17 October 2011

New Translation: Two Cheers And Two Concerns

Of course it's better.  It didn't have to be any good to be better, and it's actually good, so it's much better than what it's replaced.  So let's consign what we've just lost to the dustbin of history, and raise our first cheer for formal sacral language in our worship (even if at least one priest has already worked out where he can introduce paraphrases and ad-libs).

Second cheer: perhaps you need to have had some training in the art of translation to understand just how bankrupt a "philosophy of translation" dynamic equivalence actually is, and how corrupt (or, if not corrupt, ignorant) the people who pushed it for the 1970 "translation" were.  The idea that we could "hear" the Mass in the same way that first century Christians "heard" the Mass is risible: what happens is that ideologues impose their own version of ecclesiology and retrofit a "translation" which just happens to confirm the premises on which their ecclesiology is based. 

Simple example: actuosa participatio is translated as "active participation" in the sense of everybody doing stuff all the way through Mass and joining the priest in what he is doing instead of being translated as "conscious participation" in the sense of everybody at Mass uniting themselves with the action of the priest at the altar to unite at the re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice at Calvary, because those pushing the New Church way believed (completely without foundation but with lots iof wishful thinking) that that is what the early Church was like. 

A more complex example would be the imposition of Eucharistic Prayer 2: the belief that an ancient prayer must be an ancient anaphora, the deformation of the ancient prayer to conform with 1960s notions of what a second century anaphora should look like, and the collapse of the stout parties when it was proved that the ancient prayer a) wasn't an ancient anaphora, and b) was a couple of centuries younger than the Roman Canon.  (Except, of course, they didn't collapse, and we still have EP 2.)

My first concern, is that more and more we are being straightjacketed into a single option for our actuosa participatio: told when to stand, when to sit, when to kneel; what to say, what to sing; when to do, when to watch the priest (and his many helpers) do.  When, at the elevation of the chalice there is a mass turning round of the faithful and a scrabble for the leaflet with the new words for the proclamtion of the mystery of faith to make sure that we all say the right new words, it becomes clear to me that something that was lost when the New Rite of Mass came in is just not going to be repaired by the new translation: indeed, the new translation, peversely, might engrain the worst effects of the lex orandi lex credendi disasters of the last forty years.  Two dimensional participation might be here for the long term.

My second concern is actually one Anagnostis first tipped me off to.  When not roaming the web calling me a Pharisee (and he was probably not far from the mark) he has some penetrating insights, one of which haunts me more and more: there is something very wrong with the Church when everybody is a liturgiologist.  The Liturgy isn't something for most of us to study, discuss, or dissect: we are not called to Missolatry.  We should be worshipping God at Mass, not watching the priest.  (Of course, there shouldn't be anything to watch: just the priest doing what every priest everywhere does every time.)

I feel more an more like somebody who believes in the spiritual value of icons during the reign of Constantine V.  Perhaps the best thing to do is to withdraw and not discuss the subject.


Ben Trovato said...

Ttony, you are right on all counts. I think we are wrong te decry those who used to say the rosary through the Mass: what could be wrong witht htose who choose to stand with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross... And I long for a liturgy that doesn't call attention to itself...

Left-footer said...

Ben Trovato - agree absolutely. When I was young, many people prayed privately during Mass. The requirement was to HEAR Mass.

Mike Cliffson said...

My memory is that there were people who said the rosary all through mass and there were people who said the rosary all through mass.Some ents is ents, some look like ents but ent.
Meaning: broadbrush , we ve lost out with "ther changes", but pre vatII the modernists among clergy and catholic intelligentsia(which grew like topsy) and the contraceptists and aborters among the laiety were in place, and came out of the wainscotting along of "ther neeuu mass"- they weren't invented by it, and many more people should NOT have been so easily led. Able to resist anything except temptation, me too , I know.

Anagnostis said...

I do very little net-roaming nowadays, but I'm baffled - when/where did I call you you a Pharisee?.

Was that the fasting post, two below? My comments were directed at the Bishops of England & Wales, and their bizarre, contra-Dominical injunction to fast as public "mark of identity".

Anagnostis said...

Ben & Leftie

I understand your point, but it's pretty nearly the opposite of mine. The Liturgy should never be something one passively "hears", nor is it something done solely by the presbyterate, on behalf of an "inactive" laity - the Liturgical Movement was absolutely right to pursue the overturning of this particular distortion. All that was achieved however, was its replacement by another, equally baneful distortion - the other side of the same coin - identifying authentic lay participation with quasi-presbyteral "activity".

Ttony said...


I chose to take your animadversion about the Bishops as applying to me - you are still right about some things.

An, Ben and Leftie (which sounds like a trendy 1980s children's programme on ITV):

"Assisting at Holy Mass you should have the four-fold intention of Adoration, by which we acknowledge our dependence on God as the Ruler over life and death; of Praise and Thanksgiving for the benefits conferred on us; of Reparation for our sins and negligences; of Impenetration, to implore of Him the grace necessary for our salvation. If you desire to implore other benefits from God, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, very well, but do not forget the main intention."

This is how we "participate" in Mass, and if we do so by praying the Rosary, then fine, but always remember that the four-fold intention is a way of describing how we become part of the sacred action which is taking place in Church for us.

Anagnostis said...
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Anagnostis said...

Well,that would be the "scholastic" reponse ;o) Mine would be somewhat different, but it presupposes a certain recognition that the Tridentine era was not some liturgical high-point, but rather pretty nearly the opposite. That was Dom Gueranger's starting point - the realisation that throughout the west, by the 19thC, any kind of authentic liturgical life or understanding was effectively dead. What had killed it? That's a whole debate on its own, but ecclesiological considerations would certainly feature largely. Here's what I mean:

A couple of years ago, an RC poster asked me to provide a diagrammatic description of the Orthodox Church, equivalent to the familiar "pyramid" provided by himself: Pope at the apex, then a narrow tier of Card. Metropolitans, a larger one of diocesan bishops, then presbyters and deacons, with the mass of laity forming the base. I provided, to his bafflement, a diagram of the Divine Liturgy: the bishop on his cathedra, the presbyters in the altar, the deacons running between altar and nave (i.e. "ship"/Ark)where the laity, the readers and monastics together with the Mother of God, the Angels and Saints stand to unite themselves with the death, resurrection and glorification of the Lord.

Of course, Traddy parochialism will bridle at this Patristic vision. For it, "modernism" has been expanded to include anything that threatens to disturb the dualistic conviction that all of the conditions prevailing in the first half of the twentieth century represent normative, traditional Catholicism, rather than its last, fractured distorted reverberation (the SSPX's strange, blinkered little study "The Problem of the Liturgical Reform" is perfect illustration of what I mean); but this isn't anything other than what finds in all of the Fathers and in the liturgical texts themselves.

The Liturgical Movement attempted an authentic revivification, on sound Patristic principles. It faled, because that's what happens when the stream of Tradition has become so attenuated as to be effectively lost: even when one gets it right, one gets it wrong. When the Tradition is no longer inhabited, simply, spontaneously and unselfconsciously, one can see what's wrong, but one can't fix it piecemeal, by mere human effort.

Anagnostis said...

Anyway - the purpose of the Eucharistic liturgy is to make present the Body of Christ in both senses: in the Eucharistic gifts and simultaneously in the people - the WHOLE people, the Mystical Body of Christ. The "Mystery of Christ" is the Eucharistic Mystery which "generates" the Mystical Body. This is how the Church is constituted/made/realised - by, in function of, the Eucharistic Liturgy. It is not therefore the work of one section of the people merely (the priests), with the others in a quasi-superfluous position of passive "hearers". It is through, for, and by means of all of the baptised, each in his "ordered" role, that the Kingdom of Heaven is made present in the Eucharist. All of the people ought therefore to be fully and consciously engaged in this - not wrapped up in individualistic devotions before and after the "magic words", or in the role of passive onlookers to the sole, essential sacerdotal action. However you can't restore this essential perspective authentically by introducing a load of newly concocted stuff. It has to be acknowledged first of all that it HAS been lost because of the way the liturgy has been celebrated habitually, and then the reasons for that have to be honestly examined. They'll turn out to be theological and pastoral/ecclesiolgical.

Anagnostis said...
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Anagnostis said...

Another thing occurs to me: forgive the glib oversimplification (again!), but this is intriguing nevertheless.

Hitherto, Roman Catholics here have been presented with three possibilities: a

1. A substantially ancient liturgy in Latin (since 2007).

2. A wholly synthetic liturgy in Latin (very rare indeed).

3. A wholly synthetic liturgy in lousy English.

The third possibility has been replaced by:

4. The same synthetic liturgy in somewhat better English.

What is likely to remain entirely off-limits for the forseeable future, and is:

5. The ancient liturgy in decent English.


Anagnostis said...

Oh, and I blame the development of Low Mass: the original liturgical abuse and most startlng illustration of how belief adjusts to worship.