New Missal Translation

(reflection by Fr. Phil Bloom - August 24, 2010)

A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice…The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm.

Fairies prefer people of the yokel type like myself; people who gape and grin and do as they are told. G.K. Chesterton Ethics of Elfland (Orthodoxy)

I am reluctant to comment on liturgical issues. C.S. Lewis sums up my feelings in the above quote. And like Chesterton, I tend to gape and grin and do as I am told. However, now that the Vatican has approved the new English translation, I would like to make a humble observation. It comes from my experience going back and forth each Sunday between English and Spanish translations. Even a yokel like me has noticed some differences:

• On the First Sunday of Advent, the Spanish speaks about "the day of judgment," while at the English Mass Jesus "calls us to his side in the kingdom of heaven."

• In Lent a Spanish preface tells about the Lord using "bodily fasting to curb our passions", while in English we state, more vaguely, that "through our observance of Lent you correct our faults…"

• On Easter Sunday, the Spanish asks that we be "renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit," while the English speaks about being renewed "by the Spirit that is within us." Question: Would the average American (who does not see the capital "s") know that this refers to the Holy Spirit as opposed to positive feelings?

• And last Sunday (21st Sunday of Ordinary Time) in the Spanish Mass, we prayed to God to "grant us to love what you command and desire what you promise," while at the English Mass we told God about "our desire for what you promise," and said nothing about his commands.

I could multiply examples, but you get the idea. The Spanish translation does not avoid harsh realities like sin, commandments, penance and judgment. The English translation is more soothing, but I wonder if it has played a part in the general falling away of younger American Catholics.

From what I have heard, the new translation will be somewhat jarring. That might be a good thing. It begins in Advent of 2011. On that Sunday we will hear Jesus say: "Be watchful! Be alert!" May the new translation help us follow that command.


Homily on New Missal ("And With Your Spirit," & "For Many")

Homily on New Missal (How it will help us have "correct posture" during Mass)

Homily on New Missal & Applause at Mass

LORD as translation of YHVH


My Vocation Story (23 minute video, made at Everett Serra Club on August 14, 2010)

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