Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Monday, July 16, 2007

On the new translation on the Roman Missal

The following is the essential content of a letter sent today to the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) and the International Committee on the Use of English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The letter further commends the fine work of the translators.
This content appeared previously but has been edited here. The old posting is found in the archives.

I am writing in response to the invitation of The Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie, printed in his May 12, 2007 article in America, to "speak up" regarding the English translations of the Roman Missal. While I appreciate the Bishop’s concern for the participation of the faithful in the Liturgy, I find the language of the new prayers that he cites to be beautiful, inspiring, and an eloquent linguistic expression of the splendor of the Catholic faith. I desire to share my thoughts with you on this matter of translations.

I believe that three essential considerations must be noted in this discussion of translations. First, the Christian Faith, which we celebrate in the Sacred Liturgy, is rich beyond compare and deserves a form of language that, despite the inadequacy of any human words to express the mysteries of faith, is the best means of transmitting those sublime mysteries. It makes no sense to use common language to express what is anything but ordinary. The words chosen for liturgical prayer should be our best words, our most eloquent constructions, the words of poetry. Of course liturgy should resonate with culture. Yet, it should be recognized that the authentic culture of English-speaking peoples is more than the language of every-day conversation. The Church has the opportunity to be instrumental in preserving that culture for future generations through her liturgical texts.

Second, we clergy should give our Catholic faithful the respect that they deserve. They are not incapable of grasping the complexities of the English language. Seeking the lowest common denominator in liturgical language, in order to ensure that the people understand every word, undermines the sense of mystery and the uniqueness of the Liturgy. I believe that the new prayers, in their beauty and depth, are just what our people need and will be joyfully accepted by those who hear them. The people are hungering for the truth of our Faith and for a deeper experience of the Church. They will welcome liturgical prayers with rich vocabulary. In those instances where a prayer is not easily comprehendible, there is a teachable moment, wherein a person can grow in his understanding of both the faith and his own mother tongue.

Third, prayers of rich vocabulary and complex syntax require particular attention in liturgical proclamation. Sentences filled with descriptive adjectives and segmented with dependent clauses need to be read slowly and with care. Furthermore, time needs to be devoted to rehearsing the prayers beforehand, especially when they are to be sung. This presents an additional challenge for the celebrant in his preparation for, and celebration of, the Sacred Liturgy. It is a challenge I welcome.

The new prayers of the Roman Missal will, in my own humble estimation, communicate the mysteries of faith in a new and more abundant manner. I believe we shall, as Catholic clergy and people, fall in love with their eloquence and through them be drawn ever deeper into the mysteries of our Faith.

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