I wrote the article below for the parish bulletin to introduce a series of short articles to help us prepare for the new translations.
Becoming Familiar with the New Translations of the Mass
In January, we began to talk about the new English translations of the Mass that we will begin to use in Advent. In February, our homilies focused on explaining the four parts of the Mass. (If you missed any of that you can find out more by going to our parish web site, www.ourladyofthelakescc.org and click on “Understanding the Mass.”). As it gets closer to Advent, it’s time to take a deeper look at the new translations.
Our celebration of Mass is the most important thing we do as Catholics. The Church uses the phrase, lex orandi, lex credendi, what we pray is what we believe. The whole intent of the new translations is to make sure the words we pray are what we believe. While at first the new translations may be strange, we will adapt quickly.
The official prayers of the Mass are written in Latin and translated into other languages. The Latin text did change some in 2000 but is basically the same as when it was written post-Vatican II. There are more changes in the English.
For instance, in the third Eucharistic Prayer, the opening paragraph currently includes the phrase so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name while the new translation will say so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name. It is changing from a geographic reference (east to west) to a time reference (rising of the sun to its setting). Again, the Latin was always the later. Either wording may seem nice. What is lost in making it a geographic reference is the origin of the phrase. It comes from Malachi 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations” (cf. Psalm 113:3). We are changing the English translation to help understand the origins of the words.
Another example to show why we are changing the translations is seen in what we call the Memorial Acclamation. The priest begins it currently “let us proclaim the mystery of faith” which will be shortened to “The mystery of faith.” For the past 25 years, there has been four options for the people to respond with. Two of the most common are “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus come in glory” and “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” In the Latin, there are only three options. The two I just mentioned are translated from the same Latin text. I never would have guessed that because the translations are so different. It shows how loosely some of the translations were done. In the new English translations, these two options will become one translated as “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.”
Change is not easy. Some of the current translation may seem more friendly while the new translation may seem “formal” or “stuffy.” Does God not deserve good words?
Starting next week, there will be a short article inside the bulletin each week helping us to know the scriptural references for some of the texts, explain the meaning of new words, and why we say what we do.