The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 26, 2023 - 4:20:44

New translations deepen the personal dimension of the Mass

Katie van Schaijik, Feb 26, 2013

The changes to the English translation of the Mass were designed to bring it closer to the Latin original.  Hence, they draw attention to certain deficits in the former translation.

In his great classic Liturgy and Personality,* Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote of the perfect, divinely-designed adequacy of the Catholic Liturgy to the human personality, so that the more fully we enter into it, the more it shapes us rightly, as persons.

It follows—doesn't it?— that mis-translations pose a serious problem for our spiritual lives, and likewise that better translations serve to help us interiorize and appropriate without deficits the sacred truths at hand.

Having all that in mind, I love to reflect on the particular changes, and to consider the differences between what we say now and what we used to say.  And I can't help noticing how the changes all seem to move us in a more personalist direction.

Take, for instance, the "I believe" instead of "we believe".  Isn't it more personal?  I am not just reciting what the Church teaches, I am professing what I myself hold and stand for.  I am personally owning the Faith.

Then take this: "Lord, God of hosts" rather than "God of power and might."  Power and might are naturally taken to refer to attributes of God.  Hosts, though, refers to the throngs of angelic persons who serve Him.  We are given a vision of a richly peopled cosmos.

"Chalice" evokes much more than "cup".  A cup is a drinking tool; a chalice is a ceremonial vessel.  An ape can drink from a cup.  Only a person can participate in a ceremony.

The addition of "with your spirit" and "my soul shall be healed" put fresh emphasis on priority of interiority in personal life.

And then there is the poetry of phrases like "like the dewfall" or "under my roof".  These remind us to think in metaphorical and transcendent ways—to see connections between the natural and the supernatural realms, and to feel, as it were, the mysterious beauty and significance of even mundane things.  That, in itself, develops in us a natural resistance to utilitarianism...

Another reason to thank God for the papacy of Benedict XVI.  

* Members can listen to Jules' Reading Circle introductions to Liturgy and Personality at the Member Forum.