Cleansing of the Mind

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Here is today's Collect in the Missale Romanum and in the Liturgia Horarum. In the 1962 Missale Romanum it is the Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent.

Excita, Domine, corda nostra
ad praeparandas Unigeniti tui vias,
ut per eius adventum,
purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur.

Bishop England in 1843

The Right Reverend Dr. John England, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina translated this Collect in his 1843 edition of The Roman Missal Translated into English for the Use of the Laity:

Stir up, O Lord, our hearts
to prepare the ways of thy only-begotten Son:
that by his coming
we may be enabled to serve thee with pure minds.

And here is how I translated the same Collect this morning:

Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths of Thine only-begotten Son
that His coming may enable us to serve Thee
with minds that have been cleansed.

The Sacramentary

But in the current Sacramentary we find a prayer that cannot possibly claim to be a translation of the original text.

Almighty Father,
give us the joy of your love
to prepare the way for Christ our Lord.
Help us to serve you and one another.

On Whose Watch?

Why is this "translation," given in the 1970 Sacramentary, still in use after 38 years? Incredible, is it not? Who did this "translation?" And who approved it? And why was it so widely accepted without question? It bears absolutely no resemblance to the original Collect it purports to render in English. It is a flagrant betrayal of the lex orandi.

Deleterious Spiritual Consequences

Did it not occur to the translators of the Sacramentary to consult the first American translation of the Roman Missal, that of Bishop England? Or any other for that matter? I know that the new ICEL translation, in accord with the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam, is on the way, but all the same! Has anyone reflected on the deleterious spiritual consequences of using flawed liturgical texts?

Some Provocative Questions

I have the joy of offering Holy Mass in Latin and in the Extraordinary Form every day so that, personally, this debacle doesn't affect me. I am aware nonethless of the sufferings and problems of conscience that the current Sacramentary inflicts on a number of priests. And what of the faithful deprived for the past forty years of faithful and accurate translations of the liturgy of the Church?

Salus Animarum Est Suprema Lex

In the light of the old axiom so often quoted by canonists and moral theologians, that "the good of souls is the supreme law," would a priest be justified in using an accurate translation of the text the Church wants us to have, the text given in the editio typica, while waiting for the new ICEL translation? Or does a narrow and blind legalism impose the obligatory use of texts that are, even to those with a minimal knowledge of the Missale Romanum, flawed to the extent of depriving souls of actual participation in the prayer of the Church? Is not the good of souls at stake? I'm just asking the questions!


Very good questions!

In the name of "active participation", they have robbed us of the true actuosa participatio.

Somewhere the scriptures speak of souls that perish for lack of knowledge. Ah, the fruits of Vatican II.

Truly, an enemy hath done this.

Padre Mark, cuanto se alegra mi alma ..
Que alegria!! gracias por hacer notorio los herrores que todos hemos cometido...
unos los cometieron .
pero otros los aceptamos y callamos....
ya es tiempo de despertar,ser dignos y valientes...
gracias a dios por que no nos permite caminar a
Dios Padre celestial colme de bendiciones abundantes a muchos otros sacerdotes para que logren entender la gran diferencia.. asi sea..

que alegria saber que usted celebra la misa en latin y la misa tradicional.. son los mejores regalos que usted mismo y todos pueden darle a su sacerdocio santo..
esperando su bendicion

Our opponent was prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour -- and devour he did -- and then vomited these English translations.

Father,you asked "Has anyone reflected on the deleterious spiritual consequences of using flawed liturgical texts?"

I am a simple, relatively uneducated person. I read - I don't write :) Forgive me and bear with me.

I started noticing that the terrible wording of the prayers of the faithful seemed to have a new age/humanitarian/we-are-all-god-to-each-other pattern to them. The wording makes it sound like they are not praying to God. This also applies to the bad translations. Who are they addressing if not God?

What with the whole recent
election discussion and the growing awareness that Obamination came to represent himself as the answer to the new ager's dreams- it started becoming clearer to me that the watering down of the Bible and the Liturgical texts has made them sound just like the new ager's jargon, which they use to rouse one another to their version of salvation which has nothing to do with God. It sounds the same to me.

People have become so accustomed to the faith and the Word of God being expressed in that vague,fuzzy language that it is harder if not impossible for them to hear when something is inconsistent with sound doctrine.It also makes it harder to hear God Himself.

I also think that the bad translations were not an accident. I think it is part of the deception.
Twenty years ago they started replacing the missals with those things in the pews. Most people stopped reading their missals with the earlier, less corrupted translations and just listened to whatever came from the translations of the moment. It is about the inclusive language, but there is even more to it than that.

How is it said? - as we pray, so do we believe.
I've gone back to the Douay-Rheims with line by line in Latin. I understand it very well, even though I am not a scholar. I came into the Church 20 years ago this year. I am often accused of being pre-Vatican II but I am not. I love the Faith whole and entire. I long for the reverent Liturgies.

I thank God for Holy Priests and the Holy Father, and the Church.

Being one of faithful deprived of accurate translations, I do hope and pray the steps taken to correct the words used in our liturgies continue, but with a renewed sense of urgency. The almost monotone words used at mass do not draw us in to full participation. And, a change now would do us good, for many do not even listen anymore.

Knowing there is a long wait for the Sacramentary to change, I do offer these words to any priests who have taken the time to read this comment. When you lead the faithful in prayer during mass, draw the prayer within yourself and then offer it forth. With your voice help us hear so we are drawn out of what has become for many a dull routine. A pause, a moment of charged silence, an inflection of awe just might be enough to awaken a soul to this greatest of mysteries. Though the words may not be what they should, these words are what we have and still, heaven and earth rejoice together in pure thanksgiving and we receive the Lord Himself.

Coletta raises a number of questions, not all of them directly related to the translation of the Collects of the Roman Missal.

The Prayers of the Faithful or General Intercessions do not form part of the official euchology (collection of liturgical prayers) of the Roman Rite. There are some model formulae given in the Roman Missal, but the use of these is not binding. In most instances the General Intercessions are, alas, made up by an individual or a group. This, of course, opens the door to just about anything. There are clear directives that regulate the order and composition of the General Intercessions, but these are rarely followed. It would, I think, be better to have fixed formulae, following in this the wisdom of those Eastern Churches that use the Byzantine Rite. At the moment there are no official binding texts for the Prayers of the Faithful.

Also, I would clarify that there are not, at least officially, what Coletta refers to as "translations of the moment." The translation of the Roman Missal (the Sacramentary) has remained unchanged since 1970. And there, you have the problem!

The Lectionary of the Mass is another question altogether.

Thank you, Father for helping me to understand. It seemed that the readings have changed over these 20 years. I do not know what they have been using.I have the NAB 1970 and another change in the 1990's.
Thank you for your teaching.You see that I need it having come into the Church during these years.

I came into the Catholic Church in 2006 after being an Anglican -- and praying the Anglican office -- all my adult life. I switched over to praying the Liturgia Horarum shortly thereafter. I forget when it was, but as I read the collect one day, the phrasing of the Latin rang a bell, and I realized that I knew from collect from its translation in the Book of Common Prayer. Before long, I recognized the Latin originals of a great number of Prayer Book collects. What struck me over and over again is that the Prayer Book collects are not only more beautiful English, they're usually also more faithful translations of the Latin!

I'm glad you ask about the effect of using the prayers in the modern Catholic "translation". They are, I'm afraid, sadly impoverishing. And I'm shocked that not only aren't people rising up to demand more faithful translations and better English -- but that many even defend the existing prayers! Good Lord, deliver us...

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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