Monday 18 July 2011

The Rubrics (?) of the New Translation

Well that was fun!

I have just spent a few hours comparing the rubrics in various CTS publications of the new translation of the Mass.

This was prompted by Fr Finigan’s comments on the Rogue Instruction and the comparison at Catholic Book Reviews of the Spanish and English rubrics in the CTS’s bi-lingual Simple Prayer Book.

I have used four versions for comparison, all published recently by the CTS and all given the imprimatur within days of each other (between 18 - 23 May, 2011) by +Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark.

The four versions I compared are:

  • The Order of Mass in Latin and English (hereafter TOOM)
  • The Libro de Oración Común (Spanish text, hereafter SP)
  • The Libro de Oración Común (English text, hereafter ENG)
  • The Order of Mass New English Translation (Mass Card - hereafter MC)

The first thing to note is that it is unclear if the comments in red (in TOOM & MC) or their equivalents in black (in SP and ENG) are rubrics or not, as Catholic Book Reviews points out.

The red is suggestive (pace Say the Black, Do the Red) but I do not think it conclusive - not least because of the variance.

However that doubt is itself unhelpful: are these prescriptive, descriptive or someone’s aspirations? It is not at all clear.

The second thing to note, as Andrew pointed out at Catholic Book Reviews is that the Spanish (SP) is very different from the English (ENG) in the same book. ENG, TOOM and MC are identical in parts, close in other parts, and diverge in others.

So let’s look at some specifics.

In TOOM and MC these comments are generally in red as noted above. However there is a difference even in this in the very first example. TOOM reads: ‘Before Mass begins, the people gather in a spirit of recollection, preparing for their participation in the Mass.’ This is printed in black; MC has the identical words, but in red. ENG has the identical words, in black (there is no red in ENG). SP has: We stand to welcome the Priest as he approaches the altar and kisses it. If no chant has been intoned, the entrance antiphon is recited.

Well, that’s an interesting difference for a start.

It is even more interesting if we skip ahead to the final rubrics, which in TOOM and ENG read: Then the Priest venerates the altar as at the beginning. After making a profound bow with the ministers, he withdraws; because in neither TOOM nor ENG is there any mention of the Priest venerating the altar at the beginning. MC has no equivalent here, doubtless for reasons of space.

But SP has The Priest kisses the altar with veneration, as at the beginning, and once he and the other ministers who have assisted in the celebration have made the due reverence, he retires to the sacristy.

Is it me, or is there a marked difference in tone between the English and Spanish rubrics - in terms, say, of reverence...?

As has already been pointed out over at Catholic Book Reviews, in SP The priest reads the entrance antiphon of the day whereas in ENG and TOOM The Priest, or a Deacon, or another minister, may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.

Following this theme of what we used to call the Proper of the Day, we find more discrepancies. In TOOM and ENG we have After the Liturgy of the Word, the people sit and the Offertory Chant begins. The faithful express their participation by making an offering, bringing forward bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. But in MC we find During the Offertory Song the faithful bring forward bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. The Priest offers prayers of blessing (my emphasis).

In SP we have The priest presents to God the gifts of bread and wine which, by the Consecration, will become the Body and Blood of the Lord, with no mention of either chant or song (an important distinction!) - but with a mention of something rather more important.

At Communion, ENG and TOOM have While the Priest is receiving the Body of Christ, the Communion Chant begins. This is omitted from MC - doubtless, once again, for reasons of space. SP likewise has nothing about the singing (if any) at this stage.

Some other differences caught my eye, too.

At the start of the Liturgy of the Word, TOOM has: By hearing the word proclaimed in worship, the faithful enter again into the unending dialogue between God and the covenant people. But both ENG and MC have: By hearing the word proclaimed in worship, the faithful again enter into a dialogue with God. There is no equivalent in SP.

Once we reach the Creed there is more divergence. TOOM says: On Sundays and Solemnities, the Profession of Faith will follow. During Lent and Easter Time, the Apostles’ Creed may be used. In ENG, that becomes: On Sundays and Solemnities, the Profession of Faith will follow. The Apostles’ Creed may be used. MC has no instruction, but simply prints both. SP simply has The congregation stands to make the profession of Faith (and prints both versions).

If the Apostles’ Creed is only to be used in Lent and Easter Time, that could usefully be made clear. For who will doubt that some priests, doubtless with the intention of getting through Mass quickly (though that intention may not have been so evident in the homily) will choose the Apostles’ Creed on a regular basis... If it is not only to be used in Lent and Easter Time, why the instruction in TOOM?

These divergences are more puzzling because of the number of occasions on which the words are identical across the three English versions. Clearly some attention has been paid to this at some stage, and the important things, such as the Sign of Peace, are scrupulously mandated in identical wording, to leave nobody in any doubt that they are obligatory: Then the deacon or priest adds: .... And all offer one another the customary sign of peace. But of course the Sign of Peace is not mandatory, as Fr Finigan has pointed out. And the Spanish is more honest here: Then, if it is deemed opportune, the deacon or the priest adds:... And all offer one another the sign of peace according to local custom.

It is similar for the reception of Holy Commmunion. TOOM and ENG have identical wording: The communicants come forward in reverent procession. They receive Holy Communion standing and after making a preparatory act of reverence by bowing their head in honour of Christ’s presence in the Sacrament. Despite the pressure on space in MC the shorter version there still covers the essentials: Communicants come forward in reverent procession. They receive Holy Communion standing.

Regular readers of this blog (Oh, OK.... The regular reader of this blog) will know my views on reverent queuing... But notice again how our legitimate option, and the preferred option of our Holy Father Pope Benedict, is completely omitted. SP has no instruction at this point.

We are exhorted to stand and pray after Communion, too, which seems alien to my sensibilities...

As I reviewed these differences, the same question kept going through my head: conspiracy or cock-up? In life generally, I incline to suspect cock-up more often (though conspiracy is so much more fun...). However, in this instance, I think it is a mixture of the two.

I think there is a definite agenda running through the English, and it is not in favour of, let us say, traditional reverence. I also think there is a large degree of carelessness too.

And I think both are wrong, when it comes to something as fundamental as how we worship at Mass.

1 comment:

Mater mari said...

I suspect you're right. Our priest has emphasised the need to bow before Communion and a gratifyingly large number of people seem to do so. I still genuflect, as I always have done, but take care not to trip up the person behind me in the 'reverent queue'!