Sep 28, 2010

A new translation

Everything will change except the “Amen,” the Our Father, and the sign of the Cross. That essentially sums up the new English translation of the Mass which is coming in a little more than a year – First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. In fact, as has been said, it is the greatest change we have had to our liturgy since the Second Vatican Council which ended 45 years ago. That’s quite a feat. As far as I’ve heard and read, these new changes are coming only in the English speaking world.

The majority of the changes in translation will be for the priest celebrant but enough will be there for the folks in the pew that both priest and people will have our eyes fixed on missalettes and sacramentaries (the large book the priest uses on the altar) for some time. My sense is that this new translation will take some time to memorize. It will be both familiar in its format but different enough in the phrasing of words that aside from the Gospel, homily, and parish announcements at the end of Mass, not a lot of eye contact will be taking place. As priest celebrant, I’m not there to entertain or be a stand up comic but I hope that we can eventually free ourselves from eyes in books and pray in a more relaxed manner with some familiarity.

The biggest question is “Why?” Who asked for a new translation? The official website for the new translation puts it this way: “The long-term goal of the new translation is to foster a deeper awareness and appreciation of the mysteries being celebrated in the Liturgy. The axiom lex orandi, lex credendi—“what we pray is what we believe”—suggests that there is a direct relationship between the content of our prayers and the substance of our faith.”

Personally, I think we’ve come a long way since the Vatican Council and what the website hopes for has already taken place or at least remains a process guided by the Holy Spirit. But, this seems to be an effort to heighten the language; to use words that are more poetic, theological and inspiring. More literal to the Latin text and in line more with the rest of the non-English speaking world. So unity, as always, remains a deep Catholic value.

Will the new form of English change the hearts and minds of those who participate? It all depends, as always, on one’s attitude and openness to the Holy Spirit no matter what language is used.

In short it implies that there is a direct connection between how we pray and how we live. As the Mass is the greatest of all communal prayers, the “source and summit of our Christian life” is in the Eucharist, it stands to reason that when the Church is gathered, here we support and inspire one another by the way in which we celebrate the Mass.

So, a lot of preparation work needs to be done here and in every parish. Language and culture make all the difference in our perspective, attitudes and values. This might be a good time to not just learn new words and phrases but to ask ourselves, “What am I saying here?” As priest, I need to do exactly the same.

Below is the new translation of the Confetior (I confess . . .) and the Creed. In Latin, the word is "Credo," which translates "I" believe. Thus you'll notice the Creed below has some significant new phrasing from what we have been accustomed to. Do you know what the word "consubstantial" means? The words of the confetior will sound familiar to older Catholics. What do you think? How do you feel about the words and phrases? Leave a comment if you like.

The Confetior

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.


The Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.