Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why I'm Excited about the New Translations

First off, I haven’t put much effort in memorizing parts of Mass until now, because I knew it was going to change so soon. So I have no attachment to the former words, and I’m not struggling to replace phrases that roll of my tongue with new, similar-but-different-enough-to-confuse-me new ones. I really do feel the pain of the older parishioners who grew up around the Latin, then had to deal with Vatican II changes, and now have to deal with this. But I believe the changes are for the better.

One reason is just one word: “consubstantial” It’s a big word, not easy for a congregation to say in union, but I like it. It replaces the “one in Being” in the Nicene Creed. While theologically, I don’t think it makes much difference, I just really like that word. I also like saying “visible and invisible” instead of “seen and unseen.” It’s a personal preference, sure, but I think it makes the creed cooler. (And yes, I think creeds are cool.)

Another reason is the whole reason there are changes in the first place: to get the wording as close to the Latin as possible, so it's more in syncopation with the universal church. If we’re not going to use Latin (and sadly, we aren’t), we have to take great care in vernacular translations, so the meaning cannot be misunderstood.

There are so many English translations of the Bible, that come from older English translations, that come from Latin translations, that come from Greek and Hebrew. Even translators trying to be faithful to the language and without a personal agenda have to make some judgment calls when translating. Each step further away from the original makes room for error and misunderstanding and missed nuance.

I think it’s a good thing people can approach the Bible or a church service in a language they understand. But to do that, the Church has to be extra-careful with translations. The new changes were made because they were needed to make sure English-speaking Mass was as close to a Latin Mass as possible.

I’m going to appreciate anything closer to the original and closer in line with what churches everywhere in all languages say. From what I can tell, the changes have even more beauty. I don’t mind that they are longer, or have four-syllable words, or make me beat my chest three times. In fact, I love it.

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