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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Training for the new translations

Many of us will be profoundly grateful once the new ICEL translations are allowed to be used for the celebration of Mass. (Have a look at this post to see why.) It will be a blessing to be able to say the prayers of the Mass using a reasonably accurate translation instead of the poor version that I have had to use since my ordination 25 years ago.

It has been slightly puzzling therefore, to see so many official sources speaking of the need for catechesis and training before these translations are brought into use. The very wording of the new ICEL will itself be a great catechetical improvement on the poverty of language that we have been forced to put up with for so long. Let me once again quote my favourite example:
Latin text
accipens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas

Old ICEL
he took the cup

New ICEL
he took this precious chalice into his holy and venerable hands,
So what is the training for? Do some people perhaps need to be taught how to pronounce "them fancy words" like gibbet or wrought?

The other day I was speaking to someone who had been to a training day and had come back with the impression that ICEL has written a collection of new texts and virtually composed a new Missal. Since this might well become a widespread misunderstanding, here are some points for catechesis:

1. The original text of the Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI is written in the Latin language. This is the "typical edition", that is to say, the edition which Missals in the other languages are supposed to reflect accurately.

2. The ICEL translation that we have been using for so many years is unsatisfactory. It does not accurately translate the Latin text and therefore the Holy See has insisted that a better translation be provided.

3. The new ICEL translation is a much better translation and at last we will be able to hear the richness of the Church's liturgical prayers when Mass is celebrated in English.

Training or catechesis that does not get across these essential points risks misleading the People of God.
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