Nov. 16 at 6:00am
To help prepare the faithful for the new translation of the mass, our parish priests have lately taken some time out of their homilies each week to read part of an official document (I don't know where they got it) explaining what the most significant changes are, and why they were made.
The section read this week included a change made to the words of institution:
The previous translation of the Mass referred to Jesus' blood having redemptive value "for all." The new translation replaces the words "for all" with "for many."
"For many" is apparently closer to the Latin text of the mass, and also in greater continuity with the Tradition. More importantly, it
…remains closer to Jesus' actual words of institution in scripture. "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be poured out on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (MT 26:28)
I can't really comment on the theological and scriptural justifications for this change. What strikes me about it is how much emphasis it places on human freedom. God destined all of us for salvation, but even He—Infinite Love, coupled with Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Power—cannot save us without our free cooperation. This awesome and dreadful truth, somewhat "lost" in the previous translation, is now front and center:
The new translation points to the reality that while Jesus died for all, not everyone chooses to accept this gift. Each individual must choose to welcome the gift of salvation in Christ and live according to that grace, so they may be among "the many" who are described in the text.
The change also reminded me of the controversy some years back surrounding Hans Urs von Balthasar's book, Dare We Hope 'That All Men Be Saved'? In it Balthasar suggested that Hell might, after all is said and done, turn out to be empty. This is not something we could know in advance (to think that would be heresy); but it would be something for which we may, and perhaps must, hope.
I found Balthasar's view in somewhat compelling. (I mean theoretically compelling, not just practically attractive.) How else could we maintain God's infinite Love and Mercy and Providence? On the other hand, besides the fact that Balthasar's view seemed to fly in the face of Tradition, it also tended to undermine the reality and ultimate significance of human choice.
I would like to know if the new translation was partly inspired by a desire to put an end to these "Balthasarian" speculations.
P.S. Members might like to listen, in this connection, to the two podcasts on "The Problem of Hell". In these, Michael Healy tries to show how the existence of hell can be compatible with God's mercy.