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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

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» U.S. bishops disagree over changes in liturgy from De Civitate Dei
Mark Brumley at Ignatius Insight Scoop has a nice post concerning this story about our friendly neighborhood episcopal conference's haggling over the translation of liturgical texts. From post-gazette.com: [Read More]

» U.S. bishops disagree over changes in liturgy from De Civitate Dei
Mark Brumley at Ignatius Insight Scoop has a nice post concerning this story about our friendly neighborhood episcopal conference's haggling over the translation of liturgical texts. From post-gazette.com: [Read More]

» Distubing the people from The Curt Jester
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago noted that a long-standing division between bishops who prefer standard American English and those who... [Read More]

» Disturbing the people from The Curt Jester
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago noted that a long-standing division between bishops who prefer standard American English and those who... [Read More]

Comments

Tom

I agree completely. The mistaken translation of the "Domine non sum dignus..." plays right into the hands of those who would wish the Mass only to be one of an available smorgasbord of affirmation and healing rituals in a culture that has forgotten what a "soul" is, let alone that it might need saving.

Signe

The proposed "new" translation for "Domine non sum dignus" is actually one I remember from my pre-Vatican II St. Joseph's Daily Missal with the Latin on one side and English on the other. That translation was much more felicitous than anything we've had since, besides being closer to the original.

Marjorie V. Hartwell

I find the sudden spate of discussion over Latin vs. English so very interesting. The Catholic Church, in my opinion, took much of the reverence and dignity out of the Mass when they began 'wordsmithing' the liturgy. To me the language of the liturgy has become more about puff pastry than the Eucharist. Everything is crafted to make people 'feel good' and comfortable, so that many parishioners can slouch into Mass in shorts, flip flops and various stages of undress; go through the motions and leave right after Communion. To me it's amazing that the only time most people are attentive is during the Our Father 'hand holding' performance and passing the Peace. THESE two events seem to be the center of the Mass for them. Years of neglect in teaching reverence and respect - let alone Latin and Transubstantion (which I don't think many Catholics even KNOW about, much less believe) has led to the dumbing down of the Liturgy - and let us not forget the friendly language of the Psalms - oh! how they've been ruined! The Catholic Bishops have more problems on their hands than they think. I talk with younger Catholics and tell them what it was like to spend thirteen years with the Spanish Dominicans! I can recite prayers they've never even heard of - let alone memorized. I'm 62 years old and wouldn't trade my Catholic education for anything.The Church has let the power of the ancient and reverent rites to die and I'm not sure it can be regained. I feel sorry for many young Catholics today. They seem hungry for some solid orthodoxy; challenging sermons and good Catholic education; something more solid than puff pastry.

Joseph Meakin

There are two powerful aspects in the sentence "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed": Humility and Faith.

I believe that the 'I' in the context of the liturgy refers to the self: mind, body, and soul. Why would one wish to limit Christ's healing power?

If one wishes to base the 'quoted' response to just one's soul being healed on the literal translation, why not forego the Latin and go back to the original Greek and Aramaic? In that case, in Luke 7:7, a servant or a boy is the object of the Savior's healing power - not one's soul or one's self. Any true literal approach would render the context of the phrase in the Liturgy irrelevant.

On a more 'big-picture' note with respect to translations, it seems that the intent of Vatican II was, in many ways, to return to the roots of the Church - the 'original intent' if you will...

As it is believed that, for the sake of accessibility and practicality, the early Mass was said in the local common tongue, Vatican II succeeded in that intent with the change back to that approach.

Why the fixation with Latin? Why focus on translations (English in this case) of translations (Latin) of translations (Greek) of the original (Aramaic) when, if one is searching for the literal Word, one could get closer to reading It by bypassing one or two steps in the translation evolution?

It comes to this: What is God's will? For us to be humble and faithful? Yes. So why muddle this with, as the article's author partially alludes, "quibbling"?

Regards to all,

Miles

What about "God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God" in the Creed? My cousin interperets that to mean, in a very postmodern way, that all religions are equal, one god is the same as another, when it actually means that Christ came from God. Can we get a better translation of that please, or maybe better catechesis?

Mark Brumley

Joseph: I appreciate your commenting on this, but it seems that the question of translation is a relatively simple one. It's a matter of honesty and accuracy. If the text says "A", then it is not a translation of the text to make it say "B" or even "A" plus "B", even if "B" is neat and great and otherwise a good thing.

If the Church had wanted to say what the English translator said in this case, she could have written it that way.

The point of the Latin text includes the traditional understanding of a spiritual healing at that point in the Liturgy. The reference to the healing of the soul is an expression of that. That doesn't "limit" the power of Christ; it explains the specific way in which that power is being invoked at that point in the Liturgy, according to the rite of the Church as it has developed. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways Christ can and does heal. It means that this is the primary way that is being spoken of here in this particular instance, without prejudice to other ways mentioned at other times or other ways that may be operative here on a secondary level.

Furthermore, we're not talking about Greek or Aramaic. We're talking about the Latin text, which is normative here. The fact that this or that was the case in Aramaic or Greek is irrelevant if, with the knowledge of that background, as well as how the Latin rite as a living reality has developed over the centuries, the Church chose to formulate the rite in a specific way in its normative Latin text. The Latin text is not issued as a translation of a translation, whether from Greek or Aramaic. It is the standard or norm (for Latin rite Catholics). It then becomes a question of translating it. Not revising it to reflect what the translator wishes the Latin had said.

Kelly Clark

Since I occasionally attend a Mass in Spanish -- and, often, a parish bi-lingual Mass -- I'm puzzled as to the reason the English "translation" of the Latin is so far beyond accuracy, as opposed to the Spanish.

For example, when the priest says "The Lord be with you" in Spanish, the response is "and with your spirit."

Another example is the Confiteor. In English, we say "...sinned through my own fault, in what I have done..." Whereas in Spanish, we say "...sinned through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievious fault."

It's confusing.

Joseph Meakin

Mark: Thank you for your response to my earlier posting in this forum.

I have pondered it, and believe that it's content may imply a larger underlying translation issue; which leads to the question: Why are the bishops involved with the Liturgy translation when there is not yet a formally approved modern Catholic Bible translation?

It is my understanding that both English and Latin 'officially approved' translations of the Word are quite antiquated, without the benefit of recent archeological discoveries or more developed linguistic analysis. This brings forth many challenges.

For example, the English translation of the Liturgy of the Word in the missals in use today throughout U.S. parishes is not approved by the Holy See.

More telling, although the Holy See does not acknowledge the full accuracy of RSV or NRSV translations, it uses them in the official Cathechism!

I'm not talking about "revising it [the Rite] to reflect what the translator wishes the Latin had said." Considering that the Rite (Latin or English translation thereof) is primarily based upon Scripture (such as this case of the centurian's proclamation to Christ), wouldn't it be more honest and accurate (traditionally and historically) to apply the truer biblical translations to both the Latin and its English-translated rites?

Granted, such literal interpretation with respect to the centurian quote, be it your way via Latin or mine via Greek/Aramaic, would have to be excluded from the Liturgy of the Eucharist given its actual content vs. its context in the Rite.

Given that, I have to believe in God's apparent will - that an exaltation of humility and faith by his children is appropriate and that point in the Liturgy. I can think of none better than the one currently in use.

Regards,

Mark Brumley

Joseph: You say:

"Why are the bishops involved with the Liturgy translation when there is not yet a formally approved modern Catholic Bible translation?"

Since when is there no formally approved modern Catholic Bible translation? Ignatius Press publishes the Catholic RSV. It's formally approved, modern, Catholic and a Bible translation.

The New American Bible is also formally approved, modern, Catholic and a Bible Translation.

So what do you mean?

You write:

"It is my understanding that both English and Latin 'officially approved' translations of the Word are quite antiquated, without the benefit of recent archeological discoveries or more developed linguistic analysis. This brings forth many challenges."

This is not correct.

You write:

"For example, the English translation of the Liturgy of the Word in the missals in use today throughout U.S. parishes is not approved by the Holy See."

I'm not sure where you're getting this from.

You write:

"More telling, although the Holy See does not acknowledge the full accuracy of RSV or NRSV translations, it uses them in the official Cathechism!"

I'm not sure what you mean when you say that the Holy See does not acknowledge the full accuracy of the RSV or NRSV. On what are you basing this statement?

You write:

"I'm not talking about 'revising it [the Rite] to reflect what the translator wishes the Latin had said.' Considering that the Rite (Latin or English translation thereof) is primarily based upon Scripture (such as this case of the centurian's proclamation to Christ), wouldn't it be more honest and accurate (traditionally and historically) to apply the truer biblical translations to both the Latin and its English-translated rites?"

The answer: No. The response in question is being adapted for use in the Liturgy, not quoted. It's not as if the faithful are play acting at being the centurion in the gospel, giving his verbatim response as found in the Bible. The centurion's words are adapted to the Eucharistic context. The Latin text of the response represents the Church's adapted use of those words, adapted in a specific way, to make a specific point. English translations that obscure the Latin text obscure the Church's adaptation of those words. It does no good to go back to a supposed Greek original of the words as used in the gospels because it is not the exact wording of the gospels that the Church is using in the Liturgy but a deliberate adaptation of those words.

You write:

"Given that, I have to believe in God's apparent will -that an exaltation of humility and faith by his children is appropriate and that point in the Liturgy. I can think of none better than the one currently in use."

Well, that's fine. You assert it and I deny it. Assertion is no argument. You say you can think of "none better than the one currently in use." And I say, "I can think of no response better than the response enshrined in the Latin text of the Liturgy, which should be accurately translated into English, but which unfortunately isn't at present."

I think we should have the humility to submit to the Church's worship as it has been expressed by the official text of the Church's liturgy and that we should have the humility to translate that text accurately, so that we can be more fully one in faith as we participate in the Church's worship.


Fr. Ryan Humphries

I have to whole-heartedly agree with you Mark. The question isn't one of blind obedience or obsucre sentimentality. The question is one of truth. The Church is the mother of the Liturgy and she is the one impowered by God to dispense the mysteries of faith. It is the American Protestant ideal of individualized faith that allows the assertion of my opinion, my adgenda, my desires to be infused with the "will of the Holy Spirit" (undiscerned by the universal Church over time) to become a higher virtue than truth and the clearly discerned will of God revealing Himself through history.

Thanks Mark for your excellent thoughts.

Fr. Ryan

Joseph Meakin

Rev. Humphries:

If I believed in the ‘American Protestant ideal’ to which you allude, I’d be a Protestant. Instead, I am a Catholic. In that light, I quote the following from the Church’s definition of itself, the Catechism:

“907 “In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.”

While the level of said “knowledge, competence, and preeminence” I personally possess does not equal the amount found in scholars and pastors such as yourself, any non-constructive criticism (such as blithely filing my input under the category of Protestant,) of my “right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful”, with all due respect, would be contrary to ‘the clearly discerned will of God revealing Himself through history’ as defined in the Catechism.

It was not my intent to make this correspondence about me, but the assertions made against me due to an unagreed view prompts me to say this: I’ve learned just enough about dogma, theology, and Church history to realize that I still have so much more to learn. However, the limits of my knowledge do not invalidate the knowledge that I have learned. The fact that my understanding of the specific matter discussed is in common with that of several bishops seems to bear this out.

The so-called assertions previously noted are not based upon “my opinion, my adgenda [sic], my desires to be infused with the "will of the Holy Spirit" (undiscerned by the universal Church over time)”, but upon my limited yet valid learning of sources such as the Word and the Catechism.

To wit, regarding the centurion quote, I respectfully refer you to paragraph 157 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Third Typical Edition) and its letter of approval from Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments dated 17March2003 on behalf of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II.

Based on the response of the Holy See to the USCCB, it seems that its intent for the Latin Rite-to-common tongue translation is for a focus on a dynamic equivalence philosophy rather than a literal one.

The official U.S. English translation of the ‘Domine, non sum dignus…’ , “gladly confirmed and approved” by the Holy See (their quote) is neither Mark’s preferred literal-from-Latin “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.” nor my preferred current “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” It is simply this:

“Lord, I am not worthy.”

By the way, per the Catechism, the intent of that part of the Mass is indeed to “echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the centurion.”

Respectfully yours in Christ and His Church,

Joseph Meakin

Mark:

Regarding my 'assertions' regarding both Bible & Lectionary translations officially approved by the Holy See, I respectfully refer you to the June/July 1997 newsletter of the USCCB's Committee on the Liturgy explaining the Holy See's response to its proposals.

It states that the only translation considered authentic enough to be used in the Liturgy of the Word is the New American Bible with Psalm & New Testament Revisions as modified by the Holy See.

Considering the plethora of translations available, it seems ironic that this specific translation variation is not available in print.

The NRSV was submitted by the USCCB as well but discarded due to the 'vertical inclusive issues'.

I can not say why the RSV-CE is no longer approved by the Holy See for use in the Liturgy.

I far as your assertions regarding the Ignatius RSV-CE, perhaps a request to the USCCB to resubmit it to the Holy See for approval would be appropriate?

Regarding your response about my comment regarding the lack of modern liguistic analysis or recent archelogical discoveries in approved translations, I stand partially corrected: the NAB was originally translated from the original Greek and Hebrew in 1951 (with some updates in '70 and '91).

Regarding the topic of our original discussion, I refer you to the previous response made to Rev. Humphries.

Respectfully,

Plato's Stepchild

I have debated whether to unilaterally begin saying all vocal prayers in Latin at my parish rather than simply go along with the English translation.

When "Credo" gets translated as "We believe" instead of "I believe" then I believe that, given the state of the English language in the Western World, English translations of any Latin text are extremely suspect, until proven otherwise.

Salve.

Plato's Stepchild

"But many people have told me that when they hear (and say) "one in being with the Father" at Mass, they either have no clue to what it means or they understand it to mean that the Son is one with the Father by being with him."

If a survey was done, at random, of parishioners in the diocese of those Bishops who wish to change the English wording of the Nicene Creed, I am curious as to what percentage know what the Council of Niceae was and why the doctrine of consubstantial is important.

My guess would be a very small percentage.

It would seem, then, that the highest priority of said shepherd of the flock would be to raise that percentage rather than further post modernize and Heideggerize the English translation of the perfectly clear Latin hypostatic explication.

Not to go too over the top, I submit an English translation of Horaces' Odes III.30 in forensic support of my opinion: (I think the message is clear enough...)

"I Have Completed a Monument" (Horace, Odes III.30)
translated by Peter Saint-Andre)

I have completed a monument
more lasting than bronze and far higher
than that royal pile of Pyramids,
which the gnawing rain and furious
north wind cannot destroy, nor the chain
of countless years and the flight of time.
My end won't be complete, and a great
part of me will evade the death-god:
I'll prosper on, fresh with future praise.
As long as the priest with the silent
virgin climbs the Capitoline hill,
high and low -- where raging Aufidus
thunders, where Daunus rules over a
farming people poor of water -- I
will be proclaimed to have been the first
to adapt Aeolic songs into
Italian measures. Melpomene,
accept the proud honor you have earned
and crown my head with Delphic laurel.

Mark Brumley

Joseph: With all due respect, after reading your posts, I can only say when you have studied the matter further and can discuss it in detail, with clarity, then perhaps we can converse about this topic.

I can't read your mind when you say things such as:

"I have pondered it, and believe that it's content may imply a larger underlying translation issue; which leads to the question: Why are the bishops involved with the Liturgy translation when there is not yet a formally approved modern Catholic Bible translation?

"It is my understanding that both English and Latin 'officially approved' translations of the Word are quite antiquated, without the benefit of recent archeological discoveries or more developed linguistic analysis. This brings forth many challenges.

"For example, the English translation of the Liturgy of the Word in the missals in use today throughout U.S. parishes is not approved by the Holy See."

You state that there is not yet a formally approved Catholic Bible translation. When I point out that there is, you state:

"Regarding my 'assertions' regarding both Bible & Lectionary translations officially approved by the Holy See, I respectfully refer you to the June/July 1997 newsletter of the USCCB's Committee on the Liturgy explaining the Holy See's response to its proposals.

"It states that the only translation considered authentic enough to be used in the Liturgy of the Word is the New American Bible with Psalm & New Testament Revisions as modified by the Holy See.

"Considering the plethora of translations available, it seems ironic that this specific translation variation is not available in print.

"The NRSV was submitted by the USCCB as well but discarded due to the 'vertical inclusive issues'.

"I can not say why the RSV-CE is no longer approved by the Holy See for use in the Liturgy.

"I far as your assertions regarding the Ignatius RSV-CE, perhaps a request to the USCCB to resubmit it to the Holy See for approval would be appropriate?"

You refer here to the USCCB's Committee on Liturgy's reference to texts used from Bible translations for the Liturgy. But the discussion concerned approved modern Catholic translations of the Bible, not simply translations for lectionary use.

Yes, it is odd that the specific version of the Bible inclusive of all the liturgical modifications in English is not available in a Bible translation. If you would like such a translation, perhaps you could find a publisher to publish it. Then it could be submitted for approval and I'm sure it would get it. But it is not correct to say that there is not presently an approved modern Catholic translation of the Bible.

As for why the RSV-CE isn't approved for liturgical use, as it once was, it seems to me that the thinking was to have only one English translation used in the Sacred Liturgy. Frankly, I would have preferred it to be the RSV-CE, but the NAB revised and modfied was chosen.

Anyway, I don't have the time to go through your comments line by line and to try to discern exactly what you're trying to say. It seems to me your comments are muddled and your understanding of the points under discussion confused. No doubt you think otherwise, but I simply can't be sure anymore that I know what you are trying to say or even whether you do. You invoke sources in ways that suggest to me that you don't understand them or their significance to the discussion. Anyway, that's how I see it. Sorry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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