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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Four legs good, two legs better.

Bishop Donald Trautman defends the current liturgical translation of the Mass against revision--except for its embarrassing lack of the neuter, of course (note the "contemporary mainstream" verbiage--apparently the "contemporary mainstream" of an Ivy League Women's Studies Department, but no matter...).

This was especially striking:

Often, Trautman said, these new translations are closer to the Latin original, but he argued that they needlessly dislodge "accurate, orthodox formulations of the faith we have prayed for the last 35 years."

Hence the quote from Animal Farm: it is frighteningly, insidiously easy over time to gradually become that which you are fighting against. A 35 year old "tradition," no matter how flawed, has to be defended at all costs simply because it is "tradition." Nevermind that the revolutionaries of the '60s tossed aside a tradition that was a millenia old--or older. Yesterday's revolutionaries have become today's reactionaries.

How long before we start seeing The Trautman Intervention, I wonder?

This part didn't bug me all that much, though, even though the Bishop is playing a bit of a shell game:

Further, the First Eucharistic Prayer refers to a "precious chalice," not a "cup," an instance, Trautman argued, of "imposing an agenda" on what the Bible actually says.

After all, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've even heard the First Eucharistic Prayer in the past two years.

And then there's this:

Finally, Trautman appealed to the example of a translation of the Book of Rites carried out under authorization from the U.S. bishops in the early 1950s by Holy Cross Fr. Michael Mathis, who wrote that a good translation "adapts to the genius of the language," resulting in an approach that is neither "slavishly exact or loosely free, neither archaic nor foreign, but American."

"Will the wisdom of 1953 inform present-day bishops in their handling of present-day translations?" Trautman asked rhetorically. "We pray, and we plea."

What would be very interesting is to see an excerpt from that Book of Rites, and not just its translation principles. Something tells me it's a lot less colloquial than the translations he's defending.

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