When I was writing The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism a couple of years ago, one of the most powerful and beautiful parts of the writing experience came during the many chapters dedicated to the creed. I sat with the creed for days, even weeks, on end. During that time, my faith was reinvigorated by the beautiful words of the prayer we say each Sunday. I found myself caught up in the poetry of the prayer, the powerful way in which our beliefs are expressed through the written word. Even now, with that book far behind me, I find myself mesmerized week after week by our Profession of Faith.
But now, as part of the new translation of the Roman Missal that is awaiting final approval by the bishops, that prayer along with many others familiar to Mass-goers will be changed in order to be more faithful to the original Latin. The result, unfortunately, is that in many places the vocabulary and sentence structure will be awkward and confusing.
Things like "one in Being with the Father" will be changed to "consubstantial with the Father," a change that will probably not make the prayer more clear or more meaningful to pray-ers. That line will go from being poetic and powerful to a line that is probably glossed over because its meaning is lost, especially on young Catholics.
Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ liturgy committee, has criticized the new translation, calling it "slavishly literal" and saying that the changes are "elite and remote" from what we consider to be everyday speech.
“The vast majority of God’s people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the new missal like ‘ineffable,’ ‘consubstantial,’ ‘incarnate,’ ‘inviolate,’ ‘oblation,’ ‘ignominy,’ ‘precursor,’ ‘suffused’ and ‘unvanquished.’ The vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic,” Bishop Trautman said at an Oct. 22 lecture at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as reported by CNS. “The (Second Vatican Council’s) Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stipulated vernacular language, not sacred language,” he added. “Did Jesus ever speak to the people of his day in words beyond their comprehension? Did Jesus ever use terms or expressions beyond his hearer’s understanding?”
Other changes will affect everything from the Greeting and Penitential Rite to the Gloria and Eucharistic prayers. Bishop Trautman gave several examples during his lecture, but one in particular stood out as a perfect example:
"The bishop complained about the lack of 'pastoral style' in the new translation. The current wording in Eucharistic Prayer 3 asks God to 'welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters,' which he considered 'inspiring, hope-filled, consoling, memorable.'
"The new translation asks God to 'give kind admittance to your kingdom,' which Bishop Trautman called 'a dull lackluster expression which reminds one of a ticket-taker at the door. ... The first text reflects a pleading, passionate heart and the latter text a formality – cold and insipid.'"
Now, I'm not saying every change is a bad change. There are some that will be considered welcome, or at least reasonable. For instance, with in the new translation, instead of saying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed," we will say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." That seems like a fitting and proper change because it brings the prayer back to the scriptural reference, reminding us where this prayer came from to start with. (Matthew 8:8, centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant.)
It's a tough call. At a time when we are trying to hang onto the people who are going to Mass and to woo back those who only stop in now and then, bringing in changes that will make people feel like strangers in their own Church might not help the Mass attendance situation.
Read the full CNS story HERE. To read examples of changes from the USCCB's Committee on Divine Worship, click HERE. Then tell us how you feel about the coming changes in the comment section.