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March 05, 2010


Spirit of Vatican II

Msgr Harbert points out that in this text "the initiative is restored to the Father" whereas the current translation "mistakenly" attributes it to the Son. http://liturgy.nd.edu/webcatechesis/harbert/harbert4.html

Spirit of Vatican II

"And with your spirit" is a Pauline locution, closing Galatians, Philippians and Philemon. This tape gives an interpretation of what Paul was thinking -- "remain free from a secular.. self-absorbed.. dejected spirit" and have the spirit, peace, mind of Christ: http://liturgy.nd.edu/webcatechesis/turner/turner2.html

Spirit of Vatican II

"for our good and the good of all his HOLY Church" -- "why 'holy' was left out in the current translation I just can't imagine" says Msgr Harbert. http://liturgy.nd.edu/webcatechesis/harbert/harbert6.html

Because the langauge is heavy, and because it distracts from the prayer by making an ecclesiological claim that is not necessary here.

Msgr Harbert loves angels, but current Christian sensibility, while not unfriendly to angels in a perhaps demythologized sense, does not want the image of angels thrust on it all the time. We don't go to mass to think about angels.

Spirit of Vatican II

"Like the dewfall" -- he admits it is not a literal translation of "with the dew of your Spirit". He is annoyed with the Americans who made a fuss about dew/due/Jew/doggy doo. "There was a real reluctance to accept the word 'dew' into the liturgy". He quotes Bishop Roche and praises him for getting the order of mass accepted by a healthy majority. Then he repeats with complacency Bp Roche's frivolous anecdote about Mountain Dew.

It was the Congregation of Divine Worship who chose "dewfall" and Msgr Harbert is clearly cross about this. "Some like it, some don't; I think you can probably guess what I think."

This silly insistence on "dew/dewfall" is justified by reference to Hildegard of Bingen, St Ambrose of Milan, and the Old Testament concern with finding sources of water in the desert, and with insistence that there is dew in America.

On "chalice" he says the vessel is special in the sense that it was designed to be shared. But such a connotation is not at all a live one in modern English (as opposed to the use of "chalice" in Shakespeare's Macbeth).

The Pope himself insisted on "for many" not "for all". "It doesn't mean that he didn't give his life as a ransom for all" -- of course, but most people will not get that message.

He points out that the new text says "the chalice of salvation" not "this saving cup", correcting a tendency to use "this" too often. It's not just "this Eucharist" we are celebrating but "these mysteries" -- the focus is on ALL Eucharists wherever they are celebrated. Does this not sound as if we are celebrating a dream of Eucharist rather than a real here and now Eucharist? Does the Latin entail such dreamy universality? The Latin of the Roman Canon certainly uses "this" and "these" far more often than the English version.

What he calls "the excessively inventive geography of the current translation" is in reality exceeded by the new translation, notably in its mess about the heavenly altar in the Roman Canon.

"Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb" is meant to cause us to reflect on judgment, he says: are we among those called?

He thinks it is important to remember the Centurion, "a very admirable man" at Communion.

"The word 'soul' has been put back in the text" in many places. No recognition that the word 'soul' no longer has the unproblematic currency in our culture that it had in the past. The whole idea is to bring back the past.

Spirit of Vatican II

Part of the story of this debacle is that the US Bishops, having failed to examine the texts closely, were suckered by the British charm of Bp Roche and Msgr Harbert. Visitors from the world of Brideshead! Ooooh!

cor ad cor loquitur

The following passage from Fr Turner’s essay on ‘for the many’ captures a lot of what has gone so horribly wrong with this translation:

To be sure, the controversy over this word could have been lessened if the translation had been changed ever so slightly from “many” to “the many”. “It will be shed for you and for the many.” Then we would have had an expression in English that was still faithful to the Greek of the bible and the Latin of the liturgy, and it would have expressed the mission of Jesus more accurately. It would have diminished the need for the proper catechesis on a line from the mass that seems to be saying something else. In French, for example, the translation has said that Jesus died “for the multitude.” That word, too, captures the mission of Jesus, while remaining faithful to his words at the Last Supper.

In other words, the translation doesn’t accurately render either the Latin original or its Biblical source. So we need ‘catechesis’ to explain the error. But, Fr Turner goes on to say, this is an opportunity for us all to get to know our Bible better!

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound? If one mistranslation helps us get to know the Bible better, why not add some more?


why don't we all just say "the many". - another online petition perhaps? IF every priest agrees to this they would HAVE to accept it.

Spirit of Vatican II

Pour vous et pour la multitude...

The French is always so finely nuanced. The Vatican will get around to hatcheting it in time.


Thank you Cor ad Cor loquitur. for finally saying what I have been thinking about pro multis for years. I can't claim to know latin well, but multis is a plural, and thus it should not be "many" but something like "for the manies" or in better english; for the multitudes. "The many" would be better, and that is what I shall say, if forced. FYI, the Germans are even now beginning this same process of Latinization.

cor ad cor loquitur

Msgr Harbert's talks claim that the ICEL translators made choice after choice, all based on their desire for a more scriptural, more reverent liturgy.

It is clear, in fact, that they made very few choices, because they were following the instruction of the (badly named) Liturgiam Authenticam, and translating word-for-word, phrase-for-phrase. Indeed, to the extent that they did make substantive choices, they were going against L.A.'s insistence on literal rendering. Where there were difficult choices to be made, they seem to have been lazy -- e.g. "consubstantial". Let the puzzled laity work it out, with the help of their catechists. Qu'ils mangent de la brioche...

I heard Msgr Harbert's talk as nothing more than an ex post rationalisation for a shoddy job of translating.

On "dew" and "dewfall", perhaps they could borrow a line from Gilbert and Sullivan and turn it into a verb: "while sympathetic tears my cheeks bedew..."

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