Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The new English translation of the Roman Missal, Ordinariate liturgy

Will the new translation cause Mass confusion?

The Catholic Bishops of Conference of the Philippines will implement the new English translation of the Mass starting Advent 2012. This will give enough time for the bishops to familiarize their flocks on the new translation. A catechetical guide has been published authored by liturgist Fr Anscar Chupungco to help priests familiarize their congregations.

The new translation has been in the works since 2000 when Pope John Paul II ordered a new translation that corrects errors in the 1973 translation. The 1973 translation was a "sense" translation while the new one is a more literal translation from the Latin. The US Catholic Bishops conference has published sample texts here.

The new translation is more faithful to the original Latin. For example in the words of consecration it uses the word "Chalice" instead of "Cup" which the 1973 translation uses and which all editions and versions of the Book of Common Prayer use. The 1549 BCP translates "calix" as "cuppe".  This is more faithful since the meaning of "cup" has changed since 1549. While "calix" literally translates to "cup", the nuance has changed since when Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer translated the Latin of the Mass into English. "Cup" now is so banal and we can expect to get one at Starbucks or any coffee shop!

Nonetheless the new English translation is in contemporary English. The Roman Catholic Church never had a public English Mass liturgy in what Anglicans still call as "Traditional Language". The closest Anglophone Roman Catholics ever had were the English translations in their Latin Roman Missals. The left pane of each page (often beautifully illustrated) had the Latin said at Mass and the right pane had the English in traditional usage.  These pre Vatican II Missals often used a traditional language similar to what Anglicans used. The English used is quite close to equivalent BCP texts. But Vatican II reforms did away with all of these. Traditional English almost disappeared from the Anglophone Roman Catholic's mindset. This made Anglophone Roman Catholicism culturally poorer.

Anglicans on the other hand struggled with the issue of Traditional and Contemporary English that use of either is an option in the liturgy. The contemporary use as much as possible tries to be faithful to the traditional one.

Filipino bishops are worried that since for over 40 years, Filipino Catholics have been used to the 1973 translations, a quick shift to the new translation may confuse. But this can be overcome by effective catechism. I hope parish priests are up to the challenge. But some traditionalists are much concerned that Fr Chupungco is the author of the prescribed catechism. They note that Fr Chupungco is liturgically trendy!

The proof of the pudding is if people will respond to "The Lord be with you" with "And with your spirit" which is  faithful to the Latin and was first translated into this form by Cranmer in 1549.

The Ordinariate liturgy

Father Aidan Nichols' essay on the Ordinariate liturgy continues here. Fr Nichols gives a historical survey which is required reading for those into Liturgy. What is interesting is that he writes that the Ordinariate liturgy has taken much from really Anglican sources

"There were no comparable difficulties attached to the other texts in the proposed English book: the daily Offices of Mattins and Evensong (to which, following the example of the 1928 proposed Prayer Book, an Office of Compline and a Day Hour were added; the Litany; the Lectionary (for the Office as well as for the Mass), and rites for marriage and funerals – though the inclusion in the latter of explicit prayer for the departed (and not simply for the bereaved) was strengthened by the addition of the Sarum rites for the commendation of the dead person which followed on the Requiem Mass. The calendar proposed was the current seasonal calendar of the Church of England, itself of Sarum origin, together with the cycle of festivals as found in the 1970 General Calendar of the Roman rite, and a number of English or British commemorations, in excess of those in the National Calendar for England and Wales (though not necessarily exceeding the total number if saints in the local calendars of English and Welsh [and Scottish] dioceses were to be added together). There was one unusual feature of the Office of Mattins. Following contemporary Church of England precedent, the second reading at Mattins could be drawn from post-biblical sources. In the context of the Latin church, the Roman rite Office of Readings is an obvious source for these, but the book drafted for the English Ordinariate contains an alternative cycle for Sundays and feasts taken from insular sources. A number of these are taken from patristic writers (Bede, Aldhelm), mediaeval sources (John of Ford, Mother Julian, Nicholas Love), and English Catholic martyrs (Fisher, More, Campion), but the larger number derive from the Anglican patrimony (the Caroline divines and their Restoration successors, the Tractarians with particular reference to Newman, and a selection of later Anglo-Catholic writers). It is, as it were, a testimony to what might have been had the English Reformation proceeded on Catholic lines, as did the Catholic Reformation in much of Continental Europe. No Baptismal liturgy or liturgy for Confirmation has been provided, on the twofold ground that Anglicanism has not produced a version of such a liturgy which has endeared itself to its faithful, and also that there is something especially fitting about the use in an Ordinariate of the rites of the Roman liturgy for Christian initiation, as a sign of belonging to the wider Latin church (and thus to the Catholic Church as a whole). The same congruence might well be ascribed to the use of the Ordination rites of the mainstream Latin church."

The question is whether the Mass books of other Ordinariates will be similar to the English one. What happens to the American Anglican Use? We have to keep posted on these developments.

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