Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The New Translation - welcome or unwelcome?

Here is an interesting post from "Reluctant Sinner". I was thinking of commenting myself on another problem. Apparently (so I am informed) a group of Irish priests has objected to the new translation and is (at least in part) not using it. One such priest, living and working in England, is reported to have told his congregation that he does not agree with the words "for many" in the Words of Institution and is therefore not using them. There are at least three problems with this. First of all, a serious misunderstanding as to the meaning of that phrase. Some of those who have worked hard on the translation and have promoted it (not least my own bishop) have tried to make people understand that this, more accurate, translation of "pro multis" does NOT mean that Christ did not died for "all", but in line with the Catechism of the Council of Trent (for one) makes the point that although Redemption is a totally free gift, salvation involves the response of the human will - even at the level of simply accepting it. In other words, it is a statement about grace and the response to grace. it does NOT mean that some people are excluded from God's mercy, but it does point to the fact that salvation is not an automatic right. We all know this anyway. St. Paul wrote that we need to work out our salvation "in fear and trembling". Christ died for all, but not all want it. Of course there are many who may reject "religion" as they understand it and do not consciously reject the real Christ. It is not up to any of us to speak about anyone's eternal destiny.

I did hear another explanation saying that, "for many" actually means the same as for all because the original intention of the translation INTO Latin (from Greek, Hebrew?) was to convey the sense of the original language which does not exclude anyone. This is a language matter, and I am not well-versed in the Biblical languages. However, this explanation (if I have it correctly) does not explain why we need to have the words "for many" in the English. There clearly is a theological meaning and I think most people understand what that is.

The second problem concerns arrogance. This attitude quite simply proclaims, "I know better than you (or them)". Why should I (or any parishioner anywhere) accept what a certain priest is saying when he disagrees with the bishops in union with the Pope? In this case it is rather like saying, "Can you believe it? All those theologians and liturgists in the Vatican who have worked on this - all the bishops committees and all the consultants who have read this new translation - all of them, have missed this important point? Well, I haven't...." This is truly mind-blowing arrogance.

The third problem, which is not so easily named, is "disobedience". Now if a priest is deliberately celebrating the Mass in a spirit of disobedience then, although the Mass is valid, there is, unfortunately, an obstacle to grace present which means that the graces of the Mass will not flow as they should. The priestly ministry is of such importance here that this kind of attitude (supposing it is deliberate) damages the people we are trying to serve.

At the end of the day, what is all this fuss about, really? In the post linked above there is, I think, a clue. I suspected it would happen. There is an attempt (thank God) to return to a more orthodox Catholicism and it is THIS that so many do not like or want. This is the real heart of the problem and this is why this new translation is not just part of the so-called "reform of the reform" but is part of the purification of the Church.