June 27, 2006

Banish one of the mysteries of faith!

[I published this a couple of months ago. However, the big news that the U.S. bishops voted earlier this month on new translations in the Mass makes it timely to post the following again.]

The Missale Romanum is the Latin book of prayers (and some readings) that priests use in the celebration of the Mass. The English translation of it that we use in the United States is called The Sacramentary.

At every Mass, after the consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest is to say, Mysterium fidei, “The mystery of faith.” The people then respond. In the Missale Romanum, the first option for their response is, Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias, “We announce your death, O Lord, and we confess your resurrection, until you come.” [Note. Before Vatican Council II, these words were part of what the priest alone said as part of the consecration of the wine into the Blood of Christ, and the people made no acclamation after the consecration.] The Missale Romanum offers two other options for the people to use, but these appear in the Appendix towards the back of the book. They are listed in the following numbered order.

1. Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias. (Already translated above)
2. Quotiescumque manducamus panem hunc et calicem bibimus, mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, donec venias. “Each time we eat this bread and drink this chalice, we announce your death, O Lord, until you come.”
3. Salvator mundi, salva nos, qui per crucem et resurrectionem tuam liberasti nos. “Savior of the world, save us, you who by your cross and resurrection have freed us.”

In all the options the Missale Romanum offers, the people speak directly TO Christ himself.

However, things are not so in The Sacramentary of the U.S.A.

The first option to appear in The Sacramentary is, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” It receives emphasis by being listed as the first option (“A”) out of four, and by being the only one printed with a musical setting (unless one turns to one of the appendices in the back of the book, and finds all four of the options set to music there).

Option A, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”, is a failure in several ways.

It fails completely to be a translation of any of the options the Missale Romanum provides; rather it is simply an invention.

It prevents the people from speaking directly TO Christ himself. Instead, they are speaking ABOUT Christ. To whom are the people speaking when this option is used? To themselves? To each other? To the priest? To non-Catholics? To non-Christians? No one really knows.

This is the so-called “mystery of faith” that needs to be banished. It simply is a failure.

What about the other options in The Sacramentary?

B. Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.
C. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.
D. Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.

Notice that not one of them is a translation of the first option of the Missale Romanum. The closest is “B”, which manages to contain the themes of Option 1 from the Missale Romanum, but is really not a translation of it. Option 1 of the Missale Romanum is simply missing from the translations or options appearing in The Sacramentary.

Option C in The Sacramentary is acceptable as a translation of Option 2 from the Missale Romanum.

Option D in The Sacramentary is a PARTIAL translation of Option 3 from the Missale Romanum. What’s missing is the people’s request, “Save us!”— salva nos.

We do not sing at the weekday Masses in my parish. I choose to banish Option A, and never use it. The one I prefer is Option D, since its first word makes it clear that we are speaking directly to Christ. “LORD, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.”


Blogger Scott said...

Father, thank you for these articles. They are very informative and helpful.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous TheresaMF said...

Yes, very good to know. Previously I thought all of the English versions were fabrications, as the only one I ever hear when attending Mass in Latin is the "Mortem tuam annuntiamus" version. Glad to know at least the idea of options isn't made up.

8:31 PM  

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