November 27, 2011

Today is the first day of Advent, as we begin to prepare for both the celebration of the first coming of Jesus 2000 years ago at Christmas and His second coming at the end of time. As such, it’s also the beginning of a new liturgical year in the life of the Church.

Every Advent is an exciting time to be a Catholic, especially as our focus is directed toward Christmas. We look back on Advents and Christmases past, with their many memories of family, friends, decorations, traditions, and gifts. And we also look forward with hope, especially to celebrating Christmas, and making new cherished memories.

We have to admit, however, that while these memories and hopes have a strong pull on our heart strings, in the grand scheme of things they pale in comparison to the true meaning of the Christmas we prepare for and anticipate with joy. As Christians we believe that the first Christmas, 2000 years ago, radically changed the world, as God became man and dwelt among us. Without His birth, Christ could not reveal the depth of God’s love for us, and there would have been no Cross or resurrection, and the font of grace and the gates of heaven would remained closed to us.

This Advent, then, must be more than a time to buy presents, decorate trees, and spend time with loved ones. All that is fine and good, but our true focus must be preparing to celebrate the Birth of Christ, and to meet Him when He comes again in glory.

This necessarily means Advent must be a time of increased awareness of our sins, and repentance. While the birth of Christ is joyful news, that joy is soured by the reality of our sins: God humbles Himself to become a vulnerable baby in order to save us from sin, how can we come to him without humbly repenting our many sins against Him.

It must also be a time of increased self-giving. And by this I don’t mean merely giving presents, or even giving to the poor—although that cannot be overlooked. God the Son came at the first Christmas to give us Himself. We in turn must give ourselves to Him. This, of course, begins with our avoidance of sin, but it must also manifest itself in our sincere love for others: “as you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me.” So Advent must be a time of kindness and patience with everyone we meet—whether friend, stranger, or enemy—seeing each of them as one who Christ loves as much as He loves us. This is often very difficult, but by the grace of Christ we can and must love one another as He has loved us—humbling ourselves before each other as He humbled Himself in the manger.

And above all, Advent must also be time of increased prayer: St. John reminds us that “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” Jesus came to speak to us—and to listen to us. Do we talk to Him, do we listen to Him? That is what prayer is—conversation with God. What will you do in this regard in the next few weeks? Will you come to Mass, confession, or Eucharistic Adoration more frequently? Will you pray the Rosary or read Scripture or holy books more often, perhaps as a family?

All this—repentance, self-giving love, and prayer—are essential to having a truly Catholic Advent. And all of these find their ultimate perfect expression in Holy Mass. Because the Mass is the framework, if you will, that holds in place and time the miraculous and eternal event of the actual life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, made present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Here Christ becomes truly, really and bodily present: the Word becomes flesh, and dwells among us. Is this not the mystery of Christmas?

Here we repent our sins (“I confess…that I have sinned….” “Lamb of God …have mercy on us”). Here we talk to Him and praise him, and listen to Him; we shower him with adoration as He showers us with grace. Here we give ourselves to Him and, through Him, to His Father. And He gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, where we receive the grace to give His love and our love to others.

How fitting that on this first day of Advent, the beginning of new liturgical year, we introduce a new Translation of the Mass. I know that many of us will struggle with this translation. But perhaps some of this struggle will come from focusing on memories of the past that have to do more with our personal comfort than with our true worship of Christ—not unlike the way our attention in Advent is too often focused on traditions that make us feel good, here and now, and not on truly striving to draw closer to Christ. We have been “saying” Mass a certain way, and we’re comfortable with it. But now the Church offers us something objectively better: the same prayers we’re used to, but now in a more accurate translation that will correspond more closely to the prayers said in different languages by 100s of millions of Catholics throughout the world. And more than that, a new translation that reveals a richer meaning and clearer awareness of the mystery we celebrate.

St. Paul tells us: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, …; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” I’m sure all of our families have enduring Christmas traditions that have matured over the years: a child wants his parents to give him lots of toys for Christmas, an adult is happy just to be with his parents at Christmas. Traditions stay, but they can still evolve, becoming better, richer, and more meaningful.

Today, the Church gives us an early Christmas gift: the same cherished tradition, with new richer texts. Let’s not cling to the past just because it makes us comfortable, but let us accept this “new” and wonderful gift, trusting that it will bring us a new appreciation of the Mass we have so long cherished. And in this Advent season may these changes remind us of our constant need to focus less on what makes us feel good for a little while, and focus more on the mystery of Christ’s everlasting love.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

November 20, 2011

Next Sunday: Use of the New Translation. At the Vigil Mass next Saturday evening, November 26, all Masses said in English in the United States will begin to use the entire text of the New Translation of the Roman Missal. It will be an historical day in the life of the Church in America. It will also be the beginning of a very difficult adjustment, but I am confident that if we all approach this with open hearts and minds—positively trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of this Church in this important change—it will be the beginning of a period of tremendous growth in understanding of the Mass that will yield immeasurable spiritual fruit. To prepare for all this, I recommend you read over the new Mass prayers contained in the 2 booklets I mailed you several weeks ago, (also available through links on the parish website). And remember: “The Lord be with you”…“And with your spirit.”

Consecration to the Sacred Heart. Today Bishop Paul Loverde will be consecrating the entire Diocese of Arlington to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the priests throughout the diocese will be consecrating their parishes as well. In today’s bulletin you will find a special insert, a picture of the Sacred Heart, which I invite you to place in a prominent place in your home as your recite the prayer on the back consecrating your home and family to the Sacred Heart. To help you to understand this consecration and the importance the devotion to the Sacred Heart, Bishop Loverde has issued a special Pastoral Letter to the diocese. Below follows a lengthy excerpt from the beginning of that letter. A limited number of copies of the entire Letter can be found at the church exits today, or you may view it by following the link at the top of St. Raymond’s website.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fountain of Life, Fire of Love
By Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington

There is a deep longing in the human heart for enduring love, and because God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), this deep longing is really a longing for God. God alone can ultimately fulfill this longing of the human heart because He Himself created us with this innermost desire for Him, although so often we do not consciously realize its true source.

No doubt, you and I have heard this truth expressed many times. But, in point of fact, do we really allow ourselves to be caught up into the wonder and power of this reality, which is not crafted by human imagination or ingenuity but which has been inserted into our innermost being by God Himself? Knowing how difficult it is for us to understand and to accept this amazing reality — almost too good to be true — God is relentless in the many ways by which He tangibly reveals this absolute truth, especially in ways which we can more easily grasp. One very tangible and humanly understandable way is the image of the Heart of Jesus, the symbol of God’s ever-faithful love.

“Behold This Heart.” A few years ago, I was privileged to accompany a group of pilgrims to various shrines of France. Among these was Paray-le-Monial, a city in the southeastern part of France and known worldwide as the site of the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to a cloistered Visitation nun, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque…

The well-known appearances of the Lord Jesus in which He revealed His Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary began on the night of December 27, 1673. In this first appearance, the Lord spoke of the immensity of His love for all people and showed her His Heart, “like a sun, ablaze with a dazzling light,” as Saint Margaret Mary was later to record it…. In this same appearance, Jesus mourned the world’s ingratitude, indifference and coldness and asked Saint Margaret Mary for a Communion of reparation on the first Friday of each month.

In 1674, although the exact date is uncertain, Jesus again appeared to Saint Margaret Mary. Later, she wrote down what she heard and saw: “The divine Heart was represented to me as upon a throne of fire and flames. It shed rays on every side brighter than the sun and transparent as crystal. The wound which he received on the cross appeared there visibly. A crown of thorns encircled the divine Heart, and it was surmounted by a cross” …. Once more, Jesus spoke of His burning and pure love for humanity.

The third and most famous apparition took place in June 1675. As Saint Margaret Mary knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus exposed His Sacred Heart again and spoke these words to her: “Behold this Heart which has loved mankind so much that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.” Christ then asked that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart as a special feast day in honor of His Sacred Heart — “a day on which to receive me in Holy Communion and make a solemn act of reparation for the indignities I have received in the Blessed Sacrament while exposed on the altars of the world.” The Lord then said, “I promise you, too, that I shall open my Heart to all who honor me in this way, and who get others to do the same; they will feel in all its fullness the power of my love” ….

By the time of Saint Margaret Mary’s death on October 17, 1690, devotion to the Sacred Heart was well established in the Visitation community and the areas surrounding Paray-le-Monial. Over the succeeding centuries, thanks also to the efforts of Saint Claude La Colombière and the Society of Jesus, devotion to the Sacred Heart spread throughout the world, culminating in the consecration of the whole human race to the Sacred Heart by Pope Leo XIII in 1899.

Reflecting upon the message and the meaning of the apparitions of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary, we can see that through the symbol of His Heart, Jesus Christ desired (and still desires) to show us the depth of His divine love — a love that is faithful, a love that is redemptive, a love that is merciful; in short, a love that seeks out each one of us and calls us to a vital communion with Him…

November 13, 2011

Baby Mary Madeleine: Sofi. A year ago this coming Monday, November 14, is the first birthday of the baby girl I’ve been calling “Baby Mary Madeleine.” It is also the 1 year anniversary of the day a parishioner found her left in the parking lot of our church. That was a miraculous day. And we continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life and entrusting us, if ever so briefly, with her young life.

When the police and EMS arrived to take her to the hospital she immediately became a ward of the County. Since then, officials have been rightly protective of her privacy. They have, however, kindly allowed me to keep in touch with her, while at the same time keeping me under a complete “gag-order.”

Well the gag-order has ended, as she has been legally adopted by the wonderful couple who have been her foster parents for this last year. Even though we want to continue protecting her privacy, her parents now want to bring her “home” and introduce her to her many brothers and sisters in Christ at St. Raymond’s.

So, next Sunday, Nov. 20, after the 12:15 Mass, all St. Raymond parishioners are invited to a birthday party in our Parish Hall for little Anna Sofia Rae, or “Sofi,” aka “Baby Mary Madeleine,” and her parents. This is a “private” party, parishioners only—no press, and I ask you not to publicize this in any way.

Sofi is a beautiful, sweet and vivacious child. And God has placed her with two kind and loving parents, whom I would like to thank for opening their generous hearts to God and Sofi, and also to me over this last year. And now they extend that generosity in a particular way to all of us at St. Raymond’s.

Consecration to the Sacred Heart. Next Sunday is also a special day for our whole diocese as Bishop Loverde will be consecrating the diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Moreover, he has asked all the pastors to consecrate their parishes in like manner. So at every Mass next Sunday the priest will say the very short prayer marking this consecration.

The devotion is to the Sacred Heart, which is as old as the Church, but became more particularly developed after a series of apparitions of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673. All this is beautifully explained in Bishop Loverde’s new Pastoral Letter, Fountain of Life, Fire of Love, (a link to the letter is on the parish website). In his letter the Bishop quotes Pope Pius XII:

“…Christ our Lord, exposing His Sacred Heart, wished in a quite extraordinary way to invite the minds of men to a contemplation of, and a devotion to, the mystery of God’s merciful love for the human race. In this special manifestation Christ pointed to His Heart, with definite and repeated words, as the symbol by which men should be attracted to a knowledge and recognition of His love; and at the same time He established it as a sign or pledge of mercy and grace for the needs of the Church of our times”

The Bishop goes on to write: “I invite families to make a family act of consecration, together with an enthronement of the Sacred Heart — that is, the placement of an image of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in the home — as a reminder that Christ should be the center of the family, the domestic church. In addition, the Lord promised that where the image of His Heart is honored, He would bring peace to the home, unite families, bless them with all the graces necessary for their state in life and be a secure refuge in life and death.”

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE MASS, continued. After a brief hiatus, let’s turn to the prayers/responses of the people after the Eucharistic Prayer. The first prayer would be the Our Father, which, fortunately, is not changed at all, since the old translation (OT) used a very ancient traditional translation. The doxology afterward (“For the kingdom…”) also remains unchanged.

The next part for the people comes when the priest lifts up and shows the Eucharist to the people and proclaims:

OT: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
NT: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.

The phrase “This is” has been replaced with “Behold,” precisely translating the Latin, “Ecce.” Although “behold” is not used in every day English, it used very frequently in most translations of Scripture, particularly in translating John 1:29, from which this acclamation is taken: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” This is, of course, the prophet St. John the Baptist’s acclamation after he baptized Jesus, not only recognizing Him as the Messiah, but as the Lamb who would be sacrificed for our salvation. Also, notice how “Behold” is repeated in the Mass’s version, as if to emphasize the marvel before us: “Look!…Look!” But this second “behold” is not in John 1:29. Its inclusion in the Mass’s version may point to John 1:36, where the Baptist repeats, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” this time to two men who go on to become the first Apostles, Ss. Andrew and John. Here we see the priest as prophet, calling us to recognize that what we behold before us is truly God in the flesh, the Sacrificed Lamb of the New Covenant. And then we are called, like Andrew and John, to follow him.

The priest continues:

OT: Happy are those who are called to his supper;
NT: Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

In the NT we are not merely “happy” but “blessed” (Latin: “beati), a word Scripture uses to describe those who receive the fullness of God’s gifts (“happiness” being only one of those). We are reminded of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are…” and the incredible promises they make, including, “the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” It also ties us directly to the Scriptural source of this saying, from John’s vision of heaven recorded in Revelation 19:9: “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” So here the priest reminds us, again, that we are present at the heavenly wedding banquet, Christ the Bridegroom and His Church the Bride. A very different prayer in the NT than in the OT.

And then we respond:

OT: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
NT: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Here, thankfully, the NT corrects the OT and gives us the Latin’s actual words, quoting from Matthew 8:8, as the Roman centurion responds to Jesus’ agreeing to go to cure his servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Scripture tells us: “Jesus …marveled, and said …”not even in Israel have I found such faith.” In all this we see not merely the profound humility (“I am not worthy”) but also the faith that is necessary to receive the Eucharist. This is a call to believe, with the faith of the centurion, that the Eucharist is exactly what we have just heard Jesus say it is: “this is my body.”

The only difference between the prayer and Scripture is the phrase “my soul” replacing “my servant” (and “I” in the OT), which reminds us that this is not merely physical food, but also food for the “soul.” On the other hand, “under my roof” reminds us that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” so the spiritual food must have an effect on the way we live with our bodies: “So glorify God in your body” [1 Cor. 6:19, 20].

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

November 6, 2011

This Tuesday Virginians go to the polls to elect their state and local leaders. The right to vote is one of the greatest of our blessings as Americans, and one of our most solemn duties. And it is one of our proudest legacies as Virginians that this right, along with so many others, was originally secured by efforts of so many great Virginians—giants like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Mason, and Henry.

For them the dream that would become the United States of America was worth fighting and dying for. Is it for us? If so, why is it that so many of us won’t even take the time this Tuesday to defend the American blessing, the Virginian legacy, by simply taking time to vote.

There are many who want to change America and Virginia, to lead us away from our foundational beliefs. In particular, they would discard the sacred words penned by Virginian Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men….”

Today many attack this creed. They would have our laws deny the belief that 1) it is God, our creator, who gives us our inalienable rights; 2) governments exist primarily to secure the rights God has given; 3) first among all God-given rights is the right to life; and 4) God, not human courts or human laws, has created us all equal, whether we have lived 80 years outside our mother’s wombs, or only 80 minutes inside our mother’s womb.

We all know that there are people who would like to “get God out of government.” But, according the Declaration, that is un-American. This, of course, does not mean that we should elect a theocracy. It simply means that Americans should base their electoral decisions on a conscience formed by God’s laws, whether revealed to us in the very nature of man and creation, or revealed to us in our Christian faith. It was commonly understood by the Founding Fathers that religion was not only a fundament human right, but also essential to the success of the American experiment. They believed that the only way America could have a moral and just government was if it had a moral and just people, and that religion was essential for this to happen. As George Washington himself wrote in his Farewell Address:

“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. … Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

The Catholic Church teaches that governments have a legitimate autonomy from the Church. But it also teaches, as does the Declaration of Independence, that no government can ever usurp God’s authority by suppressing the rights God has given to the people.

Some basic moral principles are part of what philosophers call the “Natural Law,” or what the Declaration of Independence calls “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” These are moral principles that are so basic that any rational human being should be able to figure them out on their own. For example, any rational thinking person should be able to figure out that all men are equal in their rights before God, and that it is always wrong to intentionally take the life of an innocent human being.

Unfortunately, all too often we don’t think rationally—we let our passions, like hatred or greed or fear, lead us in our actions. So it’s important for someone, like the Church, to remind us to obey “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Because without that, governments will inevitably enact laws that are contrary to both human reason and the good that our Creator intended: we will be ruled by codified passions, not justice.

There is no right more basic than the right to life, and there is no societal norm more essential to the happiness of society than the family, as nature and nature’s God, establish it: one man and one woman. As Pope Benedict has taught us, “These values are not negotiable.” And these values cannot be promoted or defended without religious liberty.

Therefore, no good American, no good Virginian, no good Catholic can 1) neglect the right and duty to vote, or vote for a candidate who does not actively and unquestionably protect and defend: 2) the right to life of unborn children, 3) the dignity of traditional/natural marriage, and 4) the religious freedom of all Americans.

Some will argue, “but Father, I understand all that…but with the economy the way it is…. I have to vote for a candidate who will fix things.” We must all be sympathetic to the pain, confusion and fear the economy is causing people. But remember what the Founding Fathers wrote in the very last line of the Declaration: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

These men did not place their “fortunes” much less their “lives” ahead of defending God given human rights—why do we think we should? Especially when we read the words of Jesus Himself: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap…Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ ….But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

This Tuesday, VOTE! And vote only for men and women who defend the right to life, traditional marriage and the freedom of religion. In short, be a true American, a true Virginian, and a true Catholic.

October 30, 2011

I’ve been “on the road” a bit over the last 2 weeks, so today I’m taking a break from my discussion of the new translation of the Roman Missal, and running a column that is essentially a repeat of my column from the same week last year. Even so, it’s as timely today as it was then. We’ll go back to the translation next week.

Of course tomorrow (October 31) is Halloween. As big a deal as this has become in certain circles in the last few years, for Catholics its main importance should be to point to the two very special daysthat follow it: November 1, All Saint’s Day, and November 2, All Souls’ Day.

These days are particularly important because they remind us that the Church of Jesus Christ is more than just those folks we see when we come to Mass, and extends well beyond the 2 billion plus Christians we can count on Earth. Because billions of Christians have lived and died before us, and many of those are in Heaven, or on their way there.

This is what the Church means when it speaks of the “Communion of Saints”—here the word “saint” being used as it is most commonly used in Scripture, to refer to all Christians. So that we who worship Christ on Earth are one with those who worship Christ in Heaven and in Purgatory. The Church therefore refers to three states, or parts, of the Church: “The Pilgrim Church” (“The Church Militant”) i.e., all Christians on Earth; “The Church in Glory” (“The Church Triumphant”), all those in Heaven; and “The Church Being Purified” (“The Church Suffering”), all the souls in Purgatory.

All Saints’ Day reminds us of our unity with the Church in Heaven. Throughout the year we celebrate the feasts of particular persons whom, because of their manifestly holy and heroic lives on Earth, the Church officially recognize as now living in Heaven, i.e. the people we normally refer to as “saints” (or “canonized saints”). But on this ALL Saints’ Day we remember not only those “official” saints, but also ALL the other countless numbers of souls who have gone to Heaven. For example, many of our deceased mothers and fathers are in Heaven, and so many little children who have gone before us. This is their feast day! So we honor them, and in honoring them we honor God Himself, who has given them a share of His glory. And we pray to them, asking the whole multitude in Heaven to assist us on our way to join them.

All Souls’ Day remembers our unity with the Church in Purgatory. Unfortunately, nowadays even the idea of Purgatory isn’t very well received; it often triggers reactions of disbelief or even ridicule— even among Catholics. Yet this doctrine goes back to the Old Testament, as 2 Maccabees 12:39-46 makes very clear. Some see Purgatory as a place of horrible torture—sort of a mini-Hell—and the thought that their deceased loved ones could be there strikes them as disrespectful: they want to think of them as in Heaven.

But remember, St. John tells us in Rev. 21:27 that “nothing imperfect shall enter into” Heaven. The thing is, who do you know that is perfect? Almost all of us have at least some venial sin we cling to, or have some inordinate attachment to earthly things. Does that mean that all of us imperfect people will not enter Heaven, i.e., and so go to Hell? Not at all. Because of God’s great love for us, He will not let this happen. So in His mercy the Lord takes all of us who die in a state imperfection (assuming that before death we have properly repented of any mortal—“deadly”—sins) and He perfects, or purifies, us. Another word for purification is “purgation,” so this time/place/state of purification is called “Purgatory.”

It is true that Purgatory is a place of some suffering, hence it is referred to as the “Church Suffering.” Perhaps this suffering is best understood in the light of the suffering that comes with any change: when we try to get into better physical shape, it hurts. When we try to learn a new subject it’s difficult, “painful” (“no pain, no gain”). But the pain of becoming physically stronger or mentally smarter is not something we should shun—in fact, the pain becomes, in some ways, a source of joy, as we begin to recognize it as a sign of change to a better state.

So is it a surprise that the change from imperfect to perfect will be painful? And while those in Purgatory do suffer during their purification, is it a surprise that St. Catherine of Genoa, after receiving a vision of Purgatory from Our Lord, wrote: “I believe no happiness can be …compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise.” The souls in Purgatory suffer, but they rejoice as it brings them closer and closer to Heaven. And while on Earth we rejoice in our hope for Heaven, in Purgatory the souls rejoice because they definitely know they are going there.

Even so, we must pray for the Souls in Purgatory—because they do suffer. And just as we try to help those we love on Earth by praying for them, we don’t stop loving someone when they die, so we should continue to pray for them to help them on their way to perfection. Even if we know that they were very holy on Earth, we still owe them whatever help, in prayer, we can give them in death.

So, contrary to what many people think nowadays, praying for the dead is not an act of disrespect, but of love. It does not imply that they are not good enough for Heaven, but presumes that they were so good that they are now assured of their Heavenly reward, after God has perfected them.

Who cares about Halloween? What great days lie ahead on All Saints’ and All Souls’! In the love of Christ, and with faith and hope in His promises of Heaven, let us pray to the saints in glory for their help, and lend our help to suffering souls by praying for them.

Et, oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

October 23, 2011

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE MASS, continued. Last week we discussed the changes to the Creed, or Profession of Faith, which basically (except for the ever-changing “Prayer of the Faithful”) is the last part the “Liturgy of the Word.” Now we move into the second major part of the Mass, or the “Liturgy of the Eucharist.”

After the priest has prepared the altar for the offering of the sacrifice, i.e., arranging the Missal, sacred vessels, linens, and the gifts of bread and wine, he then offers the gifts to God, taking first the paten with the host and then the chalice with wine, elevating them toward heaven as he prays the Offertory Prayers.

The new translation (NT) of the first of these, offering the bread, is very similar to the old translation (OT) but reflects a few changes that significantly add to our understanding of the action. While both versions begin, “Blessed are you Lord, God of all creation….,” the next phrase is somewhat altered:

OT: …Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made…
NT: …for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands …

The NT more exactly translates the Latin, and so adds new clarity to the prayer. While in the OT this phrase begins a new sentence, in the NT it is a continuation of the previous sentence, joined to the previous phrase (“Blessed…all creation) by the word “for.” This helps us understand why the Lord is “blessed” (i.e., worthy of supreme worship): the very bread we givetoHim in sacrifice we first “received” from Him. It is confusing in both translation and theology to say “the earth has given,” since the earth is an impersonal instrument and so cannot really “give.” God, who is a real loving person, is the true giver, and as “Lord God of all creation” he creates and gives us first the earth and then its “fruit.” As the OT of Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) reminds us: “from the many gifts you have given us, we offer to you, God…”

This is emphasized as the NT says that the bread is the “work of human hands,” while the OT said, “which human hands have made.” This much more accurate translation of the Latin reminds us that God is the true “maker” of the bread (as we pray in the Creed, He is “maker of heaven and earth, of all things…”). At the same time we see that while we “receive” the gift He has made for us, through our “work” we add something of ourselves to it, so that it becomes truly our own, and a symbol of all our work and even of ourselves, which we can then truly give back to Him as a gift. The NT has given us a much different, and more spiritually rich, prayer.

In response to this prayer, if the priest says it out loud, the people still respond: “Blessed be God forever.” Then, after offering the wine and washing his hands the priest turns to the people and says:

OT: Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
NT: Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

Here again we find another small but important change. In the Latin the priest refers to “meum ac vestrum sacrificium,” which is properly translated in the NT as “my sacrifice and yours,” rather than the OT’s “our sacrifice.” This subtly reminds us that there are actuallytwosacrifices being offered here: 1)the people’s offering of their own personal sacrifice of themselves (including all their prayers, works and sufferings), and 2) Christ’s own sacrifice of the Cross which the priest offers in persona Christi (“my”). The people’s self-gift (represented by the simple bread and wine, “the work of human hands”) is united to and perfected in Christ’s self-gift to the Father on the Cross in the consecration of the Eucharist.

The people’s response remains mostly unchanged, except for the addition of one word missing from the OT, “holy”: “May the Lord accept …. and the good of all his holy Church.”

Skipping ahead to the “Preface” of the Eucharistic Prayer (we will return later to the “Prayer over the Gifts/Offerings”), we first examine the “Preface dialogue.” Notice, there is no change to the priest’s “side” of the dialogue.

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: OT: And also with you.
NT: And with your spirit.

Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: OT and NT: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. People:
OT: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
NT: It is right and just.
Latin: Dignum et justum est.

Of course the ubiquitous change “and with your spirit,” which we covered in my Oct. 9 column, is incorporated here. But we also note the change to the final response. The first three words remain the same in the NT as in the OT: “It is right” accurately translates “Dignum…est.” The rest of the response is substantially different, however. “Justum est” means simply “It is just,” not at all meaning “to give him thanks and praise.” This was an easy and necessary change to make, especially given Liturgiam Authenticam’s mandate that “the original text…must be translated …without omissions or additions….” The Latin and NT remind us that justice demands we give the thanks to God that He is due.

One small note: while the middle response, “We lift them up to the Lord,” remains literally unchanged, it will be a “practical” for some folks: many people currently respond, mistakenly, “We have lifted them up to the Lord.” I may be mistaken, but I believe this comes from one of the interim translations in use in the 1960s; folks memorized it and it stuck even when it was changed and finalized in the “OT” of 1973. Memorized responses become part of us, and they are hard to change. That’s one reason why I’m so concerned about the implementation of this new translation. But I am convinced that if we know why we are saying different words, we will more eagerly and easily embrace the new translation as our own.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

October 16, 2011

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE MASS, continued. Today we’ll take a look at the changes to the Creed, or Profession of Faith.

The Creed is actually called the “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.” Its original form was approved by Council of Nicaea in 325AD, the first ecumenical council of the Church. Recall that for most of the first three centuries of the Church it was illegal to be a Christian, and thousands were martyred for the faith. This persecution caused there to be very poor communication between the Christians around the world, which inevitably led to confusion in doctrines from place to place. So, when the Emperor Constantine ended the persecution in 321, the bishops then came together in council to discuss and clarify our common or “Catholic” (“universal”) beliefs. The main result was the precisely worded “Nicene Creed,” which listed the most fundamental articles of faith. In 381 the Council of Constantinople adopted several key clarifications to counter certain “Arian” heresies. The Creed has remained unchanged since then, except for the clarification called the “Filioque” added by Pope Benedict VIII (1014-15).

This then, is an absolutely uniquely important treasure of our faith, with the original Greek words carefully chosen by the ancient fathers, and equally carefully translated immediately into Latin. Martyrs have died for refusing to deny these words. So you can see why a correct and precise translation into English is so critical.

For the most part the changes to the Creed in the new translation (NT) are rather few. So instead of going through line by line I will first point out one general change, and then move on to explain other key words and phrases that have changed.

“One general change” reverberates throughout the NT, and will be, perhaps, the change most difficult to adjust to, in no small part because it is reflected in the very first word of the NT. While the old translation (OT) began, “We believe,” the NT begins, “I believe,” reflecting the actual and literal Latin “Credo” (rather than “Credimus”), and emphasizing that while we hold the doctrines of the Creed as one common faith together, faith is something each individual must profess for salvation. This shift from the plural voice to the singular voice permeates the prayer and necessitates changes in several other places.

That opening line also has one other change, at the very end, where it expresses our belief that the one God is maker of, as the OT says, “all that is seen and unseen,” and as the NT translates more accurately: “all things visible and invisible.” This article is not about whether we accidentally see or don’t see some things, but that some things are seeable and some are not seeable: i.e., “visible and invisible.” This refers, for example, to angels and demons (who are spirits), and alludes to the words St. Paul writes about Jesus in Col. 1:15-16:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers …”

The next changes in translation comes in very next line:

Latin: Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum, Fílium Dei unigénitum, et ex Patre natum, ante ómnia sæcula.
OT: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
NT: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all
ages.

The NT more accurately translates the Latin, while the OT reflected some confusing and unnecessary re-ordering and editing of the Latin.

The most important change in the text comes next, just a few lines down, as the Latin speaks of Jesus as, “consubstantiálem Patri.” The OT translated this as “one in Being with the Father,” while the NT more precisely says, “consubstantial with the Father.” This change was specifically required by Liturgiam Authenticam 56, because of the importance of this dogma. Unfortunately, while the expression “one in being” is not incorrect, it is theologically vague, whereas the term “consubstantiálem” (and the underlying Greek “homoousious”) was coined by the early Church to have a very precise theological meaning; that is, the Father and Son share the same nature, literally share the same substance, the divine nature. As the Catechism (262) teaches: “with the Father the Son is one and the same God.”

Another critical change comes several lines later, as we profess our faith about Jesus:

Latin: Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto ex María Vírgine…
OT: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary…. NT: and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary….

The Latin here is not concerned with Jesus being born, but with the fact that he was incarnated—that he literally he took on flesh. The article is looking not at Christmas, but nine months earlier at the Incarnation when the eternal God the Son took to himself a human nature, body and soul: God “became man.” (Note, the phrase “the power of” is nowhere in the Latin, and so is omitted in the NT).

The Creed goes on to say that Jesus “rose again on the third day.” This happened, as the Latin says, “secúndum Scriptúras,” which the OT rendered as “in fulfillment of the Scriptures,” but the NT more accurately renders: “in accordance with the Scriptures.” The NT brings out a subtle but important point intended in the Latin but missed in the OT: the word “fulfillment” in the OT refers back to the Old Testament prophesies, whereas “secundum”/”in-accordance” refers to both the Old Testament prophesies and the New Testament eyewitness accounts: to those who deny that Jesus really physically rose from the dead, the Creed says, “he did in fact rise just like the Gospels say.”

As the Creed moves on to speak about the Holy Spirit it makes a small but important change in translating the word “adoratur” from “worshipped” to the more exact “adored.” While lost in common parlance, “worship” is, by definition, something that can be given to both God and creatures (British refer to certain public officials as “your worship”). But “adoration” is a form of worship that can be given to God alone, and is theologically distinguishable from other forms of worship of God (e.g., supplication, confession), as a humble recognition of God’s transcendence.

The Creed goes on to say “Confíteor unum baptísma,” rendered in the OT as “We acknowledge one baptism,” and in the NT as “I confess one baptism.” The NT reminds us that the faith is not something we simply recognize, but rather something we confess, or publicly make our own.

Finally, we conclude with a statement of our faith in “the resurrection of the dead.” The Latin “exspecto,” translated as “we look for” in the OT, is better translated in the NT as “I look forward to.” We are not merely watching, but rather joyfully anticipating “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

October 9, 2011

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL, continued. The last few weeks we’ve discussed the new translations of the Holy, Holy, the Mystery of Faith and the Gloria, which we have already begun to sing at Mass. This week we’ll begin to discuss the remainder of the changes that will be introduced on November 27, in particular the prayers of the Introductory Rites.

Some of these changes were mandated by specific provisions of the Vatican’s 2001 instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam [LA]. In particular, LA 56:

Certain expressions that belong to the heritage…of the ancient Church…are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible, as for example the words of the people’s response Et cum spiritu tuo, or the expression mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the Act of Penance of the Order of Mass.

Of all the changes in the new translation, the most difficult for the people to get used to will be the change in a response repeated throughout the Mass, literally from beginning to end. Whenever the priest says, “The Lord be with you” (or “peace be with you”), it has become second nature for us to respond, “And also with you.” In the NT, however, this response will change to, “And with your Spirit,” which, following the mandate of LA 56, is a word-for-word translation of the Latin, “Et cum spirtu tuo.” This brings the English translation into accord with the Mass translations in the other major languages (e.g., Spanish: “y con tu espiritu,” French: “et avec votre esprit,” etc.).

The OT reflects the view of some that the exchange “The Lord be with you…And with your Spirit” is more or less a simple friendly exchange of greetings. Others, however, including the renowned theologians Fr. Joseph Jungmann and Cardinal Yves Congar, point out that the tradition sees this exchange as a form of prayer. The priest calls on the Lord to be with the people, and then the people respond by invoking the Holy Spirit to enliven the special graces given to the priest at ordination (his “spirit”) so that he may perform his special priestly sacramental duties well and fully in the Mass. Because of this, from the earliest days of the Church the liturgical response, “et cum spiritu tuo” was only said to a bishop, priest or deacon.

Of course, besides the greeting “Dominus vobiscum”/“The Lord be with you,” the Roman Missal provides the priest with two alternative greetings, which we should consider briefly. The first alternative is taken directly from 2 Cor. 13:13[14], and was well translated in the OT as: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The only difference in the NT is changing the word “fellowship” to “communion.” This seems to reflect the thought of both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who maintain that the word “koinonia” in the original Greek Scriptures is better translated as “communion,” signifying a relationship of true unity/union, rather than “fellowship” which implies merely a type of friendship.

The second alternative greeting, however, shows significant differences between the OT and the NT, as the NT uses a word for word literal translation of the Latin, which directly quotes St. Paul’s greeting in Rom 1:7 and 1 Cor. 1:3.

Latin: Grátia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro et Dómino Iesu Christo.
OT: The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. NT: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Immediately after the opening greeting and response, the priest introduces the penitential rite:
Latin: Fratres, agnoscámus peccáta nostra, ut apti simus ad sacra mystéria celebránda. OT: My brothers and sisters, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let
us call to mind our sins.

NT: Brethren (or brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare
ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

While at first the changes here seem only to be in word order, one key difference should be noted: “agnoscamus” is more properly translated as “acknowledge” rather than “call to mind.” The difference is important: we not only think about our sins, we make it publicly known that we are sinners. The invitation is not to simple internal reflection, but to public confession.

Note that in the OT three different forms of the invitation by the priest were provided, and the priest was instructed to use “these or similar words,” so that he could change the words if he chose to. These options are not in the Latin, and so not in the NT.

Although the penitential rite may take various forms, the one most commonly used at St. Raymond’s is the ancient “Confiteor,” or “I confess.” Several changes are made to the words of this public confession, but the most dramatic is found in the following:

Latin: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.
OT: through my own fault.
NT: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault

It is striking how the OT reduced the three “mea culpas” to one, and how the NT corrects this, according the specific mandate of LA 56 (see above). This omission in the OT seems to have been an application of Vatican II’s call to reduce “useless repetitions” in the liturgy (see last week’s column). However, this principle applies to the Pope (and his collaborators) as he composes/selects the prayers to be included in the Latin Missal, and it is not the role of translators to second guess the Pope’s judgment (see LA 20).

Moreover, not all repetition is “useless.” Consider two examples: 1) “Lord [Christ] have mercy” (“Kyrie eleison”), and 2) “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” Both of these use the triple repetition to emphasize God’s infinite mercy. The thrice repeated “through my fault” in the Confiteor emphasizes our sinfulness, and so forms a parallel and connection to these two subsequent threefold pleas for God’s mercy. [Note also: 1) any triple repetition in the Mass is always an allusion to the Trinity, and not to be considered “useless,” and 2) the triple “mea culpa” reminds us of Christ’s triple forgiveness of St. Peter’s triple denial].

Note also the OT’s omission of the phrase “my most grievous fault,” (“mea máxima culpa”). We also see a similar omission earlier in the prayer where “peccávi nimis” (“I have greatly sinned “) is translated in the OT as “I have sinned.” There seems to be a clear trend in the OT of downplaying the gravity of our guilt. Fortunately, this is corrected in the NT.

Besides the Confiteor, there are two other optional forms for the Penitential Rite. The first of these (“Lord, we have sinned against you…”) has been substantially reworded in NT to conform to the Latin, but for brevity’s sake I will forego further discussion here. The second alternative (“You were sent to heal the contrite…”) remains mostly unchanged.

Next week…The Creed.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

October 2, 2011

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL, continued. Last week we discussed the new translation of the Mystery of Faith (formerly called the Memorial Acclamation) (last week’s column is available on the parish website). This week’s column I’d like to discuss the changes to the Gloria, which we will begin to sing on at Sunday Masses on October 8-9.

The changes to this prayer are substantial, since the old 1973 translation was very flawed, especially by the standards of outlined in the Vatican’s 2001 instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam [LA].

The Gloria begins with the angelic Christmas acclamation to the shepherds. Although the original Greek Scripture text is difficult to translate, the text in the Latin has been the translation in liturgical use since at least the 3rd century, and the new English translation is faithful to it:

Latin: Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis.
Old Translation: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
New Translation: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

While the first phrase (Glória in excélsis Deo) of the old translation [OT] agrees with the biblical text, the second part does not, no matter what “version” of the Bible you use; nor does it agree to the Latin at all. The OT refers to “his people,” which would properly apply only to Christians and Jews, while the Latin and the new translation [NT] refers to “people of good will,” extending the angels’ greeting to any human being on earth who is open to hear the good news, indicating that Christ has come to save all mankind, if they will simple hear and follow the Gospel.

The next part of the Glory is a short litany of praise.

Latin: [1] Laudámus te, [2] benedícimus te, [3] adorámus te, [4] glorificámus te, [5]
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
OT: [1] we worship you, [2] we give you thanks, [3] we praise you for your glory.
NT: [1] We praise you, [2] we bless you, [3] we adore you, [4] we glorify you, [5] we give you thanks for your great glory,

Besides the fact that the OT did not at all accurately translate the simple Latin into English, we also see one of the key problems in the OT that is prevalent in this prayer: omissions. Notice how the five phrases of the Latin and the NT are shortened into just three in the OT. I believe this comes from the effort of the translators of the OT to apply a principle enunciated by Vatican II (SC 34): “The rites…should be short, clear, and free from useless repetitions.” But, as LA 20 points out, applying that principle is the job of the “composers” of the rites (i.e., the Pope and his assistants), not the translators of what is composed:

The Latin liturgical texts …are themselves the fruit of the liturgical renewal, just recently brought forth [i.e., the reforms of Vatican II]….[T]he original [Latin] text…must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions…

The Pope has already applied the principles of Vatican II when he decided what should be in the Latin, and by omitting words or phrases from those prayers translators place their judgment above the Pope’s.
We should also note the last words, “magnam glóriam tuam,” are well translated in the NT as “your great glory,” but the OT omits the magnam/great. This is an example of lowering of the sense of sacred so characteristic of the OT: the prayer is extolling God’s glory, “Glory to God”, and yet the OT can’t afford to call it “great.”

The next part presents only a very small much change:

Latin: Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis, Deus Pater omnípotens. OT: Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
NT: Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.

But notice, in the Latin and NT this phrase follows the above litany of praise, whereas the OT moved it to proceed the litany. Perhaps there was a sensible reason for this, but I have never understood it. Some argue that it was moved to the beginning to clarify who object of the litany was, i.e., God the Father; but that is to change the prayer, not to translate— it presumes to correct the Pope and centuries of Catholics before him.

The next part has only a slight, but very doctrinally important change:

Latin: Dómine Fili unigénite, Iesu Christe, OT: Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, NT: Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,

The OT is at best doctrinally “confusing” in calling Jesus the “only Son” of the Father, since all the baptized are sons and daughters of the Father. But as the Latin and NT point out, Jesus is the only “begotten” Son of the Father, while the baptized become sons and daughters by being united to Christ in baptism, sharing in His unique sonship.

The changes in the next part are again due to the OT’s omission of texts: 16 words in the English! (See the underlined text).

Latin: Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram. Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
OT: Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

NT: Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

Notice how the omitted phrases are repetitions of phrases or concepts. Again, this was an apparent attempt to apply Vatican II’s principle of reducing “useless repetitions,” which was not the translators job presumptuously implies an error in the Pope’s Latin text.

But notice, Vatican II called for reduction in “useless repetition,” but sometimes repetition is a useful tool for emphasizing important points, or for poetic grace. For example, here we repeat “you take away the sins of the world” and “have mercy on us” to emphasize (among other things) both Christ’s action toward us and our petition to Him.

Notice also the change from the OT’s “sin of the world” to the NT’s “sins of the world,” accurately translating the Latin “peccata,” but also making an important theological point: Christ does not take away simply “sin” in general, but all sins of all the individual persons in the world through all time.

The rest of the Gloria is without change.

To be continued….

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

September 25, 2011

We continue our discussion of the new translation of the Roman Missal. Today we will examine the new translation of the Mystery of Faith (formerly called the Memorial Acclamation) which we will begin to chant at next Sunday’s Masses (except 7am and 7pm).

First, let’s review some applicable principles of translation outlined in the Vatican’s 2001 instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam [LA].

 LA required “rendering the original texts faithfully and accurately …translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions… and without paraphrases or glosses.”
 “The Latin liturgical texts …, while drawing on centuries of …transmitting the faith of the Church …are themselves the fruit of the liturgical renewal…. [T]he translation of the liturgical texts of the Roman Liturgy is not …a work of creative innovation…” In short, the Latin prayers were carefully composed—don’t add or change anything.

 “The manner of translating the liturgical books should foster a correspondence between the biblical text itself and the liturgical texts of ecclesiastical composition which contain biblical words or allusions.” In short, when the Latin quotes or alludes to Scripture, the translation should reflect this.

Before considering how these principles help us to understand the new translation of “The Mystery of Faith,” let’s take a moment to consider the purpose and meaning of this part of the ritual. The term “Mystery of faith” (Mysterium fidei), emphasizes that the Eucharist, in as much as it is truly the miraculous re-presentation of both the sacrifice of the Cross and the Resurrection, is truly the central mystery of our faith. As Bd. John Paul II wrote in his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

“When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out”…. [EE 11]. “Christ’s passover includes not only his passion and death, but also his resurrection….The Eucharistic Sacrifice makes present not only the mystery of the Saviour’s passion and death, but also the mystery of the resurrection which crowned his sacrifice.” [EE 14]

In proclaiming the “Mystery of Faith” immediately after the consecration we proclaim not only our faith in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but in awe and adoration we also acknowledge the profundity of what has happened: we are in the presence of and taken up into that eternal act that redeems the world.

Moving into a review of the new translation, we note how the “new” text makes clear that the priest and the people both make this proclamation, but each in their own specific way. The priest does not do so merely as an individual Christian, as the rest of the assembly does, but rather, as the one who has offered the sacrifice standing in persona Christi. We see this very clearly in a careful consideration of the proclamation/acclamation the priest says immediately after the consecration:

Latin: “Mysterium Fidei.”
Old 1973 translation: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.” New 2011 translation: “The mystery of faith.”

Notice, the old 1973 translation adds the phrase “Let us proclaim…” which substantially changes the meaning of what the priest is saying/doing, making it an invitation for the people to join the priest in reciting one of several optional “versions” of “the mystery of faith” (e.g., “Christ has died…,” “Lord by your cross and resurrection…, etc.). But the Latin and in the new 2011 translation do not include this invitation; rather, the priest makes his own proclamation, said in persona Christi, acknowledging that this (the Eucharist) is “the mystery of faith.” This reflects the ancient practice (now suppressed) of placing the phrase “mystery of faith” within the actual words of consecration, so that in the consecration the priest, speaking in persona Christi, would say (in Latin), “This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant: the mystery of faith…”

In response to the priest’s proclamation, the people make their own proclamation of the “mystery of faith,” this one with more descriptive words expressive of the reality of the salvific nature of Lord’s death and resurrection made present on the altar. [Note: it would seem reasonable for the priest join in the people’s response to assist them in 1) knowing which option to use, and 2) encourage them to make the acclamation.]

Now let’s consider the new translations of each of the optional proclamations/acclamations of the people.

Option 1

Latin: “Mortem tuam annuntiámus, Dómine, et tuam resurrectiónem confitemur, donec vénias.”
Old: “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”
New: “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.

The new translation is an excellent translation of the Latin, while the old translation is more a “paraphrase” of the Latin, and also inserts us into the proclamation by adding “our death…our life.” Moreover, the new translation more clearly follows the Latin in drawing on St. Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 11:26 that in the Eucharist “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Option 2

Latin: “Quotiescúmque manducámus panem hunc et cálicem bíbimus, mortem tuam annuntiámus, Dómine, donec vénias.”
Old: “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
New: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”

Here, both the old and new translations are very similar. Even so, the old translation added the words “Jesus” and “in glory,” which are not in the original Latin, and tend to distract from the almost direct correlation to 1 Cor 11:26.

Option 3

Latin: “Salvátor mundi, salva nos, qui per crucem et resurrectiónem tuam liberásti nos.” Old: “Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of
the World.”
New: “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us
free.”

Here we see that while the old translation kept much of the overall sense of the Latin text, it is essentially a paraphrase. However we also see how the old leaves out the invocation “Save us” (“salva nos”) that is unique to this option, and so an important omission.

Option 4.

The old translation included a 4th option, the very popular, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” This text, however, is completely “a work of creative innovation” and has no parallel in the Latin original, and so has been omitted from the English Missal.

To be continued…

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles