Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."
I am back home here in Chicago after several days away. Feeling refreshed and invigorated.
As you know, I have spent many many months on the road talking with various groups of people about the implementation of the new translation. In a way, I feel that those presentations have led up to what is about to occur beginning tonight and over the next few days. Tonight I will be speaking with the members of my parish's choir about the new translation. And on Sunday, I will be speaking with my parish's liturgical ministers and the members of the Knights and Ladies of Saint Peter Claver.
You know, I really don't get too nervous about public speaking any more. But I am anxious about these two presentations because they are for an audience of people whom I deeply love. And, judging from comments I have received in the recent past, it looks like there are going to be lots and lots of questions about the new translation. Some of those questions I share as well. I do believe that I will be able to answer the "why a new translation" question. I do know, however, that for some people the answer is not satisfying in any way.
The pro multis question, I believe, is the most problematic of all issues in the new translation, and one about which I struggle mightily. When asked to talk about it, I simply refer people to this 2006 letter from Cardinal Arinze:
Letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze on the Translation of Pro Multis
CONGREGATIO DE CULTU DIVINO ET DISCIPLINA SACRAMENTORUM
Rome, 17 October 2006
Prot. no. 467/05/L
Your Eminence / Your Excellency,
In July 2005 this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to all Presidents of Conferences of Bishops to ask their considered opinion regarding the translation into the various vernaculars of the expression pro multis in the formula for the consecration of the Precious Blood during the celebration of Holy Mass (ref. Prot. n. 467/05/L of 9 July 2005). The replies received from the Bishops’ Conferences were studied by the two Congregations and a report was made to the Holy Father. At his direction, this Congregation now writes to Your Eminence / Your Excellency in the following terms:
1. A text corresponding to the words pro multis, handed down by the Church, constitutes the formula that has been in use in the Roman Rite in Latin from the earliest centuries. In the past 30 years or so, some approved vernacular texts have carried the interpretative translation “for all,” “per tutti,” or equivalents.
2. There is no doubt whatsoever regarding the validity of Masses celebrated with the use of a duly approved formula containing a formula equivalent to “for all” as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has already declared (cf. Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Declaratio de sensu tribuendo adprobationi versionum formularum sacramentalium, 25 ianuarii 1974, AAS 66 , 661). Indeed, the formula “for all” would undoubtedly correspond to a correct interpretation of the Lord’s intention expressed in the text. It is a dogma of faith that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women (cf. John 11:52; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Titus 2:11; 1 John 2:2).
3. There are, however, many arguments in favor of a more precise rendering of the traditional formula pro multis:
a. The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24) make specific reference to “many” for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53:11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said “for all” (for example, cf. Luke 12:41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is “for many,” and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.
b. The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.
c. The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.
d. “For many” is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas “for all” is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.
e. The expression “for many,” while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s own willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.
f. In line with the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts of the typical editions.
4. The Bishops’ Conferences of those countries where the formula “for all” or its equivalent is currently in use are therefore requested to undertake the necessary catechesis of the faithful on this matter in the next one or two years to prepare them for the introduction of a precise vernacular translation of the formula pro multis (e.g., “for many,” “per molti,” etc.) in the next translation of the Roman Missal that the Bishops and the Holy See will approve for use in their country.
With the expression of my high esteem and respect, I remain, Your Eminence /Your Excellency,
Devotedly Yours in Christ,
+ Francis Cardinal Arinze
While I understand the reasons that the Cardinal moves the reader through, I still cannot wrap my brain around it. While I realize that the acceptance of the Lord's sacrificial love is a free choice made by the individual (who is counted among the "many"), nevertheless, the Lord's blood was shed for all. Not all accept the gift, but it is shed for all.
This is one of those areas in the new translation that I find quite difficult, and I tell people so. And I can't imagine myself not cringing each and every time, for the rest of my life, that I hear these words:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT,
FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD,
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT,
WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY
FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
How have you handled questions about this issue?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.