Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bishop Trautman: Average Catholics Too Dumb to Understand New Prayers

Father Z. wrote:

Bp. Trautman doesn’t think you are smart enough to understand the proposed new translation of Mass

"I was alerted to this by one of the veteran WDTPRSers who added: "Does anyone care about this stuff anymore?"

Here is the headine:

Bishop Trautman objects to some proposed language changes
So, bishop near the end of his long career, firmly mired in the stale old ideas of yesteryear, bravely soldiering on under the baggage of the 1960’s, is still objecting to the Holy See’s norms set for liturgical translation.

His Excellency Donald W. Trautman of Erie is nothing if not consistent. He reminds me of a guy who might go to the same old restaurant every day for lunch, sit at the same place every day, and order exactly the same sandwitch… but to do so in Rome.

Here is the story with my emphases and comments:

BY DANA MASSING [more details]


The word worries Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman.

He doubts that "John and Mary Catholic," sitting in their church pew, would understand it. [Two things here. Again and again His Excellency has demonstrated in his comments about liturgical translation and the new norms that he doesn’t not believe that you are very smart. He thinks you are too dumb to understand the prayer. He thinks you are too thick or detached to wonder what it means if you don’t immediately understand and then think about it or look it up. Also, he thinks that every prayer must be immediately able to be clearly understood. This leaves no room for the effect of mystery.]

That’s why Trautman will try to tell other U.S. bishops that such words shouldn’t be in a new English translation of the Roman Missal.

U.S. Catholic bishops are holding their June general meeting today through Saturday in Orlando, Fla. They are expected to vote on an English version of the portion of the Roman Missal involving prayers for seasons like Advent and Lent, unless Trautman can convince them to delay a decision on the translation. [He wants to delay … the … translation. Get that? Because surely we haven’t waited long enough.]

"I am at this point reserved about endorsing it," Trautman said two days before the start of the meeting. "I will try to speak on the conference floor to point out what I consider some major deficiencies in the translation." [Please, O God Almighty and Omnipotent Father, in your ineffable way inspire the bishops of the conference to keep this fellow in check.]

A presentation on it is likely today, with voting probably on Friday, he said.

The portion of the Missal being discussed is the Proper of Seasons.

"These would be the prayers at Mass for the opening prayer, the prayer over the gifts, the prayer after Communion," Trautman said. "These would be the prayers for all of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and then the Sundays of the year." [I have a copy of the draft of these prayers. I think you would like them.]

The Vatican wants a translation more faithful to the original Latin text. [Not … just … the VATICAN!]

Trautman said the draft includes words such as "ineffable" that would not be in the ordinary vocabulary of people.

"This should be the prayer of the people," Trautman said. "I’m not for having street language. ... We should certainly have elevated tone, but words like that are just beyond the common comprehension." [Okay… figure that out. Elevated language but not comprehensible.]

Catholics coming out of a lunchtime Mass at Erie’s St. Peter Cathedral weren’t familiar with "ineffable." [WDTPRS asks … SO WHAT? The problem here is that if you make everything immediately comprehensible to the lowest common denominator it will wind up being pretty much like what we have now in the old lame-duck ICEL prayers:

you are big.
Help us be big like you.

If people hear and interesting word, they might… oh my gosh… wonder what it all means and slowly but surely get the idea that monosyllables and grunting might not actually convey what the Latin prayers convery.]

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, the word means "too overwhelming to be expressed or described in words; inexpressible; too awesome or sacred to be spoken."

It’s "not in my daily language," said Shirley Skiba, a member of St. Luke Catholic Church in Erie. [Maybe Shirely shouldn’t be the measuring stick for the language of liturgical prayer.]

Skiba said words used in the Mass should be "something we feel comfortable with." That’s the case with the current translation, for the most part, she said. [Enough said.]

"I think it should be language the everyday person can understand," she said.

Trautman called parts of the proposed translation "archaic" and "just clumsy language." [Then His Excellency should take the time to explain it to Shirley.]

One proposed change, for the first week in Advent, would replace "old way of life" with "ancient bondage," the Erie bishop said.

"Ancient bondage is very ambiguous and not clear enough to the people," he said. [Yes. But there is a problem. I ask you, dear reader, does "old way of life" mean the same thing, even on the surface, as "ancient bondage"?]

Regarding another change, he said, "They speak of ‘into the joy of true peace.’ Well, we would say ‘rejoice in true peace.’ That’s much more understandable." [However, entering into a state of joy means something different than simply being joyful.]

In another vote related to language, the bishops will decide whether to replace "vosotros" with the more familiar "ustedes" in Spanish-language Masses in the United States. Trautman compared using "vosotros" in Spanish to using "thou" in English. [Aaaaaaaaand…. that would be… bad?]


Listen as Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman talks about what the U.S. Catholic bishops will be discussing during their June general meeting Thursday through Saturday in Orlando.

Some English words might be hard, but they are the perfect word to do the job. To replace that word, you need a circumlocution or paraphrase. That makes translations overly wordy. But it is part of the very nature of Roman prayer to be concise. Even the concision is meaningful.

Enough said. "

1 comment:

swissmiss said...

Maybe the Bishop won't mind if his own funeral Mass is changed to:
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Now pass the beer