A reader argues…

A reader argues… January 9, 2012

…against the new Mass translation (and I argue back).

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  • Kirt Higdon

    While I would much have preferred “of one substance with” in the creed as opposed to “consubstantial”, which is a meaningless mouthful to the average person in the pews, overall the new translation is much more poetic than the old.

  • Confederate Papist

    Therese’s comments nail the true source of the argument against the NT.

  • Scott W.

    Second Therese’s comments. It is one thing to say the new translation isn’t perfect, another to float these flacid “It’s too hard” objections. The real objection seems to be that the whole horizontalizing-regnocentric-therapeutic view of Catholicism is circling the drain.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    We used to say “consubstantial” and had no more trouble grasping it than “one in substance.” That is, the trouble lies in the mystery, not in the term. In fact, now that I think of it, we said “consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt.” And if anyone wondered what that meant, they need only glance at the right hand page of the Missal, where it read “consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made.” (This from a Missal with imprimatur 1960.) Of course, Latin was still a required course in high school; and even public schools learned Caesar and Cicero. You can’t be a real humanist, otherwise.

    So the complaint would seem to be that our educational system has drastically decayed and that the Church has a higher opinion of our learning abilities than others.

    • Kirt Higdon

      I had a Catholic education from grade 1 through BA, with plenty of Church latin and 4 years of classical latin, 4 years of college level philosophy and theology. I grew up imagining that all Catholics of my age cohort had received the same education that I did, but I have found that is far from the case, not to mention the younger generations. I have no problem with consubstantial in English or Latin, but to the vast majority of people it is meaningless. The only time they will ever hear it is in the creed.

      • All the more reason to use “consubstantial”. Joe Pew Catholic gets to learn a new word. In catechism class we learned what “hallelujah” and “amen” meant. I don’t remember if we covered “hosannah”. All three are in the Mass. (How often do you shout “hosannah!” outside of Mass?) Now we get to learn another not-terribly-difficult word or phrase.

  • Richard

    Every time I go to Mass, I can’t help thinking, “This is how Yoda would pray.”

    • Rosemarie


      That way would Yoda pray I think not. Much more intelligible is it. Yessssss. If in Yoda-speak the Mass were, stand to listen to it I could not.

  • Roberto

    It seems that everyone is focussing on the merits of the translation, but I have not seen anyone talk about the other perspective (I may have missed that, though!).
    Could it be that the new translation is providing a powerful commentary on the status of the current English language? Why is it that such beautiful words and sentences are viewed as abstruse, when they were common sometime ago and, even where they weren’t, can render our thought so much better?
    If we are asked to become perfect as our Father in heaven, why can’t we be asked to improve the level of our English language? Why don’t we start using better English every day and, Lord forbid, eliminate foul language from our lives? Our we too stupid or intellectually incompetent for that? Methinks not!

  • Rosemarie


    I love the new translation. The only part of the old one that I miss a little is the Memorial Acclamation that began with, “Dying you destroyed our death….” That was one of the more poetic parts of an otherwise prosaic translation. However, when I consider what we have gained with this translation, it is a small loss in comparison.

    I really like the current text of Eucharistic Prayer III, especially the beginning that goes: “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy”

    It seems close to an Eastern Christian understanding of creation and redemption – all things are being sanctified through Christ by the power and working of the Holy Spirit. There are also echoes of the Eastern Divine Liturgy throughout the Ordinary Form which have now emerged from four decades of obscurity. One example is in the Embolism:

    “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

    This reminds me so much of the petition in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom that the whole day “may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless.” Also, the Memorial Acclamation that now starts, “Save us, Savior of the world…” is reminiscent of the Eastern petition, “Through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Savior, save us.”

    It’s amazing to think that these allusions were there all along but we had no idea. I find this new translation so rich and enriching, I really wish every Catholic could see it that way as well and benefit from it.

  • Sandra Miesel

    Unfortunately, Rosemarie, that Memorial Acclamation was nowhere in the official “benchmark” Roman Missal so it can no longer be used.

    My 1933 edition of the Daily Missal has “consubstantial with the Father” and “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary.” Fr. Stedman’s Sunday Missal of 1938 which I used as a child has “of one being with the Father” and “was made flesh”. My Maryknoll Missal from 1960 that I used until the Novus Ordo came in has “of one substance with the Father” and “by the Holy Spirit was made flesh.” So take your pick. The major differences between the current and previous translations are in the prayers of the Propers–great improvement!

    • Rosemarie


      True. It was apparently based on part of the first Preface for Easter, where the priest prays: “He is the true Lamb who took away the sins of the world. By dying he destroyed our death; by rising he restored our life” (which in turn echoes the Paschal Troparion of the Eastern Churches: “Christ is risen from the dead, By death He conquered death, And to those in the graves He granted life!”) But it was not one of the three Memorial Acclamations in the original Latin, so it had to go.

      Remember how there was an unsuccessful push to retain “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again,” because of its popularity? Back then I thought, “If they’re going to retain one of those two Memorial Acclamations, it should be the other one!” Oh well, there’s always the Paschal Season.

  • Mark R

    The only quibbles I would make with the new translation is “people” instead of “men of good will” in the gloria (“men” is used instead of “people” elswhere in the Mass) and the duplication of Latin syntax into English in the Eucharistic prayers strikes me a bit wonky.