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The New Roman Missal

The New Translation of the Roman Missal which received recognitio, an authoritative approval from Rome was a significant attempt at bringing the liturgy back to the vision of Vatican II (aggiornamento and resourcement). As you know, this massive undertaking was an important landmark in the life of the church since the Eucharist, understood correctly, is the lifeblood of Ecclesial life. Be that as it may, the Council Fathers promised to work for a better translation in the years ahead. In 2002, the idea started to come out and if I’m not mistaken, Pope Benedict XVI ordered and announced it on the same year. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) was tasked to prepare the text with the help of Vox Clara and the conference of Bishops in the English-speaking world.

I wish to highlight some of the factors involved.  First of all, it was not that the English edition was a disaster although some claimed it was. It simply followed the Philosophy of dynamic equivalence and  needed an update, better wording and expression and incorporate the newly canonized saints and prayers in the Missal, to name a few, which the Holy Father thought it best in the earliest possible time. It goes without saying that words evolve and are invaluable in discourse. Similarly, it must be in worship, in the celebration of the deepest truths of our faith and in our most intimate conversations with God.

Liturgiam Authenticam, fifth instruction from the Holy See on the use of vernacular languages, came out with a different approach that is, the formal correspondence and stressed that the principles and rules of translation have altered. I honestly consider the current rendering as a paraphrase. To cite an example, ‘Et cum spirituo tuo’ is translated, And also with you instead of, And with your spirit which the French, German, Spanish languages literally did follow faithfully and accurately. This indicates that the previous wasn’t a good one and that the revised Missale Romanum is much closer to the  original text and is in conformity with the scriptures. 

Lacking expertise required in this area, I find it extremely difficult to comment on this matter, quite frankly. And yet, I venture that the spanish idiom ‘translacion es traecion’ offers some light to the many questions, confusions and reactions encountered by the few which implicitly illustrates that any attempt at doing so runs the risk of losing the original meaning and thereby falls short of capturing its substance and content. This leads me to say that there is no such thing as a perfect translation, only better, maybe.

It is said that the change is basically in the wording and not in the ritual. I would like to surmise that it will have a profound impact in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the understanding of the church as a whole. Evident in the translation is the definitive shift in the emphasis of the Modern liturgy from a growing sense of entertainment and commercialism and increase in the awareness of the gathered community to the God in whom worship is due. Hopefully, things will remain in proper perspective, smooth transition and easy implementation down the road and on a number of occasions, use it as a grace-filled moment to catechize on the Theology of the Eucharist. Amen.

This entry was posted in: Parish


Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, Gracias a Dios! twelve years in ministry, pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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