The National Catholic Review

Well, if you want a way to increase traffic to your site, just ask Catholics their opinions on the new English translation of the Mass.  On my public Facebook page yesterday I posted this question:What were your reactions to the new English translation of the Mass today? Did you find that it helped or hindered your "full, conscious and active" participation in the Mass, as the Second Vatican Council hoped for?"  And I received (so far) 248 comments  The reaction seems to both passionate and evenly divided, with half feeling that the new translation makes it more difficult to pray; the other half saying it makes it easier to pray.  Dotcommonweal also has a lively discussion under Peter Steinfels' clever rubric (pun intended) "The Aftermass?"  And Rocco Palmo at WhispersintheLoggia, which normally doesn't invite comments, also received a passel of responses, mainly from priests. 

So...What do you think? 

Comments

Anne Chapman | 11/29/2011 - 9:57am
Tom, one thing that the Vatican desperately needs is a good editor. Everything that comes out of Rome is way, way too wordy. The message gets lost in the overflowery and excessive verbiage. It abounds with unnecessary - and, as you note, often illogical - modifiers.  Unfortunately, the English-speaking world will be stuck with this version for at least a couple of generations, given that the church does not move with lightening speed - and never in response to the will of the people of God (a definition of church that is probably on some secret Vatican Index of forbidden terms at this point.)
Jim McClintock | 11/29/2011 - 6:24pm
After weeks of preparing the congregation for the new translation (and selling it as ''wonderful'') and after doing several ''dry'' masses in preparation, I think we all did fairly well. That being said: the translation was far too wordy and convoluted. Bad English will not add to our spirituality.

The politics and power-plays that brought this version to us makes me want to weep. The awful and uncharitible comments I read about those who gave us the previous translation add nothing but sadness to me for our Church.

After being a priest for over 25 years, I feel like an unscrupulous used car salesman who (because he was told to) knowingly sold a defective product to a trusting public.

While I will remain a public defender and promoter of the new translation,  in my heart, I will always feel used when praying these words.
John Raymer | 11/29/2011 - 4:39pm
"Adore" instead of "worship" was disturbing. In English, it is proper and logical to say we adore our wives and adore our children. But if I say I worship my wife, then everyone knows I am being overly dramatic. Only God is worthy of worship. Adore just does not mean the same thing in English as it does in Latin. Worship also carries connotations of submission [to God], which adore, in English, certainly does not.

I really do like how they cleaned up "I am not worthy to receive you." The old words were very missleading, especially by where they were placed in the mass. I had one woman friend who insisted on saying "I am worthy to receive you," because the story of her life had been one of rejection. She needed to know that she was worthy to receive the body and blood of Christ through the grace of Christ's sacrifice.

Juan Lino | 11/29/2011 - 1:43pm
I love the new translation!!! For a bilingual speaker like me, the English is now closer to the Spanish translation, which I always found to be less semi-pelagian than the former English translation.

I had purchased a missal published immediately after V2 and Anne is right that it is very similar.  I suspect that it took so long to translate because of the "in-fighting" - whether in the Church or not - that seems to happen whenever any kind of change is proposed.

I've been to Mass in my own parish and two parishes near my office and most people are adapting fine.  Considering all the fuss that was made I expected a big protest in the Jesuit parish where I go to daily Mass and, surprise surprise, nothing. 

Michael Caputi | 11/29/2011 - 11:08am
Here and there I found some quite poetic phrases. But the Eucharistic prayer seems translated by William Faulkner for the run on sentences. It is clear our pastor spent a great deal of time with these words in advance of having to pray them with us. His delivery was excellent given some of the awkward sentences. Nonetheless, I found it a challenge to hold on to a the thread of several passages. Very, very stilted English and, to my mind, unnecessary.
Terence Fitzgerald | 11/29/2011 - 10:54am
Mistakes and confusion are inevitable in any change process.  People get confused when the menu in McDonald's in changed or when Facebook is re-designed.  And, inevitably, people throng message boards to complain about something for which they should give themselves (and others) time to adjust and embrace. 

I, for one, appreciate the resources many parishes in my city spent to explain the changes.  Surely we are not against materials that engage people in the Mass?  What better time to prompt people to think more deeply about what happens on Sunday morning?  The negativity emanating from some Catholics on this issue is disturbing.  Remember that the Mass is not centered on you.
T BLACKBURN | 11/29/2011 - 9:37am
Just got home from my third ''new'' Mass, Tuesday of the First Week of Advent. I remain struck by God's failure to give us enough hands to operate all the ''worship aids'' this new effort requires. Note the church has a lived-in look from the aids scattered in the pews, floor, etc.

''And also with you'' is still heard. About 50% of the regulars get it right each time. The other 50% get it wrong. The same people are not always in the same 50%. This, too, shall pass.

It strikes me that perhaps the people who think this is no big deal hadn't been paying much attention in the past and don't plan to pay much attention in the future. I am finding all kinds of challenges to the way I am accustomed to participating at Mass, and I am bringing my own ''worship aid'' from home and preparing with it before Mass. Some of the challenges will wither away. I am not so sure about the others.

 In the latter category I put the sudden ''what's that?'' adverbs and adjectives that seem to have no other function than to provide a sound to go with the verb or noun they modify. Like the ''holy'' church after the orate frates. Are we trying to distinguish it from the unholy church? There are a lot of words like that in the new translation that make you wonder why they are there.
Anne Chapman | 11/28/2011 - 7:27pm
Most people seemed indifferent, actually - pretty much a big yawn.

It didn't seem ''new'' but ''old'' - very much the translation of the English side of the pages of the old St. Joseph's missal.  I had forgotten how very (very) long the eucharistic prayer said by the priest was.  Hearing the seemingly endless list of saints' names ( Cosmas and Damian - they always seemed to balance one another, but I still have no idea who they are -  and Agatha, Agnes and Anastasia - nice alliterative touch if you don't count Lucy and Cecilia in the middle there - and that inimitable martyrdom seeking pair, Perpetua and Felicity are back in the spotlight. I guess poor Melchizedek maybe felt neglected for all these years  - but no more!) took me back more than 50 years. I used to wonder as a kid how long this droning prayer would go on (and on) before the priest finished. I thought the same thing on Sunday. Unfortunately the words of the actual consecration get lost in the mountain of superfluous words surrounding them, as if they are of little importance compared to the litany of saints and the overly flowery nonsense phrases (oblation of our service?  Are they serious? Did they have any native speakers of any version  - Brit, Aussie, American, Irish, etc? - of spoken English language on this commission?) 

 I am having a hard time understanding why this ''new'' translation took 10 years to come up with - it is essentially pretty much the same transalation used in the pre-Vatican II church. The 21st century version has both the few strengths, and the (too many) weaknesses of the version used in the first half of the 20th century. People will adjust soon enough and say "And with your Spirit" but really, what was the point, other than to let Benedict check one more  item off his personal bucket list, which seems primarily an effort to remake the church in his own image.

What a waste of time and angst, not to mention money to replace all the books in every single parish.  Both the effort involved to come up with this and the money involved to implement it could have been better spent on other projects. How about a group that would develop policies for disciplining bishops who continue to protect child abusers and the institution?  Clearly all the empty words from Rome (and Dallas and.....) during the last decade have accomplished little to nothing to ensure that bishops are responsible and accountable to the people and their children. The punishment meted out to those like Thomas Dolan and the rewards given to those like Bernard Law have told the bishops all they need to know.  The oblation of their service is clearly to be directed to the  human institution rather than to God.
Theresa Maccarone | 11/28/2011 - 7:13pm
My parish did an excellent job of preparing us for the new translation. Our Catholic Community spent alot on money and resources in training and education. It paid off because we made a smooth transition.  Do I like all of the new translations? No, but I will learn to accept them the same way I've learned to accept everything else I dislike about the Church. 

Anonymous | 11/28/2011 - 6:22pm
Kind of makes me say:  "What was all the fuss about"!  Lets move on...
Faculty Staff | 11/28/2011 - 4:59pm
I am just an average pew sitter, these days spending more time in the cry room. Ultimately I understand that while words matter, what is happening as we gather for Eucharist has not changed. In time the convoluted prose and awkward responses will become just as automatic as those they replaced. I don't appreciate the ''mind game'' I must now play when I hear that Christ died ''for many''; I must now translate ''many=all'' to keep myself theologically Catholic rather than Presbyterian. I don't understand why the Lord is with me and my friends and family but only with the presider's spirit. (How many angels dance on the head of a pin?) In time, this too shall pass. It now seems that all the effort put forth by dioceses across the English-speaking Catholic world was wasted. The changes are ''under-whelming''. I think that Fr Valentine or Fr Toye, were they alive today, would include many of those awkward sentences on a diagraming quiz. Pity the poor freshmen English student who must make sense of that prose.

JIM MCCREA | 11/28/2011 - 4:47pm
Ralph:  you gave a perfect definition of the newly created term for Catholics:  "sheople."

Baa, baa, baad.
JIM MCCREA | 11/28/2011 - 4:44pm
"Next, ad orientem sine populi, or something like that."

We'll need to make room for those cute little side altars (appropriately facing, of course) so that we can go even further back to multiple masses at a time. 

Oh, sorry, there aren't enough priests left to require that anymore.

More's the pity, I guess.  I miss the buzzing of bees in the background of the main bee-buzzing service.  Reading the sports page was always possible in those days.  Now I'm supposed to pay attention.

More's the pit.
6466379 | 11/28/2011 - 3:55pm
Obedience is a necessity of life, from sunrise to sunset  we are locked into obedient rituals in some way be they medical, civic, social, religious et al. So being obedient to the liturgical changes was simply a "do it necessity." So I did it and will continue doing it. However, do I understand why the Holy Father ordered it? No! But I have a hunch that the Holy Father  personally likes the way things were, so he ordered it. O.K., we'll do it, hopefully advancing more expeditiously in wisdom and grace, answering the universal call to holiness. If this happens to me (us) God's People ,then hurrah for the changes! If not, what a screw-up!
RALPH BREMIGAN | 11/28/2011 - 3:49pm
The context:
•I've followed the discussion of the new edition of the Missal for months, mostly on sites critical of the new translation, and went into it expecting not to like it.
•This week, a very good friend, a very special member of our parish and an excellent musician, passed away unexpectedly.  We've been dealing with a lot of grief.  His funeral on Friday was carthatically moving and also was an exceedingly well conducted and effective liturgy (in music, homily, gesture, congregational involvement).
•We attended Mass on Sunday not at our home parish, but at a nearby one with a very fine priest who we know well, effective music ministry, and a good, strong community.  The people appeared to be educated about the changes and were doing their best to participate in the new language. 

My reactions:
•Some things I liked better than in the new translation.  I actually like the scriptural reference in the "under my roof" prayer.  I also like the "greatly sinned...through my fault" confession at the beginning of mass.  I haven't sinned "greatly" every week, but some weeks I have, and it good to acknowledge it.
•I don't really care about "and also with you" versus "and with your spirit".  They mean the same thing.  I make the same gesture toward the presider with my hands.
•I think it's ridiculous to force people to learn a new translation of the creed, with changes in wording that don't change the meaning in "substantial" ways. 
•Regarding the prayer before the first reading, prayer after communion...   I think in the old Sacramentary, the prayers were so stripped-down and generic-sounding and went by so fast that nobody really listened, just waited for the "through Christ our Lord" to say "amen" on cue.  I think in the new Missal, the prayers are so convoluted and peculiar-sounding  that nobody will really listen, will just wait to say "amen" on cue.  Neither better or worse, but a lost opportunity. 

For me, the REAL reaction was to the Eucharistic Prayer.  The presider gave the Old College Try with Eucharistic Prayer I.  Contrary to the concerns expressed on many a website, our presider did not stumble over words or syntax, he did fine.  But my reaction was that the prayer was so very...funny!  I think anyone who enjoys and appreciates good language can't fail to be amused and entertained by bad-you know, by nonnative speakers who inadvertently make bloopers, or by instruction manuals that have a "Google Translate" quality to them.  That's what I heard in the E.P.-clunky, awkard constructions, inappropriate use of cognates, etc.  There was also a general "inappropriateness."  If any of us needs to offer thanks or to offer apology to another, our sincerity is usually indicated by looking at the other straight in the eyes and speaking forthrightly.  If we use odd language or repeat ourselves endlessly, the hearer thinks us odd, perhaps even insincere.  This was the impression the EP gave to me-so much unnecessary repetition, so much sacred-and-venerable this and that, to give the overall sense that it was a  Monty Python parody of religous language and ritual. 

Honestly, my wife and I were emotionally wrung-out from our week, and had already cried through the singing of "Eyes Have Not Seen" and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" in the first half of mass as we remembered our friend...we were not really in need of a Deep Experience in the Eucharistic Prayer, having prayed and felt so much during the week...but the E.P. had the effect of completely ratcheting down our emotions and spiritual involvement, just because it was so unreal.  Not the experience I expected.  All I could think was that it was funny.  On rare occasions, funny is good.  I do believe God has a sense of humor (hello, Fr. Martin).  And sometimes God uses his humor in important ways.  Personally i have felt that the Church is in great need of reform, and maybe this new, ridiculous translation is God's way of getting our attention, of getting us to the critical point where we can stop the authority-driven, retro-loving fashions of the present.  My concern now is how I'm going to hear the Eucharistic Prayers in the future, when I'm actually looking for and needing spritual involvement and meaning.  Mass is supposed to be the source and summit of our lives.  How will this be if on future hearings, I don't find the intended sense of reverence, but just continue to hear a goofy, pretentious parody?


T BLACKBURN | 11/28/2011 - 3:25pm
Even though I was prepared, I was still gobsmacked when we got a kneeling oblation over the priest's microphone. When was the last time you mentioned an oblation at Burger King or the barber shop? Or at the faculty lounge, for that matter.
 Mass-goers were greeted at our parish by more liturgy aids than the missal holders on the seatbacks could hold, and no preparation for using them. The Spanish Mass remains unchanged, but since we used to have it in the same book as the English Mass, we had to get new all-Spanish books. I watched from afar as a frantic parishoner shuffled through one  looking for the readings of the day in English. The English readings, however, were in the new fat hymnals that replace the old fat hymnals we gave away when we got an AV system. Since the new fat hymnals contained only the readings, there were also plastic cards with the audience (formerly participant) responses. And for weekdays, this morning we were greeted with a folded sheet containing the introits (ah, good to see them again; just what one needs if one is going to an oblation) and antiphons for the next few weeks.
 The celebrant solved the problem of speaking the mighty mouthfuls by singing them, and although the chant doesn't necessarily make the meaning clear, it does give the chanter a chance to breathe.
 I continue to await all the promised good effects.
 
Vince Killoran | 11/28/2011 - 2:19pm
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but that's what I say coming out of the dentist office.


Way too many "therefores" and "it is right and just."  Who talks like that?! Why will an overly strict translation of Latin make me "more reverential"?
Stanley Kopacz | 11/28/2011 - 2:08pm
I was not in my home parish due to visiting during Thanksgiving.  Half the parishioners reflexively answered in the habitual way, half in the "new" translation.  The new translation sounded rather dorky.  I think even the young, bearded priest's jaw almost dislocated on "consubstantial".   I think I'll just listen for a while.   Maybe I'll just say the rosary like some of the previous translation's haters did.  I don't believe my active participation is all that important or necessary to the promoters of the present translation anyway.  Next, ad orientem sine populi, or something like that.