A nice article on implementing the new liturgy

I found an article in the most recent edition of America on the reform of the liturgy interesting.  Here is a sample quote:

One measure of the level of the disquiet among liturgists is a recent open letter to U.S. bishops from Anthony Ruff, O.S.B. Father Ruff has decided to withdraw from speaking engagements at eight dioceses around the United States intended to help promote the new missal. In his letter, he said that it is something he no longer can agree to “with integrity.” Father Ruff wrote, “I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.” He submitted the letter with the permission of his Benedictine superiors.

"Maybe thinking about it in individual terms is exactly the problem, since we're talking about ..."

Prelude to a Conversion
"Regarding pathological altruism, remove race from the equation and think about it in individual terms. ..."

Prelude to a Conversion
"That's the thing: I don't want to get into a display of endless hand-wringing in ..."

Prelude to a Conversion
"Radical altruism, even pathological altruism, is such a bizarre phenomenon. As far as race is ..."

Prelude to a Conversion

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://twitter.com/FriarRJohn Robert Lennon

    If people don’t like the translation, they can always use the Latin, no? ; )

  • SB

    People sure are upset, although it’s not clear about what. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the new translation, but my gut reaction is that it wouldn’t be hard to improve on the current version (“et cum spiritu tuo” = “and also with you”? Fraudulent).

  • Julian Barkin

    From the article: ““The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church,” –> This isn’t true at all. The institution does understand it is accountble to the whole church, including the liturgy it provides to the average pew-goer. B16 and his inner circle aren’t stupid and I’d bet they understand the psychology and sociology associated with the liturgy with respect to what the people get out of it. B16 himself also understands teaching both theologically in the Church and the practicals. He was a professor before he donned the golden mitre of Rome.

    The priest continues: “When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority…and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.” –> First of all, Bishop’s conferences aren’t at all the supreme of authority on everything. The Pope is still the head of the church. Since when do the conferences have higher rank than Rome? Also, conferences have screwed up in the past, e.g. Canada’s CCCB issued that Winnipeg Statement in 1967 to Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and that ended up being interpreted as free license to abort and contracept in the Church (not true!). Second of all, clearly Rome knows that to turn this important matter to bishops and priests who knowingly practice liberal (or other worse and erroneous) theology would make this effort wasted and the liturgy wouldn’t improve or be worse than before. Again, Rome isn’t stupid, they know the general situation of the lower levels in the Church as well as the poor catechesis of the laity.

    Speaking of catechesis, the Article ends with:”… the new translation may force the church to confront “four generations of spotty liturgical catechesis” and help Catholic Mass-goers more intentionally “think about what’s happening and think about what we’re saying.” So it isn’t just my own opinion. Clearly there’s an issue here and it’s being tackled head on in this top-down manner. And the leftover remnants of the 60’s-80’s generation/liberals of the Church just don’t like it.

  • brettsalkeld

    So, I disagree with those (liberals) who think this is a “rollback” of Vatican II, but I also don’t see what the problem is people (conservatives) have with Anthony Ruff. Wasn’t he was on board for all of this until they started fudging on the approved translation? Like Ruff, I am basically sympathetic to the idea of a better translation. Why is it so hard for people to believe that someone could agree with the Pope on the need for liturgical reform but be scandalized by the process as it has happened in the concrete? From my understanding they’ve even been changing things since it was sent to the printers! I don’t think that calling this a fiasco has nothing to do with dissent or liberalism or whatever.

    Can someone point me to a source that gives a good justification for the changing of the translations after the English bishops and the Pope signed off on the ’08 version? It seems that would be the appropriate response to Ruff’s concerns. Instead we mostly get nonsense about him being a dissenter or having a vocational crisis.

    By all accounts the liturgical reforms after Vatican II were a gong show. How many sacramentaries did we need in the 1970s? I’m not sure we’ve learned anything. It looks like we’re going to need new sacramentaries etc. again in the very near future.

    This isn’t dissident Ruff vs. orthodox magisterium. To portray it this way just showcases ignorance. It is about how to properly introduce liturgical change. The liberals botched it when it was their turn. Looks like the conservatives are botching it now.

  • http://civicsgeeks.blogspot.com Zach

    Reading the article, it doesn’t sound like this particular priest is concerned with the fidelity of the translation. It sounds like he has issues “with the hierarchy” and “the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church”. What is his criticism of the new missal itself? Does he have one?

    Brett is right that this is not an orthodox versus heterodox issue. It is about where authority is and ought to be in the Church, and submission to rightful authority.

    In all of this I know two things. No one is canonized for being obedient to the Church, and that I personally think it would be great if the Church prayed as one when it prayed the liturgy. One God, One Jesus, One Body, One Prayer of which we are all a part.

  • brettsalkeld

    Just FYI, Ruff has been highlighting particular problems with the translation for months. He didn’t write an open letter to deal with particular issues of translation, but to deal with the larger issue of how the whole translation process was handled.

    Rest assured, if you are interested in finding specific concerns of Ruff’s, they are not difficult to find. To presume that he has no genuine concerns with the translation, but simply has a problem with authority, is a mistake (though seemingly a pretty common one around the blogosphere).

  • Jimmy Mac

    In 25 words or less, why is slavish literal translation from Latin so essential? How about Aramaic or Greek – more authentic earliest church languages, you know. Latin is a johnny-come-lately.

    • http://twitter.com/FriarRJohn Robert Lennon

      Because liturgy is a separate stream of tradition from Scripture? And Latin is, strangely enough, the liturgical language of the Latin Church?

      22 words.

  • Virgil Evans

    Somewhere, someone wrote that Pope John XXIII introduced the distinction between “High Church” and “Low Church” into the RC Church. Of course he did not directly do so, but let’s face it: we’re all Anglicans for now, and we know the sorry state of that Communion. One way to put the question is, do we wish to be RC Anglicans, divided into parties, or are we prepared to be Papal Catholics?

  • Jimmy Mac

    I love it: “submission to rightful authority.” Are we talking bondage & discipline, or membership in the People of God?

    “It isn’t just the secrecy that scares me. It’s the fawning that’s endemic in the Church, fawning with its pre-supposition that authority figures are beyond reproach. In the RCC it seems to be an article of faith that priests and bishops should never be publicly criticized — even by each other. The fawner-fawnee relationships must be preserved at all costs. The secrecy is a result of this.

    When the hierarchy itself is reformed (oh, what a starry-eyed optimist I am!) the psychological forces that are automatically at play in that group need to be made clear: in most cases bishops very much want power. Priests also need to face this: one of the reasons a notable number of priests become priests is because they have a deep psychological need to boss others. Sure, many priests and bishops have real concern for the faithful. But they also think the faithful need to be under their thumbs, and any criticism needs to be stifled.

    We desperately need a theology of dissent.”

    Ann Oliver, September 1st, 2010 at 12:04 pm, http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=9845&cpage=2#comment-81488

    “What you need is sustained outrage…there’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority.” Molly Ivins

    • http://civicsgeeks.blogspot.com Zach

      I’m sorry that you are scared of the words authority and submission.

      Christ came to do the will of the Father. In other words, He submitted His will to the Father’s. These are just words in the English language that convey the giving up of one’s own will to follow another’s – in this case, the Other is God. Christians are called to lose themselves in order to do God’s will. I hope this clarifies things what I meant. Not all exercises of power and authority are illegitimate. For example, God’s authority and power.

      I was also trying to ask the question about the clarification of these ideas with respect to Catholic teaching, but I think that was entirely lost here so I’ll table it for now.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova Morning’s Minion

    Coincidentally, I was at a training session this weekend on the new translation. Generally, I’m all in favor of it as it elevates the language and unifies the English language liturgy all over the world. My main problems concern not what has been done, but what has NOT been done. One of my pet peeved for years has been the translation (twice) in the creed of anthropos/homo as “man” when it actually means human. It may once have been the case that “man” meant humankind, but no longer. Ask yourself: how many people hear “and became man” and think that it is saying the God became a male instead of “one of us”? A fair amount, I warrant. This is not what the creed says. It is also inconsistent as hominibus is translated as “people” in the gloria (accurately).

    My other issue is with the translation of “pro multis” as “for many” instead of “for all”. I know what the Latinists are getting at ( it does not say “pro omnibus”) but this misses a key subtlety – it is a scriptural reference that means “the multitude” and is really all encompassing. The risk js that people interpret this phrase in quasi-Calvinist/ Jansenist manner.

  • http://constructiveuncertainty.blogspot.com/ Francisco

    I’m sympathetic to Zach’s claims about the issue of the new translation. I suspect that it’s little bit like a fight between a married couple that does not actually have much to do with what is ostensibly being argued about.

    Personally, I don’t have strong opinions either way. In fact, it seems odd to me that significant numbers of people actually do. I realize the Eucharist is important, but this issue of the new translation seems so irrelevant to the actual process of becoming a better Christian that I wonder if the controversy surrounding it isn’t a reflection on how much we all fail to really internalize the message of the Gospels.

  • Melody

    I’ve been to a couple of workshops held for people in choir/music ministry; there are handouts with the word changes available in our parish; it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. If they need to change it again, they will, I’m sure. I always hate it when they “move my cheese”, for a while. Then one adjusts. It’s nothing near as radical as the change in the early ’60’s; which I do remember.

  • M.Z.

    When I have followed this, it has been from an extraordinary distance. It seems like a case study in bad committee work. So much of it seems to be change for change’s sake. Typical of the vanity of ideology is the idea that an improvement in a part is necessarily an improvement for the whole. Already people are arguing that any short term disaffection will be made up for in the long run. As MM notes, any errors corrected won’t eliminate errors but simply change the errors.

  • Bruce in Kansas

    I have read items about this off and on for more than several years, which leads me to wonder how on earth anyone could complain that it is is being rammed through without any consultation. The last delay, after the umpteenth approval of the new translation, was to give a year or so in order for the changes to be taught and fully understood, but now some liturgists aren’t going to do that. So next we’ll get folks wondering why things are changing without being taught. I don’t have all the details, but it’s clear some changes are needed and long overdue.

    The stalling and delaying seems to be nothing but a bunch of inside baseball between progressives and traditionalists. But what are we waiting for – English speaking churches to get emptier and English speaking Catholics to grow even less knowledgeable about the faith?

    I was a kid when the Latin went out and I remember some grown-ups being upset, but I dont’ think it took as long as this to actually begin using the new prayers.

    Let’s get on with it and let’s start using the new updates. Sheesh!

  • Dan H.
  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

    I have been following the translation discussion/fight/contre temps for several years. Though I am not a Latinist, I have professional experience as a translator of mathematics, another highly technical subject in which careful use of language is imperative. One thing I can say is that “word for word” translation or “sticking close to the original text” in mathematics is often highly problematic: different languages evolve different idioms for saying the same thing, and closely translating the text will obscure the meaning, whereas a freer translation will convey the meaning more precisely.

    As for the new liturgical translations: I have read over all the changes in the second Eucharistic prayer carefully (since this was something I am very familiar with) and most of the changes seemed pointless: the change may make the text closer to the underlying Latin, but they in no way improve the meaning. In several cases they obscure the meaning by relying on a word or phrase with Latin roots that is no longer part of the vernacular.

    The most common criticism of the current translation is that it says “also with you” instead of “and with your spirit”. I must honestly say that I see this as a distinction without a difference. I have read attempts to explain why the latter translation is “better” but they have never really be persuasive. Anyone want to try again?

  • Bruce in Kansas
  • MarkH

    “Anyone want to try again?”

    I found this pretty convincing:


    “Why ‘and with your spirit’ is right”

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      Thank you MarkH. This is definitely more substantive than previous arguments I have read, though the author’s biases do show through in parts. I will need to chew on it some more.

  • SB

    Because “spiritu” means “spirit”. Why would you translate it any other way?

    It’s translated as “spirit” in every other Romance language. (Spanish mass: “Y con tu espíritu.” French mass: “Et avec votre esprit.” Italian mass: “E con il tuo spirito.”)

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      Well, off the top of my head, English is not a romance language, and the word “spirit” may have connotations in those languages that it does not have (or no longer has) in English. As I noted above, word for word translation often misses meaning.

      I would note that the Spanish translates the Latin “per omnia saecula saeculorum” as “por los siglos de los siglos” which could be a literal translation and appears to be a Spanish idiom for “forever”. On the other hand, English is “for ever and ever” which clearly captures the sense of the Latin.

      I would be interested in the arguments made by the original translators who chose “and also with you”. I have heard them referred to, but never given in detail.