Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Preparing and Paying Closer Attention

Tuesday greetings from snowy Chicago and welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



At one of the workshops I led in Tucson on Saturday, I asked those in attendance to name the opportunities and challenges for their own parishes that the implementation of the new translation will bring. There was lively discussion and then I named some of the challenges that I see on the horizon, among them these two:

1. Bishops and priests will need to spend much, much more time preparing to proclaim the newly translated texts.


2. Parishioners will need to pay much closer attention to the prayers at Mass.

In order to show them what I meant, I shared with them the Collect from the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, first from the current translation, then from the new translation. Here they are:


Collect 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (current translation)


God our Father,
your light of truth guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him reject what is contrary to the Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Collect 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (new translation)


O God,
who show the light of your truth to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The texts were projected onto a screen and the people had copies of them in their hands as well. I must admit that, when they saw the newly translated text, there was a general look of confusion on peoples' faces. I could see them reading the new text over and over again, trying to get to the heart of its meaning. Granted, I did choose one of the more problematic texts. Notice that there is an "it" in the sixth line. After several readings, it becomes apparent that "it" refers to "the faith they profess" in the fourth line. I tried several times to proclaim this text (first alone here in my office, then several times before the presentation, then several times during the presentation) in order to convey its meaning. Try it yourself right now . . .

How did you do?

There are several texts like this one in the Missal. Priests and bishops are going to need plenty of time to prepare to pray these texts. And those of us in the pews are going to need to listen carefully as the text unfolds at Mass. I am thinking that perhaps for the first year or so, I will see if celebrants are spending the time in this preparation. If not, I am going to need to do one of two things: 1. Pick up the Seasonal Missalette before Mass and reflect on these prayers; 2. Have the missalette in hand as the prayers are actually being prayed at Mass. These texts are too important in the formation and nurturing of my own faith to have them recited in a raw fashion from the Missal without any preparation.

At my workshop, I then shared these texts:

Collect 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (current translation)


God our Father,
may we love you in all things and above all things
and reach the joy you have prepared for us beyond all our imagining.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
 
Collect 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (new translation)
O God,
who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray,
with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

When I showed this prayer on the screen, there was much less bewilderment in the room. This is a clear example, in my opinion, of how much more the new translation captures the sense of the original Latin quite clearly and intelligibly. Try praying this new prayer out loud . . .

How did you do? I believe this is one of the more inspiring prayers in the new translation. I find that it flows quite naturally and is, in a word, beautiful.  I used this example to show the people how the new prayers convey what is contained in the Latin more fully. As I prayed it aloud, I stressed the words "in" and "above" in the sixth line, then slowed down to emphasize the three final words "every human desire." It takes some practice with these texts.

Why not share your own comments about these prayers. Remember that this blog is a forum for lots of people to share thoughts and feelings as we prepare to receive the new translation of The Roman Missal.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the first new collect, I think the "it" probably refers to the name of Christ. But it's hard to tell when trying to parse such a grammatical disaster area.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that the "it" referred to the name of Christ, too. This is a real challenge!

I appreciate the opportunity to read these interpretations and comments.
Steve

FJH 3rd said...

I agree with Anonymous that "it" would seem to refer to the name of Christ. While I think the text could benefit from more commas or dashes, it is really not that hard to say it out loud after three or four run throughs.

Jerry, another great example of restored beauty is the collect from the fourth Sunday in Advent. Most everyone will recognize the prayer in its new translation.

Scott Pluff said...

After years of pastors and liturgists encouraging congregants to put down the book and listen, the new translation will cause everyone to put their noses back in the book.

The cynical would say that these are the priest's prayers anyway, no one listens to them anyway. That could become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Ray MacDonald said...

I have to agree that "it" appears to refer to the name of Christ.
I also must conclude that - after some 40 years of being able to participate in the Mass without referring to a missalette - I shall be joining many of my fellow parishioners in following along with the printed word.
My parish does not normally make the "new" missalettes available in the pews until after the Christmas season (in the hope that we'll all buy one I suppose.) That is something that will surely need to change this year.

Anonymous said...

I am a lector and there are some passages of
St Pauls are tricky at best (I.e. Something to be
Grasped). IRS only through time study and prayer
Do the fruits of ones labor show themselves .

Chironomo said...

A quick glance at the Latin reveals that "it" does indeed refer to the name of Christ. "For the faith they profess" is a modifier of "accounted" in a way that has no real parallel in English, hence there is no comma to set it off. "Anglicizing" the construction would yield;

"Give all who are accounted Christians because of the faith they profess the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and strive after all that does it honor".

That would be clearer I think ut fails to maintain the Latinate construction.

For what it's worth...

Anonymous said...

2008 pre-Vox Clara revision versions of these Collects:

15th Sunday
O God, who show the way of your truth to those who wander
that they may regain the way,
grant that all who are counted as Christian for the faith they profess
may reject whatever opposes this name
and follow whatever accords with it.

20th Sunday
O God, who have prepared for those who love you
good things no eye can see,
fill our hearts with longing for you,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises
which surpass every desire.

Anonymous said...

"O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray"

This may be good (i.e. understandable) Latin but as English it leaves a little to be desired.

But then, I suspect the people behind this translation would prefer a smaller, more orthodox Church. If this translation serves to chase away the "undesirables" they probably see it as a change worth making.