I think that telling people that we should be using a more formal, "holier" language when we speak to God is the opposite of what Jesus taught. He said we should call God "Abba." How much more informal and intimate can you get. If that's the kind of relationship that Jesus wants us to have with his Father, by whose authority do we tell people the opposite?
Jesus says "I call you friends," so we should be speaking to him as we speak to a friend.
It's fine to say that we should be polite and respectful when speaking to God (and to friends), but there is nothing in the current translation that is impolite or disrespectful. By using this appproach in our catechesis, we are implying that there is something wrong with the language of the current translation, and that just ain't so.
I must admit that I am conflicted about this issue. Someone in attendance at Friday's gathering of Catholic school teachers in Birmingham, Alabama had something like this to say: "I am a convert to Catholicism. I think that the language that we use at Mass supports a Protestant view that God and we are 'buddy-buddy.' I like the new translation because it really sets the relationship correctly; we are put in our place, our subservient role in relationship to God." I couldn't help but respond. I said something like, "For the past forty years, most of my adult life as a life-long Catholic, I have been formed by the current translation and that translation has helped shape an intimacy with God. I am hoping that the new translation does not distance me from that intimate relationship."
The conflict within me arises from Jeff's final line, "By using this approach in our catechesis, we are implying that there is something wrong with the language of the current translation, and that just ain't so."
This stands in stark contrast to this paragraph from Liturgiam Authenticam:
6. Nevertheless, it has been noted that translations of liturgical texts in various localities stand in need of improvement through correction or through a new draft. The omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations – especially in the case of certain languages – have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place. Consequently, the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal.
It seems that this document is saying that there is something wrong with the language of the current translation. There are places where one can easily see "omissions or errors" in the current translation. I do not blame the translators; they were working under a completely different set of rules. The rules changed because of the Vatican's perception that omissions and errors exist in current vernacular translations. This is where the confict comes in for me. I am a faithful Catholic, trying my best to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in this whole new translation business. I am reserving judgment about the efficacy of the translation until we actually begin praying it. I am disappointed in the process that led to the new translation; I do not understand what happened, and probably never will. But, I do echo something that Father Paul Turner has said, "I have reached the conclusion that those who worked on this translation had my best interests in mind." That may sound "pie-in-the-sky." It may seem way too naive. It may actually sound like I don't have a brain or the capacity for critical thinking. But I just can't spend my days and nights wondering why someone, or a group of people, "had it in" for people like me. Life is way too short.
When I am talking with people about the new translation, I simply lay out the history of its development the best way I can. People look for metaphors to help them teach children, teens, young adults, and adults about what is happening. And I think that is a good thing. I don't think it is wise to lambaste the current translation; this is simply unfair and doesn't help the majority of Catholics. What is fair is to say that Church leaders perceived that the current translation could have been improved; could have been brought into closer conformity to the original Latin, the translation that most clearly expresses our beliefs as Catholics. Whether or not the new English translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition, will succeed is still a question.
Jeff, thanks for your helpful comments. Obviously you got me thinking. Others?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.