Thursday, 4 June 2009

New translation

I've had a look at several parts of the new translation of the Mass, and agree that it's more beautiful and closer to the original than the current Novus Ordo effort. In many ways, that has to be a good thing. My brother who lives in South Africa responded very positively when the new translation was introduced in his church last year.

I can see there being objections, though. In fact, I have an objection myself - and petty though it is, it's something that really matters to me.

On the day I made my First Communion in 1976, my grandmother gave me a Missal. I have used that Missal ever since, and it reminds me of my First Communion and of my grandmother.

One of my godsons is making his First Communion this coming Sunday, and I really want to give him a present that he will be able to use on a regular basis and treasure all his life. Knowing that the new translation is due to come into use soon, I know there's no point in giving him a Missal for the current English translation of the Mass. I also know his family are unlikely ever to get into going to the Traditional Rite Mass, so there's no point in getting him a Missal for that.

I almost feel cheated out of being able to give him a meaningful present that will last him a lifetime. I may be influenced in this feeling by my father regularly expressing sadness throughout my childhood that he was unable to use the old Missal that he had received as a present for his First Communion in the late 1940s - he used to get it off the shelf to show it to us, but he couldn't use it in Mass.

On the other hand, at the moment there is no real universality in our Church. Even if I only intended it to last for a short while, I couldn't buy Missals here in the UK for my American or South African nephews and nieces, because there are enough small differences between the US and UK Mass that they would be noticed every week (little things like in the Creed, where we say "became incarnate from the Virgin Mary" and the US says "was born of the Virgin Mary" - I feel like an outsider whenever I stumble over that bit when I'm visiting them), and South Africa is already using the new translation, which is very different.

I'm sad that I can't get a special and lasting present for my godchildren, nephews and nieces, one that will be used regularly and remind them forever of one of the most important days of their lives. I know such nostalgic feelings aren't a reason to block positive progress, and I hope when the new translation is fully brought in the small differences between us and the US will disappear, making the Church feel properly universal again.

But I do think that if the new translation is to be received warmly by the majority of Catholics, it needs to be introduced with great sensitivity and these little feelings need to be acknowledged and not completely swept aside as unimportant.


Christine the Soccer Mom said...

For each of my girls, I gave them a missal I received for First Communion, which was in 1978. Neither is exactly like what we say now (very slight differences), and will be very different in another year or two, but both were meaningful because I'd saved them for quite some time in order to pass them on.

Little Girl (who received on Pentecost Sunday) was given a prayer book by her dance instructor and the owner of the dance studio (sisters). It was their mothers (!!), and is quite old and precious. I was so touched by this gift, along with their mother's old Rosary and some beautiful antique holy cards, that I cried. Touching doesn't even begin to explain it.

What is meaningful, though, isn't necessarily the translation, but that you gave it to them. Though the translation will undoubtedly change, I'm sure nieces and nephews will treasure their missals just because their aunt gave it to them.

newhousenewjob said...

What wonderful gifts!

I appreciate that whatever I get will be special and meaningful to them, but it'll probably be like my father's old Missal - that was very special to him, and he still treasures it now, but he was sad that he was no longer able to use it in Mass every Sunday.

berenike said...

Bible? (e.g. OUP do a Catholic bible in a leather zip-up cover)

Imitation of Christ?

newhousenewjob said...

Thanks for the suggestions, berenike. I'm actually planning to give him a nice leather-bound Bible, but I still regret not being able to give him a Missal - largely because that was my favourite and most well-used of all the presents I got for my First Communion.