Thursday, September 08, 2011

Missal After the Passage of Time

Thinking Faith: The Online Journal of the British Jesuits, offers broad and learned insight, reflection and educational articles as well as reviews (books and film). Writers examine the tradition of the church as well as our contemporary world to uncover God working in all things.

In the recent issue Frances Novillo "takes an extended look at the new translation [of the Roman Missal being implemented now through catechesis in parishes], placing it in its historical context, explaining the principles that informed the translators and reviewing the changes that have been made to the text."

Her first part reviews well the "historical context." Well known is the fact that
the changes to the words of the liturgy have generated strong reactions. The concerns raised demonstrate a commendable interest in the text. If these changes were received without comment, it would signify that what is said and heard at Mass is of no importance and that would be regrettable. Even the most vehement opponent of the new translation is witnessing powerfully to the importance of the Mass. However, is a particular word or phrase lost or found really the pearl of great price?
The author also noted that the document, which had set the principles of translation for the missal used since 1974 to the present, "recognises the necessary task of future translators, saying: ‘Above all, after sufficient experiment and passage of time, all translations will need review.'"

Another note well made is that the years of exposure to more scripture texts at mass can allow people to recognize scriptural allusions in the new translation. Of course, those allusions were in the Latin texts for the mass; the revised translations will allow English-speakers to hear them again.

Catholics in their 40s have known only the current missal. Catholics over 40 survived the steeper shift from Latin to vernacular. The elder Catholics can encourage younger Catholics that they, too, will survive and more.

Read Frances Novillo's first part of her essay for a good appreciation of the context of the latest edition of the Roman Missal. Continue with its second part for a look at her review of changes Catholics will be hearing soon---on the First Sunday of Advent.
Image of cover of soon-to-be-released Roman Missal, 3d edition, at USCCB site.

No comments: