21/2/10 – Why A New Missal Translation?

Last week, I gave a little overview of the recent National Liturgical Conference; the focus of which was the impending release of a new English translation of the Roman Missal.

Some people have probably wondered since just how different this new missal translation will be to what we use now.

Firstly, it is important to note that this is essentially a new translation of the missal into English.  There is very little change to anything besides the translations of the texts into English.  This means that Mass will be celebrated as it is now – the same parts, in the same order.  There will not be as much change as the Church experienced in the years after Vatican II because the focus is on how the prayers have been translated from Latin into English.

So why is there a need to change the translation of the text?

Firstly, the Church now has now released the third edition of the missal of Pope Paul VI in Latin, and it then becomes the responsibility of bishops’ conferences (national groups of bishops) to have the missal translated into their native language (the “vernacular”).  In English-speaking countries, this work is the responsibility of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), who work on behalf of the bishops of English-speaking countries.

Secondly, new guidelines were introduced by the Vatican on how the Latin missal texts are to translated into other languages.  Central to this was an insistence on a more direct translation of the Latin texts.  This greater similarity means that our prayer texts better reflect the universal nature of our Church.  The challenge, however, lies in preparing a direct translation which respects the unique characteristics of the English language so may we pray fully, consciously and actively.

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