Thursday, January 31, 2008

Prayer: Vocations in the Diocese of Metuchen

This year is one of prayer for vocations (especially to the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life) in my diocese. Please consider praying for the candidates for the diaconate in the diocese of Metuchen:
  • Michael Bachynsky
  • William Barr
  • John Broehl
  • William Caubet
  • Christopher Conroy
  • Lawrence D’Andrea
  • John Deitchman
  • Peter DePrima
  • Robert Gatto
  • Patrick Hearty
  • John Jorgensen
  • James Kelly
  • Stephen Kern
  • George Kimball
  • Thomas Klaas
  • Edward Majkowski
  • Michael Martini
  • James McCormick
  • Michael Meyer
  • Gary Newton
  • Mark Pincus
  • John Raychel
  • William Rider
  • Earl Roberts
  • Edward Rodes
  • Joseph Saggese
  • Danilo San Jose
  • John Shelton
  • Hugo Simao
  • James Tesoriero
  • Joseph Tobin
  • Nelson Torres
  • Michael Wojcik

Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary: Supremi Apostolatus Officio (1883)

This is part 1 of a series on the writings of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary.

"Help from Heaven" (n. 1)
On the first of September, 1883, Pope Leo XIII presented to his brothers in the episcopate the first of a series of encyclicals on the Rosary and the importance and benefit of devotion thereto: Supremi Apostolatus Officio. This document marked the beginning of a pious campaign to stir up true devotion to the Rosary, which had proven efficacious in past times of tribulation for the Church.

His Holiness begins this encyclical by calling to mind the reliance of all humanity on the graciousness of God, as well as the unfailing patronage of the Blessed Mother: "We constantly seek for help from Heaven -- the sole means of effecting anything -- that our labors and our care may obtain their wished for object. We deem that there could be no surer and more efficacious means to this end than by religion and piety to obtain the favor of the great Virgin Mary, the Mother of God."

Origin of the Rosary (nn. 2-3)
He then describes the historical dependence of the Church and its faithful on Mary's "maternal goodness": "It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troubling times to fly for refuge to Mary." "This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven" has never been more evident than in times of heresy, moral corruption, or attacks on the Church by powerful enemies. Pope Leo writes about the foundation of the Rosary: "Our merciful God ... raised up against [the Albigensian heretics] a most holy man, the illustrious parent and founder of the Dominican Order." St. Dominic fought against these heretics by "trusting wholly to that devotion which he was the first to institute under the name of the Holy Rosary." This new method of prayer "would be the means of putting the enemy to flight, and of confounding their audacity and man impiety."

The Efficacy of the Rosary (nn. 4-5)
Having established its origin, the Holy Father then recounts other circumstances in which the Church flew to the protection of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. He mentions the 16th century, when "the Turks threatened to impose on nearly the whole of Europe the yoke of superstition and barbarism" and Pope St. Pius V "strove ... to obtain for Christendom the favor of the most powerful Mother of God". And so, in addition to Christian soldiers "prepared to sacrifice their life and blood for the salvation of their faith and their country", there were those who "saluted her again and again in the words of the Rosary, imploring her to grant the victory to their companions engaged in battle." Pope St. Pius V desired that a feast be established to celebrate the anniversary of this victory, and his successor, Pope Gregory XIII, did so: the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated (in the pre-conciliar calendar) on October 7th.

After victories over the Turks during the 18th century, which "coincided with feats of the Blessed Virgin and with the conclusion of public devotions of the Rosary", Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the whole Church.

Pope Leo then recounts various praises for the Rosary from Pontiffs past: Urban IV, Sixtus IV, Julius III, St. Pius V, and Gregory XIII who pronounced that "the Rosary had been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary."

Present Need (nn. 6-7)
Then the Holy Father writes that he too deems it "most appropriate for similar reasons to institute solemn prayers", and to address "the Blessed Virgin in the recital of the Rosary to obtain from her son Jesus Christ a similar aid against present dangers." He mentions the trials facing the Church at the time: the attacks on Christian piety, public morality, and the very faith itself: "It is one of the most painful and grievous sights to see so many souls, redeemed by the blood of Christ, snatched from salvation by the whirlwind of an age of error, precipitated into the abyss of eternal death."

Present use (nn. 8-11)
Pope Leo recounts that St. Dominic composed the Rosary "as to recall the mysteries of our salvation in succession": its purpose is to meditate on the salvation obtained for us by Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth, and the life", and to seek the "intercession with God of that Virgin, to whom it is given to destroy all heresies." His Holiness desires "that the whole month of October" of that year "be consecrated to the Holy Queen of the Rosary, and that from October 1st through November 2nd (33 days) throughout the Church "let five decades of the Rosary be recited with the addition of the Litany of Loreto." The Pope attached indulgences to the pious recitation of these prayers as well.

In closing, Pope Leo reminds his brethren that it is "part of the designs of Providence that, in these times of trial for the Church, the ancient devotion to the august Virgin should live and flourish amid the greatest part of the Christian world", and that we can be sure that "the heavenly Patroness of the human race will receive with joy these prayers and supplications" and that "God who is the avenger of crime, moved to mercy and pity may deliver Christendom and civil society from all dangers, and restore to them peace so much desired."

Later that year, Pope Leo XIII would add to the Litany of Loreto the title "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary" (Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii), through the proclamation Salutaris Ille of December 24.

Liturgy: Things to avoid this Lent...

Does your parish remove the Holy Water from the fonts during Lent? If so, what rationale do they give?

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said back in 2000 that this practice, "the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted".
This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
  1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
  2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently [of her] sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
So don't do it. And if your parish does it, politely request of your pastor that the practice be avoided and the abuse corrected.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Faith: Pope Paul VI on the Nicene Creed

Wow. Add this Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI -- Solemni Hac Liturgia -- to the list of documents from the era around Vatican II that people have just plum overlooked! (Another document on that list is Pope Bl. John XXIII's Veterum Sapientia, about the importance of the Latin language in the Church and the education thereof.)

It is an aggiornamento (bringing up-to-date) of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed... in a good way. His Holiness expounds on the elements of the Creed, reinforcing the Catholic faith in a time of "disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith", "in which so many certainties are being disputed". Without being "strictly speaking a dogmatic definition", it is a bold re-affirmation of so many elements of the Catholic faith.

This document should be required reading in every RCIA session around the world!

The Pope speaks of the Trinity and its Persons, Mary the Mother of God (specifically her perpetual virginity, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and universal Motherhood), original sin, being reborn in the Holy Spirit, baptism, the Church of Jesus Christ founded on Peter and its four marks, the Word (in Scripture, Tradition, and Authority), the single Shepherd of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being the sacramental presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, the transubtantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the temporal concern of the Church, purgatory, the communion of saints, and the Resurrection.

Blessed be God Thrice Holy. Amen.

Prayer: Jack Rutledge (1992 - 2008)

This afternoon, one of the parishioners at Queenship of Mary, Jack Rutledge, a 15 year old boy who was a student in our religious education program, passed away due to complications from Leukemia and an infection. My pastor, Fr. Bob Medley, asks that prayer be offered for him. The funeral will be held at 10 AM this Saturday.

Requiescat in pace.

Retreat: Sons and Daughters of the Light (2008): Summary

If you were an attendee of the retreat, please feel free to leave comments here; the more perspectives I have about the events and sessions from the retreat (especially from Sunday when I wasn't there), the better this blog's recap of the retreat can be.


Friday Night
Mass (7:00 PM)
The evening began around 7:00pm with Mass in the Chapel. My brother, Fr. Charlie Pinyan -- pastor of Guardian Angel in Allendale, NJ -- said Mass for us. It was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle; Fr. Charlie's homily brought to our attention not just the conversion of Saul, but also the further conversion of Ananias, the Christian in Damascus who was chosen by God to seek out and baptize Saul. We are called to deeper conversion, we who are already Christians, we who already know Jesus Christ and serve him: sometimes this means doing things we never expected God to ask of us (as in the case of Ananias), and the result is that we learn to trust God more. Fr. Charlie consecrated an additional host, for the purpose of Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament that evening (and again on Saturday).

Social (8:00 PM)
After Mass, we gathered upstairs for some light refreshments and some socializing. We were randomly paired up by being given pieces of paper with a number on the back -- both 1's got together, both 2's, and so on; each pair talked for about ten or fifteen minutes, at the end of which we went around the groups introducing the person we'd spoken to. (Hi, Jeanette!) We also put our pieces of paper together: the numbers were written on the back of a sheet of paper, and fit together like a puzzle. Once the puzzle was completed (minus a large piece in the middle, which someone accidentally threw in the garbage after he was done talking to Jeanette), one of the retreat organizers, Sam Chey (who is also the Youth Minister at Fr. Charlie's parish) re-introduced us to the retreat. The puzzle was the invitation to the retreat we had each received: we had received the invitation, and we had responded to it. (There were about 20 of us on the retreat.)

Introduction (9:30 PM)
After Sam's brief introduction, we went back downstairs to one of the meditation rooms (the Well) for the first talk of the weekend, also by Sam. The theme of the retreat was "Ascending - The Journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday", and Sam opened the weekend by speaking about the various ways our bodies are injured, and the way our body recovers: scar tissue. But scar tissue is imperfect: it doesn't have the characteristics of true skin, it's not as soft or supple. To overcome this problem, doctors resort to skin grafting: that is when real skin is taken from elsewhere on our bodies and transplanted at the site of the injury, so that it can grow and give us new skin again. When our hearts are injured, when we undergo spiritual damage, we run the risk of simply growing "scar tissue", but this leaves us with a heart that is not a true heart, a stony heart, not soft like flesh. It is then that we must implore Jesus, the Great Physician, to work his great miracle of healing upon us: to graft his True Flesh and True Blood into our own, and to effect not only the healing of our sinful nature, but of our wounded hearts as well. "We pierce Christ with our sin", Sam said, "but he pierces us with his grace."

Taizé (10:00 PM)
After Sam's talk, we stayed in the Well room -- designed to call to mind the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4) -- for some Taizé meditation. There were symbols of Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the room: a velvet robe, a crown of thorns, nails and a hammer; an empty cross draped with a white stole, the Scripture accounts of the Resurrection. There were also various prayers and Scripture passages written on placards throughout the room.

Adoration (10:30 PM)
After a period of silent prayer, we moved into the Chapel for exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by the singing of O Salutaris Hostia, followed by Night Prayer. We stayed in silent Adoration for at least another half hour after that. Towards the end of Adoration, we voiced our prayers and petitions before the Lord out loud; I began chanting Jesu, Dulcis Memoria (since January is dedicated to His Holy Name) and was pleasantly surprised when Craig (a former seminarian) chanted along with me. (I have recently become drawn to Gregorian Chant, and brought a booklet of chants I had selected which were appropriate to Adoration.) We had no priest or deacon with us at that hour, so the Most Blessed Sacrament was reposed without Benediction.

The morning began with Morning Prayer (as all mornings should!) followed by breakfast. After some songs of worship in the Seashore room, we moved to the Vineyard room, where Fr. Brian Page (associate pastor at Our Lady of the Lake in Verona) entered to present the first of four talks he would give that day.

Laborers in the Vineyard: Meaning in the Midst of Labor (9:30 AM)
Fr. Bryan prefaced by introducing himself and having some of us introduce ourselves to him. He began his talk by reminding us that between every beginning and ending point, there's a path in between; he used an example from his life. He used to "know" (so he thought) how to put up sheet rock, but his method involved approximations, multiple cuttings, and shaving the sheet rock down so it would fit. When he went to New Orleans to help rebuild recently, he saw the experts at work: making their measurements, taking a straight edge, and cutting along that line. The sheet rock simply snapped where they cut, and it fit perfectly.

Along our path, we make decisions. "The word decision", he explained, "comes from the Latin dicere: to cut away." Every decision means we "cut away" some other path we could have followed. This means every decision involves a commitment. When it comes time for us to decide, we need to know some things. First, we need to know what we want: if we don't know what we want, we won't know it when we see it. Second, we need to know what we don't want: if we don't know what we don't want, we won't avoid it and choose what's right instead.

(More to come.)

Rosary (10:30 AM)

Mass (11:30 AM)
(Fr. Bryan's homily recap goes here.) After Mass was lunch; lunch was followed by about an hour of free time, for prayer, reflection, or repose.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Other Brother (2:00 PM)

Bible Study (3:00 PM)
After we got back into one large group, we briefly shared from our small faith sharing groups and from our Bible study groups. Then we went had dinner at 5:00 PM, followed by Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM.

"Peter, do you love me?": The Road to Fidelity (6:30 PM)

A Well in the Desert: Restoring Fath (8:00 PM)

Confession, Adoration, Night Prayer (8:30 PM)

Entertainment (10:30 PM)
I don't know!

I don't know!

A big thank you to Sam, Tracy, Fr. Bryan Page, Fr. Charlie Pinyan, Sr. Loretta, the rest of the Salesian Sisters, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who showed up for Adoration and Confession, Fr. Carlos Viego, and everyone else (like Craig and someone whose name I can't remember right now) who helped set up the meditation rooms.

Pax Domini!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Liturgy: Active Participation?

I'm reading a handful of Vatican II documents right now (as the Vox Ecclesiae page attests) -- the only one I'd read in its entirety had been Sacrosanctum Concilium, but now I'm reading a group that have to do with religious liberty, ecumenism, and the identity of the One Church of Christ as the ("Roman") Catholic Church.

But I'm also going to revisit Sacrosanctum Concilium eventually too, because I'll be looking at its call for liturgical reform; in the mean time, check out this article from Sacred Music's Winter issue in 1987. It's by Msgr. Richard Schuler, and it's called "Participation". It analyzes the meaning of "active participation" (actuosa participatio) as presented not only in Sacrosanctum Concilium, but in no less than 5 pre-Vatican II Papal or Magisterial documents!

News: Jesuits to remain faithful to the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI considers it "a good custom" that the newly elected superiors-general of the Jesuit order renew the order's commitment to obedience to the Pope. I read that to mean "absolutely necessary if they are to be taken seriously". Here's some more from the story:
The Jesuits reported that the Holy Father was pleased to hear a committee had been formed to study the letter he sent Jan. 10 to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the order's 35th General Congregation.

In the letter Benedict XVI wrote: "It could prove extremely useful that the General Congregation reaffirm, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine, in particular on those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example, the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons."
[Source: ZENIT]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Prayer: Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas is known as the Angelic Doctor: he is a Doctor of the Church and he was blessed by God, through two angels, with pure chastity. He authored the great Eucharistic hymn Pange lingua. As my friend Tiber Jumper points out, one stanza of this chant succinctly captures the Church's perennial teaching on the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ:

Verbum caro, panem verum verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum, et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum sola fides sufficit.

A rough translation of this is:

The Word-made-flesh (Verbum caro), true bread (panem verum) -- by His word (verbo) -- into flesh (carnem) turns (efficit), and makes (fitque) the Blood of Christ (sanguis Christi) of wine (merum); and if the senses fail (et si sensus deficit), to strengthen (ad firmandum) the pure heart (cor sincerum) faith alone (sola fides) suffices (sufficit).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Prayer: 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” (no. 22 of the “Masses for Various Needs”) should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373
I am fasting from 8pm tonight until 8pm tomorrow night, as an act of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. Tomorrow morning after daily Mass I will pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet in reparation for the innocents murdered by abortion. Tomorrow around noon, instead of eating lunch, I will pray a Rosary imploring mercy for those who perform, commit, or facilitate abortions. Tomorrow evening, at the Finding Our Way group's evening prayer, we will praying intentions for an end to abortion.

Remember, it is not only the unborn for whom you should pray, but also those who are born into and have been sullied by this culture of death: pray for those who have sinned, that they may receive true conversion of heart and true repentance.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NY Giants are going to the Super Bowl!

Wow. I watched the whole game. Very impressive. Way to go, Big Blue. Tynes! Eli! Best of luck in Arizona!

Retreat: Sons and Daughters of the Light (2008)

I went on a retreat last January sponsored by the Newark Archdiocese. I am going again this coming weekend, in a slightly larger capacity (leading a Bible study) but still primarily for growth. I'll be sure to take notes so I can provide an outline and recap. I won't be there on Sunday; I'm leaving late Saturday night because I have obligations to my own parish on Sunday.

I am looking forward very much to the evenings: overnight adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday, and a Eucharistic Procession on Saturday. I'm bringing a booklet of Gregorian Chant appropriate for adoration, a Bible, and a rosary. It's been a while since I gave the Lord an hour of my time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Debate: The 1962 Good Friday rite and the Jewish people

I've done a "diablog" once; now I'll be doing a point-counterpoint with someone who's not a blogger, but a personal friend of mine. The issue at hand is an article from America that he mailed me a few days ago about the "Latin Liturgy" (that is, the 1962 Missal) and the Jews: specifically, the Good Friday rite and its prayer for the Jews.

I read the article, and had something to say about it. The article from an October 2007 issue (which is not available online) is titled "The Latin Liturgy and the Jews". The gist of the article is that the 1962 prayer is damaging for Catholic-Jewish relations -- because it is uninformed by the reforms of Vatican II (specifically Nostra Aetate) -- and that the 1970 prayer should replace it. There are generally two reasons why the 1970 prayer would replace the 1962 prayer: either a) they say the same thing (but the 1970 prayer says it "better"), or b) they say different things (and the 1962 prayer said the "wrong" thing). The article more or less implies b, that the 1962 prayer is "wrong", but near the very end, it seems like it might just be implying a, that the 1970 prayer says the same thing in more sensitive language.

What follows is, verbatim, my email to my friend responding to the article. When I get his response, I will record it below mine (or perhaps interspersed -- it depends on how he formats his reply). He plans to send me his reply sometime this weekend.

Jeff's response to the article

Thanks for sending me the America article; I had not yet seen it. I don't know if you sent it to me after reading a recent post of mine on my blog, but if not, the mailing was well-timed. Permit me to offer my comments on the article; I'm sorry it's lengthy, but I want to make myself clear in my position. (If you don't have any objections, I'd like to post my response to this article on my blog.)

First, I'd like to provide the Latin of the prayer for the Jews from the 1962 rite (along with a fair English translation):
Oremus et pro Iudæis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. (Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate) Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Iudæos etiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcæcatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus: per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Here is the English translation from my 1961 Daily Missal:
Let us pray also for the Jews, that our God and Lord may remove the veil from their hearts; that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. (Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise.) Almighty and everlasting God, You drive not even the Jews away from Your mercy; hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people, that, acknowledging the light of Your truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness. Through the same, etc. Amen.
Having this will come in handy for supporting the points I make in my commentary.

The authors write (emphasis mine):
That missal ... contains a prayer for use on Good Friday that singles out Jews for conversion, attributes to them a particular blindness and asks God to lift the "veil from their hearts." This inches perilously close to a view of Judaism as a fossilized and invalid faith[.] ... Meanwhile, the Missal of Paul VI in wide use today strikes a categorically different tone, instructing Catholics to pray that the Jewish people "will grow in the love of God's name and in faithfulness to his covenant." (p. 11)
The Good Friday rite does not "single out Jews" in the sense that they are the only people prayed for; on the contrary, there are also prayers for "heretics and schismatics" ( i.e. separated brethren) and "pagans" (i.e. non-Christians). One might ask: where is the outcry from the Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, etc.? The "veil" and the "blindness" referred to by the prayer are terms found in Scripture; words spoken by Jesus or written by Paul. Jesus talks of the blindness of the Pharisees on at least two occasions (cf. Matthew 15:12-14; 23:16-26); he also proclaims that his mission includes "recovering ... sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18). Paul wrote: But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. (2 Cor 3:14-16) and again And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4). The prayer could have used language from the First Letter of John, which puts it quite simply that No one who denies the Son has the Father. (1 John 2:22)

Regardless of the status of the Mosaic covenant -- that is, whether Judaism is "a fossilized and invalid faith" -- it is the duty of the Church to pray that everyone may come to know that Jesus is the Christ of God. The "categorically different tone" in the Missal of Paul VI is certainly ambiguous, and if it were not for the tradition of the Church, one might think the prayer is simply asking that God would make sure Jews stay "faithful Jews". But the Church's definition of "faithful Jew" is different from the world's definition of "faithful Jew" -- in asking for Jews to grow in "faithfulness to his covenant", the Church is really (although in ambiguous and lame terminology) asking that they recognize the Messiah: that they be "faithful Jews" in the same way the Apostles and first Christians were!

The authors continue:
John Paul II taught repeatedly that the church's "attitude to the Jewish religion should be one of the greatest respect, since the Catholic faith is rooted in the eternal truths contained in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the irrevocable covenant made with Abraham" Sydney, Australia, Nov. 26, 1986). Guidelines on Religious Relations With the Jews (1974) states that the witness of Catholics to Jesus Christ should not give offense to Jews. (p. 11)
John Paul's reference here (at least as far as was quoted) is to the Abrahamaic covenant, that through Abraham all nations (not only Israel) would find blessing: this is seen in the opening of the new covenant in Jesus Christ which brought Gentiles into the "people of God" without requiring them to become Jews first: baptism replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant. As for the terse 1974 document, the context of "not giv[ing] offense to Jews" is this:
In virtue of her divine mission, and her very nature, the Church must preach Jesus Christ to the world (Ad Gentes, n. 2). Lest the witness of Catholics to Jesus Christ should give offence to Jews, they must take care to live and spread their Christian faith while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (Declaration Dignitatis Humanae). They will likewise strive to understand the difficulties which arise for the Jewish soul -- rightly imbued with an extremely high, pure notion of the divine transcendence -- when faced with the mystery of the incarnate Word.
In other words, we must preach Jesus to the world, including the Jewish people; in preaching to the Jews, it makes sense to preach Jesus in a different way than to a person who is not under the Mosaic covenant, because Jesus is the fulfillment of a covenant the Jews are familiar with. All it means is that getting Jews to recognize Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah is different than getting "pagans" to recognize Jesus as the Savior of the world who takes away their sins.

The article continues:
Jews around the world remain proudly committed to the faith of their ancestors and the biblical covenant between the children of Abraham and the creator of heaven and earth. (p. 12)
John the Baptist warned the Pharisees not to "presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham." (Matthew 3:9) and Paul writes in Romans 11 about the severing of some branches from the tree (which represent Jews who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah) and warns those Gentiles who have been grafted in: They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. (Romans 11:20) Mary recognized her conception of Jesus in this way: "[God] has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever." (Luke 1:54-55) Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, spoke in similar terms, saying that God had brought about the Incarnation "to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear..." (Luke 1:72-74) Jesus himself spoke to unbelieving Jews about their relation to Abraham in John 8. To the first Christians (most of whom were Jews), God fulfilled his promise to Abraham through the person of Jesus the Messiah.

But more to the point, this says nothing about the Mosaic covenant, only the Abrahamaic covenant.

Continuing, the article mentions a rabbi that changed a Catholic document:
When Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, an observer at Vatican II and the most important Jewish theologian there, saw that the penultimate version of Nostra Aetate contained an allusion to conversion, on the eve of Yom Kippur he flew to Rome to speak to Pope Paul VI and the council's bishops. He emotionally professed: "If faced with the choice of baptism or the crematoria of Auschwitz, I would choose Auschwitz." The bishops deleted the reference. (p. 12)
Is that what was meant by "Catholics ... should [not] give offence to Jews"? Sentimentality aside -- not that the Holocaust wasn't a terrible crime against Jews and all peoples -- there were plenty of first century Jews who chose baptism, and the early Church spent its days preaching to them for conversion. Were they in error to do so? On the contrary, as Acts 2:37-41 testifies, some three thousand (Jewish!) souls were added that day.

Whether or not the Jews of today like it, Christians call Jesus the Christ, the Messiah; when will that be contested? When will Christians have to start referring to themselves as "Jesusians" so as not to offend those who do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah?

My final remark on the article is from this passage:
... substituting the text of the 1970 prayer in the Roman Missal for the 1962 text could resolve the problems without sacrificing any principle. (p. 13)
Oh it could? If no principle is sacrificed, then the 1970 prayer must say (in substance) what the 1962 prayer says, which means it must be asking God to effect the conversion of the Jews to Christ! If that is truly the case, then the removal of phrases like "blindness" and "veils" is a superficial one (one of language rather than intent), and the Jewish people (or their representatives) have no problem with the Church praying for their conversion (so long as they don't use that nasty "c" word). And yet, I would guess that is not really the case: the representatives of the Jewish people do not want the Church to pray for them to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and would prefer the Church use a prayer of ambiguous language that will eventually (if it hasn't already) take on a multi-covenantal meaning where the Church is simply asking God to keep the Jews faithful to their post-destruction-of-the-Temple religion. Lex orandi, lex credendi -- the longer Catholics pray (or hear) the poorly worded prayer and hear this opposition towards the older prayer, the less they'll believe they should actually be praying for the Jews to recognize the fulfillment of their covenant in Jesus for the good of their souls, and the more they'll think that belief in Jesus as the Christ is "extra credit".

Monday, January 14, 2008

Liturgy: Cardinal Arinze on Latin, music, and translations (from 2006)

Fr. Z has called my attention to a talk given by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze (Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) back in November of 2006. His talk ("On Language in Liturgy") was published on ZENIT in three parts:
  1. "Latin Is Concise, Precise and Poetically Measured"
  2. "Good Music Helps to Promote Prayer"
  3. "No Individual Has Authority to Change the Approved Wording"
See Fr. Z's post for his comments. I'll get around to reading the whole thing and probably sharing a few key points.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Liturgy: Conversi ad Dominum

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass today ad orientem -- that is, facing the tabernacle, facing the Lord -- in public. Continuity in liturgical tradition is making a comeback.

"God's football team"?

Congratulations to my New York Giants in defeating the Dallas Cowboys (so-called "God's football team") 21-17. It was a tense game, but we stuck in there.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scripture: Out with the old, in with the new?

A fellow blogger, the Weekend Fisher, recently blogged about an article written in the Jerusalem Post ("Nothing old about it") by Shmuley Boteach (SB). The newspaper article suggests that Christians need to retire the term "Old Testament"; Weekend Fisher (WF) considers the various names by which the Old Testament can be called. I left a lengthy response on her blog, but I hadn't made any comments about the arguments made by the article. This blog post will be about both the article and the post. I will tackle the subject of "dispensationalism" which seems to be rearing its ugly head in the Church recently. [The citations I make after quotes refer to the paragraph number of the article and blog post.]

The issue SB takes with the "pejorative" (SB 7) terms Old Testament and New Testament is their connotation: "'New' connotes vibrant, alive and fresh. 'Old' brings to mind stodgy, musty and out-of-date." (SB 4) Moreover, the former projects a bias against the Mosaic covenant and the latter a preference for the Christian covenant. The terms he prefers are "Hebrew Bible" and "Christian Bible" (SB 7), terms which I will dissect later. Moreover, Christians have "contradicted themselves by referring to the Hebrew Bible as obsolete". (SB 7) He says it is difficult for America to promote "biblical values ... most of which come from Hebrew Scripture (opposed to the New Testament)" while at the same time considering Hebrew scriptures to be "rejected because of their irrelevance". (SB 9) He questions the juxtaposition of modern-day America being "based on the principles of the 'Old Testament', which suggests an eternal relevance, while describing those same scriptures as archaic and prehistoric". (SB 9)

He suggests new names as part of the "cleaning up [of] the language" which has become a part of our culture: political correctness. Perhaps we should call the Old Testament the Senior Testament? "We no longer call twentysomething women 'girls' or 'gals'. We no longer insultingly refer to Native Americans as Redskins, or to African-Americans as Negroes." (SB 8) I take issue with that last example -- not that I am in the practice of using the word "Negro", but the United Negro College Fund has not changed its name in its 64 years of existence. He also suggests the word "'goyim' ... likewise be retired" because of the "pejorative connotation" it has accumulated. (SB 19) Does humanity now allow a word to be its master? The word goyim means "nation" or "people", and is synonymous with Gentile (that is, a non-Jew). Must we edit our Scriptures now that the term can be used in an offensive manner? Did God's providence fail Him when He placed in the minds of the authors of Scripture that particular word? Surely He must have known it would eventually be used pejoratively!

There is also a confusing sentiment in the article, which sometimes suggests dispensationalism or religious pluralism, and sometimes disregards Christianity. Although he "enjoys an extremely warm relationship with the Christian community and has the highest admiration for [his] Christian brothers and sisters", he notes "sadly, there are Jews who, sometimes out of ignorance for their own faith, find their spiritual home in Christianity." (SB 3) He begins his article by mentioning a "Jewish-born Christian chaplain" who described "how he had chosen Jesus as his personal Messiah". (SB 2)

I do not think Christianity (or Judaism) has ever been about "personal" salvation: God promised something to Abraham and his offspring. It is never about "God and me" (or worse yet "me and God"), it is always about God's action for His people. I don't think it's so much choosing Jesus as your personal savior as it is recognizing Jesus is the world's savior and accepting it. There is not an array of personal saviors out there for us to pick and choose from: there is one Savior who has called us, who has chosen us. It's not a matter of finding your spiritual home, it's a matter of recognizing God's will and freely assenting to it. When you start dispensationalizing it -- that is, saying God made the Mosaic covenant as a concession to the Jews, and the Christian covenant as a concession to some Jews and many Gentiles, and even the Muhammadic (?) covenant as a concession to other Gentiles -- you are making each of those covenants, which proclaim exclusivity, incorrect in that regard, and you make their Author, the Almighty God, a liar.

Historically, the first Christians were Jews. It would appear the rate of conversion to (or, if you prefer another term, rate of acceptance of) Christ of the Jews slowed down rather early on, and Christianity was welcomed more by the myriad pagan Gentiles. But that does not change the fact that the Apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ sought to educate their fellow Jews about who Jesus was (the Christ, their awaited Messiah) for the sake of their salvation. It was not a matter of turning from God to Christ, it was a matter of acknowledging God's plan in Christ: the alternative was not simply reject this "Jesus" and sticking with God, it was rejecting the Messiah and waiting for God to fulfill a promise already fulfilled! The one who seeks and finds must stop seeking; the one who knocks must stop knocking when the door is opened. Tertullian wrote this some 1800 years ago (Prescription Against Heretics, XI):
[I]f I have believed what I was bound to believe, and then afterwards think that there is something new to be sought after, I of course expect that there is something else to be found, although I should by no means entertain such expectation, unless it were because I either had not believed, although I apparently had become a believer, or else have ceased to believe. If I thus desert my faith, I am found to be a denier thereof. Once for all I would say, No man seeks, except him who either never possessed, or else has lost (what he sought). The old woman (in the Gospel) had lost one of her ten pieces of silver, and therefore she sought it; when, however, she found it, she ceased to look for it. The neighbour was without bread, and therefore he knocked; but as soon as the door was opened to him, and he received the bread, he discontinued knocking. The widow kept asking to be heard by the judge, because she was not admitted; but when her suit was heard, thenceforth she was silent. So that there is a limit both to seeking, and to knocking, and to asking. “For to every one that asketh,” says He, “it shall be given, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened, and by him that seeketh it shall be found.” Away with the man who is ever seeking because he never finds; for he seeks there where nothing can be found. Away with him who is always knocking because it will never be opened to him; for he knocks where there is none (to open). Away with him who is always asking because he will never be heard; for he asks of one who does not hear.
I turn now to the blog post. WF rejects (as do I) the terms "Hebrew Bible" and "Christian Bible". To call the Jewish scriptures "Hebrew" (rather than "Jewish") "rejects the idea of a New Testament that is for Hebrews as well", while "[t]he term 'Christian Bible' implies that those books belong to 'another religion' (an idea the Jewish authors of those books rejected)." (WF 2) The fact of the matter is that both sets of Scriptures are divinely inspired by God, for the same people (the whole world) and to the same end (that of revealing the savior of the world, the Messiah, the Christ, our Lord Jesus). The new covenant "is not merely for all nations other than Israel, but ... which includes Israel as the firstborn." (WF 2)

She recognizes the "distaste" for the term Old Testament, and would use "Early Testaments" or "First Testament" if she were to avoid "Old". (WF 3) But she points out the historical status of the Mosaic covenant: "nobody has performed the morning and evening sacrifices since the Romans demolished the Temple in 70 A.D." (WF 3) She considers the term "Worldwide Bible" as a possibility for the New Testament if the Old Testament were called the Hebrew Bible, because it "reveals the Torah" -- that is, "Jesus ... the incarnate, living and breathing Torah of God" -- "going forth from Jerusalem into all the world." (WF 2) She is also content with calling the Old Testament simply by "a value-neutral term ... the 'Tanakh'." (WF 6)

I disagree with Hebrew Bible for the same reasons as WF: there are Hebrews for whom the New Testament is just as much a part of their Bible. In addition, Hebrew is a race, the descendants of Eber (cf. Gen 10:21-24) of whom Abraham is one, not a religion; Judaism is a religion: call it the Jewish Bible if you must. But I also disagree with Christian Bible because it forwards SB's misconception that Christians consider the Jewish Scriptures to be "stodgy, musty, and out-of-date" (SB 4), "turgid and dreary" (SB 6), "obsolete" (SB 7), "archaic and prehistoric" (SB 9). SB supports this with another misconception, that Christianity's "doctrine of exclusivity" insists "on the uselessness of other religions." (SB 11) On the contrary, the Church values that which is true in all religions because it sees in those truths (among the falsehoods) the seeds of the Holy Spirit in preparing those peoples for the true faith of God, preparation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's exactly the same with Judaism: it is true up to the point where it denies a trinitarian God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; it is true up to the point where it denies that Jesus is the Messiah and God. God cannot be truly God if He says to Christians that Jesus is the Messiah and says to Jews that Jesus is not.

Judaism was the seed from which the Gospel sprouted, as Jesus was "born under the law" (Gal 4:4): but unless that seed dies, no fruit will come forth (cf. John 12:24). This is why the temple was destroyed, as a sign that the preceding covenants had done what they were destined to do by their Creator, to lead all peoples and all nations to Christ, the mediator of a "new" (Jer 31:31; Luke 22:20; Heb 8:13), "better" (Heb 7:22), "everlasting" (Jer 32:40, 50:5), and "eternal" (Heb 13:20) covenant. The Mosaic covenant had to be fulfilled and completed: it had to "die" so that the everlasting covenant could spring forth and grow and blossom. The seed had to give way to the glory of the flower.

As for "religious pressure", it is a fine line we walk when one religion can dictate (or strong-arm) another religion's practices, nomenclature, etc. An example is the prayer for the conversion of the Jews found in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the so-called Tridentine or Traditional Latin Mass), which some Jews are up in arms about now that the 1962 liturgy is being celebrated more frequently around the world; they want the language changed. The 1960 revision of the prayer dropped the word perfidis (which means "faithless" or "unbelieving", rather than "perfidious" or "treacherous"). Some suggested that the 1965 version of the prayer (or even the 1970 version) be used now when the 1962 liturgy is used. The prayer is for the conversion of the Jews, and it uses scriptural language (as found in the letters of Paul) to Jews as being "blinded" and covered by a "veil" (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; 2 Cor 3:14). We seek the conversion of the hearts not to another God, but to the true identity of God, that they come to believe in and accept Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, true God and true Man.

As for the terminology used, the names Old Testament and New Testament are perfectly acceptable to me (as they were to early Christians). The testament testifies to -- is a witness to -- the covenant; the covenant is not the book nor its pages. The covenant is the pact made between God and His people. The blood of Jesus Christ is the new covenant. The "Old Testament" is an older witness to older covenants. And they are older! We do not insult the older scriptures by calling them so -- ancient and decrepit are not the same.

The fact that they are older does not make them of no use to Christians; on the contrary, the Church has taught that both the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God:
The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts ... are to be received as sacred and canonical ... because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church. (Dei Filius, c. II, nn. 6-7)
For what was said and done in the Old Testament was ordained and disposed by God with such consummate wisdom, that things past prefigured in a spiritual way those that were to come under the new dispensation of grace. (Divino Afflante Spiritus, n. 26)
The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament: these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable. "For all that was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4). ... Now the books of the Old Testament, in accordance with the state of mankind before the time of salvation established by Christ, reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men. These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy. These same books, then, give expression to a lively sense of God, contain a store of sublime teachings about God, sound wisdom about human life, and a wonderful treasury of prayers, and in them the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way. Christians should receive them with reverence. God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New. For, though Christ established the new covenant in His blood (see Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (see Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 14:16) and in turn shed light on it and explain it. (Dei Verbum, nn. 14-16)
So we cannot say that Christians find the Old Testament to be worthless; the Church does not permit us to! Neither can we say that Christians find the old covenants to be worthless, because they were instituted by God for divine reasons so that the new covenant would be receivable by not only Jews but Gentiles as well. However, the older covenants have given way to the new one, which is everlasting. They have served their purpose.

We also have Scriptural evidence of old-vs-new terminology. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16: "But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed." Paul clearly equates reading "Moses" to reading "the old covenant", and says a veil is over the eyes of those who fail (or refuse) to see Christ (i.e. Messiah). The letter to the Hebrews calls the previous covenant "old" as well (Heb 8:6,13).

Also in Hebrews is the term "former commandment", which opens the doorway to the comparison of one covenant being "better" than the other: "On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath. Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath, 'The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, "Thou art a priest for ever."' This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant." (Heb 7:18-22)

Keeping up this theme of the better covenant in the blood of Jesus (rather than bulls or goats) is Hebrews 8:6 (again): "Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises." Even Hebrews 11:39-40 points to the necessity of this new covenant, arguing that the righteous who died with faith in a coming Messiah, "though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." What does "apart from us they should not be made perfect" mean? I think it means that faithful Jews, before Christ, were not completed in their faith until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, actually came, and so the righteous dead were not made "perfect" until the time of the Christians, which was only begun with the institution of a new covenant. Thus, even those Jews who died in God's grace before the time of Jesus needed this new covenant to be "perfect"!

As for the "first covenant" (a term found in the letter to the Hebrews), we read that "if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second" (Heb 8:7) and that the Holy Spirit, through the prophet Jeremiah, "in speaking of a new covenant ... treats the first as obsolete." (Heb 8:13). The author again uses the term in Hebrews 9:1-18. It might be used again in Hebrews 10:8-10 where the author says that Jesus "abolishes the first in order to establish the second" (Heb 10:9), "the first" referring to the "sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (Heb 10:8) of the Mosaic covenant, "the second" referring to the will of God in inaugurating the new covenant (cf. Heb 10:10).

The term "new covenant" is found in abundance (Jer 31:31; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:13; Heb 9:15; Heb 12:24). If it is "new", that distinction is in relation to something old(er) than itself. And not just older, but "becoming obsolete and ... ready to vanish away" (Heb 8:13 -- the language of the letter suggests that it was written before AD 70, when the Temple was still standing).

Finally, the terms are found in early Church Father literature. Here is a list of some of the earliest occurrences I have found in Schaff's "Ante-Nicene Fathers", Vol I.

In 2001, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a document (with preface signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) entitled "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible". (The term "Christian Bible" in this document means the whole Bible.) One section in particular has attracted attention amid the recent displeasure over the Good Friday prayer for the Jews found in the 1962 rite.
22. The horror in the wake of the extermination of the Jews (the Shoah) during the Second World War has led all the Churches to rethink their relationship with Judaism and, as a result, to reconsider their interpretation of the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. It may be asked whether Christians should be blamed for having monopolised the Jewish Bible and reading there what no Jew has found. Should not Christians henceforth read the Bible as Jews do, in order to show proper respect for its Jewish origins?

In answer to the last question, a negative response must be given for hermeneutical reasons. For to read the Bible as Judaism does necessarily involves an implicit acceptance of all its presuppositions, that is, the full acceptance of what Judaism is, in particular, the authority of its writings and rabbinic traditions, which exclude faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

As regards the first question, the situation is different, for Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion. Both readings are bound up with the vision of their respective faiths, of which the readings are the result and expression. Consequently, both are irreducible.

On the practical level of exegesis, Christians can, nonetheless, learn much from Jewish exegesis practised for more than two thousand years, and, in fact, they have learned much in the course of history. For their part, it is to be hoped that Jews themselves can derive profit from Christian exegetical research.
At times, this section ignores the fact that the Christian reading of Scripture is the correct Jewish reading of Scripture. The whole Bible is the Christian Bible; the first part is the Jewish Bible and has been duly inherited by Christians because of their patronage through the Apostles and Jesus Christ, Jews all! We cannot call the Old Testament worthless, although we can call the old Mosaic covenant defunct, since it has been surpassed by the new covenant in Jesus Christ. As Jesus and his Apostles proved, the Jewish Scriptures can be read from a Jewish point of view and testify to the new covenant. It requires a veil to be lifted, however, and for that, I will pray.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tradition: Hour of Mercy

During this Lent, I will be making an effort to dedicate myself to prayer for unity of all Christians during the Hour of Mercy on each Friday: "I write these words during those three hours [noon - 3 pm] today (Friday), the day of the week perpetually consecrated by His crucifixion and death. Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do when we have divided Your Son's Mystical Body." (Bryan Cross at Principium Unitatis)

The Hour of Mercy is the hour of 3pm, when Jesus Christ gave up his spirit and made the final assent of his human will to his Divine will, the will of his Father in Heaven. It is so called because it is the hour when God's justice gave way to His mercy. As Pope Benedict XVI put it in his two encyclicals on love and hope:
We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed “adultery” and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:8-9). God's passionate love for his people — for humanity — is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love. (Deus Caritas Est, n. 10)
God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things — justice and grace — must be seen in their correct inner relationship. (Spe Salvi, n. 44)

Church: Jesus inseparable from the Church

I found a great post by Brian Cross on the blog Principium Unitatis through my friend the Tiber Jumper. The post is titled "Church and Jesus Are Inseparable, Says Pope Benedict". It refers to an article in Zenit (from nearly two years ago) where the Pope explained that "Between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: They are inseparable, despite the sins of the people who make up the Church. ... Therefore, there is no way to reconcile Christ's intentions with the slogan that was fashionable a few years ago, 'Christ yes, the Church no'."

Here's a brief excerpt from Bryan's essay (emphasis mine):
In dialoguing with a person who holds a gnostic conception of the Church, we have to show that Christ founded a visible Church. We can do this by showing that schism is impossible if the Church is not visible, and yet schism is clearly forbidden in Scripture -- cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10. Scripture also enjoins unity among Christians; that would be nonsensical if ecclesial unity were complete merely by all Christians being Christian. (Those holding a gnostic conception of the Church typically have no conception of schism, or any way of showing whether they are or are not in schism.) We can also point to Scripture passages that show the importance of church discipline (e.g. St. Matthew 18:15ff), and obedience to ecclesial authority (e.g. Hebrews 13:17). Those two things do not fit into the gnostic conception of the Church. We can also show that the Church is a living body, and that bodies are material, not invisible.


Those persons who agree that Christ founded a visible Church, but deny that any present institution is it, are by that denial saying that the Church which Christ founded ceased to exist, and that Christ's promise regarding the indefectibility of the Church was false. Those persons who agree that Christ founded a visible Church, but deny that apostolicity is through sacramental succession from the Apostles, have not fully removed the gnosticism of early Protestantism from their theology.
I'm going to print out this essay (along with the article from This Rock that he linked to) and read them more closely. If I read something interesting online, often I'll print it out, read it again, highlighting things of interest, and filing it away in a folder on my desk (as opposed to a folder on my desktop... this is paper I'm talking about). I like that better than merely saving a digital copy in Word with highlighted portions.

I'm reading Mystici Corporis Christi right now, in which Pope Pius XII talks about the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), and identifies some errors and misconceptions about it. Bryan's essay (and the article from This Rock) seem to be good companions to this encyclical. I'll write about it soon!

Postscript: Bryan also has a more recent post/essay on "The Incarnation and Church Unity". It's also very much worth reading!
Post-postscript: Here's the set of documents I ended up putting together in one Word document (87 K, 13pp) printing out to read:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Liturgy: Translation of the 2002 Missale Romanum

On March 18, 2002, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments promulgated the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertio. As of today, however, there is still no translation of this Missal for English-speaking countries. Why? Because the proposed "translation" offered by the ICEL (International Council on English in the Liturgy), a "Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops Conferences" (referred to as "the Mixed Commission" in the letter), was unacceptable for a number of reasons.

Currently, English celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Mass make use of the 1985 English translation of the second typical edition of the Missale Romanum (which was, itself, from 1975).

This post will be looking at a letter sent by Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estevez to the Presidents of the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops, on March 16, 2002. It explains why there had been a delay in approving the English translation; it provides a few dozen examples of the problems encountered in the proposed "translation". (Why is that word in quotes? You'll see.) I'm not a particular fan of the current English translation (the 1985 edition) because I've learned enough about the Latin original to know that the English version is over-simplified (dumbed down, really), mistranslates (or fails to translate) certain words or phrases, and contains innovations (such as Memorial Acclamation 1, "Christ has died, etc."); many of its deficiencies were not corrected in the proposed 2002 edition, and many new deficiencies were added. Going from bad to worse is never a smart idea.

The letter states that there "[are] substantial reasons for which this Congregation is regrettably unable to accord the recognitio to this text in the form in which it was submitted". The examples of these reasons (referred to as "Observations") are "extensive [but not] exhaustive, even in a generic sense". In the face of these difficulties, Cardinal Medina Estevez states that the Congregation "has been prepared from the beginning to spare no efforts in arriving at a solution to this difficulty that would have avoided the present impasse", but at the root of these problems was "an evidently insurmountable divergence as regards fundamental principles of liturgical translation": the translators simply did not understand the scope of the task given them, and often fell drastically short of the mark or far exceeded the bounds of their mission.

The Observations present 32 examples (of varying levels of specificity) across five areas of translation. I will be commenting on each example.

I. General observations regarding the layout of the book, the disposition of its texts, and the inclusion of newly composed texts
A. The word "Sacramentary" ... seems nevertheless to have had the adverse effect of furthering a mistaken conception of this "Sacramentary" as a new and somewhat autonomous liturgical book for the English-speaking world. ... Accordingly, the Congregation asks that from now on the book be referred to in English as The Roman Missal, and that the official use of the word Sacramentary be discontinued in reference to it.
The present-day "Sacramentary" is not identical to Sacramentaries of the past. The correct translation of Missale Romanum is simply "Roman Missal".
B. The ordering of the texts has departed almost entirely from that of the Missale Romanum, where such ordering often has significant theological and catechetical implications.
I don't know if "ordering of the texts" is referring specifically to word-order or the order of possible options. Here is an example of whatI mean by the latter: In the Actus paenitentialis, form "A" is the Confiteor. It is possible that the suggested English Roman Missal changed the Confiteor to form "B" or form "C". This represents a break with the tradition and continuity of the Latin Rite: the Confiteor (followed by the Kyrie) is the traditional Penitential Act in the Mass.
C. The proposed text would change significantly the structure of the Ritus initiales for Masses celebrated on Sundays, Feasts, and Solemnities. It would thus appear to exclude that the Actus paenitentialis be used together with the Gloria[.]
So it appears that the "translation" tried to do away with either the Penitential Act or the Gloria for Sunday liturgies. Hmm... I wonder which one!
D. Certain texts included in the project ... should not be published within a liturgical book. ... [The characterization of St. Jerome] as "irascible and intolerant" is hardly an appropriate appendage to the prayers prescribed for his liturgical Memorial. In the same vein, one might cite the inappropriateness of the reference to Santa Claus in commemorating St. Nicholas, or the unexplained statement that St. Callistus I "served a sentence as a convict", or the assertion that St. Pius V's "excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England hardened the split between Catholics and Protestants." ... [T]hese statements ... are out of place in the Missal.
ICEL was basically editorializing the Missal, adding its own running commentary. A book fulfilling the purpose that the Missale Romanum does should not be peppered with profane (meaning non-sacred) remarks. It'd be like playing the "I love you" song from Barney during the Mass (warning: link goes to video capturing multiple heinous liturgical abuses).
E. The use of explanatory rubrics that import material from other liturgical books and documents, such as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum, would have the effect of reducing or eliminating recourse to these documents themselves[.] ... Such a procedure of compilation is not within the scope of the translator's task.
I take it to mean the Missale Romanum would have rubrics (or footnotes on rubrics) that tell the celebrant to do something in the same manner as prescribed in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum, page 100 (or something to that effect). The English version would instead copy the rubrics into the Missal itself. But that's not their job as translators. The Congregation is basically saying: if the Latin original didn't do it, don't do it in the English translation. The Latin original didn't copy the rubrics from other books, it referred to them. The English translation should do the same.
F. ... [T]he Congregation must insist that the texts newly composed by the Mixed Commission be excluded. Supporting this decision are several serious concerns, namely: ... that the proliferation of original texts not hinder the meditation of the faithful and of their pastors on the riches already found in the prayers of the Roman Liturgy; that the desire for constant variety, typical of many consumerist societies, not come to be regarded in itself as constituting a cultural value capable of serving as a vehicle for authentic culturation; finally, that the characteristic structure and function of the traditional Roman Collects, their sobriety, and their reflection of the tension between the transcendent and the immanent, not be jeopardized by compositions that may be superficially attractive by virtue of their emotional impact, but lack the spiritual depth and the rhetorical excellence of the body of ancient prayers, which were not mass-produced at a given moment but grew over the course of many centuries.
Innovation is the primary problem with the current liturgy: the innovations written into the Missal as well as the innovations added by particular priests and other ministers. In the tradition of the Latin Rite, there was one greeting, one Penitential Act (the Confiteor followed by the Kyrie), one Eucharistic Prayer (the Canon); the priest did not pick and choose his way through the liturgy. The liturgy is not at our disposal, we are at the service of the liturgy, because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics. In the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the Roman Missal as promulgated by Pope Paul VI and later by Pope John Paul II), there are abundant options: multiple greetings, multiple forms of the Penitential Act, multiple Eucharistic Prayers (many of which were invented barely 40 years ago), multiple dismissals, etc.

And if that weren't enough, the Missal says, several times, "using these or similar words: ..." Yes, the 1985 English translation of the Roman Missal invites innovation, although the Latin did not. The proposed translation of the 2002 edition was no different. And because of all this invitation to innovation in certain parts of the liturgy, priests have introduced innovation in all parts of the liturgy, despite it not being theirs to tamper with.

So the Congregation basically said "we've had enough". They cite good reasons: by introducing entirely new texts, there's the possibility that the "riches" of the current texts will be lost; the modern tendency to need new things all the time must not be allowed to impinge upon the dignity of the liturgy; and the existing texts (at least, those that weren't invented after the Second Vatican Council) were not "mass-produced", but developed organically over time.

II. Examples of problems in grammar, syntax, and sentence structure
A. ... Relative clauses often disappear in the proposed text (especially the initial Deus, qui..., so important in the Latin Collects), so that a single oration is divided into two or more sentences. This loss is detrimental not only to the unity of the structure, but to the manner of conveying the proper sense of the posture before God of the Christian people, or of the individual Christian. The relative clause acknowledges God's greatness, while the independent clause strongly conveys the impression that one is explaining something about God to God. ... [M]any of the texts now appear to say to God rather abruptly: "You did a; now do b." The manner in which language expresses relationship to God cannot be regarded merely as a matter of style.
The Congregation puts it very well: the English translations of the Collect sound like we're telling God something about Himself, and then asking for more. The Latin texts do not do this: they acknowledge His greatness and then ask in humility. This is not simply "a matter of style", it is a matter of the proper disposition before God.

Here is an example of the problem found in the 1985 translation of the Collect for the Solemnity of the Epiphany (courtesy of Fr. Z):
Latin Text
Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum stella duce revelasti,
concede propitius,

ut qui iam te ex fide cognovimus,

usque ad contemplandam speciem tuae celsitudinis perducamur.

1985 ICEL
you revealed you Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven
by the light of faith.

Literal Translation
O God, who today revealed your Only-begotten, a star having been the guide,
graciously grant,
that we, who have already come to know you from faith,
may be led all the way unto the contemplation of the beauty of your majesty.
Do you hear a difference?
B. The unfortunately monotonous effect of placing the vocative "Lord" always at the beginning of the prayers has already been cited by the Congregation in connection with previous texts submitted for its approval. However, this tendency can also be observed in the present text.
Lord, forgive them for monotonously always invoking you at the beginning of prayers, like they did 20 years ago, and are still trying to do today.
C. For those Latin texts characterized by the extensive use of relative clauses, ablative absolutes, participial phrases, etc., the English text often fails to convey the precise nature of the relationship between clauses, so that the sense of the whole is lost. ... The Latin text, taken globally, has conveyed with precision certain theological realities and tensions involving salvation history and the inherent dynamism of the ecclesial life of grace, which should not be lost in the vernacular text, however challenging and difficult it may be to convey them.
You can read the letter to see the examples I've excised from the excerpt here. Suffice to say, the English translation of the Latin betrays a failure to grasp the Latin syntax properly, thereby severing important theological connections found in the originals.

III. Examples of problems related to questions of "inclusive language" and of the use of masculine and feminine terms
A. In an effort to avoid completely the use of the term "man" as a translation of the Latin homo, the translation often ... limits itself to a focus on the congregation actually present or to those presently living. The simultaneous reference to the unity and the collectivity of the human race is lost. ... The [Latin homo], just as the English "man", which some appear to have made the object of a taboo, are able to express in a collective but also concrete and personal manner the notion of a partner with God in a Covenant who gratefully receives from him the gifts of forgiveness and Redemption. At least in many instances, an abstract or binomial expression cannot achieve the same effect.
Using the word "man" instead of "one" or "person" or "human" -- or enforcing a plural context and using "us" or "people" or "humankind" -- retains the "collective but also concrete and personal ... notion of a partner with God". Who'd want to avoid that? God created man: male and female He created them.
B. In the Creed, which has unfortunately also maintained the first-person plural "We believe" instead of the first-person singular of the Latin and of the Roman liturgical tradition, the above-mentioned tendency to omit the term "men" has effects that are theologically grave. This text ­"For us and for our salvation" no longer clearly refers to the salvation of all, but apparently only that of those who are present. The "us" thereby becomes potentially exclusive rather than inclusive.
The prayers in Latin are named after their opening word or words; thus, what Protestants tend to call the "Lord's Prayer" Catholics call the "Our Father" (or the Pater Noster). In Latin, the Creed begins with the word Credo, which means "I believe...", not "We believe..." The other problem is saying "for us and for our salvation" instead of "for us men and for our salvation" tends to make the community saying it seem closed in on itself -- it's actually more inclusive in the Latin!
C. After the Orate, fratres, the people's response ... has been distorted, apparently for purposes of "inclusive language": "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of God's name, for our good, and the good of all the Church." The insertion of the possessive God's gives the impression that the Lord who accepts the sacrifice is different from God whose name is glorified by it. The Church is no longer his Church, and is no longer called holy,­ a flaw in the previous translation that one might have hoped would be corrected.
I've heard people say this; they can't bear to use the pronoun "He" for God. I'm not going to get into the question of God and gender, but the tradition of calling God "He" is found in Scripture itself. God's only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (which is another word some radicals have a problem with), took flesh as a male. He revealed the First Person of the Most Holy Trinity to us as his (and our) Father. But I digress. The Congregation makes their point simply. Translate the Latin words without performing your own "interpretation" or "exegesis" on them. Why not translate totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae as "all His holy Church"? Perhaps because there is an effort to muddy the Catholic faith... lex orandi, lex credendi.
D. For the Church, the neuter pronoun "it" is always used, instead of "she". So designated, the Church can appear to be a mere social aggregate[.] ... The pronoun "it" does not seem to refer properly to the reality of the Church, portrayed by Divine Revelation as our Mother and Christ's Bride.
The tradition for calling the Church "she" also goes back to Scripture, where she is revealed as the Bride of Christ. Ignorance of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium is displayed here. Triple play, ICEL!

IV. Examples of problems in vocabulary, wording and other aspects of content
A. Instead of "Collect", a traditional Roman term that is both venerable and expressive, the translators continue to use the term "Opening Prayer", which ... is simply incorrect. Likewise, "Prayer over the Gifts" does not seem to specify sufficiently the sense conveyed by the term "Oblata". ... A designation such as "Prayer over the Offerings" would be preferable.
There is a tendency among the translators to choose inadequate English words and expressions. This is the theme here.
B. "Opening Song" does not translate "Cantus ad introitum" or "Antiphona ad introitum" as intended by the rites. The Latin is able to express the musical processional beginning of the Liturgy that accompanies the entrance of the priest and ministers, while "Opening Song" could just as well designate the beginning number of a secular musical performance.
The use of phrases that are secular (and thus profane when it comes to the liturgy) detracts from the sense of the sacred in the Mass.
C. The Congregation ... has encountered ... virtually unanimous opposition to the institution of any change in the wording of the Lord's Prayer. ... [T]he Mixed Commission's justification for its changes ... seem inadequate and somewhat cerebral.
Yes, the ICEL wanted to modernize the language of the Our Father because it just wasn't working.
D. The word "presbyter" often continues to be used instead of "priest", for example in the Proper of Saints. The Holy See's position on this matter was made clear in a letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship to the Conferences of 20 September 1997. At the same time, many titles are used there which do not appear at all in the Missale Romanum. In the titles of the celebrations the designation "Saint" is consistently omitted, contrary to the established tradition of the Church. One example of these tendencies: "6 October: Bruno, presbyter, hermit, religious founder."
The word "Saint" is dropped out often, as well as the word "holy" elsewhere in the translation (see III.C above and IV.I below).
E. The rich language of supplication found in the Latin texts is radically reduced in the translation. ... [The orations are rendered] somewhat abrupt and presumptuous in tone, so that the oration seems to be a command rather than a prayer addressed to God. Again, there is more than style at stake here.
The Congregation said the same thing in II.A: this is not merely an issue of style, but what the style results in! Lex orandi, lex credendi! The Latin text reminds us of our position to God: we are humble and unworthy supplicants beseeching our gracious God. The English text "asks" (if it can be called that -- again, see the example in II.A) God for something, and then waits for Him to fulfill our demand.
F. The language often lapses into sentimentality and emotionality in place of the noble simplicity of the Latin. A focus on transcendent realities in the Latin prayers too often shifts in the English prayers to a focus on the interior dispositions and desires of those who pray. The overuse of the word "hearts" when the word is not present in the Latin text weakens the use of the term on those occasions where it actually occurs. Likewise, the overuse of the term "sharing" flattens and trivializes the content conveyed by the Latin words participes and consortes.
The English translation is peppered with "hearts" and "sharing", which weaken and fail to match the meaning behind the Latin. It's a liturgy of the congregation feeling a sense of togetherness among themselves... and God's invited!
G. For patena, calix, etc., the translators avoid the use of specifically sacral terminology, and use words commonly employed in the vernacular for kitchenware. In an already secularized culture, it is difficult to see what legitimate purpose could be served by a deliberate desacralization of religious terminology. ... [T]he sense of the transcendent is not only inadequately conveyed, but actively obscured.
Again, the ICEL seeks to "protect" us from the difficult and arcane sacred terminology by using "cup" and "plate" or "dish" instead of "chalice" and "paten". The liturgy is supposed to draw us out of the every-day, the mundane, the ordinary, the world, and draw us into God's heavenly temple.
H. The word unigenitus is often translated simply as "only", so that Jesus is called the "only Son" of God. The distinction between the terms "only" and "only-begotten" is often crucial in the liturgical prayers, which unfold within a Trinitarian dynamism precisely by virtue of our own adoptive sonship.
We too are God's sons and daughters, through the spirit of sonship through which we can cry "Abba! Father!"; through this spirit, we await our actual adoption through the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:15,23; cf. Gal 4:5-6). Jesus is God's only-begotten Son, but we are His children as well.
I. Frequently there are important words translated either in an inadequate manner, or not at all. Among them are: devotus (-e, -io), dignor, (in-)dignus, famulus, ineffabilis (-iter), maiestas, mens, mereor, novitas ­ vetustas, offero, pietas, placatus, propitius, supplices, and many others, besides those mentioned elsewhere in these Observations. The challenge posed by the translation of certain of these concepts into contemporary English underscores a cultural fact that is at the same time perhaps the strongest indication of the necessity of doing so, even when the result must be a text that will have to be clarified by good catechesis.
I learned that difficult situations won't go away by ignoring them. The ICEL does not seem to have gained that wisdom yet. Instead of using phrases that will require catechesis, they drop the phrases altogether or use simple and banal phrases that do not convey the same meaning.
J. The text exhibits some confusion on the part of the translators regarding the intended sense of the words caelestis and caelorum which, in the original text, refer at some times to heaven as such, but at other times to heavenly realities experienced now. Confusion on this point hinders the text in its capacity to convey the eschatological tension at issue in the Latin text.
This is a similar issue to the preceding one. If they can't figure out what the intent of the Latin was, how can they properly convey the same sense in English?!
K. In the conclusions of the Prefaces, the enumeration of the heavenly choirs (cum Thronis et Dominationibus, etc.) is often omitted in favor of the singular term "angels". The reason for this tendency of the text in many places to make gratuitous alterations is not clear.
Why? Because no one really believes in "Thrones" and "Dominions" and "Principalities", do they? And if they do, the ICEL will put a stop to it by simply omitting those words from the liturgy. The Congregation just calls them as it sees them: "gratuitous alterations"!
L. In the text, in particular the Eucharistic Prayers, many significant biblical expressions and allusions continue to be obscured ...

M. In order to assist the faithful to commit various parts of the sacred text to memory and to appropriate the text more deeply without the jarring inevitably created by the dissonance of diverse translations of the same passage, those texts taken directly from Sacred Scripture, such as the antiphons, should reflect the wording of the same approved version used in the Lectionary for which the Conference has received the recognitio of the Holy See. ...
I have combined these two because they are closely related. Here is one such example: In EP III, the English translation reads "... so that from East to West, a perfect offering may be made to the glory of Your name." The Latin is "a solis ortu usque ad occasum oblatio munda offeratur nomini tuo". The bold words mean "from the rising of the sun to its setting". It is richer and deeper than merely "East to West": it is temporal as well as geographical. Furthermore, the NAB and the RSV-2CE use from the rising of the sun to its setting (Ps 50:1; 113:3; Is 45:6; Mal 1:11). The point is that the liturgy contains Scriptural references, so the wording in the liturgy should match the wording of the Biblical translation(s) in use in that particular part of the world.
N. ... [I]n the case of texts from Sacred Scripture, it is the sacred text itself that should determine the qualities of the music to which it is to be set, rather than vice-versa. ...
The issue here is found throughout the music settings for the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei). The approved English translations of these prayers are altered to fit a musical setting! The tail wags the dog. Instead of musical artists humbling themselves and producing music befitting the approved words of the Mass, they exalt themselves above the liturgical texts, bending them and altering them to fit their own tunes.

I didn't know this was such a big deal until recently. I grew up with such musical settings. I'll be honest: I had such a musical setting at my wedding. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

V. The distinction of liturgical roles
A. In the vast majority of the cases in which the priest prays in the third person for the people (and again, the Eucharistic Prayers are notable in this regard) the translators have opted instead for the first person plural. Such a choice obscures the distinction of roles that is evident in the Latin text, and in particular the priest's role as intercessor and mediator vis-à-vis the people for whom he prays in an unselfish manner. The priest is thus submerged within an amorphous congregation that prays for itself. Obscured at the same time is the important notion of offering the Mass on behalf of others or for their benefit. These are crucial issues. ...
The line between the ordained and the laity is muddied enough as is (because of the current translation, among other things). The ICEL further confuses the issue by changing the way in which the priest prays. On the topic of "offering Mass", see my recent post.
B. The rubrics and notes have been completely re-worked in ways that obscure the distinction of hierarchical and liturgical roles. A few examples:
  • In the Prayer over the People for the Ritual Mass of Confirmation, the translators seem to have wished to alter the universal and constant discipline of the Latin Church according to which the Bishop is the ordinary minister of the Sacrament. In place of the Latin, Deinde Episcopus, manibus super populum estensis, dicit:, one finds instead, "The priest sings or says the following prayer with hands outstretched over the people."
  • For the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, it is suggested that those laypersons who exercise a ministry to the sick, to the catechumens, and to families of children being baptized and confirmed, take their places with the Bishop during the Mass. On the other hand, the intentional focus of this celebration on the sacramental priesthood is obscured somewhat.
  • In the Order of Mass, where the Latin rubric reads, "Tunc sacerdos incipit Precem eucharisticum," the translators have altered it to read instead, "The priest leads the assembly in the eucharistic prayer." Such an alteration ­-- for it cannot be termed a translation -- obscures the true nature of the Eucharistic Prayer as a presidential prayer, in which the people participate by listening silently and reverently and by making the acclamations prescribed by the rite.
It's not enough to confuse the ordained with the laity, let's confuse the ordained in and among themselves! The focus of Holy Thursday is on the sacramental priesthood, so the inclusion of the non-ordained again confuses the matter. Finally, the third example mistranslates incipit, which means "begins" or "starts". The priest does not "lead the assembly" in this prayer, because they are not praying it. Perhaps the laity need to be taught exactly what their role is when it comes to the Eucharistic Prayer, and how they can prayerfully join themselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I'd suggest they read Mediator Dei, nn. 79-99. (I should really do a post specifically on that excerpt...)
C. Another example of the translators' having altered texts (or, in this case, maintained a deficient wording) to the detriment of the distinction of roles between priest and people is the prayer Orate fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium..., which becomes "Pray, brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice..." as if the congregation and priest both offered the sacrifice in an indistinct manner.
The Latin does not say "our sacrifice", it says "my sacrifice and yours" (or "my and your sacrifice"). The current English translation has this deficiency ("our sacrifice") and ICEL didn't change it for the 2002 Missal. See above for information on how the we as laity join our sacrifices to the one offered by the priest. "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically" explains it in this way (p. 548):
In addressing the faithful the priest says: "my Sacrifice and yours." The Eucharist is the Sacrifice of the whole Church; it is not exclusively the priest's Sacrifice, but the property of the faithful also. They partake in a variety of ways and in different degrees in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, while the priest in their name and for their benefit alone completes the sacrificial action itself. Thus priest and people are at the altar bound together in a communion of sacrifice; they offer not only the Host and chalice, but themselves also.
This is lost on the ICEL, apparently.
D. Given the Latin tradition that very closely links the words "Mysterium fidei" to the words of institution, it is inappropriate for the deacon to give the invitation to the Memorial Acclamation. The translators, with no authorization, have introduced this change. The same importance traditionally attached to the words "Mysterium fidei" precludes its replacement by other formulae[.] ... [T]he Congregation considers the translation "Great is the mystery of faith" a good one for rendering in English the precise meaning and purpose of the Latin phrase in its liturgical context.
The Roman Canon (also known as Eucharistic Prayer I) before the new liturgy placed "mysterium fidei" in the midst of the words of institution for the chalice. It now exists "outside" the institution; or, properly speaking, at the end. It is translated in English currently as "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" to which the congregation responds with the Memorial Acclamation (which also did not exist in the Roman Rite before the new liturgy). The English translation improperly draws attention away from the the miracle that has just occurred on the altar. Why the ICEL thought it had permission to let a deacon say this, I don't know. Doesn't the deacon have his own liturgical role, as defined in the GIRM among other places?
E. The translation of "Et cum spiritu tuo" as "And also with you" has become familiar in the English-speaking world, and a change in the people's response would no doubt occasion some temporary discomfort. Nevertheless, the continuous literal translation of this response in all major liturgical traditions, whether Semitic, Greek, or Latin as well as in virtually every other modern language, constitutes a historical consensus and an imperative that can no longer be set aside. The present translation inappropriately situates the exchange on a purely horizontal level, without any apparent distinction in the roles of those who speak; the literal translation in its historical context has always been understood in relation to the crucial distinction of liturgical roles between the priest and the people. Weighty considerations such as these necessitate that the English translation at last be brought into conformity with the usage of the other language groups, and with the tradition, as is also prescribed now in the Congregation's recent Instruction Liturgiam authenticam.
I agree completely. "The Lord be with you" is a blessing that the priest says over us, and our response should be an acknowledgment of the character he received in his ordination to the priesthood: "And with your spirit". Instead, we say "And also with you".

"The Lord be with you" is not said by a layman; "And with your spirit" is not said to a layman. Some priests say "The Lord is with you." Why? I don't know.

My personal conclusion is that the ICEL seeks to develop an "English Catholicism" (or at least an "American Catholicism") that is drastically different from traditional Latin Catholicism, by means of translation. But it doesn't stop there: see this excerpt from the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission's July/August 2006 issue:
An English Mass translation, faithful to the original Latin and rich with Eucharistic theology, said [His Excellency Most Reverend Arthur] Roche [Bishop of Leeds, England, and chairman of the ICEL], is important precisely because English may play in various parts of the world the role Latin once played as the preserver and transmitter of the Faith. Even in countries where "English is not much spoken," said the bishop, "the English version of liturgical texts plays an important function, because it is used as a guide to translating the Latin." He mentioned not only parts of Africa and Asia but even Norway, where "the translators rely heavily on the English version."
See the problem? If the English version is deficient, it can have an impact on other translations, because certain Conferences of Bishops know English better than Latin, and so their Missal becomes a translation of a "translation". (The official language of the Church is still Latin... they really should be working from the Latin text to make their translation.) Then the deficiencies -- the watered-down and misrepresented faith -- in the English Missal are absorbed into the Missals in other languages. The faith is distorted and changed from within. Suddenly, Rome is speaking one thing and the rest of the Catholic world is speaking another.

I'm glad the CCDDS won't allow this kind of internal breakdown to occur.

Post-script: The matching of the English in the liturgy and the Bible (see IV.L and IV.M above) is also mentioned in the Los Angeles article. Bishop Roche talks about it in a recent interview as well.