Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting the New Translation Right

If you read the National Catholic Reporter long enough, your I.Q. will drop a point or two. Read it too often and you'll soon become legally stupid.

I came across one comment that just sent me in a fit. I figured, because I haven't posted in a long while, I'd answer it here. Maybe it will help others who have their own hang-ups over the new translation, or just general questions about particular parts.

Original in orange, my answers in white. I've left the misspellings and grammatical problems alone, although I've noted some of the spelling issues.

Perhaps I should resign from Church attendance because some of the changes go against the integrity of my conscience and do not make sense liturgically, biblically and theologically...

1. I am silent at "greatly" sinned and I do not strike my breast. I adore and surrender my life to God but I don't grovel before God. If I am not conscious of serious sin because my life is turned to God in service and prayer, the current confiteor leaves no distinction between venial and mortal sin.

You don't grovel before G-d? You don't grovel before the Supreme Being, the Greatest Possible Being, the L-rd and King of All? My, aren't you sure of yourself. We should grovel before G-d (just look at the Old Testament, especially Job and the Psalms!), but the amazing thing is that as we grovel, G-d picks us back up ad holds us, like the father from the parable of the prodigal son.

Furthermore, I'm sure that at some point in your life you have greatly sinned. We, as a collective body, have certainly greatly sinned (the abuse crisis, the fact that there is still poverty and hunger, the sex slave trade, etc.) So the Confiteor comes from us as both a collective body and as particular people. If it isn't true personally, it is true collectively (unless, of course, you would like the Latin Rite to tailor the liturgy to your personal situation).

2. I leave out "roof" and "soul"... "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed" works for me. Tonight at Eucharist, I needed my body healed too. I bring all of me to God for healing not just a "soul". And God has said the Word: Jesus... [sic] and He has made me worthy to approach and receive. It is hard to explain why that particular scripture passage (under my roof) is so important here. Yes, I know it is what we said 40 some years ago.

Let's start with soul: the Eucharist exists to primarily heal our souls. The other Sacraments are the same. Confession, for example, almost exclusively heals our souls. Sometimes the Eucharist (and the other Sacraments) heals our bodies, but not usually. In fact, it's usually considered a miracle if one of the Sacraments has a physical healing.

Therefore, it's not odd at all to use the word soul. In fact, it makes more sense to use soul than not to use soul. And, in the end, what matters more? A healed soul or a healed body? While the Catholic Church doesn't subscribe to the entirety of Platonism, She would answer "a healed soul."

But what about roof? The reason the particular Scripture passage is so important is because it is the basis for what we are saying right there. In other words, the sentence was placed there in the Mass because of the verse. Instead of jettisoning bits and pieces of the Scripture verse, it was kept in that phrase's entirety. Besides, is it really such a hang-up? Is that really so much an issue (bringing back a word that is in the original) that one would "resign from Church attendance?" Talk about making a mole hill!

3. In the Gloria, I can't pray for peace ONLY for "people of good will" What about all the other people? To be Christ-like, I must love (all) others as He has loved me (Gospel of John). And at the consecration: "many" and "all," at least in English, signify 2 different things.

Those darned angels. Why didn't they say what you did? If it's good enough for the angels to say, it's good enough for you. I don't know why they said what they did, but it is what they said. If you have a problem, take it up with them.

Sure we pray for peace for all peoples, BUT we are here quoting the angels from Luke. Most of what is said in Mass are direct quotes or partial quotes from Scripture. So, while we do wish peace for all peoples, we are quoting from a verse that does not make that explicit (although, couldn't we assume it's implicit? Must everything be so explicit for you?)

4. In the Nicene Creed: the Only Begotten Son of God,"born" of the Father before all ages..." In English and perhaps the minds of many, "born" signifies time; "begotton" [Sic] was vague enough to signify "always" Father in relations to Son and Spirit... how many will think the Trinity "began" in time?

I have no clue what this person is trying to say here. But I might have a slight idea:

There are people who believe that the Son was created at the "Incarnation" (they're called "Everyone who isn't a Christian"). Furthermore, there are two different levels taking place here:
1. It must be established that, in fact, Christ was born. He came to earth, born of a virgin. In other words, Ha had a created, physical body.
2. It must also be established that Christ has always existed. He was born of the Father (processional, Trinitarian language. I can get into it, and I do in my thesis, but that would be too long of a caveat), but outside of time.

5. Also in Nicene Creed: "he suffered death and was buried" We will ALL "suffer death". Before when we said "He suffered, died, and was buried" we held in that word "suffered" the depths of His Passion, His pouring out His life in love for us.

The fact that this is part of the Creed means that it's translation should be as accurate as possible. We have lost our understanding of the importance of Creeds, but they used to be the end-all-be-all (and still technically are!). Remember, it was over the Creeds that all schisms occurred in the Early Church, all the way up to the Protestant Reformation (which was not a schism, nor was it over a Creed).

The Creeds' language and word choice is not something we simply argue about. We must say it as accurately as possible within the Mass. Then, if we want, we can argue about the particular language of the Creed outside of Mass. Within the context of Mass, however, we are not and should not be granted the ability to pick and choose the words we use. The Creeds are too important for that!

6. Lastly, from the 1st sign of the cross to the last, I/we are praying the Eucharist. Why do we have to hear "we pray" over and over. Isn't that what we are doing. When I am talking to someone, I don't say "I speak" over and over.

The priest only states "we pray" 4 times during Mass (if using Eucharistic Prayer I). That does not really constitute "over and over."

Furthermore, people do say "I speak" over and over when they speak for a collective body. Watch a Congressional committee meeting. The people that are giving testimony will often say "we think" or "we say" or "we believe" a few times (certainly 4 times during an hour).

Why? Because they are speaking for a collective body as a collective body. The priest does the same during Mass. The priest is speaking for us to G-d, and he is at the same time speaking with us to G-d.

In other words, it makes sense and you exaggerate.

For more information on the "why" of the different parts of the new translation, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have an online commentary (you can find the people's parts here and the priest's parts here).

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