Revised Mass Translations

It’s Not About You

Msgr. Pope addresses some of the common concerns about the new translation.  In particular he discusses the charge that it is difficult to understand the new prayers because of the subordinate clauses.

Now, if the priest who recites or sings the prayer is careful with the commas, and alters his tone of voice properly, the new translation is quite intelligible, and also quite beautiful. My own mind lit up as I recited the new prayer above, this morning.

That said, it may still be harder for some in the pew to attend the words of the priest, even if it is well spoken, since the use of sentences with subordinate clauses requires the listener to hold one thought, while a subordinate thought is articulated, and then the speaker branches back to the main thought.

So lets grant that it is a little harder.

But here we come to an important insight that, though it is not politically correct, is still true: The priest is not talking to you. He is not directing the prayer to you, and the first purpose of the prayer is not that you understand it perfectly. The prayer is directed to God, (most often, to God the Father). The priest is speaking to God, and is doing so on your behalf, and that of the whole Church. And God is wholly able to understand the prayer, no matter how complicated its structure.

Too often in modern times we have very anthropocentric (man-centered) notions of the Sacred Liturgy. With the return to the vernacular, and mass celebrated toward the people, (neither intrinsically wrong), there is often the wrongful conclusion that the Liturgy is about us, the gathered assembly. Surely there are aspects celebrated on our behalf and for our benefit, especially the Liturgy of the Word and the reception of Holy Communion, but the prayers of the Sacred Liturgy are addressed to and focused on God.

More at the link.  As much as we’ve touted the new translation and have psyched ourselves up for the new responses, the really radical change is not what we’re saying but what the Priest is saying.  It became immediately obvious that we had something very new with the first prayers.  The very tone of the prayers is completely different.  The language is so much more elevated and distinct.  Even if you had no idea that there was a new translation in effect surely you would have noticed something had changed.

Anyway, that is what struck me with my initial Mass with the new translation.  I’ve been reading over the responses and getting ready, so finally saying “And with your spirit” wasn’t as novel to me as hearing the words of the consecration for the first time. That’s when it really hit me that we have something much more special here.

Of course I still managed to mess up and began responding “and also with you” at the conclusion of Mass.  Something tells me it might be a while before even those of us who are the happiest about the revisions really settle in and adapt to it fully.

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