Monday, October 26, 2009

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis

How is praying the rosary daily during this month of the rosary going? Today presents a fresh opportunity to start anew on this last week of the month. On Mondays we are encouraged to meditate on the Joyful Mysteries, events in the great unfolding of the mystery of our redemption in the world.

Deacon Greg Kandra, writing on The Deacon's Bench, posts a story about "pastoral" objections to the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which Bishop Donald Trautman characterizes as "slavish" and "elitist." Therefore, he objects to it because "[t]he vast majority of God's people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the new missal like 'ineffable,' 'consubstantial,' 'incarnate,' 'inviolate,' 'oblation,' 'ignominy' 'precursor,' 'suffused' and 'unvanquished.' The vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic." Ironically, this strikes me as a bit elitist, not giving many people in the assembly their due. It also presents us with an opportunity to teach the faith by (re)acquainting people with these words, words that are appropriate to use with regard to the mysterium tremendum. Sacred language is always different from everyday, ordinary language. After all, sacred means set apart, consecrated for a religious purpose. In all, I think the reform of the reform is a response to how irrelevant being relevant quickly becomes, especially in worship.

The only part of the retranslation that I really have difficulty with is changing "one in being with the Father" in the Creed to "consubstantial with the Father." My reason for this is that, despite the fact that the latter is a more literal translation of the Latin "consubstantialem Patri," it does not capture the original symbol of faith, which in the original Greek is homoousios, as well as "one in being."

Let's keep our bishops in prayer as they prepare to meet next month and complete their work on the collects for the new translation of missal, the ordinary of which has already been approved by the Holy See. You can see it for yourself here.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Veni Sancti Spiritus, veni per Mariam.


  1. I think his excellency of Erie is unfamiliar with the dictionary and assumes we are too.

  2. Bp. Trautman seems to be doing his best to embody my dad's jokes about liturgists. I read the article in CRO and it sounded like some of his objections could be valid (sentences that weren't actual sentences and so forth) but since I haven't seen the translation it's hard to say whether he's got a real complaint or is exaggerating. I'd be inclined to suspect the latter if he seriously thinks that most English-speaking Catholics don't understand the word "incarnate." (And if they really don't, as you said, why not teach it to them? They could be readily learned in CCD, for example. As for the adults, if he absolutely must, put a glossary in the back of the missalette. I don't think it would be much needed, though).

    The distinction between the "sacred" and the "vernacular" is confusing. Is there really any way to separate the two? Bp. Trautman seems to define "sacred" language as the merely unfamiliar. How on earth does "unvanquished" become "sacred" language when "Hallowed be thy name" is somehow comprehensible by the vast majority of English speakers?


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