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« File under "Surprising. Curious. 'How About That?' To Be Continued." | Main | Fr. Robert Barron comments on the new translation of the Roman Missal... »

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Charles E Flynn

Fr. Barron comments on the new translation of the Roman Missal. video 13m 40 sec.

Charles E Flynn

For years I have wondered why the Roman Catholic Church used an English translation of its liturgy that was demonstrably inferior to the translations of The Divine Comedy done by
Allen Mandelbaum, who died October 27, and Anthony Esolen.

It has been painful to use the now lame duck ICEL translation. I think the new translation is clearly better, and I look forward to reading Esolen's Magnificat Roman Missal Companion.

It is my hope that the improved translation will lead to the use of hymns that are not the musical equivalent of the lame duck translation, and that the mismatch between the new translation and the banal hymns will not long be tolerated.

My parish has cards in the pews, with the changes in the text in red. We have started to use the new cards, and the first time our pastor said, "The Lord be with you" and we replied, "And with your spirit" the pastor paused for a moment and said, "You're so smart."

I do not expect anyone in my parish to complain about the new translation, except for the occasional visitor who is now saying, instead of "It is right to give Him thanks and praise", "It is right to give God thanks and praise." If I hear that, I am going to tell her, very softly, "The sixties are over."


Lex orandi, lex credendi. Perhaps as the formality of the language changes at Mass so will the lax and flippant demeanor of the congregants. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

Lauri Friesen

To answer your questions, Carl, I am so grateful for this "new" translation of the Mass. As a big fan of the English language, I am thrilled at the prospect of more poetry and mystery in the words of the Mass. I get a little frustrated at the detractors who argue that the language will be stilted and the vocabulary too obscure, since in North America we have universal public education and ever-growing enrollment for college education, yet "consubstantial" and "chalice" will prove too big a challenge to the people in the pews?

I have attended a workshop on the changes and, for the first time in twenty years, purchased a missalette to help me learn the responses, postures, and prayers.

In my parish church, there seems to be little interest, either positive or negative, in the changes, save the "Spirit of Vatican II" Catholics, whose numbers are few and ever dwindling. Thankfully, our pastor is also the diocesan liturgist, so no concerns there!

Finally, as I noted to my sister a few days ago, I am most irked by the criticims of the new translation because they largely intimate a desire to deny God reverence, adoration, and glory so that Man might feel more comfortable.

Richard M

The new translation, or what I have seen of it, is not perfect. At points it is a little more clunky than I might like. But at almost every point, it is superior to the dumbed down one we have been working with for the last four decades, especially in the responses. In my neck of the woods (Archdiocese of Washington), preparation for the new missal varies. Some people are going to be caught off guard. But some priests have made a real effort to prepare people for the changes, and by and large they are the priests you would expect to do so. I am most keen to see what impact this has on the sacred music of the mass.

The new translation only scratches the surface of what needs to be reformed. But it is a good starting point. If indeed what we pray is what we believe, its catechetical effect may open the door a little more for the changes that will be needed, and the further reduction of other common abuses that have been tolerated for so long.

J.T. Lebherz

I've been following this for months and am glad that the day for using the new/old translation is near. As a former altar boy from the late fifties/early sixties, I have had to do a head slap when I realized that for years, when the priest says "the Lord be with you" and we respond with "and also with you", that we were not responding as I was taught as an altal boy. And, that was "et cum spiritu tuo" or, as translated properly "and with your spirit". I look forward to using the up and coming format and Anthony Esolen's articles on the "new" translation have been wonderful.

Steve Cianca

Like Richard M, I have a couple of nits to pick with the new translation (e.g., "consubstantial" sounds like a theological term of art, I would have preferred a more concrete word or phrase; same with "incarnated"--why use a term of art when "became flesh" is a literally accurate and more concrete translation of incarnatus est?). But these are quibbles. This translation is far superior to the doggerel we've had to endure for the past 40 years. I still have my Sunday Missal from 1962 (a gift from my grandmother for my First Communion) which has a very good translation of the Latin and has been a wonderful link to a time of when the Mass was an experience of the sacred.

This translation is decades overdue. Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about. The changes for the congregation are few and sensible. Our parish priests have been preparing us for the new translation for the past few weeks, so I don't think we'll have any problems. There will be cards in the pews with the new responses to help people follow along. Now if only we can scrap the insipid music we've had to put up with for the past 40 years and get back to Gregorian chant and traditional hymnody, then we will have really turned a corner.

Frankly, we could solve a lot of problems by going back to the original Latin (and Greek) for the common prayers and just having the propers (and the readings and the canon)in English. But I am grateful for this new translation--it is a promising start.

The long dark liturgical night is about to come to an end. Deo gratias!

Robert Miller

The new translation is very good, indeed. The only thing I would have liked to see is use of the second person singular to address the Persons of the Holy Trinity, Our Lady and the saints. People seem to forget that this form of address is a privilege that was conferred on us by God Himself.
I have been preparing for this for more than 40 years. During the 1970s, I continued to adapt my St. Joseph's Latin/English Daily Missal (which contained an excellent literal English translation) to the new liturgical environment. After that, I just started responding in Latin most of the time (or in the literal English translation -- e.g., "and with your spirit", "consubstantial"). So I'm more than ready for the change. Frankly, I don't much like the English language, so that, if I must hear Mass in the vernacular, I would prefer to hear it in Castellano.
As for reception of the new translation, I think it is going to break along generational lines. Boomers and older will be least sympathetic -- both because old people don't like to change and because for many of them (across the spectrum from "conservative" to "liberal") the old English Mass, with lyrics by Father McManus and music (if you can call it that)by Marty Haugen & Co., is a kind of book of common prayer that supports and encourages the sort of multidoxy and multipraxis that the old folks got comfortable with in their youth. The middle aged folks will be all over the map on it, as they are on most matters religious. But I suspect that it will be people under 40 who will embrace the new translation with enthusiasm.
My only fear is that reception of the new translation will retard progress of the reintroduction of the 1962 Roman Missal and more widespread use of Latin in the Novus Ordo. A lot of people love English, and they will be enchanted by an English version of the Mass that rises to the best that language has to offer. Until now, many of them have preferred the use of Latin to the use of the bowdlerized English of the 1960s Liturgy Club. Furthermore, I hope the introduction of "better English" in the Mass doesn't divert attention from the thorough-going reform of the reform that the Novus Ordo desperately needs.


...the sort of multidoxy and multipraxis that the old folks got comfortable with in their youth.

LOL. First time I have seen those two words, Robert Miller, but I like them.

Interestingly, they feed into one of the complaints that Carl linked to in his post, and if I recall, this complaint was the center of much debate in the course of the revision of the translation. That is; "for many" as opposed to "for all," the Latin being "pro multis."

In my opinion, the use of the expression "for many" ought perhaps to jar some people into reflecting upon their universalism. I am not sure what combination of ignorance of Catholic teaching, fuzzy thinking, and/or heresy that is most common but I hear that kind of universalist thinking from Catholics quite often.
Yes, Jesus died for each and every person. The problem is that they forget the other part, the part that Jesus emphasized over and over. Not everyone will be saved. And that by their own choice, not God's desire.

I don't know if that was in the minds of the translators or not, or in the intent of the Holy Father, but it seems that it may have a beneficial side effect. Could it cause an examination of conscience here and there? Perhaps. An increase in the length of the confession line? Perhaps. A reassessment by some of us about worthiness to receive at any given mass? Perhaps.

Or perhaps those things are unlikely, but it does seem to me that the lack of recognition of the Real Presence (statistics demonstrate this), the casual approach to reception of the Eucharist, and the general nonchalance regarding morality on the part of many Catholics; all tend from the common wellspring of universalism, indifferentism and syncretism. It seems to me that where there is a healthy recognition of the fact of heaven and hell and that Jesus himself indicated that both will be populated, the objection to the use of "the many" fades somewhat in importance.

Another complaint Carl links to I find quite humorous;

The ACP argues that a word-for-word translation “demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years.”

A statement from the association said, “The ACP is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language.”

I think what they are pointing out is the English language is always in flux. That is true. But why is that the case? It is a matter of usage is it not? Expressions, meanings, implications, words all come into being or change as people use them and thereby impose those changes onto the language.

It seems to me that is the best case one can make for the new translation. How many English speaking Catholics are there who will participate in the mass under this new translation? Is that not a significant number of people and will that not cause a ripple, if not a wave, in the common usage of words and expressions? The current state of the English language is not sacred nor frozen. If the Catholic Church expresses the sacred mysteries in a particular style or form of the language, that, in and of itself, is input into the ongoing flux of the language. Some might say for the better.

Imagine for a moment a hugely popular musical group, some sort of teen boy band were to come along and capture the hearts and sanity of a wide swath of young girls, blowing the Bieber kid out the water; and imagine that they decided for some reason to speak in 18th or 19th century English. Shazam! The next generation of girls would all sound like Jane Austen characters overnight and might even carry it into the wider culture.

OK, so its an unlikely scenario. Like...whatever! The point is simply that the English language is what we make of it. The ACP's "grave concerns" are a joke, and embarrassing coming from Ireland, the land which has produced much high quality literature and poetry, not to mention music, in the English language.


"And, frankly, if people are "confused" about what is happening, it causes one to wonder just how capable of clear thought and baseline attentiveness is the average Catholic?"

Wonder indeed. A general lack of catechetical breadth and depth . . . and the realization that catechesis begins with inquisitiveness and personal discovery, through the traditions (and Traditions) of the Church . . . is a major source of "confusion." As a recent initiate to the faith, I am perplexed (and, in my darker moments, very discouraged) by the near total lack of interest in adult religious education in my parish (and in our diocese, for that matter).

And lex orandi, lex credendi is a key to understanding what has happened to our liturgy (and, perhaps more significantly, why it has happened) since Vatican II, and what this new translation has now attempted to correct.

Charles E Flynn

Some of you might enjoy Why change the translation of the Mass? pt 4, by Reverend Know-It-All.


I don't see how the new translation of the mass is any better than the old translation of the mass into english. Qhat is better about the new mass tranilation into english.

Gina Nakagawa

Maybe it is because the good Lord has allowed me to become an old "croc" that I am pretty excited about the re-translation of the translation of the prayers of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from Latin into English. I cling with a virtual death grip to my 1963 Missal which was in both Latin and well-translated English. If we could educate people on what, exactly, it is that we receive at Holy Communion, bring back the chin paten, get rid of ugly, unworthy music and recognize that the priest should be facing God and not schmoozing the congregation, I think we could be well on our way to true renewal. Get ready for some kicking and screaming along the way. Toddlers, no matter what their age (3,23,33,43, 53,63,...) don't particularly care for being *told* anything.

My only disappointment with the "new" translation is the injection of PC into the translation of the Gloria. Originally it was "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to *men* of good will (meaning all humans not just males). This was from "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatum." It seems we must now use "people" instead of "men" so as not to upset the angry uninformed.

I can still hardly wait for the first Sunday of Advent!

Gina Nakagawa

Oops! Pardon me the Latin should read "bonae voluntatus" not "voluntatum."


I absolutely love the new translation, but I'm very frustrated when I attend diocesan worksops about the new translation and they turn into a whining session about how the "old man in Rome has nothing better to do" than to make everyone learn new Mass responses! I realize that the sisters who run the workshops are the "experts" and I'm a mere self-educated post-Vatican II Catholic lay woman, but finally I couldn't hold my tongue anymore and pointed out to them (and everyone else at one of the workshops) that like it or not, agree with it or not, this IS the new translation, and it's our job as music ministers and other parish leaders to go back and help our congregations not only learn the new translations, but also get excited about it! It's cheating them (and God himself) not to do our best to show enthusiasm for these changes to our congregations.

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