Sunday, June 22, 2008

Liturgical Translations

What with Bp. Traut-person objecting to the use of "ineffable" (oh, the humanity!) because after all, Catholics can't understand words with more than 2 syllables or something...

Along comes Bp. Seratelli of New Jersey, to set the record straight.

In Act III, Scene II of The Tragedy of Hamlet, the young prince gives this advice: “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.”

...In his popular rhetorical guide, De duplici copia verborum ac rerum, Erasmus, the 16th century Dutch humanist and theologian, showed students 150 different styles they could use when phrasing the Latin sentence, Tuae literae me magnopere delectarunt (Your letter has delighted me very much). Clearly, no single translation of any sentence or work will ever completely satisfy everyone. Even the best of all possible translations of the new Missal will have its critics.

But there is something more at stake than pleasing individual tastes and preferences in the new liturgical translations. The new translations aim at a “language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves … dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision” (Liturgiam Authenticam, 25). The new translations now being prepared are a marked improvement over the translations with which we have become familiar. They are densely theological. They respect the rich vocabulary of the Roman Rite. They carefully avoid the overuse of certain phrases and words.

...Liturgical language should border on the poetic. Prose bumps along the ground. Poetry soars to the heavens. And our Liturgy is already a sharing of the Liturgy in heaven.

...There is more to the Liturgy than the human language of any age or any one country. In the new translations of the Roman Missal, a conscious effort is being made to suit the human word to the divine action that the Liturgy truly is. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, the “central actio of the Mass is fundamentally neither that of the priest as such nor of the laity as such, but of Christ the High Priest: This action of God, which takes place through human speech, is the real "action" for which all creation is in expectation… This is what is new and distinctive about the Christian liturgy: God himself acts and does what is essential”

There's more at the link.

The Furies will screech, no doubt. Let 'em.

One other benefit of an elevation in the language: children will learn more and better English. In not a few cases, I suspect that they will become more literate than some of the Bishops.

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