Letters from our readers

The new translation is clumsy, stilted, unprayable

Fr. Albright’s article goes on and on about the theology of the Eucharist with eclectic citations from documents of Vatican II, Liturgicam Authenticam, etc… and never once addresses the liturgical elephant in the sanctuary: the new translation is a clumsy, stilted, unprayable disaster!

He somehow ignores paragraph #44 of Liturgicam Authenticam: “… it is necessary that any expression be avoided which is confusing or ambiguous when heard [i.e., ‘and with your spirit,’ ‘consubstantial,’ ‘incarnate of’,’ ‘like the dewfall,’ etc…] such that a hearer would fail to grasp its meaning.”

The new translation is not only not better than the 1998 version, it is immensely and dramatically worse.

Rev. R.G. Tamminga
St. Francis De Sales Parish
Tucson, AZ


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  1. Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J. Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J. says:

    Reverend R.G. Tamminga is the one who does not engage the “liturgical elephant” in or out
    of the sanctuary. The problem is the Latin original! How can one translate junk Latin in the first place?
    Leave Father Albright out of this and do some research beginning with Lauren Pristas’ article “THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES THAT GUIDED THE REDACTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL (1970)” in ‘The Thomist’ 67 (2003): 157-95. The crisis is only beginning.

    Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J.
    Alma, Michigan

  2. “Junk Latin” aside for the moment, my article intended to achieve two ends: (1) share the goodness and value I and others have discovered in the new translation of the Missal and (2) offer the possibility of seizing the experience of the new translation as a stepping stone for a renewed understanding of the whole Mass according to the rich theological tradition of the Church. In my pastoral experience, both in the classroom and the parish church, I have found people at first inquisitive and maybe a little perturbed that “we have to change the Mass again” but always open to hearing the depth of scriptural, theological and linguistic background to the translations. In fact, once people hear the reasons behind the words, they are delighted to say them and thus the new translation become a catalyst for bringing about fuller and more conscious participation of the faithful. My 9th grade students knew immediately the difference between “born” and “incarnate” (they said “They’re nine months apart!”). The theological precision of “consubstantial” and the reference of “your spirit” to the sacramental character of Holy Orders is fascinating to our hungry-for-substance faithful. [For more on “dewfall” see my upcoming article in The Priest magazine.] I’m looking forward to Lent when I have the opportunity to say and explain “gibbet.” It’s been a great experience and our parish is doing very well at the responses. As for myself and the priestly prayers, I have not found them to be unprayable at all. Rather, with the care and attention to detail which the celebration of the Holy Mass deserves, I have found them to be a vehicle toward a deepening of my priestly spirituality and toward a richer celebration of the Eucharist. I hope you can open your heart to discovering what I have found. With Bishop Serratelli, I remain sure that the new translation will help us “soar to the heavens” and draw ever nearer to Jesus, the Word made flesh. Fr. Van Hove has always been interested in pursuing the question of the authenticity of the Latin text, and rightly so, but, for now, I hope we can unify ourselves around the new vernacular text. One step at a time, my brothers.

  3. Avatar Deacon Richard Wilson says:

    Perhaps it is all in how we approach this change, but most importantly that we approach it with humility, docility and obedience.

  4. Avatar mary ann amato says:

    The New is to me actually the Old, as I’m 68 and grew up with the changed-back parts of the Liturgy. I’m so happy I am getting to see this change and hopefully more, before I die. It’s exactly the opposite of what that Arizona priest thinks of it.

    I’m glad he’s not a priest in my parish.

    Mary Ann from NJ

  5. Avatar Cathy funkhouser says:

    I am not a theologian, just a fellow Catholic Christian on this journey towards eternal life. I speak from my personal experience, as i am not qualified to translate anything!!!! With that said, let me state that I find the new translation refreshing, uplifting, and spiritually-enriching! Months prior to Advent 2011, I listened repeatedly to a CD which explained the rationale (and meaning) of the new text. I also read many articles, to prepare myself for the new translation. I am somewhat sad for the many (including some of our diocesan priests) who are negative about the translations. I am also frustrated that some are not open to hearing in a new way. The image of The Holy Spirit descending like the dewfall is especially powerful to me, as I can only imagine the Spirit lighting on all beneath and refreshing all within its path. Thank you to all who are patiently and lovingly opening the eyes of the faithful to worship through our liturgy, ever-new, yet always rich in tradition and worship. The new liturgy has fueled my hunger to learn even more!!