Anyone attending Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Belleville, or any other Catholic Church in the English-speaking world for that matter this coming Sunday, will be in for quite a surprise. As of this weekend, a new translation of the Mass will be used.
To the Mass celebrant’s injunction, “The Lord be with you,” the congregation will no longer respond “And also with you,” but “And with your spirit.” That’s only one of several changes that congregations around the world will need to accustom themselves to in the coming weeks and months.
Ever since Vatican Council II permitted the Mass to be celebrated in the language of the people (vernacular), alongside the Latin language, a translation of the Mass has been used since the late 1960s which got to be known as the Mass of Pope Paul VI. Sad to say, of all the translations into the different languages, the translation of the Mass into English has probably been the least impressive.
A number of rich biblical metaphors and images in the original Latin text were lost in the earlier English translation. Some theological concepts were not very clear and several biblical allusions were not noticeable. Furthermore, superficial contemporary expressions and phrases in English continued to rob the Roman liturgy of its richness. The sacred language of the liturgy seemed to be lost in the more secular usages that were employed.
The goal of the new English translation is maximum fidelity to the Latin text with more precise and theological expressions of faith in conformity with the biblical texts, using more sublime language suited for divine worship. The new translation uses more elegant and dignified terminology, especially when directly addressing God. This is in line with Liturgiam Authenticam, the Vatican’s instruction on the translation of the Liturgy, which states, “Certain expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church … are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible.”
Among the Mass parts most affected are the Rite of Penitence (“that I have greatly sinned … through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”), the Gloria, Creed (Apostles’ and Nicene) and the Ecce Agnus Dei (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof”).
Parishes in the area have been preparing their congregation for several months in regards to these upcoming changes. If you wish to see how well we have managed, just come over to one of the Masses this Sunday.
Fr. Ivan Sciberras is the Pastor at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Belleville, located at 155 William Street. Sunday Masses in English at St. Peter’s Church are celebrated on Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 7am, 8:30am, 10am and 11:30am.
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