THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This day has been a long time coming. The new English translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Vatican and will OFFICIALLY begin in every English-speaking Catholic parish on November 27, 2011. THANK GOD!
All across the United States, Catholics are wondering why? Why do we need yet another new mass? What was wrong with the old mass? Why do they keep changing things? I'll be happy to answer those questions.
First and foremost, the mass is NOT changing. The mass will remain the same. The missal we will be using will be the same one promulgated in 1969. So the mass isn't changing. What's changing is our ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the mass. Remember, Rome promulgated the new 1969 missal originally in Latin. That new missal was subsequently translated into English, and this is the mass we are all familiar with today. However, during the pontificate of John Paul II, the Holy Father noticed something as he made his travels to English-speaking nations. He noticed that the English translation of the new missal was different depending on what English-speaking nation he was in. In the UK they translated the new missal one way. In Canada they translated it another, and still yet in the United States a different translation, and so on. Furthermore, some of these translations were considerably bad - very poor expressions of the original Latin text. So Pope John Paul II gave the order to create a universal English translation of the Roman Missal, which would properly translate the Latin text, and do so in a way that was beautiful and dignified. This has been a monumental work in progress for nearly twenty years!
Politics entered into the scene as well, because many English-speaking bishops did not want to change the translations they were currently using. This was especially the case in the United States which became somewhat of a "squeaky wheel" that needed a considerable amount of extra oil to keep the process going. Eventually, in 2001, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) officially requested a dispensation from the Vatican to be excused from the project entirely and continue using their own American English translation indefinitely. Of course that was particularly problematic since the United States English translation was probably one of the worst ones out there. In many ways, it was more of a paraphrase of the original Latin text, rather than a translation of it. The reason cited by the USCCB for requesting to be excused from the project was because it might be "too hard" for US Catholics to adjust. Years later the Vatican responded - officially - with a forceful "NO"! In fact, the response stated that the American English translation was "defective" and the US bishops no longer had permission to use it. Some bishops apparently didn't get the message and tried to vote down various portions of the new translation, but in the end their efforts failed, and the new translation was eventually passed by the USCCB and approved by the Vatican. There are of course some bishops and priests who are still uptight about it, but regardless of their inhibitions, the new translation will take effect on November 27th 2011. If these bishops and priests haven't dealt with their issues by then, they are free to say the mass in Latin, because the old English translation will no longer be permitted.
The new English translation has been hailed by English scholars around the world as a literary masterpiece unparalleled in modern history. It is 100% true to the original Latin text, and yet beautifully rendered in both a practical and poetic way. A quick comparison with the old English translation will reveal just how poorly translated the previous version was. Here in the United States, we have two generations of Catholics who have never really and truly celebrated the liturgy of the mass as Rome intended back in 1969. Instead what we've been celebrating is a watered-down paraphrased version of the liturgy. It's caused a few problems. The first and most noticeable problem is boredom at mass. The English used for the old translation was written at a fourth grade level. It is neither challenging nor inspiring. The second problem it's created is innovations. To combat the boredom at mass, some parishes have initiated creative liturgical innovations that some would describe as "liturgical abuse." The third problem it's caused is backlash. Some Catholics, who can no longer stand the poor translation, and the liturgical innovations that often accompany it, have given up on the New Roman Missal entirely, rejecting the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and returning to the Old Roman Missal, the Missal of St. Pius V, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass.
Now the current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is sympathetic toward those who prefer the Old Roman Missal. He has made full provision for them in the form of Summorum Pontificum, the papal decree that has given them total liberty to continue to celebrate according to the Old Roman Missal throughout the entire Church with virtually no limitations on them whatsoever. Simultaneously, the current Holy Father has actively worked toward finishing the new English translation started under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. That work is now done, approved and ready to be implemented.
As Catholics, the best thing we can do is embrace the new English translation of the Roman Missal with a spirit of humility and gratefulness. It is a gift of unity to the English-speaking world. Furthermore, as Catholics we should use the implementation of this new translation as an opportunity to implement in our personal worship some of the other things the Holy Father has recommended to us. For starters, we should begin kneeling for communion and receiving in the mouth. Did you know the Holy Father has recommended this to all Catholics, and commanded that local priests always make accommodation for you to do this? Nobody can be denied communion for kneeling and receiving on the tongue. The way to do it is simple. When you go down the line to receive, and when it's your turn, simply kneel and open you mouth. The priest will do the rest. Catholic women should also take this opportunity to return to the time-honored sacramental of veiling to receive the graces associated with that. Lastly, parish liturgy coordinators and parish boards should take this opportunity to restore some time-honored traditional Catholic customs, such as using incense and bells in mass, as well as finding ways to bring back some of the beauty and majesty that was once American Catholicism.
To learn more about the new English translation - click here.