The New Liturgical Translation: What is Changing, What Can We Expect? Part 1

A friend of mine asked if I could post about the new translations to be used for the Mass and so am happy to share the beauty that we are going to be experiencing in the parishes in just a few weeks time.  My goal is two-fold: to discuss the new translation and then to discuss the emphases of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (something that helps priests and the faithful know what to do and when during the Mass).  I may make this into two posts depending on the length of the New Translation section.

1. The New Translation

Before I say anything else I want to say this: IT IS NOT A NEW MASS! 🙂 Many people have been speaking about “the new mass” that is coming to us at advent.  The Mass is never new in the sense of being completely different from something before, though the form of its expression changes.  We can say “the new expressions of the Mass”, “the new translation of the Mass”, but we can’t say “the new Mass”.

Getting that out of the way, I want to speak about translations in regards to the faithful and translations in regards to the priest.  For the faithful, not much is changing, and so will go through the changes one by one since there is only a few of them.  For the priest, EVERYTHING changes in that there is a new translation for virtually everything the priest says.  If there is anyone who needs to make and adjustment, it is the priest.

Let me begin with the responses, and then I will give a couple of examples of parts that change for the priest.

1.1 Responses of the Faithful

1.1.1 And With Your Spirit

Perhaps the most well known change – and probably the hardest one to change simply because of human habit – is the response “and with your spirit” which is said in response to “The Lord be with you”.  We all know very well the original response: And also with you.

So, why the changes?

When we say “and also with you” it gives the sense that the Mass itself is simply an act of the community, that what is happening is our work alone.  This is not the case.  We do not come to Mass to worship.  Rather, we are moved to Mass by God’s grace and it is God Who initiates the Mass through His Spirit which witnesses to His Son.  So, when we are at Mass, we are responding to the movements of God’s grace.  As one Russian Orthodox theologian wrote once, Mass, in a sense, begins when we wake up and decide, with God’s help, to respond to His grace which moves us to Mass by the very power and attraction of God’s loving Presence.  Mass is the formal beginning of that response.  It is God’s initiative, not ours.  This is why, as a sidenote, I get frustrated by the comment “why do I need to go to Mass if I can just worship God in nature?”  I have a LOT of problems, actually, with that comment, but the one I find most frustrating is that it presumes that going to Church is our work and our work alone, that we are doing God a favour.

“And with your spirit” however, has a very different meaning than “and also with you”.  First and foremost, it is a much more accurate translation in comparison to the Latin “et cum spiritu tuo”.  But it is also more theologically accurate and is in accord with the principle that God is the principle actor of the liturgy.

When we say “and with your spirit” we are acknowledging that it is the Spirit Who works in the priest or bishop: even the priest is responding to God’s invitation to celebrate the liturgy.  We are acknowledging that God is the one working in the priest.  By saying it, too, we are acknowledging the priesthood of the celebrant: it is an act of the Church declaring “this person is celebrating on our behalf.  He is leading us to the Father.  He is bringing us to participate in Christ’s paschal mystery.”  In short, it is the Spirit that guarantees that this is a Mass according to the mind of God, and we are acknowledging the presence of the Spirit in the priest.

1.1.2 The Penitential Rite

This has some slight changes so I am going to post them side by side for you to see (changes are in bold):

I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

First, we acknowledge the gravity of our sin.  Sin is no laughing matter, and while the word sin does acknowledge our sinfulness – obviously – ‘greatly sinned’ demonstrates the gravity (and is more faithful to the Latin.  The consistency of the gravity continues in the triple-acknowledgment that we have sinned.  It is to really get it in our head that sin is our fault and it demonstrates our contriteness.  When we say sorry to someone and we really mean it, we need a method to make that known.  We don’t just say “sorry”.  Thus the triple-expression is a means of demonstrating our true repentance and sorrow for our sin.  This is to prepare us for the redeeming mystery we are partaking and, through our acknowledgment, we are anticipating the saving power of Christ’s death, descent, and resurrection which we celebrate in the Eucharistic Rite.  It is a humbling act which opens us up to be redeemed by the Lord.  Jesus did not come for the righteous, but for the sick and the sinner.  It is an act of humility, of acknowledging our sinfulness – which is a reality for every human being – so that we can take the sweet medicine of the Eucharistic Lord.

On a side note: these words, to an extent, only have an effect in so far as we embrace them as true.  Thus we must ever-grow in embracing the words and prayers of the Mass.  By doing so, our hearts are made more open, more receptive, to the saving graces that are made present to us by the Lord’s passionate love on the Cross for us.

I am going to have to end there because we are already at 1200 words.  I will continue on Friday (though it is looking more probably that it will be Monday) with the next part: the Gloria.  We will see how far along we get and then move on from there.

in Christ





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One response to “The New Liturgical Translation: What is Changing, What Can We Expect? Part 1

  1. Pingback: Daily Round Up – November 4, 2011 | The Christian State of Life

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