Why is there a need for a new translation?
The Missale Romanum (Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. That Latin text, the editio typica (typical edition), was translated into various languages for use around the world; the English edition was published in the United States in 1973. The Holy See issued a revised text, the editio typica altera, in 1975. Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition (editio typica tertia) of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year in 2000. Among other things, the third edition contains prayers for the celebration of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. To aid the process of translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued Liturgiam Authenticam, in 2001, an Instruction on the vernacular translation of the Roman Liturgy which outlines the principles and rules for translation. In 2007, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued the Ratio Translationis for the English Language, which outlined the specific rules for translation in English.
Who is doing the work of translation?
The process of translation is a highly consultative work of several groups. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is chartered to prepare English translations of liturgical texts on behalf of the conferences of bishops of English–speaking countries. Currently 11 conferences of bishops are full members of the Commission: the United States, Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, and South Africa.
The USCCB and the other member Conferences of Bishops receive draft translations of each text from ICEL (called “Green Books”) and have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions to ICEL. A second draft (called the “Gray Book”) is proposed, which each Conference of Bishops approves (a Conference reserves the right to amend or modify a particular text) and submits to the Vatican for final approval.
At the level of the Vatican (the Holy See), the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments examines texts and offers authoritative approval (recognitio) of texts and grants permission for their use. Currently the Congregation is aided by the recommendations of Vox Clara, a special committee of bishops and consultants from English–speaking countries convened to assist with the English translation of the Missale Romanum.
The unique style of the Roman Rite should be maintained in translation. By “style” is meant here the distinctive way in which the prayers of the Roman Rite are expressed. The principal elements of such a style include a certain conciseness in addressing, praising and entreating God, as well as distinctive syntactical patterns, a noble tone, a variety of less complex rhetorical devices, concreteness of images, repetition, parallelism and rhythm as measured through the cursus, or ancient standards for stressing syllables of Latin words in prose or poetry. (no. 112)
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.
What is the timeline for the completion of the Missal?
After the Missale Romanum was published in Latin in 2002, ICEL began its work of preparing a draft English translation of the text. In order to better manage the task, the Missal was divided into 12 smaller sections. A draft of the first section, the Order of Mass, containing the fixed prayers of the Mass, including the people’s parts, was presented to the conferences of Bishops in 2004. The final version was approved by the USCCB in 2006, and was confirmed by the Holy See in June, 2008. The first “Green Books” of the remaining sections were presented gradually in 2006 and 2007, and the second “Gray Books” were presented in 2007 and 2008. Each Conference of Bishops established a schedule for review and vote on the various sections. The USCCB approved the Proper of Seasons in November, 2008. Four sections were approved in July 2009, and the remaining sections will be presented in November, 2009. Once the last sections are approved, the final approval of the complete text will be granted by the Holy See, which is anticipated in early 2010.
When will this be implemented for liturgical use?
The text of the Order of Mass (confirmed by the Holy See in June, 2008) has been released as a text for study and formation, but is not intended for liturgical use; that is to say it cannot be used in the celebration of the Mass. The intention of the Congregation for Divine Worship and of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is to enable and encourage a process of preparation and catechesis for both priests and the faithful, as well as to make the texts available to composers of liturgical music who can begin to set the texts, especially the acclamations, to music in anticipation of the implementation of the texts for liturgical use. It is hoped that when the time comes to use the texts in the celebration of the Mass, priests will be properly trained, the faithful will have an understanding and appreciation of what is being prayed, and musical settings of the liturgical texts will be readily available. The revised translation of the Order of Mass will be permitted only when the complete text of the Roman Missal (third edition) is promulgated.
What will the process of implementation look like?
Once the recognitio is granted, the process of final editing and publication will commence. The staff of the Secretariat of Divine Worship reviews and approves all proofs submitted by publishers not only of the Missal itself, but of participation aids such as hymnals and seasonal publications, prior to publication. In addition, the Bishops have begun a process of preparation and catechesis. Training for priests, music ministers and other liturgical leaders (liturgy committees and liturgical commissions) as well as formation for all Catholics will help to ensure the successful implementation of the new text.