New Translation Thursday has rolled around again. Welcome.
As most of you know (because you read other blogs), the publishers have received the final version of the Order of Mass. I have had the chance to begin looking more carefully at the text. After all my months traveling around and sharing the musical settings of the peoples' parts of the Mass with lots and lots of people, you know that my own approach to the new text has shifted from anxiety to hope.
After having read some of the texts, I need to re-issue my own call that we begin to pray for our bishops and priests; those whose responsibility it will be to pray and proclaim these newly translated texts. Some of these prayers are close to impossible to convey. I have sat down with these texts, praying them aloud over and over again. Once I capture some of the new internal structure, for instance, the insertion of the words "O Lord, we pray" after the supplication (in the prayers over the people), I find myself being able to proclaim the meaning more clearly. This takes time and energy. Sometimes, though, once through this new construction, I get lost as I stumble over some of the English words used to translate the Latin. For instance, the word "compunction" appears in at least two of these prayers over the people; a word that is not in common use in our vocabulary. I fear that celebrants will avoid many of these prayers and choose ones that they feel they cam proclaim easily. And this is lamentable. What I had hoped would be a translation that would inspire celebrants may become a translation that celebrants avoid or change on their own in order to transmit the meaning. Of course, we do not yet have a direct experience of the praying of these texts. My hope is that bishops and priests will do their very best with these texts. There are some texts that will be too difficult, too awkward, and too confusing.
Some people have said to me, "Oh don't worry about those prayers. Catholics don't really listen to them anyway." Ug. Isn't one of the main driving forces behind this new way of translation a move to create a sacral vernacular that will be inspirational rather than banal, evocative rather than flat, beautiful rather every-day? If celebrants avoid the use of these prayers over the people, then what was the whole point of engaging in this project?
Folks, we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us. I so sincerely want this moment to be one of renewal and rediscovery of the treasury that is the prayer of the Roman Rite. I am still hopeful, just a little less so today.
On a lighter note, some of us gather for an annual Christmas photo here at WLP. It began as an "East Coast" photo because, strange as it seems, four editors were working in cubicles on the east side of the building and we were all originally from the East Coast of the United States. So, here is the 2010 photo.
These editors are kind enough to invite me back to "Editors Row" for this photo. We post them each year and this is the tenth year. Maybe some time I'll post the 2001 photo; my how we have all aged so gracefully!
Let's keep one another in prayer as these Advent days wane. Please feel free to comment on my opinions above. I always find the conversation helpful as we move through this.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.