Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The old new translation of the Mass

The Toronto Star has been following the introduction of the new translation, and on Nov 29, 2011, ran an editorial about it. It was mostly respectful, though they were a bit bemused by it all. One thing caught my eye, the notion that people over 60 would probably take to it 'like a duck to water'. The assumption appears to be that if you are older, you will be familiar with it and like it. They forget that what we older folks had was Latin in the actual Mass. Anyway, I sent the following letter to the Editor:

"The revised wording of the Catholic Mass is certainly getting mixed reviews, as you pointed out. But what made you think that we in the 60-plus range would take to it ‘like ducks to water’? We are old enough to appreciate the ‘dynamic equivalence’ principle that was used after Vatican II in the 1960’s, to give us a language that sounded at all like the one we use everyday. The new translation is not new. It is essentially the one that ran side by side with the Latin in our old prayer books. It was there so we would know what the Latin was saying. But it was clunky then and it is clunky now.

Faithfulness to the ‘original Latin’ is the principle that has now moved us backward, and so a great opportunity has been missed to fine tune the post-Vatican II translation and make the liturgy even more warm and inviting. By the way, the original language of the Mass was not Latin but Greek. The Latin itself is a third-century translation (Catholic Encyclopedia). It would seem that those who led the charge on this change are not the 60-plus group but rather those who always thought Vatican II was wrong in moving from the Latin, and who have lived long enough to take it back a bit. That said, we’ll be ok, because the Mass remains a beautiful prayer in any language."

We will get used to it at some level, and yes the Mass remains beautiful. My own sentiment is that they went in the wrong direction here. Just saying.

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