Our readers

Art of Translation

Bishop Trautman, in his article, Rome and ICEL (3/4), makes no mention of the widespread dissatisfaction expressed by so many with the quality of ICEL’s work, which is no doubt the reason underlying Rome’s intervention. I think the trouble is that ICEL, from the very outset to the present time, has had no practical knowledge of the art of translation. Et cum spiritu tuo is not translated And also with you. Whatever that is, it is not a translation. I am a professional translator with 50 years of experience, still serving lawyers and patent attorneys, and if I translated German patent applications (my specialty) the way the ICEL did the liturgical and scriptural texts, I would not now be swamped as I am with business. I translate literally into perfectly readable English. ICEL could have done the same, but they spurned my offer of help.

(Deacon) George D. Sheehan

Delhi, N.Y.

 

Historical Perspective

Thanks to Bishop Donald Trautman for putting the current ICEL controversy in historical perspective. His thoughtful and honest questions in the essay, Rome and ICEL (3/4), were most helpful!

Judith M. Kubicki, C.S.S.F.

East Aurora, N.Y.

 

Measured Response

Thanks for the excellent article by Bishop Donald Trautman, Rome and ICEL (3/4). It is a measured and reasonable response to recent actions of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.

For new English translations of the sacred liturgy, I place my trust in English-speaking bishops like Donald Trautman and his colleagues in other English-speaking countries. Thanks, Bishop Trautman, for being a rare American bishop in speaking out publicly about a Vatican action. It’s hardly whining, as Gino Dalpiaz says in his letter (3/18). It’s a dialogue in the tradition of the Acts of the Apostles.

(Rev.) Donald W. McIlvane

Pittsburgh, Pa.

 

Most Desirable

I received with joy the March 4 issue on liturgy and wish, with several others who have already done so, to congratulate you on it. I have experienced in my lifetime the whole span of liturgical reform begun early in the centuryactually years before Vatican II. As a child I participated in the Demonstration Mass with its efforts toward congregational participation, knowledge and appreciation of Gregorian Chant and so on. Often this and much subsequent education in liturgy has been a source of pain for me as I see principles violated or misunderstood.

I had hoped that the directive concerning the consecrated bread distributed at Mass would at some point be addressed in the issue. Perhaps I attach too much importance to it, but I find it difficult to understand why, at almost every Eucharist in which I participate, especially during the week, I am given a host consecrated at a previous celebration. How would a person who had been invited to share a meal feel if given the leftovers (I intend no disrespect here) after the host/hostess had consumed the freshly prepared food. While the directive about this in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that it is most desirable that the faithful receive the Lord’s body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass (and I can certainly understand that there are times when it would be necessary to breach this directive), I find it difficult to understand why it has been, in my experience, more often ignored than observed.

Thank you, again, for providing such an informative and inspiring weekly.

Mary T. Legge, S.S.J.

Bayonne, N.J.

 

What Children Know

Your March 4 issue was a gem. From back to front (the way I have come to read it), each article was better than the last. Each was a message I need to share with a friend or colleague.

Thank you for sharing your gifts of writing, as well as for gathering the best of varied views and topics. I look forward to receiving it every week. Even my children announce its arrival, knowing I will want it secure in my work bag, for the ride in to work, home again and as a frequent lunch companion.

Paul Schmid

Forest Lake, Minn.

 

Victorian Sabbath

Your March 4 issue arrived unusually early in Kampala. It was passed on to me as I was leaving to take a sabbath day on the shores of Lake Victoria. I always go to the letters first. The responses to the Rev. Richard P. McBrien’s mandatum article expressed the kind of intelligent challenges that I have come to expect from America’s readers. More letters, please! I noticed those few recently calling for more feeding of faith...good for you.

Then I went to the book reviews and there I found superb summaries and evaluations by Richard Hauser, S.J., of the recent books on Mertonanother dose of good news revealed in this American monk with his humanity showing, as well as God and his life-grounded prayera call to all of us to keep growing and not fear the questions.

Rome and ICEL by Bishop Donald Trautman speaks with clarity, vigor and intelligence to a recently unfocused attack on ICEL and the episcopates with which it has been collaborating for the last 30 years. We are not voiceless after all. We have not been abandoned to secret manipulations and back-door policymaking.

Finally, I almost passed over Descend on Us in Fire by Paul Mariani. How happy I am I did not. Here is the Good News in pure form. The message of life becomes the message of the Gospel.

Jim Egan, S.J.

Kampala, Uganda

 

Real Needs Met

While moralists pontificate and legalists adjudicate, they do not come forward to help the woman in distress. I am grateful for the response of the Sisters of Life (detailed by George Anderson, S.J., 4/1), who are trying to meet the real needs of women with and without faith who find themselves in crisis pregnancies. It is interesting that even in New York City there are only 12 spots to house women with this need.

Ever since Roe v. Wade the political harangue has continued, and money from the righteous for the cause has poured into the coffers of the politicians, but so little has been done on a daily basis for actual women that it is a constant embarrassment.

Also, it would help if clergy spoke out more clearly on the sins of the abandoning men. Most people seem to focus all their energy on the sinning women.

Martina Nicholson, M.D.

Santa Cruz, Calif.

 

Valued Association

Could it be a coincidence that simultaneously not only did I receive my annual financial request to continue as an America Associate, but also I received the April 1 issue that appeared mostly dedicated to pro-life issues. In the past my two letters to the editor concerning such topics, especially when I scolded pro-choice Catholic politicians, have ended in America’s trashbin. Congratulations to the authors of this issue, but one still must wonder whether this was a last-ditch effort of the editorial staff to appeal to the R.W.S.O.A. (Right Wing Supporters of America), or was this just an April fool joke, since this issue was published on April 1?

Harry D. Carrozza, M.D.

Tucson, Ariz.

 

Figure It Out

The movie The Cider House Rules has certainly resurrected the discussion on abortion (4/1). Abortion is legal. What more do pro-choice advocates wantapproval? Making abortion legal doesn’t make it moral, just safer and free from prosecution. It would have to be intrinsically good, for all involved, to be moral. Just because we can do something, the ethical question is still valid: Should we?

My take on the movie was that in that time and place Dr. Larch did what he was trained to do for women who were unwilling to give life to their babies. In healing, in helping, the doctor is actually saying you are a worthwhile human being in spite of your sins, and I choose to love you rather than judge you. By his attitude and service, he forgives the past unfortunate choices. In other words, the person is greater than the sin. And for those children who were given life and then abandoned, Dr. Larch and two nurses provided heartfelt love and care for the orphaned children.

You can’t apply today’s knowledge to 1940 situations. I was a teenage Minnesota farm girl in 1940, and I know now how much I didn’t know then. Sixty years have passed since Cider House. We have come a long wayor have we? Abortions should be few with what we know now. As women of equality we have control over our own bodies, right?

Consider this:

1. Women are now free to say no.

2. We have advanced methods of birth control.

3. We have better sex education.

4. There is less pressure to keep pregnancies secret.

5. We have adoption as a healthy option.

So why 1.4 million abortions each year? Come on ladies, figure it out. Since this is primarily a women’s issue, I suggest that we be the ones who should take the greater responsibility that can result in a greater freedom than abortion can give us.

Irene Osborne

Billings, Mont.

 

Fraught With Consequences

I saw The Cider House Rules differently from Paul W. McNellis, S.J. (4/1). It is a highly moral movie. Every decision and action is fraught with consequences. Dr. Larch’s life was one of isolation and opposition without honor or support from the larger community. Irresponsible parenthood led to the shame and pain of St. Cloud, a place where no one goes willingly. The young couple who secured an abortion of convenience apparently lived out their lives childless. Mr. Rose and his daughter paid a terrible price for the sin of incest. In the lives of the orphans it pictures sin punished to the third and fourth generation. Even Homer Wells can expect no future other than that of his mentor. In The Cider House Rules God does not need to reward or punish; life does it very well all by itself.

It is more than a moral movie; it is a Christian movie as well. In creating characters we understand and care about, it gave us a glimpse into the mind and heart of the One who deplores the pain and suffering that follows inexorably in the train of sin, but loves and cares for the sinner. For two hours our viewpoint is that of the Prodigal Father. Does not the Gospel put a greater emphasis on loving the sinner than on hating the sin?

James Macy

West Bloomfield, Mich.

 

Reconciliation

The teaching moment in The Cider House Rules, treated by Paul W. McNellis, S.J. (4/1), is learning, once again, that original sin is operative in our world. Thankfully, there is a sacramental moment in which we confront our failure to follow God’s rulereconciliation.

Lisa Ann Green

College Station, Tex.

Comments

Edward Hagman, O.F.M.Cap. | 1/19/2007 - 12:47pm
I hope these reflections on two of the letters on the ICEL affair won’t consign me to the Rev. Gino Dalpiaz’s chorus of whiners (3/18). Like him, I’ve had occasion to use the Italian and French texts for extended periods of time and find them generally beautiful. But are they really more “faithful” to the original than the ICEL translations? Consider the French version of the Suscipiat (“May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands...”), which says, quite literally, “For the glory of God and the salvation of the world.” And what about the alternate opening prayers for Sundays in the Italian missal? They are, I believe, rich in theology and imagery. They are also original compositions.

If I understand George Sheehan correctly (4/29), he has had 50 years of experience translating legal documents for lawyers and patent attorneys. Does this qualify him to translate liturgical texts? Surely every professional translator knows that attention must be paid to the genre of the text he or she is translating. He rightly says that translation is an art and uses the response Et cum spiritu tuo as an example. Any first year Latin student can probably tell us that this means, literally, “And with your spirit.” But who can tell us what “And with your spirit” means?

I’m no apologist for ICEL. Along with what I think are beautiful and enduring translations (some of the eucharistic prayers), they have also produced a fair amount of banality (many of the opening prayers). That said, I don’t see how Cardinal Medina’s (5/13) “taking the bull by the horns” will remedy matters. As one whose mother tongue is English, I would never feel qualified to critique the Italian or French texts, even though I have a decent knowledge of both languages. What kind of critique of our English texts can we expect from non-native speakers? Apparently there is enough hubris to go around. Until the ideology and power politics are set aside by everyone, I’m afraid the chorus of whiners will continue to grow.

Edda H. Hackl, M.D. | 1/19/2007 - 12:31pm
The letter by George D. Sheehan (4/29) fails to differentiate between translating concrete material of a technical or scientific nature and translating more abstract matters like thoughts, ideas and concepts. A very literal translation is appropriate for the one, but may actually not transmit the meaning of the other. The various meanings of the word to be translated often do not coincide with those of the word used. There may be an overlap of meanings with other possible choices. Having been bilingual for nearly 50 years, I am very much aware of the challenge presented in discovering and conveying the original intended meaning. In the example cited, I wonder why the Lord should be with us (“Dominus vobiscum”) but only with the spirit of the presider!

I truly hope that the language of Scripture and of liturgical texts will be something more than “perfectly readable English.”

David J. Broughton | 1/19/2007 - 12:43pm
Thanks to George D. Sheehan for his letter (4/29) demonstrating the poor quality of ICEL’s work. Had he wished to elaborate further, he might have pointed out that the missing verb in “Dominus vobiscum” is “est” not “sit”; that is, the correct translation is “The Lord is with you,” not “The Lord be with you.” When the Missale Romanum wants the priest to wish something, the verb is explicit and it is “sit,” as in the following: (1) “Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi...sit cum omnibus vobis,” (2) “Dominus sit in corde tuo...”, and (3) Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.” The predilection of ICEL for archaic Church of England language distorts the worship of people today. Fortunately, they have not applied their translation style to the “Dominus tecum” of the Hail Mary.

Edward Hagman, O.F.M.Cap. | 1/19/2007 - 12:47pm
I hope these reflections on two of the letters on the ICEL affair won’t consign me to the Rev. Gino Dalpiaz’s chorus of whiners (3/18). Like him, I’ve had occasion to use the Italian and French texts for extended periods of time and find them generally beautiful. But are they really more “faithful” to the original than the ICEL translations? Consider the French version of the Suscipiat (“May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands...”), which says, quite literally, “For the glory of God and the salvation of the world.” And what about the alternate opening prayers for Sundays in the Italian missal? They are, I believe, rich in theology and imagery. They are also original compositions.

If I understand George Sheehan correctly (4/29), he has had 50 years of experience translating legal documents for lawyers and patent attorneys. Does this qualify him to translate liturgical texts? Surely every professional translator knows that attention must be paid to the genre of the text he or she is translating. He rightly says that translation is an art and uses the response Et cum spiritu tuo as an example. Any first year Latin student can probably tell us that this means, literally, “And with your spirit.” But who can tell us what “And with your spirit” means?

I’m no apologist for ICEL. Along with what I think are beautiful and enduring translations (some of the eucharistic prayers), they have also produced a fair amount of banality (many of the opening prayers). That said, I don’t see how Cardinal Medina’s (5/13) “taking the bull by the horns” will remedy matters. As one whose mother tongue is English, I would never feel qualified to critique the Italian or French texts, even though I have a decent knowledge of both languages. What kind of critique of our English texts can we expect from non-native speakers? Apparently there is enough hubris to go around. Until the ideology and power politics are set aside by everyone, I’m afraid the chorus of whiners will continue to grow.

Edda H. Hackl, M.D. | 1/19/2007 - 12:31pm
The letter by George D. Sheehan (4/29) fails to differentiate between translating concrete material of a technical or scientific nature and translating more abstract matters like thoughts, ideas and concepts. A very literal translation is appropriate for the one, but may actually not transmit the meaning of the other. The various meanings of the word to be translated often do not coincide with those of the word used. There may be an overlap of meanings with other possible choices. Having been bilingual for nearly 50 years, I am very much aware of the challenge presented in discovering and conveying the original intended meaning. In the example cited, I wonder why the Lord should be with us (“Dominus vobiscum”) but only with the spirit of the presider!

I truly hope that the language of Scripture and of liturgical texts will be something more than “perfectly readable English.”

David J. Broughton | 1/19/2007 - 12:43pm
Thanks to George D. Sheehan for his letter (4/29) demonstrating the poor quality of ICEL’s work. Had he wished to elaborate further, he might have pointed out that the missing verb in “Dominus vobiscum” is “est” not “sit”; that is, the correct translation is “The Lord is with you,” not “The Lord be with you.” When the Missale Romanum wants the priest to wish something, the verb is explicit and it is “sit,” as in the following: (1) “Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi...sit cum omnibus vobis,” (2) “Dominus sit in corde tuo...”, and (3) Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.” The predilection of ICEL for archaic Church of England language distorts the worship of people today. Fortunately, they have not applied their translation style to the “Dominus tecum” of the Hail Mary.

Recently in Letters