June 23, 2006

What's at stake in a new translation?

Click on the following chart to see a larger version of it.

That's only the Gloria.

There are too many similar AND WORSE flaws throughout the English version of the Mass we presently have in use.

There are deliberate gaping HOLES in it.

Here is another example.

Eucharistic Prayer I has the following phrase in Latin.
hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitae aeternae.

Here is a rather literal translation of it.
a pure victim, a holy victim, a spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life.

Now, here is what we are presently using in English.
this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life.

The Latin word "hostiam" can mean both "victim" and "sacrifice".

However the problem is that the word appears three times in the Latin original, but is AMPUTATED down to only once in our present English version.

That is NOT a translation.

Then, the Latin uses an adjective five times:

However, our present English text uses adjectives only twice:

That is an AMPUTATION again, NOT a translation.


Some years ago, the English so-called "translators" (I.C.E.L., "International Commission on English in the Liturgy") used by the U.S. bishops began to produce an even newer "translation" of the Mass, but they did even more amputating and also alteration.

The Vatican reviewed their new work, and then pointed out that I.C.E.L. clearly had an agenda of NOT translating, but of PURGING and CHANGING the texts.

Telling that to the U.S. bishops, the Vatican finally directed them to replace their I.C.E.L. translators and to re-structure the I.C.E.L. bylaws.

The U.S. bishops complied.

This month the bishops voted to approve the new translation work which the Vatican is also overseeing.

The texts they voted on were some of the responses of the people during Mass.

Translation of the rest of the Mass is yet to come.

- - - -

Read an excellent article on the translating of the Mass.
Click HERE for it.


Anonymous Bob Farrell said...


The more I learn, the more I realize I HAVE BEEN RIPPED-OFF!!

If I end up in hell, I am going to sue the pants off the USCCB for malpractice!!

First it was a completely inadequate faith formation, then it was a lousy translation of scripture, now I find that the translation of the Mass is (self-censor a crudity) "less than optimal".

I appreciate JPII more and more everyday.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Bob, hell for you might mean being WITH members of the USCCB.

Always pray for the pope, bishops and priests whenever you go to Mass! They NEED it.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Deacon DW said...

It looks like the new translation will be much more accurate. I'd be interested in knowing which bishops were opposed to it. Our weekly diocesan e-pistle, issued today, said that the new translation has to go to Rome for approval and will not be implemented for two or three years. I would imagine there will be some parish level grumbling no matter what, but it's not like no one knew it was coming.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Fr Tim Finigan said...

My "favourite" defective translation is where "accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas" (taking this glorious chalice into his holy and venerable hands) is translated as...

"He took the cup"

4:14 PM  
Anonymous CaesarMagnus said...

People have no idea how "shortchanged" they have been over the last 40 years. And people think they are getting more out of the vernacular.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Mass. I receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. I am so unworthy of His unfathomable Love or of even looking upon His presence in the consecrecrated host. Yet, there He is for all who seek Him. There God opens His arms to His children by allowing us to participate through time and space with that single perfect sacrifice.

At Mass, I am so overfilled with His Blessings that it never occurred to me to walk away feeling short changed because someone omitted a superlative from a prayer.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm sure there never was an intention to short-change you or any other worshipper.

However, it is the mission of every Christian in the Church to give God the best. The Mass is not only about my getting filled or about your getting filled. It is about pouring out our individual selves for God in worship; and it is about the collective body of Christians, the Church, pouring itself out collectively in worship offered up to God.

No matter how you may personally feel, the fact remains that people have believed they had received a translation. What they received was false.

We collectively owe to God the best efforts we can make.

We have an obligation to do far better than what has been in use.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous araceli said...

The new translation is closer to the liturgy I knew when I was a girl, before Vatican II. Well, thank goodness for that. The current English version we are using is just too banal.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Henry Dieterich said...

Take a look here for my wife's explanation of how we got around the editing in the Nuptial Blessing at our recent wedding.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous c matt said...


Perhaps we can get a class action certified - all Catholics catechized in the United States between 1966 and 1990. I think things have definitely improved starting in the early '90's. Unfortunately, I fall smack dab in the valley of it all.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

Bob, if you end up in Hell, suing the USCCB should be rather easy. There won't be a jurisdictional problem, because the bishops will be right there with you. And, you won't have any trouble finding a lawyer.

Hanging curve.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you really think the new translation will make a huge difference in the general scheme of things? I am an orthodox(some would label me as a conservative, but we know the church is not a democracy)Catholic, yet I would rather focus on demanding solid preaching from the pulpit, the elimination of gross litergical abuses (i.e. inclusive references when refering to God), as well as a focus on developing a close, persoanl relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of the indiviudal language used. I really doubt Jesus cares what direction the priest is facing, weather we are praying in Latin, English, or Chinese, ...man looks at the exterior, but God looks at the heart.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Argent said...

...man looks at the exterior, but God looks at the heart...

Dear Anonymous, I am an orthodox Catholic, too. This Sunday I am going to use your argument when I show up at church in a bright red thong bikini.

After all, God looks at the heart.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

We learn through language: in kindergarten, gradeschool, etc.-- and also in catechesis, seminary, preaching. We relate through language.

The translations the U.S. bishops voted on this month would only cover one page. The Missal in Latin has over 900 pages.

Consider the following hypothetical phrases that provide an analogy of the dramatic and actual change in attitude and style that the new translations will provide.

- - -
"Please help me"

"I humbly beg for your gracious and merciful assistance."
- - -

We're going to be dealing with more than 900 pages of that kind of difference.

From beginning to end, the attitude and style-- the "personality"-- of the Mass in English is going to change.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The bikini analogy is not synonymous because such a case would be a matter of sin; a gross violation of our duty to be modest, the other example deals with liturgical language, which can be left open to some degree of variation as long as the mass is licit. As far as the other example goes, when I pray I usually do say "Lord, please help me!", like 50 times a day. If I were to say, "I humbly beg for your gracious and merciful assistance" it might sound poetic, but Jesus would know that is not how I speak and I think he would rather hear the actual words from my heart. Which mass would be more pleasing to God, a perfectly executed Tridentine mass, where the incense smells perfect, the people are chanting in melody and on cue, but the hearts of the priest and the clergy are as cold as ice, or a mass attended by a group of Down Syndrome Children, who sing off key, forget responses, but are really praying with a humble contrite heart? I have nothing against the Tridentine mass, or other traditional forms of worship, all I'm saying is that an excessive focus on forms and rituals can lead to a form spiritual snobbery.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

It still remains that a falsehood has been perpetrated in calling a "translation" what is actually an "amputation".

I've already posted the following example.

A correct translation of the Latin introduction to the consecration in Eucharistic Prayer 1 says:
"taking this glorious
chalice into his
holy and venerable hands".

However, our present English version says:
"He took the cup."

There is falsehood in presenting that as a "translation."

The falsehood injures the heart that perpetrates it.

The whole history of human sin was triggered by the serpent misrepresenting (falsifying) what God had to say.

Those who translate the liturgy have an obligation to God, to the Church, to you and to me to translate honestly.

We serve the spiritual welfare of the translators if we hold them accountable.

We also owe to God the best that we can do. If a child with Down's Syndrome worships sincerely, then that is good. However, you and I have no excuse for minimalism.

He commended the poor widow for spending everything she had for the temple of God. She had two coins. She gave both coins, and didn't hold back one for herself. Jesus looked at the outside-- her two coins-- and held her up as an example.

9:35 AM  
Blogger abbeyneil said...

It's not really surprising that the majority of the population in the western world regards the church as irrelevant to today, when the church spends so much time arguing about how good or bad a translation from Latin is. Jesus, I suspect, would despair...

4:38 PM  

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