Controversy over new missal
A chara, – Rev Dr Vincent Twomey SVD (February 8th) is strangely fascinated that I would want the language used in our celebration of Mass to be accessible to members of congregation as young as 14. Indeed, I would want, as far as possible, that it be accessible to under-14s also. I confess that I have third-level education, but woe betide us if only those with third-level education can understand the language.
At Mass on Sunday January 30th, we heard from St Paul: “Those whom the world think common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.” (1 Corinthians 1:28) Rev Dr Twomey is a member of “SVD” – the Society of the Divine Word. We celebrate that the same Divine Word came as a child and welcomed children.
The simplest of language, used well, can inspire and challenge and instil awe. The Gospels and the other New Testament writings were almost all in the “Koine” Greek of everyday life, not in the higher class Classical Greek.
When Pope Damasus asked St Jerome, a student of Classical Greek and Latin, to translate Scripture into Latin, Jerome used the “Vulgate” Latin spoken by the people rather than Classical Latin.
Using difficult language is not a good way to convey awe and mystery; it can result instead in confusion and frustration. The document Liturgiam Authenticam sets out principles for good liturgical translation of the Roman Missal. It says in par. 25: “So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterised by a kind of language which is easily understandable”. This is still an excellent principle, even if the proposed English translation, while it has its merits, fails in many ways to live up to it. – Yours, etc,