By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The 2nd False Myth About the "Vatican II" Mass

The last SupperImage via Wikipedia
2. The second false myth about the Mass of Justin Martyr (see first post in this series) is that the English translation of this Mass is gravely flawed. Well, as of the First Sunday of Advent 2011, November 27th, a new English translation of the Vatican II Mass (I prefer calling it the "Mass of Justin Martyr") goes into effect. You can get the details at this link from the U.S. Bishops' Conference.

Moreover, if you look at the changes noted at the bishops' website, surprisingly, the changes are not, in my view, either major or radical. They strike me as adjustments that seek to make the language a more literal reflection of the official Latin text and lend a somewhat more majestic and biblical air to the English used. Here is how the bishops themselves describe the changes:

The texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal are marked by a heightened style of English speech and a grammatical structure that closely follows the Latin text.  In addition, many biblical and poetic images, such as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” (Communion Rite) and “…from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Eucharistic Prayer III) have been restored.

Source link.

So, even without this certainly welcome and overdue English revision, it is clear to me that the "old" English text which will soon be replaced is not, by any means, a gravely flawed translation, as some might have us think.

So, put the false myth to bed that the English translation of the Vatican II Mass, whether the present one still in use or the new one that will come into effect next year, is somehow gravely flawed. The English translation of the Mass of Justin Martyr was not gravely flawed, it is not gravely flawed, and it will certainly not be gravely flawed.

Let me make a related point. The Church has done a great service to the English-speaking world with this new translation. It is a service that is very theologically powerful: as in Pentecost (Acts 2:6b, "each one was hearing them speak in his own language," ESV), the Church praises God and proclaims the Good News in the languages of all people. This effort at refining the English translation of the Vatican II Mass is squarely in that ancient theological tradition and reflects one facet of the gift of tongues and the related gift of interpretation: seeking to make Christ more understandable to all people everywhere in their own language.