Coming Soon–A New Translation of the Mass Prayers
A first time visitor to Mass would notice that the prayers and readings used at Mass are organized and read from books. The book with the Scripture readings is called the “Lectionary”. The lectionary contains a collection of scripture readings used at Mass. The book with the Mass prayers is called the Missal. All the ritual books used in the celebration of Mass and the other Sacraments begin with a “typical edition” that is authorized and issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican. This “Editio Typica” (typical edition) is in Latin. The Mass book is called “Missale Romanum” (The Roman Missal). The translations of the Roman Missal are then developed by Bishops Conferences of the different language groups around the world and approved by the Holy See (the Vatican). The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) works with the bishops conferences English-speaking countries to develop translations of liturgical texts.
The Third Edition of the Roman Missal was issued in 2000 (in Latin). The English translation of the Third Edition has been in development for more than a decade, and has now gone to print and will be introduced on the First Sunday of Advent. Some sung parts of the new translation will begin sooner to give us the opportunity to become familiar with the changes in the translation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has resources describing the new translation of the Missal. The St. Louis Review and our parish bulletins also have resources to help you prepare as well. If you have not paid much attention to this information so far, now would be a good time to begin. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to grow in faith. Please check out these online resources.
The first thing you might notice about the new translation is the “style” of the prayers. The revised Missal follows the original Latin text more closely. Translations can be divided into two approaches: dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence. Dynamic equivalence attempts to convey the thought expressed in the source text. The other category of translation is formal equivalence. Formal equivalence is not a “literal” translation, but attempts to convey more formally the language of the original text. Each of these translation categories has strengths and shortcomings. Our current translation has followed more of a “dynamic equivalence” model. The new translation of the Roman Missal will be a “formal equivalence” translation of the Latin edition of the Roman Missal.
What will you notice when you hear and respond to the new translation? As an example, let’s look at a prayer dialogue frequently used in the Mass:
|Priest/ Deacon: Dominus VobiscumPeople: Et cum spiritu tuo||Priest/ Deacon: The Lord be with youPeople :And also with you||Priest/ Deacon: The Lord be with youPeople: And with your spirit|
Even if you have only a limited knowledge of Latin you will notice that the new translation follows the Latin text more closely. The translation also follows the style of the Latin text including word images, repetition, parallelisms, and rhythm. You may not be consciously aware of it, but many of the images, repetitions, parallelisms, and rhythm s are modeled on the Scriptures. The Psalms contain many examples of parallelisms. An example would be: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1). You may not be a translation scholar, but as you pray the new Mass prayers you will discover that you knew more of this than you thought because it takes you back to the Scriptures. The translation may be new to your “ears”, but not to your “heart”.
We have been using the current translation for more than forty years. This is the only Mass that many Catholics have ever used. Change is never easy. How you adapt and react to change is up to you. A wise priest once said about change, “You can choose to be bitter, or choose to be better.” The new translation can help you to enter more deeply into the Eucharistic Sacrifice—an opportunity to more “actively participate” in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Christian Life. The new Mass translation is an opportunity for you to deepen your sharing in Christ’s Sacrifice in worship. Read the parish bulletin for dates and times of some adult sessions to discuss the new translation of the Mass.