Following up on the previous post about the Church being anything but catholic (universal), or according to Pope Benedict a “synthesis” it is again witnessed in his willingness, or, perhaps desire is more accurate term to allow only groups that he agrees with into the Church.
This is seen in the new translation of the Roman Missal. This is best illustrated in the new changes to the consecration. In the current Mass, the priest when consecrating the cup says “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” In the Tridentine Mass at the same moment he says “Hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti mysterium fidei:qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum” (for this is the chalice of my Blood of the new and everlasting testament:the mystery of faith: which for you and for many will be shed unto the remission of sins).
Without getting into intense theological debates, as to who Christ died for be it, all Christians, all humanity (regardless of religious belief), and the consequences of his Death and Resurrection and the salvation that brings and to who, I regretabbly have neither the knowledge or ability to engage in any of these debates, to change something so fundamental as the Mass to say the Christ’s death was only for many and not all seems to be totally antithetical to Christ’s teaching. Those who support it say that the accuracy of the translation is paramount and that there is no Hebrew word for “all”, as we would define it, so when the Hebrews said “all” they actually meant God. Thus, say modern scholars who support the incoming changes, “many” is a more accurate translation and in no way is meant to exclude people. Yet, that is essentially what the Church is doing despite what it says.
Fr Michael Ryan writing in America, the liberal Catholic magazine says that the new translations (of which pro multis is just one) says that Sacrosanctum Concilium “was not just the pet project of a party but the overwhelming consensus of the bishops of the world. Its adoption passed overwhelmingly: 2,147 to 4.” However Fr Ryan seems to be missing the point. The current line from the Curia is that the Council’s implementation of these documents is the issue, not the documents themselves. I do take issue with his criticism of Summorum Pontificum that Rome has led to the “endorsement, even encouragement, of the so-called Tridentine Mass”. This maybe so but it is right that the admittedly small group of people that are attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite should be able to freely attend this without difficultly.
Ryan continues noting that “the council also wisely made provision for times of experimentation and evaluation (S.C., No. 40)—something that has been noticeably missing in the present case.” This would be an excellent idea but how would it work. Would the bishops report back to Rome about how the priests/faithful recieve the new translations? Would Rome pay attention?
I do admire Ryan when he says that “it could also be a show of loyalty and plain good sense—loyalty not to any ideological agenda but to our people, whose prayer the new translations purport to improve, and good sense to anyone who stops to think about what is at stake here.” Translations like “and with your spirit”; “consubstantial with the Father”; “incarnate of the Virgin Mary”; “oblation of our service”; “send down your Spirit like the dewfall”; “He took the precious chalice”; “serene and kindly countenance,” where Ryan describes a talk he went to where “passages from the proposed new translation were soberly read aloud by the presenter (I remember especially the phrase from the first eucharistic prayer that currently reads ‘Joseph, her husband,’ but which in the new translation becomes ‘Joseph, spouse of the same virgin’, there was audible laughter in the room.”
He describes that the Church in South Africa implemented the new Missal early and that “The translations were met almost uniformly with opposition bordering on outrage.” He shows great pastoral sensetivity when he says “What if we just said, “Wait, not until our people are ready for the new translations, but until the translations are ready for our people”?” What Church is there without the laity?
Ryan points to Bishop Donald Trautman and his attempts to slow down the implementation of the new missal as well as the substantial and easy to understand arguments against it. He is justifiably damming of the US bishops who Ryan says “abandoned their best pastoral instincts and in so doing gave up on the best interests of their people.” Ryan ends with an appeal for a period of consultation with the local bishop which I somehow think won’t occur, and even if it does it will only delay the inevitable introduction of these clumsy, awkward texts.
In a counterpoint to Ryan’s article, Fr Peter Stravinskas supports the new translations. He says that “Ideology, it seemed, had taken precedence over accuracy.” He says that after the Second Vatican Council he assisted in the translation of what is now called the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and that he was stunned to see that “The goal was to capture the general meaning of the text, rather than a faithful rendering of a rich and historically layered Latin prose. I tried to work within these parameters, but I found it difficult to do and still remain true to the original text. My translations were evidently unsatisfactory because, upon submitting them, I was politely but firmly uninvited from serving on the commission.”
He describes how the English translations that were approved in the period after the Council were one of the most “egregious” of all the translations. He says that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published “Liturgiam Authenticam setting forth a coherent philosophy of translation. The document called for revised translations in keeping with these norms and the establishment of an oversight committee, Vox Clara, to ensure the fidelity of future translations.” Stravinskas says that “present efforts are precisely seeking to reclaim ‘the great vision of the council’s’ constitution.” He goes on to say that “So much of what I have witnessed or had described to me by eyewitnesses has been nothing shy of a betrayal of the council’s great vision and, in my judgment, largely responsible for the rapid emptying of the pews.”
This opinion is common in some Church circles, that there needs to be a restatement of the traditional doctrines and then the (Western, Central European and North American) people will come flooding back to the pews. There is no discussion in the debate on the increased wealth in these parts of the world and thus when people’s material desires are met, however shallow and unfulfilling they might be, many people see no need to attend Church and worship the Divine. There are naturally other issues at stake such as the French Revolution and the Enlightenment being seen, almost universally, as the unquestioned zenith of Western, perhaps even world, thought and a light to be shone on the darkness of other continents and peoples who still see fit to think of the world around them and the possibility of the life to come, whatever that might be.
Stravinskas continues arguing that the new translations are just one example of an attempt to make “the sacred mysteries palpable.” And while those more attuned to Fr Ryan’s point of view have an argument, let us not forget the excesses that can exist on that side of those on the liturgical debate.
There are some simple measures that do not need to involve committeees or senior offices in the Roman Curia that would be extremely effective and not sacrifice the true meaning of the liturgy and the teachings of Jesus. Stravinskas is correct when he says that ” a few observers have noted that much of the liturgical change that occurred after the council—both officially sanctioned as well as in explicit violation of church law—would have been unthinkable to the council fathers.”
The new translations adhere rigourously to the literal translation of the original texts and not to the pastoral instincts that should always guide the Church. It is this legalism that is coming back. I am not against rules, far from it, but there seems to be a gap between what Jesus said and what the Church says and I can only hope that such a gap becomes less wide and not more.
Iesus ora pro nobis