Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guided Missal 4: Oremus

The introductory rites of the Roman Mass (ordinary form), following the entrance into the Holy of Holies, and acknowledging the mercy and glory of God as complementary (as opposed to conflicting, as some liturgists in the 1980s would have had us believe), culminate in the Opening Prayer, traditionally known as the Collect (from the Latin "collectio").

In a more ancient practice, the faithful would be called upon to pray together.

Dominus vobiscum. (The Lord be with you.)
Et cum spiritu tuo. (And with your spirit.)

The deacon would then present the invitation to kneel, then after a period of silence, to stand.

Flectamus genua. (Let us kneel.)
Levate. (Let us stand.)

The priest/celebrant would then conclude by "collecting" the prayers of those gathered into one.

Oremus ... (Let us pray ...)

In the second installment of this series, we made reference to how the opening prayer is constructed in the Roman tradition. What follows is that prayer for the First Sunday of Advent.

We will begin with the Latin text itself.

Da, quaesumus,
omnipotens Deus,
hanc tuis
fidelibus voluntatem,
ut, Christo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes,
eius dextrae sociati, regnum mereantur possidere caeleste.

This is followed by the current 1973 translation.

All-powerful God,
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.

Next is the proposed text from 1998, based upon the earlier principles of "dynamic equivalency" as referenced in the document Comme le prevoit, approved by the bishops' conferences of the English-speaking world, but ultimately rejected by the Holy See. (More on that chapter of Church history later in our series.)

Almighty God,
strengthen the resolve
of your faithful people
to prepare for the coming of your Christ
by works of justice and mercy,
so that when we go forth to meet him
he may call us to sit at his right hand
and possess the kingdom of heaven.

What follows here is the text from the 2008 translation, which had initially been approved by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, but which was then subject to considerable correction; not only minor textual changes throughout, but thousands of typographical errors.

Grant, we pray,
almighty God,
that your faithful may resolve
to run forth with righteous deeds,
to meet your Christ who is coming,
so that gathered at his right hand
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Finally, we illustrate the 2010 translation which was given the recognitio of the Apostolic See in the summer of last year, for official use beginning in Advent of this year.

Grant your faithful,
we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth
to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds
at his coming,
so that, gathered
at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Through our Lord
Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

It is obvious that the 1973 translation is abbreviated, and deviates noticeably from the Latin original. The 1998 translation, while certainly a literary improvement from the 1973, remains somewhat of a departure from the Latin, which makes no reference to "works of justice and mercy." We could surmise from this rendition that such works are the primary means by which to "prepare for the coming of ... Christ." On the contrary, our works might possess such characteristics, but it is their nature as "righteous deeds" that makes us worthy to receive Him. This is made clearer, thus more faithful to the original Latin text, in both the 2008 and 2010 versions.

Here we shall again refer to the style of construction we presented two weeks ago, as elaborated upon by Christopher Carstens of the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein.

1) The address (to God the Father).
2) A short relative clause describing God.
3) The petition itself.
4) The conclusion addressed to the Trinity.

Do note that, while not in the exact order presented here, both the 2008 and 2010 orations faithfully present all four characteristics as outlined by Carstens, and through completion with the trinitarian reference, adhere to the literary style of "extended subordination" to which Carstens refers. But why the revision from one to the other in this instance? Could a case be made for one being an improvement over the other, and why? This is explored in great detail by Father John Zuhlsdorf, a priest who has made such commentary on liturgical translations his specialty, and which can be found here.

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We would be remiss if we did not mention the availability of Magnificat's Roman Missal Companion for further exploration of the new translation. It is available at many fine Catholic bookstores, or by direct order through the Magnificat website.

Next week we will explore the Liturgy of the Word, which will include further analysis of alterations to the text of the Nicene Creed, as well as video clips for the official chants. We will also provide illustrations for chanting the Prayer of the Faithful. Stay tuned ...

1 comment:

Gail F said...

Just wanted to tell you that I am really enjoying this series of posts and that "Guided Missal" is a great title.

When I first started reading Fr. Z, I didn't read his posts on the prayers! I had gotten to his site from some other site and I didn't realize they were the whole point... When I finally read one I was amazed. I literally could not believe the difference between "what the prayer really says" and the dopey ICEL versions. Anthony Esolen has a great post on it in this month's First Things, in which he says something like "I defy anyone, anywhere to defend that translation for any reason." Tell us what you REALLY think, Tony!

I really think this new translation will make a tremendous difference. When little is expected of people, they generally deliver. The current ICEL translation says to me, "We don't expect you to believe any of this stuff so we'll just skip most of it."