Language and liturgy meet – Cardinal Pell on the new English translation

In an article on the website of his archdiocese, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney briefly discusses the new English translation of the Roman Missal, the texts used in the Mass. He points out a few of the good reasons there have been for this new translation: “Not surprisingly therefore the new texts are more formal and less like the everyday speech used at a barbecue.  They strive more effectively to evoke the mystery of God, while the translations from the Latin are accurate and precise, occasionally causing listeners to pause and think”, and puts to rest some of the concerns that some people had about perceived ‘difficult’ words: “People can and will learn a new word or two”.

In my own experience of the new translation, which may be heard in my own parish every vigil Mass on Saturday evening, is that the new translation (not ‘new texts’) are incomparably rich in sentence structure, vocabulary, and as such in meaning. For now, while the translations are still new, I often find myself taking in the words and sentences; not necessarily very prayerful, but on the other hand, it does let the ‘weight’ of the texts sink in, and that has its influence on how I experience the Mass. A positive influence, to be sure.

Cardinal Pell ends his article as follows:

“A single English Mass text […] is an important achievement; appropriate too because English is the new Latin, the new universal language.”

I think we may read this as an invitation to read the new English translation as exemplary for our own translations.  Like Latin, English serves as a universal language and therefore a touchstone for how we say things in other languages. That cause for the worlds of media, politics, culture, and certainly no less for the liturgy.

And, I must say, Cardinal Pell’s conclusion is also cause to wonder what is keeping a new Dutch translation from seeing the light of day.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Sydney

Archbishop meets with abuse victims

Three days ago, I wrote about a planned protest by victims of sexual abuse during or at the Mass that several Dutch bishops would be celebrating in memory of Blessed Pope John Paul II. That Mass took place yesterday, and while there was a small and silent protest outside Hengelo’s Basilica of St. Lambert, no interruption of the Mass took place. Actually, quite the contrary of such a misplaced and ineffective protest happened.

Bishops Hendriks, De Jong, Punt, De Korte and Van Burgsteden with Archbishop Eijk (elevating the Body of Christ).

Via the local parish council Archbishop Eijk extended an invitation to the group, to meet with him over a cup of coffee after the Mass. This is the first widely-reported meeting of victims with one or more bishops (although, it must be said, several bishops have met with victims in private over the past months). The invitation was enthusiastically accepted by Mr. Frank Oude Geerdink, who had organised the protest.

To local newspaper Tubantia, Archbishop Eijk said,”When victims come forward, bishops and superiors of orders and congregations will enter into the conversation.” Yesterday, he showed that these are not mere words. Yesterday’s meeting was an initial one, but the archbishop invited Mr. Oude Geerdink also for a follow-up.

In the end, Catholics must come together to resolve the abuse crisis. This is a very encouraging first step.

Photo credit: Theo Oude Spraaksté