Lord.
Obviously, the phrase "you teach us by them" refers to the "mysteries we have celebrated," uttered in the first line of the prayer. Celebrants would have needed to have spent time practicing this prayer so that the full meaning was communicated.
The so-called "2010 text" takes this prayer and changes it to this:
May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.
Through Christ our Lord.
"Xavier Rindfleisch" over on Pray Tell does a much better job than I ever could at commenting on this new text. I just can't figure out a way to proclaim it in such a way as to communicate that the "them" referred to in the line "you teach us by them" actually refers to "these mysteries." Because the line follows immediately upon the words "passing things," the "them" just naturally sounds like it is referring to those "passing things." This seems to be a case where we are asking bishops and priests to do the impossible. This just can't make it's way into the Missal.
I want also to add to the discussion the current Sacramentary's translation:
may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope
guide our way on earth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
I know there are some who have called our current translation "pedestrian," but frankly, I would rather "walk" with this text than what has been proposed for 2010. I have to admit, though, that our current Sacramentary translation is weak, especially when one looks at the 2008 translation, which I find quite inspiring, although it will take practice by bishops and priests to pray this text well.
Gosh, folks, these are strange times, aren't they? So many are asking the simple question, "What's going on?" And we have reports about meetings in Rome, but most everything is veiled in mystery right now.
And, through all of this, I want to say that these prayers are more important than ever. I, for one, want to "to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what will endure." My opinion? The 2008 text, at least for this one prayer for this one particular Sunday, looks like it will endure. But not the 2010 text.
Whether we want to admit it or not, these prayers have the potential to transform hearts. I believe to the bottom of my heart that when these texts are proclaimed, God's work of salvation continues in the here and now. I, for one, need these texts to do that for me, for my mom and dad, for my siblings, for those with whom I worship, and for the entire Church. And for that salvation to continue, the meaning of the texts must be able to be proclaimed and understood.
Simply put, I would like to get to heaven. There are enough roadblocks along the way in my sometimes screwed-up life. I don't need the Church itself putting more roadblocks in the way.
Is anyone listening?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.