LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Getting the Words Right

As you probably know, there has been a good deal of debate about the new English translations of the Missal. For some, who would claim to be fiercely pro-Vatican II, the new translations are a betrayal of the achievements of the Council, because they go back to the original, and expect the English translation to reproduce faithfully what the Latin Missal says, instead of paraphrasing it in all sorts of 'contemporary' ways, some of them far from theologically satisfactory.

For others - which includes, of course, those who seek the 'Reform of the Reform' (which most notably includes His Holiness) - the divergence of the wording, and thus the theology, of the vernacular translations is a source of grave concern, which was never envisaged by the Conciliar Fathers, and which must now be put right.

It seems to me a 'no brainer', to use a modern phrase. If any translation doesn't translate accurately, then there must be a risk that the hearer doesn't know what is actually being said; and whilst it may not matter if - eg - a discussion about train times with a French booking clerk is merely a paraphrase, when you are dealing with the subtleties of theology it is surely imperative that the translation is perfectly accurate.

To give a single example - and not relying primarily on the English version - the original response to the 'Orate Fratres' reads 'Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae', which is translated as 'May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all the Church'.

Now; apart from the absence of any real translation of 'suae sanctae', this is actually pretty good : but what about the French version. That reads 'Pour la gloire de Dieu, et le salut du monde' ('For the glory of God, and the salvation of the world').

Now I know this sounds wholly unlikely; and yet it is true - that IS the current French version of that response, even though it clearly doesn't even have close to the correct meaning - and yet that 'translation' has been in use for the last forty years. How can anyone suggest that this sort of travesty must not have had an effect upon the understanding of the faithful of the theology of the Mass ?

I suspect I shall come back to this whole issue in the future; but for the moment, an informed and informative article on it in 'America' (the 'National Catholic Weekly' in the US), written by the inimitable Fr Peter Stravinskas, came to my attention earlier today, and I heartily recommend it. The local allusions to American bishops may not be much help, but that apart it is very interesting reading.

(If you are interested, Bishop Trautman is - as far as one can tell from the numerous reports of his speeches and actions - determined to a point of obsession prevent any changes which seek to restore dignity and sound theology to the liturgy which, he appears to believe, was rescued from I know not what by the Novus Ordo, and finally given relevance, contemporary value, and all that sort of thing !)

H/T to New Liturgical Movement for the information, of course.

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