Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Trinity Preface Too Difficult to Pray?

"New Translation Tuesday" has dawned bright and beautiful here in Chicago.

After having spent the past several weeks attending Mass where Croatian and German were spoken and sung, it was refreshing to get back to Mass in English this past weekend at my parish. I noticed how my pastor almost painstakingly prayed the Preface for the Most Holy Trinity:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty.
For this is praised by Angels and Archangels,
Cherubim, too, and Seraphim,
who never cease to cry out each day,
as with one voice they acclaim:

Now I certainly ascribe to the adage lex orandi lex credendi, but I thought this prayer sounded more like a theology lecture than a prayer. My pastor very carefully pronounced each and every word, but it just seemed like it was so darn hard to pray this text.
What did you think?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Paul said...

Funny you should mention this. Our Pastor was caught totally off guard this past weekend by the preface. He actually stopped, look up at the assembly and laughed. I couldn't believe it. Afterwards I looked at the missal and saw why.

FJH 3rd said...

I certainly noticed, as I followed along in my hand missal, that it was a bit more packed than many prefaces. But I found it prayerful, perhaps along the same lines as the Creed is prayerful. It did give me pause to reflect on the mystery of the Trinity.

Paul said...

The Creed (a prayer?) is much easier to understand and recite than this preface. I don't think the Creed was ever intended to be a prayer?

Siobhan said...

It's a good Sunday if I come away with one or two ponderables.

This weekend, I was struck by "not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance." I heard almost nothing of the Eucharistic Prayer that followed as I pondered the difference between "unity of a single person" and "a Trinity of one substance."

... still pondering...

Clay said...

Heard it six times, with a total of four different presiders. The experience ranged from stumbled through to chanted beautifully but so rapidly that virtually no meaning came through.

Not a great day in Prefaceland.

Gregg said...

LOL, how true. I rarely hear anything of the Eucharistic Prayer anymore. But it's not because I don't try.

FJH 3Rd said...

Well, we stand with hands folded, and it ends with "Amen". Looks like a prayer to me.

Anonymous said...

If I have to follow along by reading the "prayer" in a missal, then I am no longer praying at all I am reading a prayer. A lecture in Theology, Yes. A prayer, No.

Charles said...

Curiously, I found myself drawn further into the mystery and awe of the Trinity each of the three times I heard it recited (by our 80 year old retired monsignor.) Of all the prefaces that I have contemplated as they were prayed, this was first one since Nov. that captured my imagination immediately. But I admit that I like arcanery.

Brian said...

Our pastor spoke the preface at the first Mass of the morning. It was a mess. He admitted afterwards that he had decided not to chant the preface because it was so difficult. At the next two Masses he chanted the preface and the text was a lot clearer and made a lot more sense.

Like Siobhan, I too found myself pondering "a Trinity of one substance," and nearly missed the intro for the Holy!

FJH 3rd said...

So, Anonymous, I guess the Priest, reading the words in the Roman Missal, is NOT PRAYING THE MASS???

I think you need to broaden your understanding of praying.

Jeff Rexhausen said...

I would encourage you to put yourself into the situation described by Anonymous. S/he is attempting to participate in the prayer being led by the priest, but is unable to do so because of one or more reasons, which may include bad grammar or dense wording/theology, resulting in a need to refer to a missal/ette in order to make sense of it, which, for many people, would take them out of the action of praying.

In your response, you imply that the priest's actions are parallel, but their roles are different. The priest has, presumably, prepared for his role as leader of prayer by reading through the prayer one or more times prior to Mass so that he can pray it when he comes to it.

You and many of the rest of us have often pointed out the need for and importance of such preparation. We would fault a priest who didn't take this responsibility seriously. Since we appreciate the difficulties that a priest may have with some of the prayers in the new missal translation, I hope you will be similarly appreciative of the struggle voiced by Anonymous.

Jay said...

Like so many of these, it just doesn't parse. The preface can be helped along by putting emphasis on the word "YOUR" in the phrase "For what you have revealed to us of your glory" as opposed to the word "GLORY" as would probably be done without preparation. More troubling is what occurs later "so that,...
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty.
For this is praised by Angels and Archangels," First, "each person" should not have the referent "their". The proper referent is "his" or "its". Next, "For this is praised...". To what does "this" refer to? It might be "your glory", which is not the subject of the sentence far above. Oh, forget it. It's a total grammatical train wreck! Ugh!!

FJH 3rd said...

Jeff, I'll grant that the priest and the congregants have different roles. But Anonymous seems to be saying that reading from a book cannot be considered praying. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be someone in a holy hour reading from a book of prayers or other spiritual writing. Would Anonymous say that is not prayer?

Jeff Rexhausen said...

I would hope you can see that what (to you) "Anonymous seems to be saying" is a misinterpretation on your part. The statement was specific to following the prayers of the priest at Mass. The comparison to reading a prayer from a book in some other setting is a false one. You could contribute more to the discussion by focusing on the issue being raised, rather than attempting to invalidate his concern by attempting to deflect it. You have often made thoughtful and insightful comments on this blog. I think you are missing a good opportunity here to reflect and offer some real wisdom.