Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Translation Thursday: "To Love the Things of Heaven"

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 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.


Paul said...

Jerry: Do you think there is any chance that the Bishops of the U.S. would even consider meeting with the concerned faithful? It seems they have been silent on all this. I think it would be helpful for our Bishops to immediately schedule some meetings or focus groups (small ones) with concerned Catholics. I fear for this implementation in many ways. Perhaps a dialogue could be established. What are your thoughts?

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

I think dialogue is badly needed. I am surprised we have heard nothing in the last few weeks.

David Haas said...

Jerry - thank you for most thoughtful post today, and your honest and heartfelt reflections in recent days. I am so grateful for this blog and for PrayTell, which is not only providing some good information and update.. it is a source of common support in these most bizarre times.

I too share the concern.. personally, while I and so many are fatigued by the delays.. it seems to me that some serious intervention by our own bishops is needed... we need to take some control over this. While I would love to see some dialogue between the bishops and the "concerned faithful," I am doubtful that it will happen. But at the least, I wish the bishop's would take back what was originally their work and the work of ICEL, and push back from what I believe would be a step backward, as you illustrate so well.

Thanks for your hard work and leadership on this.

David Haas

aliaskate said...

I've read the Reindfleisch paper and before these 2010 text changes came to light, I had looked at a number of comparisons between the 2008 and current Sacramentary. I agree there is value in the closer translation. But these 2010 changes have made what was challenging nearly incomprehensible in proclamation particularly. Each time I see these side by side comparisons, three questions come to mind: Were those who made these final changes native speakers of English? Did anyone involved actually speak the words allowed? And is this a case of death by committee? Given the indecipherability of these, I fear that priests will make their own edits and hope to fly under the radar, or proclaim what's written without engagement since trying to do so with meaning is nearly impossible. It might as well be Latin (and, fourth question, is that the point?).

Charles said...

I certainly agree with Mr. Galipeau on the grammar here. I was always taught a pronoun refers to the next preceding applicable noun referent. In fact, for almost all the handful of examples Herr Rindfleisch mentions in his article, I agree the 2008 text is better both in terms of accuracy of translation and elegance and clarity of English. Where I am a little bit hesitant to join on the bandwagon of dismay is (1) I have no idea that these allegedly leaked changes are what will be in the published orations, or if these changes are just a handful of hickups that don't reflect the whole, or if they are indeed representative of a wider set of infelicitous changes; (2) whether or not Herr Rindfleisch is a nom de plume for Fr. Ruff, the Pray Tell blog generally has from the beginning seemed to have an agenda to bash the new translation, Liturgiam Authenticam, and any involvement in liturgical translations by the Holy See (contrary to the Vatican II Council's and subsequent documents, all of which envision a role for it), so I can't help but be suspicious that the whole thing smells like a fishy agenda driven stunt. I find it most odd that people who had nothing good to say about Liturgiam Authenticam's emphasis on accuracy are now criticizing changes by the Holy See as taking away from fidelity to LA.

I wish the ideology could be taken out of it, so we could just examine issues on their merit in light of the how well the issues of accuracy and proclaimability are handled. If there are widespread changes that detract from both accuracy as well as proclaimability and elegance, then that certainly is a cause of concern.

I have no problem with CDW reviewing and making changes, but one would hope that the process would involve respect for the work of ICEL and the bishops, and that changes would be made only where important doctrinal issues were at stake, or in those few places where either proclaimability or accuracy, as the case may be, could truly be increased without too much sacrifice of the other. And one would hope that there would be a dialogue by CDW on its proposed changes with ICEL before the recognitio is given, so that issues like this grammatical mistake that Mr. Galipeau has highlighted would be less likely to occur. Maybe outright grammatical errors like this could be corrected before the missal is published.

Anyways, I have to think that the translation still will be better as a whole than what we have. And I still hope that after a couple of years' experience with the use of the new text, any egregious problems such as this grammatical error will be corrected with an emendated version, just as the Latin MR 3rd Editio Typica was emendated in 2006 to correct some mistakes in the Latin.

Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB said...

Fr. Ruff here. To Charles and all:
I am not Xavier Rindfleisch. (Several friends have noted that his writing style already makes that clear.) "A Funny Thing..." is the first thing he has ever written for Pray Tell. He supports "Liturgiam authenticam" and supported the 2008 translation - just as he says.
Pray Tell has NEVER bashed "any involvement of the Holy See" in translation. I wouldn't allow that, because I believe the Holy See should be involved. When, how, to what extent, - these are all very important questions worthy of discussion. Please don't overstate or mistate my position or Pray Tell's position.
I have seen the (in)famous 46-page critique of the 2010 translation given to the Congregation for Divine Worship. Of course, as a critique, it focusses on the problems and not the parts which are OK. But it takes 46 pages because there a lots of problems throughout 2010.

Charles said...

Dear Fr. Ruff,

I'm glad to hear that you support the involvement of the Holy See in liturgical translations, as is clearly contemplated by Sacrosanctum Concilium, Inter Oecumenici, Comme le prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam. I certainly got the sense from the posts and comments at the Pray Tell blog that there was an ideological animus against the Holy See, against Liturgiam Authenticam and against the whole project of the revised translation. I wish everyone could just agree that we all want both more accurate translation and elegant, clear and proclaimable English, and support efforts towards that, without trying to score ideological points. I just find ridiculous all the shrill screaming about how the new translation is designed to "reverse Vatican II" etc., etc.

As a humble pewsitter (actually in the choir loft), I have no way of knowing whether the changes Herr Rindfleisch mentions were indeed made. I remember reading somewhere shortly before the 2010 Order of Mass came out that the words "we praise you" had been changed to "we laud you" in the Gloria, and that turned out to be a false rumor (thank goodness). If there are some changes that are clearly ungrammatical, or that clearly improve neither the accuracy or proclaimability of the text and actually make it worse in one or both of those respects, then I hope that the bishops conferences and the CDW can work things out quickly. A better text helps every one.

Jeffery BeBeau said...

To bring in a further element, perhaps the 1998 text will prove to be also helpful:

Lord our God, grant that in our journey through this passing world we may cherish even now the things of heaven and to cling to the treasures that never pass away. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.

The most compressible, proclaimable, and elegant of them all? While at the same time faithful to the Latin.