Translations in Due Time

It seems that we’ve received a lot of site traffic concerning the upcoming release of the new translation of the Roman Missal (à la English). While I know nothing new—at least nothing newer than the rest of the general public—I do know that the wheels of progress turn ever-so-slowly in the Vatican, and this matter will certainly be no exception.

The latest is that the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) announced its plan to have the translation finished by its next meeting in September of this year. The commission’s last meeting in January was a continuation of translations and revisions on certain texts, which had earlier been commented upon by bishops around the world, as well as the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Ultimately—in September—when everything is finalized with the translation phase of the operation, the definitive text will then be re-submitted to local bishops’ conferences for “further processing and eventual publication.”

Now, what this really means I have no idea; I am a mere seminarian and the intimate workings of the universal Church far supercede the scope of my commentary. Certainly, the time it takes to translate, re-translate, edit, submit and finalize all these texts of the Roman Missal has some out there absolutely befuddled. Perhaps you are asking yourself: “How on earth can an organization like the Catholic Church—which has endured for 2000 years—be so absolutely inefficient in dealing with such simple matters?” If this sounds like what you are thinking, know that you are not alone. However, I would submit a spiritual element to these comments, which may help us all to understand the situation a little better.

There is a great little line from the Second Letter of Peter that speaks precisely to this occasion: “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (3:15) In fact, the reason that the bishops are re-translating the English version of the Missal again has to do with the hasty translation the first time around. Had we as English-speakers been more patient and prudent then, this second translation would likely have never come about. It’s easy to become impatient, especially when what’s happening is something we really care about (i.e. the an encounter with God in the liturgy). However, if what is truly at stake is our salvation—and it is nothing else that we ought to be concerned with when speaking of the liturgy—then St. Peter’s words ought to pervade our dispositions here especially. There is nothing worse than people up in arms about the liturgy, which is per se such a manifest act of unity in the Church. All we need to do is follow what the Church teaches us, open our entire selves to the Lord and adore his glory as he pours forth his grace through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But, just as much, we need to give the same Church the time she needs to rightly present these mysteries, and to be as faithful as possible to the deposit of faith which she guards so carefully.

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    # by Jeffrey Smith - February 2, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    Here's a quote for you.
    "The Church of Rome had outlasted any number of systems that looked stronger than iron at the time, and had ridden out many storms that had claimed to be the wave of the future; she was wise with years, and infinitely patient, and bided her time."
    S.M. Stirling
    The Sunrise Lands

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    # by Adrienne - February 3, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    Can you say Holy Spirit??