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November 02, 2009


Gene O'Grady

I'm afraid my own initial reactions were more frivolous -- "kind admittance to your kingdom" made immediately think they must mean Disneyland, and "fruit of the vine" brought to mind a bad (New Christy Minstrels?) song from my long past youth that referenced "bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when ya gonna let me get sober?"

More seriously, I was reminded by language like "bestow" of the advantages in terms of loving language, archaism and all, that came to me in my youth from the language of worship. But it couldn't have been this bad (although "he whom thou didst deserve to bear" isn't exactly on the level of great poetry, and I know that I would never have tried to teach my own kids to appreciate this kind of language, if for no other reason than that they're far too literate in popular culture of the last hundred years (retro kids I have) not to break out laughing every time they come acros unintended humor. If I wanted them to appreciate that sort of linguistic tradition, they could always learn Latin, or, as per the last post, learn to read Milton.


I can only believe that the offices of the vatican have been captured by those trying to drive people out of the Catholic church. Perhaps they are masons? or communists?

cor ad cor loquitur

The loquacious Fr Zuhlsdorf has a post focused on the translations.

The blame for these idiotic translations has to be placed with Liturgiam Authenticam, not the translators. Given the silly instruction to translate word-for-word, what else could they produce?

St Jerome had this all figured out hundreds of years ago, when he wrote to Pammachius (letter 57) about translations:

Quam vos veritatem interpretationis, hanc eruditi κακοζηλίαν nuncupant

(What men like you call "fidelity in transcription" [or, we might say, slavishly accurate translations], the learned term "pestilent minuteness".)

He also wrote that

Si ad verbum interpretor, absurde resonant.

("If I render word for word, the result will sound like nonsense")

I fear, though, that Bp Trautman is wasting his time: the dullards in the Vatican won't listen any more than the members of Fr Z's claque do.

It will be interesting to see what happens in UK and US parishes when these bad translations are, as they say, "rolled out".

If you haven't read the recent books on liturgy by John Baldovin SJ (Reforming the Liturgy, A Response to the Critics) and Peter Jeffery (Translating Tradition) I highly recommend them. Jeffery's book deconstructs Liturgiam Authenticam respectfully but surgically; he calls it "the most ignorant statement on liturgy ever issued by a modern Vatican congregation".

cor ad cor loquitur

Incidentally, is there a source for the prayers (collects, postcommunions, super oblata, etc.) in the new translation? I'm sure they will be butchered even more than the ordinary parts of the Mass.

Spirit of Vatican II

Thanks for your comments, cor. I believe Jerome did not follow his usual policy when translating Scripture. Here is the link for Bishop Trautman's latest effort to stop the train -- or to throw himself under it! http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/liturgy-needs-not-sacred-language-pastoral-language

Spirit of Vatican II

I believe the preces are better translated than the canons -- the standard Latin syntactical structures probably produce a better result than the flatly paratactic prayers currently in use. But improved versions of these prayers were presented to Rome in 1998 and Rome turned them down. Thus the whole English speaking world has had to continue to live with those unprayable sawdust texts. The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed -- again and again. Despite the billions of dollars spent financing the Vatican it is monumentally incompetent!


Here's the Collect for the 1st Sunday of Advent:

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your faithful may resolve to run forth with righteous deeds, to meet your Christ who is coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.

Sounds almost impossible to say out loud, doesn't it? "faithful" as a noun? "resolve to run forth"? "they may be worthy"? ugly is as ugly sounds!

Listen to the 1998 version that the Vatican rejected:

"Almighty God, strengthen the resolve of your faithful people to prepare for the coming of your Christ by works of justice and mercy, so that when we go forth to meet him he may call us to sit at his right hand and possess the kingdom of heaven."

Spirit of Vatican II

gedsmk I am gobsmacked by the contrast -- I am googling to see will your texts show up on the internet.

cor ad cor loquitur

Joseph, I'll be surprised if the prayers are translated any better than the canon. There are only snippets of them on the internet so far, but what has appeared is not encouraging.

Here's the post-communion for 28th August, the feast of St Augustine. The Latin is

Sanctíficet nos, quaesumus, Domine, mensae Christi participatio, ut, eius membra effecti, simus quod accepimus

which the enlightened new translators have rendered

May the partaking of the table of Christ
sanctify us, we pray, O Lord,
that, being made his members,
we may be what we have received.

I am told that maple tables are especially tasty when served with melted butter.


I've got this:
"May partaking of the table of Christ
sanctify us, we pray, O Lord,
that, having become his members,
we may be what we have received."
- not much of an improvement

1998 ICEL renders it in such a way that we don't eat the table!
"Sanctify us, O God,
by our sharing at the table of the Lord,
so that, made members of his body,
we may become what we have received."


Here's another interesting one:
8th September Prayer "over the offerings" (sic)

1998 ICEL first:
Let the humanity of your only-begotten Son
come to our aid.
As the birth of Christ from the Virgin Mother
did not diminish but rather consecrated her virginity,
so may he take away our sins
and make our offering acceptable to you.

Becomes something like a Hammer Horror in the new version:
"As we joyfully celebrate
the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
we offer you our gifts, O Lord,
humbly imploring that we may draw strength
from the humanity of your Son,
who from the Virgin was pleased to take flesh."

Andy K

I found the root cause for the quality of these translations. I plugged some of the Latin text into http://translate.google.com/. It came back:

"We are not yet able to translate from Latin into English."

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