Roman Missal[1]

 

I. Introduction

 

The Protestant Revolutionary, Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563), seems as pertinent as ever to the current Roman Catholic hierarchy.  Musculus writes, “To be vain is to be foolish and empty, to have nothing of the truth and so to be ineffective and useless.”[2]  This observation calls to mind the funeral of Cardinal Foley, whom the hierarchy buried in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, December 16.  I watched the liturgy on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). 

The gold vestments of the clergy and the empty pews are on the internet.[3]  The emptiness of the whole procedure resounds in the 2011 illiterate Missal, currently in use.  Musculus further observes, “We are embarrassed if there are blots on our clothes but not if there are blots on our life; we dress well but live shamefully.”[4]  That sentence is germane to the sexual abuse cover-ups happening in Philadelphia.

Stanley Fish explains, better than I would, the emphasis merited by the first sentences of the illiterate 2011 Missal prayers. 

 

“They [sentences] promise nothing less than lessons and practice in the organization of the world.  That is what language does:  organize the world into manageable, and in some sense artificial, units that can then be inhabited and manipulated. . . .”  Fish passes along the following advice, “Just get the first sentence right, everything else will follow.”[5]  The problem is finding any sentence in the 2011 illiterate Missal that is “right.”

Comments on “Dealing with the new Translation of the Mass,” by Richard McBrien Lend perspective to the current situation:[6] 

 

Latin simply does not translate neatly and directly into English without rendering a hybrid-language gobbledygook of verbiage.  In sensible English meaning, some of it is not even theologically correct regardless of any translational intent.  There is a vast difference between prayerfully `entering into the mystery of God’ in the Mass versus simply being `mystified’ by a foreign language or the sound of weird syntax and bad grammar in English.

 

“Why the imbalance?  ` . . . and with you’ is responded to with `and with your spirit?’  Why aren’t they both either `you’ or `spirit’?”

 

Tom Roberts, editor at large of the National Catholic Reporter, wrote a piece headlined, “In the face of church’s change, new liturgy is really `Whatever.’”[7]  Roberts explains, “The reality, of course, is that the changes were as much as anything else about power and maintaining control, rolling back the language that came to reflect the changes in theology and community disposition that occurred as a result of the Vatican Council of the 1960s.”  The comment from Evangelical Dan has it right, “the new liturgy is simply bad English and not comprehensive to many!  We want a community that speaks our language and that can pray together, no more and no less!” 

In this spirit, the following Personal Notes strive to find meaning in the relatively meaningless words in the 2011 illiterate Missal.  With the new Missal, the Roman Catholic Church is showing how to pray and for what.  The revised prayers are my paraphrase of the Bible-babble in the Missal into standard American English as heard on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), the Weather Channel, and the evening news.

 

II. Prayer before reading Sacred Scripture (Collect)[8]

 

A. Missal:      God of everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever [sic] and ever.

 

B. Italian Latin:[9]       Deus misericórdiae sempitérnae, qui in ipso paschális festi recúrsu fidem sacrátae tibi plebis accéndis, auge grátiam quam dedísti, ut digna omnes intellegéntia comprehéndant, quo lavácro ablúti, quo spíritu regeneráti, quo sánguine sunt redémpti.  Per Dóminum.

 

C. Revised:   God, the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist is part of your mercy.  Once again, you are giving this opportunity to your Faithful People.  Rekindle their faith and increase the grace you are giving them.  Enable everyone to understand that they may be reborn into your holy life.  We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.

D. Comment: The Missal Collect has a 12.4 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.  The first sentence of this prayer contains forty-five words, in a 12.8 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.  It is a fused sentence.[10]

The revised Collect has a 7.2 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.

 

The Latin omits the O in the Missal O God.[11]

 

The Latin does not capitalize spíritu and sánguine, but the Missal does capitalize Spirit and Blood.  Since the Faithful will not hear the difference between an upper and lower case word, there is no reason to stray from the Latin, except, perhaps, to show the arrogance of the translator in the face of anyone objecting to the illiterate 2011 Missal.

 

Jesus Christ is in apposition to our Lord and in English should be set off with commas.[12] 

God . . . who . . . kindle the faith . . . is a form of Ebonics or so-called “Black English.”[13]

 

Through . . . is a sentence fragment the Missal uses throughout the book.[14]

 

III. Prayer after Communion

 

A. Missal:      Grant, we pray, almighty God, that our reception of this paschal Sacrament may have a continuing effect in our minds and hearts.  Through Christ our Lord.

 

B. Italian Latin:[15]      Concéde, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus, ut paschális percéptio sacraménti contínua in nostris méntibus persevéret.  Per Christum.

 

C. Revised:   May our reception of this Eucharistic paschal Sacrament offer grace to our minds and hearts.  We pray through Christ, our Lord.

D. Comment: The Missal Prayer after Communion has a 6.3 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.  The first sentence of this prayer contains twenty-one words, in a 10.9 (third year of high school) Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.  It is a fused sentence.[16]  The revised Prayer after Communion has a 7.3 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability.

 

The Missal presents a fused sentence. [17]  By placing the verb, grant, first, the Missal does not follow either Latin (subject-object-verb)[18] or standard American English (subject-verb-object) word order.

 

The Latin does not capitalize sacraménti, but the Missal does capitalize Sacrament.  Since the Faithful will not hear the difference between an upper and lower case word, there is no reason to stray from the Latin, except, perhaps, to show the arrogance of the translator in the face of anyone objecting to the illiterate 2011 Missal.

 

The 2011 illiterate Missal confuses in our minds and hearts with on our minds and hearts.  In standard American English, in means within, as physically inside; on means upon, as influencing.  For the difference between effect and affect, see The Little, Brown Handbook.[19]

 

V. ICEL

 

Whether to include or exclude the 1998 ICEL translation is difficult.  The reason to include ICEL is this is the best the American bishops could do, before the Vatican rejected the translation.  The ICEL translation also deals with some of the vocabulary and grammatical problems with which the revisions deal.  The reason to exclude ICEL is that the ICEL translation is not significantly better than the Missal.

 

Prayer before reading Sacred Scripture (Collect)[20]

ICEL:[21]         God of everlasting mercy, each year when the feast of Easter returns you enliven the faith of your holy people.  Increase in us the grace you have already bestowed, that we may understand more fully in whose font we have been washed, in whose Spirit we have been reborn, and in whose blood we have found redemption.

 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever [sic] and ever.

 

                

Prayer after Communion

ICEL:[22]         Grant, all-powerful God, that the paschal mystery we have shared may never cease to touch our hearts with the force of its saving grace.

 

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

VI. Rationale

 

Clarity is not a prerequisite for prayer.  The search for clarity can be a means to prayer.  As part of catechesis, these Personal Notes set up what the Church needs to explain to enable the Faithful to pray with faith seeking understanding, as Saint Anslem of Canterbury (1033-1109) puts it.[23] 


 

 

God, the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist is part of your mercy.  Once again, you are giving this opportunity to your Faithful People.  Rekindle their faith and increase the grace you are giving them.  Enable everyone to understand that they may be reborn into your holy life.  We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.

 

May our reception of this Eucharistic paschal Sacrament offer grace to our minds and hearts.  We pray through Christ, our Lord.

 



[1] n.a., The Roman Missal:  Renewed by Decree of the Most Holy Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI and Revised at the Direction of Pope John Paul II:  English Translation According to the Third Typical Edition:  For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America:  Approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (Washington, DC, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011) 216-219.

 

My manner is to place what I expect readers to read in the main body of the text.  The problem with these essays is that some readers may begin at any point.  For these readers, I include material previously included in the text.  This is particularly important for the practical details of grammatical nonsense.

 

[2] Wolfgang Musculus, “Commentary on Ephesians,” Reformation Commentary on Scripture:  New Testament X: Galatians, Ephesians, (ed.) Gerald L. Bray (Downers Grove, Illinois:  IVP Academic, An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2011), 352. 

 

[3] http://catholicphilly.com/2011/12/news/photo-features/cardinal-john-foleys-funeral-slideshow/  (accessed January 1, 2012).

 

[4] Wolfgang Musculus, “Commentary on Ephesians,” Reformation Commentary on Scripture:  New Testament X: Galatians, Ephesians, (ed.) Gerald L. Bray (Downers Grove, Illinois:  IVP Academic, An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2011), 356. 

[5] Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2011) 7-8.

 

[6] “No confusion???   Perhaps,”  “How many hours even man-years,”   http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/dealing-new-translation-mass  (accessed December 28, 2011).

 

[7] Tom Roberts with NCR Staff, “In the face of church’s change, new liturgy is really `Whatever,’” December 28, 2011,  http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/face-churchs-change-new-liturgy-really-whatever (accessed December 28. 2011).

 

[8] Collect is the technical term for this prayer.

 

[9] The Missal translates this Latin Missale into English.  I name the Missale Italian Latin, because of the accent marks, which do not appear elsewhere.  Pagina 141 at http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/exw.htm#bsr  The Holy See, Congregation for the Clergy runs this website.  (accessed December 6, 2011).

 

[10] See Chapter 18, “Comma Splices, Fused Sentences,” H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 339-444.

 

[11] The argument that the English is to stay close to the Latin does not hold up.  The English has O Lord.  The Latin has only Dómine, without the O.  O is a Latin word.  Cassell’s Latin Dictionary: Latin-English and English-Latin, revised by J. R. V. Marchant, M.A. and Joseph F. Charles, B.A. (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1952) 371.

 

[12] The Little, Brown Handbook has a "using appositives” subsection.

 

An appositive is usually a noun that renames another noun nearby [in this case Jesus Christ], most often the noun just before the appositive.  (the word appositive derives from a Latin word that means “placed near to” or “applied to.”)  An appositive phrase includes modifiers as well . . . .  All appositives can replace the words they refer to:  [our Lord/Jesus Christ]  . . . Appositives are economical alternatives to adjective clauses containing a form of be . . . [our Lord [who is] Jesus Christ. . . ] you can usually connect the appositive to the main clause containing the word referred to . . . An appositive is not setoff with punctuation when it is essential to the meaning of the word it refers to [in the United States of America, which has no secular lords, our Lord is not essential to Jesus Christ] . . .  When an appositive is not essential to the meaning of the word it refers to, it is set off with punctuation, usually a comma or commas [as is the case here, our Lord, Jesus Christ,] . . .

 

H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 254-255. 

 

[13] H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 302.

 

[14] The Little, Brown Handbook explains,

 

A prepositional phrase is a modifier consisting of a proposition (such as in, on, to, or with [including through]) together with its object and any modifiers (see pp. 242-43).  A prepositional phrase cannot stand alone as a complete sentence . . .

 

At the end of the prayer, the unity is confusing.  A dictionary definition for the word the:  “1 c:-- used as a function word to indicate that a following noun or noun equivalent refers to someone or something that is unique or is thought of as unique or exists as only one at a time <the Lord><the Messiah> . . . .”[14]  Unity is a noun meaning “1a:  the quality of stage of being or consisting of one.”[14]  Does the unity mean that the Holy Spirit belongs to a union, like a labor union?  Does unity in the Collect mean that the Holy Spirit, unlike Jesus, has only one nature, Divine?  Does unity mean the trinitarian unity?  In the same vein, does unity mean that it is the Holy Spirit, which is the relationship between the Father and Son, thereby causing a triune unity?  The last is how the revision would resolve the matter, substituting Divine Trinitarian nature for unity.  Because the Faithful have not challenged the unity since Vatican II, the now traditional silly phraseology remains.

 

See Part 4, “Clear Sentences,” Chapter 17 c, “Sentence Fragments:  Verbal or prepositional phrase,” H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 335.  http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/unabridged?va=the&x=0&y=0  (accessed December 4, 2011).  http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/unabridged?va=unity&x=0&y=0  (assessed December 4, 2011).

 

[15] The Missal translates this Latin Missale into English.  I name the Missale Italian Latin, because of the accent marks, which do not appear elsewhere.  Pagina 386 at http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/exw.htm#bsr  The Holy See, Congregation for the Clergy runs this website.  (accessed December 6, 2011).

 

[16] See Chapter 18, “Comma Splices, Fused Sentences,” H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 339-444.

 

[17] See Chapter 18, “Comma Splices, Fused Sentences,” H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 339-444.

 

[18] http://www.google.com/search?q=Does+the+verb+come+last+in+Latin+word+oarder%3F&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=IXc&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=X&ei=iKzVToqRPKLx0gHWxdDrAQ&ved=0CBkQvwUoAQ&q=Does+the+verb+come+last+in+Latin+word+order%3F&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=c5f9ab36cd8b91fa&biw=1472&bih=754  (accessed November 30, 2011)

[19] H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, Eleventh Edition:  The Little, Brown Handbook (New York:  Longman, 2010) 532 and 865.

 

[20] Collect is the technical term for this prayer.

 

[21] International Commission on English in the Liturgy:  A Joint Commission of Catholics Bishops’ Conferences (ICEL), The Sacramentary:  Volume One—Sundays and Feasts (Washington, D.C.:  International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 1998), page 232, downloaded from https://rs895dt.rapidshare.com/#!download|895l35|387089704|ICEL_Sacramentary__1998_.zip|6767|R~00A3D4012C6FE19956DB84F71E5405F6|0|0 at http://misguidedmissal.com/wp/?page_id=23 (accessed December 8, 2011).

 

[22] International Commission on English in the Liturgy:  A Joint Commission of Catholics Bishops’ Conferences (ICEL), The Sacramentary:  Volume One—Sundays and Feasts (Washington, D.C.:  International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 1998), page 387, downloaded from https://rs895dt.rapidshare.com/#!download|895l35|387089704|ICEL_Sacramentary__1998_.zip|6767|R~00A3D4012C6FE19956DB84F71E5405F6|0|0 at http://misguidedmissal.com/wp/?page_id=23 (accessed December 8, 2011).

 

[23] http://www.google.com/search?q=faith+seeking+understanding&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a  (accessed November 28, 2011) and http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anselm/ (accessed November 28, 2011).