Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Just a Link

Welcome to "New Translation Thursday." I have an insanely packed day, really no time to dedicate to the blog, so I have decided to share this link with you, in case you have not yet read it.

16-year-old Latin whiz finds new liturgy language lacking

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Well, this is certainly making the rounds of the Catholic blogosphere today!

Good Grief! This young man really has no clue. Surprisingly, his article is not negative toward the new translation as one might expect in the pages of NC Reporter. It's much worse than we have come to expect from them! He is finding fault with the Latin prayers for crying out loud!

Example: "The problem, though, is that the Latin itself seems to be hyperbolically critical of humanity."

Well, no, it's not critical of humanity, but it does recognize that we are sinners, an attitude he probably has never encountered since his family attends Mass at Northwestern's Sheil Catholic Center.

I wish him well in his studies, and hope that someone sets him on a more sober Catholic path soon!

Jennifer said...

Wow, FJH3rd, as one who worshipped at Northwestern's Sheil Center during my time at college, and as one who credits the Sheil Center with helping me to keep my Catholic faith strong during years when many young people abandon their faith altogether, those are pretty harsh and insulting words. Disagree with the young man all you want, but painting an entire Catholic worshipping community with such a broad brush and implying that they just don't get it is patently unfair.

Anonymous said...

"Well, no, it's not critical of humanity, but it does recognize that we are sinners, an attitude he probably has never encountered since his family attends Mass at Northwestern's Sheil Catholic Center. "

What is it with you anyway? In another thread you talked about putting the focus on God. Really? You are failing in this regard. it's not only during the liturgy we focus our hearts and minds on God but it should continue when we leave mass.

ethelthefrog said...

Maybe it's possible that Mr Baker has a good point. Maybe it is time that someone took issue with the Latin that we are being encouraged to treat with reverence bordering on worship. Sure, we're all sinners, but doesn't it somewhat deny the righteousness that Christ bought for us by his passion and death when we go on and on and grievously on about it?

Is it any wonder that Catholics have a reputation for massive guilt complexes? Is it any wonder that only 30% of us think we're going to heaven (recent study I read but have lost the URL)? Is it any wonder we're such easy pickings for certain evangelical Baptists who are trained in how to kick at a Catholic's weak spots?

Christ came that we might have life and live it to the full. Peppering the liturgy with "oooh, I'm terrible" and "I'm a miserable sinner" and "I'm not worthy" causes us to push away the outstretched hand of Christ as he seeks to lift us out of our guilt.

We have a redeemer. Maybe it's time we sat up and took notice.

Paul Robertson

Northwestern Alum said...

What FJH says about the Sheil Center is quite true. It is not crazy or run by hippies -- and it is definitely not, say, St. Sabina's -- but neither is there any danger that you would ever hear anything remotely "critical of humanity" or instructive about the concepts of sin and moral culpability in Catholic theology.

Luke said...


I agree completely with your analysis. The core issue with the new translation, when all is said and done, is that we are being directed to treat the Latin texts as if they were perfect and inviolate, a fact to which I alluded in a survey comment which Jerry made the subject of a blog post in June of last year.

Latin is the historical, liturgical language of the Church, that's a given. However, it only became our liturgical language after Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire. Even then, this change took place in order to allow the faithful to participate more fully in the liturgy by being able to readily understand what was said.

Liturgy evolves. Our understanding of, and practice of, our faith also evolves. Liturgiam Authenticam ignores--or at best substantially downplays--that reality by demanding such a literal, awkward rendering technique.

You're spot on. Erik is wrong on some points in his essay, but its sprit rings true. The Latin should be respected, but not treated as a part of the deposit of faith in and of itself. No liturgy is perfect, even the earliest one. The only perfect liturgy is the Heavenly Liturgy which we will all, God willing, take part in in the life to come.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, as I see "Northwestern Alum" has already correctly noted, I didn't say, or even imply, that this particular place was completely without merit, just that - like many student-oriented Catholic parishes and Newman Centers - there is not much emphasis on man's fallen nature.

Simon Ho said...

Those who think that Liturgiam authenticam fossilised the liturgical texts or that it implied that the latin texts are perfect and inviolate are quite mistaken in their reading and interpretation of the text. On the contrary, Liturgiam authenticam assumes that the latin typical editions are already the renewed liturgy, and that translators are to translate the texts and not to treat the latin typical editions as defective and in need of further revision. It explicitly gave the role of proposing any further adaptations to the Bishops' Conferences, rather than a commission formed to translate the texts.

The attitude of some, that the latin texts are problematic, is indeed unfortunate, if not quite often wrong. Such a manifestation validated the strict rules of Liturgiam authenticam, and is evidence of the wisdom of the CDWDS, that poor translation is also a symptom of poor theological grounding.

The frequent recalling of our own sinfulness and unworthiness in the liturgy does not lead to guilt complexes, but instead fosters a greater awareness of the mercy of God. It leads us to praise God for his goodness to us and to appreciate that that same gratuitous mercy extended to us is also extended and offered to the worst sinners by society's standards, whether that be a child molester, a dictator, or a corrupt banker. It allows us to understand that the only response that God demands of us to receive his grace and mercy is openness on our part, not perfection.

But perhaps for a strawberry generation (a phrase coined, I think, by the Taiwanese), such phrases inflict too much trauma on our notion of our own goodness.

Anonymous said...

FJH, all things in their proper time. One of the missions of a Catholic chaplaincy in a university is to keep people coming back to church, and to try to stop them losing the faith. If my own student days are typical, a chaplaincy mission that emphasises the life-affirming all-welcoming nature of Christ is necessary. If the students find acceptance and nurturing in the church as students, they are more likely to stay in the church when they graduate. If they stay, there will be plenty of time to work on our fallen nature. If they leave, that chance has already been lost.

I am pretty much convinced that I would have lapsed at university, but for the Catholic chaplaincy. Had I lapsed, my life would have turned out vastly differently, and I don't suppose it would have been nearly so rewarding.

Students are learning how to be adults, and an experience of Church that is sombre, stern and judging will only cause the throng at the exit door to get bigger.

francis said...


I attempted some lessons in sobriety for Erik on the CMAA forum.

Jeffrey Herbert said...


While young Erik may be a whiz in Latin, I have to wonder about his "whizziness" in theology...he seems to step out of the realm of his expertise very quickly into a rather speculative critique of liturgical texts in general.

I too found the article to be an odd one for NCR... a new tactic: Let's agree that the translation actually is better because it is a more accurate translation...but the REAL problem is the original Latin text!