Monday, January 5, 2009

New translation of the liturgy

While someone who hangs around St. Blog might think you'd have to be living under a rock not to know it, most people in the pews in the United States are completely unaware that a new translation of the Roman Missal has been in the works.
Prior to Vatican II the Mass, in the Latin Churches, at any rate, was always said in Latin. Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium said that while the use of Latin was to be preserved in the Latin rites that it was permissible to use the Vernacular where ever approved by the particular Ordinaries, that is, the bishops, for the purpose of pastoral sensitivity. It also provided that translations into the various vernaculars should be accomplished over the greater regions where each language was used.
The text of the Mass is always published by the Vatican in Latin. International organizations have been formed by the various Nation Bishop's Conferences to carry out the actual translations to the various vernaculars, Italian, French, Spanish, English, etc. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the Vatican department which handles affairs relating to liturgical practices. They issue the Latin version of the Missal. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy(ICEL) is responsible for the actual translation of the Missal into English. This translation is then approved by the National Bishop Conferences and then sent to Rome for final approval. This review by the bishop's conferences has just been completed and the results sent to Rome. It should be remembered that Latin is the official language of the Mass, and that Rome has verified that any Priest anywhere in the world has the right to say Mass in Latin. He also has the right to combine Latin and the vernacular in pretty much any way that he wants, provided that the respective parts are faithful to the respective translations of the applicable editions.
The most recent official text of the Mass was promulgated in the year of Our Lord 2000, and officially published in Latin in 2002. English translations of that edition are in production. The English translation used in the United States is of the 1970 version of the Missal, which was published in 1972. This is one of the reasons, but not the only one, that there will soon be a new translation of the English version of the liturgy used in the celebration of the Mass.
As I've already stated this translation has been approved by the USCCB and the Vatican, who has reserved the right to decide exactly when that version will start to be used.
Meanwhile the bishops are suppose to be preparing the faithful to use the new translation, through catechesis. In my own diocese the bishop's official house organ (the newspaper not the instrument) has announce the new translation is coming.
That probably means about one percent of those in the diocese actually know there is a new translation coming.If the DREs at the various parishes really push they might reach another couple of dozen adults per parish. It is likely that most of the teens and middle school students will have a better idea that this is coming than their parents, provided this information is included in the religious education program.
Eventually a note will be put in the parish bulletins and a larger number of people will get the message. Still I expect that many people will never hear about it before they stumble in to a Mass where to their surpise the words will be different.
My point is that last time a very poor job was done catechizing the faithful about changes to the liturgy. This new translation promises to be more faithful to the actual meaning of the Latin. Some people will not understand why prayers and responses are now different.
It will be the job of the catechist not only to transmit information about the specific changes, but also to explain why the new translation is better.For those who themselves want a better understanding of why this is so click the link for What Does the Prayer Really Say and look at some of the archived blog posts on what the Latin really says.

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

I've watched in my parish as opportunity after opportunity was ignored to catechize the faithful. I'm sure we're not the lone ranger...