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10 Questions on the Revised Translation of the Ordo Missae from the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia
1. Why the changes?
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, theeditio typica altera, in 1975. Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of the Missale Romanum (editio typica tertia) as part of 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, the Fifth Instruction on Vernacular Translation of the Roman Liturgy, in 2001, 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.
2. 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 and have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions to ICEL. A second draft 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 commission of bishops and consultants from English–speaking countries convened to assist with the English translation of the Missale Romanum.
3. What’s new or particularly different about the revised translation?
From the Ratio Translationis:
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 is based on 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.
4. What is the significance of the translation pro multis in the words of Institution of the Eucharistic Prayer?
In October 2006 (after the bishops of the United States approved the Gray Book text of the Order of Mass), Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, communicated to Conferences of Bishops the desire of the Holy Father for a faithful translation of pro multis as “for many” in the formula for the consecration of the Precious Blood at Mass. The use of “for many” renders a translation more faithful to the accounts of the Last Supper found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The phrase “for many” does not mean to imply that Christ did not come to save all, but that salvation rests in part on personal acceptance of the salvation freely offered by Christ. Please see the separate section, “Six Questions on the Translation of Pro Multis” for more information.
5. What is the significance of the changes to the Nicene Creed?
Some of the most significant changes to the people’s parts in the Order of Mass are found in the Profession of Faith (the Nicene Creed). Changes to this text fall into two categories: preservation of the syntax of the original text and preservation of expressions of faith which contain Catholic doctrine. The first change is the translation of Credo as of “I” instead of “We” in the opening phrase in order to maintain the person and number indicated in the Latin text. While the profession of faith is a communal liturgical act, each individual in the liturgical assembly professes his or her own faith which is joined to the profession of the whole assembly. The second change concerns the translation of particular expressions of faith such as Unigenitus, consubstantialis, and incarnatus. The theological terminology has been preserved, in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam, in the translation to English: “Only Begotten,” “consubstantial,” and “incarnate.”
6. “And with your spirit”?
One of the more noticeable changes in the people’s parts of the Mass is the response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you.” The Latin response, et cum spiritu tuo, is rendered literally in English, “and with your spirit.” Liturgiam Authenticam calls for the faithful rendering of expressions that belong to the heritage of the ancient Church, and cites et cum spiritu tuo as an example (no. 56). Most modern languages have translated this phrase literally, so the English text now more closely parallels other vernacular translations.
7. What about the rest of the Missal?
The text of Ordo Missae I (Order of Mass) is the first of twelve (12) sections of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia undergoing translation. The remaining sections, which include the Proper of Seasons, Ordo Missae II (containing Prefaces, Solemn Blessings, and additional Eucharistic Prayers), Proper of Saints, Commons, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, Votive Masses, Masses for the Dead, Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children, and Antiphons, as well as Introductory Material and Appendices, have undergone first drafts (called “Green Books”). The second drafts (called “Gray Books”) for several sections have been completed and await votes by the Conferences of Bishops. Each section must follow the same process as the Ordo Missae I.
8. When will all this be complete?
Because this work involves the participation of ICEL, the USCCB as well as other English–speaking conferences of bishops), and the Holy See, it is difficult to set a firm date for the completion of the process of translation and approval. The current estimate, however, for the completion of work by the USCCB is November 2010. Once the final section of the Roman Missal has been approved by the USCCB, the complete text of the Missal must still be submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for recognitio.
9. When will this be implemented for liturgical use?
The approved text of the Order of Mass 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.
10. What about the U.S. Adaptations to the Order of Mass?
When the bishops of the United States approved the translation of the Order of Mass in June, 2006, they also approved eight (8) adaptations of the Order of the Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States. These included additional texts for use in the Act of Penitence, the Mystery of Faith (Memorial Acclamation), the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, and the Dismissal, as well as the placement of the Blessing and Sprinkling of Holy Water as part of the Introductory Rites of the Mass (rather than in an Appendix), and the insertion of a Prayer Over Water Already Blessed among the prayers of the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling. The Congregation for Divine Worship has not yet responded to these adaptations, but at this point has granted the recognitio only for the texts to be used universally in English–speaking countries.