The new translation has been used for a year now, and we who have used it daily should have had enough time to decide whether it fulfils any of its claims.
I was annoyed this last Sunday. I had to celebrate Mass five times, and the clumsy Collect Prayer frustrated me. This is what it says: “Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good. Through our Lord…” I went back to the old translation and here is what it said: “Father of all that is good, keep us faithful in serving you, for to serve you is our lasting joy. Through our Lord…”
If I wanted a more poetic version of the prayer, I was also allowed to say: ” Father in heaven, ever living source of all that is good, from the beginning of time you promised man salvation through the future coming of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to drink of his truth and expand our hearts with the joy of his promises so that we may serve you in faith and in love and know forever the joy of your presence. Through our Lord…”
We were told that the old translation was inaccurate, even bad English. We were also told that the theology behind the translation was important, and the old translation did not reflect a good theology. Well, I am not an English scholar but I think we could grasp the meaning of the prayers far more easily before, that we do not need all these adjectives and adverbs in order to understand meanings better.
We were always taught to “Say what you mean and mean what you say!” The old translation meets that command far more clearly. And Jesus said to avoid the prayer style of the Pharisees, “they think that by using many words their prayers will be more pleasing to God!” (my tranlsation). We are in danger of becoming Pharisees!
I still find the translation of the Common of the Mass frustrating! We know the words – “oblation” instead of “offering”, “consubstantial” instead of “one in being”, “many” instead of “all”, There is way too much emphasis on “our merits”! “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say” instead of “Jesus taught us to call God our Father, and so we have the courage to say”. In the Second Eucharistic Prayer, after the consecration we now say:” Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you. Humbly we pray that partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.” The old translation simply said: “In memory of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup. We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. May all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit.”
I won’t go on, but I personally find the new translation pretentious, and I certainly find the old translation more biblically correct. And most priests I have met agree with me. And why couldn’t we have used “inclusive” language?