Diocesan News

New Mass Translation To Debut Next Advent

Roman Missal – The Third Edition of the Roman Missal - the book of prayers used at Mass - has been translated to provide a more faithful rendering of the original Latin text. The new Missal will be implemented the First Sunday of Advent next year, Nov. 27, 2011. (SNR photo)


(SNR) – During Advent 2011 – a year from now – English-speaking Catholics will finally be able to use the new translation of the Roman Missal that has been a decade in the making.

In the Diocese of Lincoln, preparations have been underway for the last five or six years. Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz placed Msgr. Joseph Nemec, pastor of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln, as head of the diocesan committee that is preparing for the switch.

"I’m hoping we can embrace this new translation very quickly," Msgr. Nemec said. "One of the great and beautiful gifts of this new translation is that we will definitely be praying more like the rest of the Catholic world."

To understand the need for this new translation, one must refer back to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Msgr. Nemec said that when the Church permitted Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular (meaning in the language spoken locally) as part of Vatican II’s liturgical reforms, English translators depended on a method known as dynamic equivalency.

"Dynamic equivalency translates the concepts and ideas of the text, but not necessarily the literal words or expressions," explained Msgr. Nemec.

The result was the English translation that Catholics have been using since 1969, with some minor revisions from time to time.

In 2001, the Holy See issued Liturgiam Authenticam (Authentic Liturgy) to provide translators of any language guidelines for translating both sacred Scriptures and liturgical text. Liturgiam Autheniticam calls for a method known as formal equivalency.

"Formal equivalency translates not just concepts," Msgr. Nemec said. "Words and expressions are translated faithfully."

Hence, the current English translation’s use of dynamic equivalency will be replaced by a new formal equivalency translation Nov. 27, 2011. The revision was begun almost immediately – painstaking work to ensure that concepts, ideas, words and expressions are all accurate and intact.

One key example of this is the people’s response to the priest’s exhortation, "The Lord be with you," which occurs five times during the Mass.

Currently, the people’s response is, "And also with you."

It seems innocuous enough, but Msgr. Nemec noted, "Something was lost in not translating it with formal equivalency: the notion of the charism of the priesthood."

Msgr. Nemec pointed out that the priestly charism is referred to by Saint Paul’s use of the phrase, "The Lord be with your spirit," when writing to Timothy, an ordained priest (2 Timothy 4:22).

In the new Missal, the people will say, "And with your spirit." This is the same phrase that has been used throughout the ages in the Church. In fact, even after Vatican II, all major languages used this phrasing. It is only English and Brazilian Portuguese translations that have simplified it to, "And also with you."

"I don’t believe anyone meant to do something wrong or in error," Msgr. Nemec said. "I think it was just kind of the culture of the time in the western world."

His enthusiasm about the new Missal translation is infectious, particularly as he talks about how much all Catholics will be able to learn about the faith through these revisions.

"The Church has said throughout the ages, ‘Lex orandi, lex credendi. Lex credendi, lex orandi… As we pray, so we believe, and as we believe, so we pray,’" he said. "For the last 40 years, we haven’t been praying like we believe."

One example Msgr. Nemec cited is in Eucharistic Prayer No. 3. Currently, our priests pray, "…so that from East to West, a perfect offering is made…"

This dynamic equivalency translation doesn’t draw a firm correlation to Malachi 1:11, which is the actual verse of Scripture that we should be referring to: "‘For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts."

The difference may appear subtle, but as Msgr. Nemec points out, the dynamic equivalency can be interpreted as "everywhere," while the formal equivalency means both "everywhere" and "at all times."

The latter is more correct, he said, because, "At all times, somewhere in the world, a Catholic Mass is being celebrated."

He continued, "The Mass is to a great extent made up of Biblical words. It’s very Scriptural… The formal equivalency translation is more accurate, and therefore, when we read something in Scripture, we think of the Mass, and when we are at Mass, we think of Scripture."

Msgr. Nemec acknowledges that change can be difficult, but he is confident that the new translation will be more inspiring than daunting.

"There’s no need to panic," he assured.

Indeed, all of the people’s parts of the Mass from the new Missal translation fit neatly onto one folded, standard-size sheet of paper. These will be available in the pews beginning next Advent to help laypersons grow accustomed to their new responses.

The priests of the Diocese of Lincoln have already had one study day about the new Roman Missal, which includes considerably more changes for their role in the Liturgy. Various catechesis and Mass materials are being printed. Msgr. Nemec also said that composers are working on musical versions of the revised Gloria and other elements of the Mass that will require new tunes to match the new words.

All of this takes a considerable amount of time and preparation, which is why we won’t be able to use the new translation until next Advent.

In the meantime, Msgr. Nemec recommends preparing our own hearts for the new wording.

"Pray for the graces of obedience to the Church, for the ability to trust, for the ability to listen very attentively to understand better the deeper meaning of the words," he said.

"This will edify the people of God."

Watch your parish bulletin and the Southern Nebraska Register for opportunities to learn more about the new English translation of the Roman Missal in the coming year.

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