Definitely a sign that ICEL's getting better.
In the spirit of fair play, I asked Fr. Bruce Harbert, executive director of ICEL, if he would like to offer a defense of the new translations. The following is Harbert's reply.
Previous liturgical translations followed a mistaken theory which saw language merely as a medium for communicating facts. Many elements rejected as "outmoded rhetoric" were in fact expressions of feeling.
When we call Jesus' mother "blessed," we are expressing our love for her. When we call God "almighty and everlasting" we voice our respect; when we ask God to do something "kindly" or "graciously" we gratefully acknowledge his mercy. Similarly, we speak of the apostles and the church with reverence as "holy," we say that we have sinned "greatly" to express horror at our sins, and we even speak lovingly of the Host as "spotless" and the Chalice as "precious."
Sometimes we convey emotion by three-fold patterns, as when we give "three cheers" for a person or team. Thus, in the liturgy, we echo the angels' song "Holy, Holy, Holy," we lament that we have sinned "through my fault, through my fault, through my grievous fault," we honor Christ as "the pure victim, the holy victim, the spotless victim."
Bishop Trautman, a fine Biblical scholar, says the New Testament uses "ordinary language, spoken in the market place, on the streets and at the supper table." True, but it also uses emotionally heightened language, as in Revelation or in John's Gospel at the Last Supper, where Jesus utters thoughts of the most exquisite intimacy. The liturgy must do the same: it must speak the language of Gethsemane as well as of the supermarket.
Much criticism has been voiced of the proposed response "And with your spirit" to the priest's greeting. "'And also with you' is enough," people say. But some Americans, instead of saying "Come here," will say, "Get your butt over here," to express impatience. When we speak of "your spirit" we are using a similar device, but in this case to express respect for the priest as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
We hear much about "active participation" in the liturgy as desired by Vatican II. I wonder whether that is the best possible translation of the Council's words. I can participate in an event without getting really involved, and I can get involved as a spectator at a game of football without participating. I think "active involvement" expresses better what the Council wanted: not merely "joining in," but being drawn in, heart and mind. For that to happen, the liturgy must express feelings as well as facts.
If only Father Harbert could go over Bishop Trautman's head a little bit - just enough to erase the Trautman/Mahony agenda.
Doesn't it seem funny, btw, that one coast has a replica of whatever is on the other. For example:
PROGRESSIVE/LIBERAL LITURGICAL AGENDAE:
Left coast: Mahony / Right coast: Trautman
ALLEGED STEROID USE:
Left coast: Barry Bonds / Right coast: Gary Sheffield
PRIESTS IN ORDERS WHO HAVE AN EXCELLENT SENSE OF THE SACRED:
Left coast: Fr. Jeff Keyes, C.PP.S. / Right coast: Fr. Bill Casey, CPM
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