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March 25, 2009



What was the purpose of "going back" to the Tridentine liturgy?

Wasn't the theology of that liturgy not only "outdated" but, given the recent historical knowledge of the history of the liturgy, erroneous?

Why not go back, (if one is still so inclined), to what the liturgy was before the Great Schism?

I'd like to see an adaptation of the Chrysostom Liturgy as the Roman one.

The St. Basil Liturgy is really effective for Lent. A great summary of salvation history in the Anaphora.

Given what I've seen, the Vatican just wants to go back to 1959.

Spirit of Vatican II

Evagrius, please note that this is another and potentially far more damaging matter: the new English translations of the liturgy are appalling, and in parts meaningless, because they are based on a false literalistic theory of translation and because they adopt a slavish fetishism in regard to Latin. An example: "Dignum et iustum est," becomes "It is right and just" -- the word "just" reveals a tin ear for the connotations of the Latin.

The Vatican are very determined to push these bad translations on the English speaking faithful, and this push is accompanied by a snide campaign against Paul VI, accused of having softened church doctrine by blessing the 1970s ICEL translations. The whole affair stinks.

It is a blessing that South Africa has jumped the gun, for the reaction there will give the whole Church an inkling of what the reaction in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland would be.


I have little knowledge of Latin. I do remember some from the Latin Mass.

The phrase you quote does seem to have multiple meanings or rather, unclear meanings in English.

The 'Net shows some translating it as "right and just", others as "meet and right", others as "truly meet and right" etc; I remember it as "it is truly meet and right".

It's obvious that the translators aren't poets.

Similar language controversies exist in Orthodox churches regarding translations.

Again, the same problem. No poets.

Spirit of Vatican II

Quite so, and the reason there are no poets is that the faceless committees in charge of translation did not even think of calling on their services. The French translation is superior because a poet was employed on it (Patrice de la Tour du Pin). Cranmer ('It is meet and right so to do') had a feeling for language. The authors of the controverted new translation have none at all, neither for English nor for Latin, and worse -- they think that such considerations are irrelevant. The Neocaths poured contempt on the one American bishop who has spoken up about this, and who warns that the new translations will be a pastoral disaster: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/06/bishop-donald-t.html.

Bernard Brandt

Oh, goodness, such a rich feast of thought here! I cannot help but throw my tuppence-worth in.

As regards Africa, it must be noted that for many there, English is a second language, and often takes the form of a pidgin or creole. It is not surprising that many there may not be able to understand the new translation.

That said, I fear that you are right, Fr. O'Leary, and the new translation is just another in a series of liturgies that suck.

This is not to say that the old ICEL version was much better, as the committeemen who kludged that one together appear to have been both poetically and spiritually tone-deaf. Their successors, alas, are not much better in that regard.

I will repeat that I would have no problem with you, Fr. O'Leary, being the sole translator for the English translation of the Roman Divine Liturgy. I think that you would do a much better job than the present lot.


I agree with you that the Divine liturgies of Ss. Chrysostom and Basil are far superior to the present mess of the Mass. From what I can see, much of that mess has to do with the translation; I have no problem with the revisions themselves, which either harken back to the riches of earlier rites (e.g., the Gregorian and Mozarabic Sacramentaries), or are attempts to introduce Byzantine riches (such as the prokeimenon) to the West.

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