Rorate Caeli

Translations make all the difference

Indeed, they do. For the past forty years, though there have certainly been some disputes in the French translation of the New Mass (regarding some words in the Creed and in the Pater, for instance), the main points of contention of the English translations have never been an issue in Francophone countries; for instance, there have never been any problems with:

-Et avec votre esprit (And with Your spirit - the plural your); or
-Pour la multitude...  (pro multis..., not for all).

And we should be glad for this: as it is well known, the liturgical crisis never occurred in France, French Belgium, Quebec, or other French-speaking communities.
Which goes to show that accurate translations can actually improve problematic original texts - one can feel confident that, in a few decades, liturgical life in English-speaking nations will reach the level of excellence found, for instance, in France:

Soissons, Mass for Missions (procession), 2009

Or in Quebec:

Euch. Congress Mass, Quebec, 2008


  1. I was at a Novus Ordo church last night (not for mass) and noticed that the Spanish still says "para todos". I thought all vernacular translations that didn't correctly translate pro multis had to be changed. Wasn't that decreed in 2008 and didn't the world have 2 years to comply? Who's in charge of the Spanish translation? Is there a Spanish-language equivalent of ICEL?

  2. No, their obligation is to comply with this change in each "next" official translation of the 3rd edition of the Paul VI Missal - so there is not exactly an official timetable. The one or two years were for the "preparation of the faithful". As for the translations in Spanish, the timetable is quite varied from Episcopal Conference to Episcopal Conference. Other commentators may have additional information.

  3. \\-Et avec votre esprit (And with Your spirit - the plural your, not the singular your, ton, a sign of respect);\\

    I'm not familiar with the French translation. Could it be that it reserves "tu/toi/ton" for divine address?

  4. Not traditionally - but you are right that it is usually used in the New Mass (it is one of the many problems Traditional Catholics have with French translations after the Council...). The translation is absolutely correct, of course (the use of the plural is also useful in a way to unify the same response both for celebrations and for concelebrations) - with votre or ton, the translation of the Latin original is quite accurate in any way.

    Tu is certainly never used for Our Lady, as the very name of the Ave in French implies. Also, Traditional Catholics in French-speaking regions have mostly kept the ancient translation of the Pater, with Vous.

  5. LOL You have a great sense of humor and this post is the perfect answer to the conservative catholics who are mesmerised by the gimcrack of a partially restored translation; "But it is so pretty it made me cry and, look, others who are not even Catholic like it."

    When one invades your sacred spaces, steals nearly everything of value and then more'n forty years later, returns a reformed book, it is an act of emasculation to fall all over your own selves expressing gratitude rather than to forthrightly respond; OK,about time; now restore to us the rest of what you stole."

  6. Asclepius4:25 PM

    Nobody I know of in the Traditional/conservative camp (if label up we must) has reacted by, "A new translation! We're saved!" I think you've created a characterization that simply does not exist.

    Rather, a proper attitude dictates that we have some excitement over the fact that we've gained some ground on the battlefield -- and that deserves celebrating. The war, however, is not over.

  7. A Loyal Reader4:52 PM

    I am not Spartacus, Exactly!! The Mass was STOLEN from my father. He lived the rest of his life (33 years) being "obedient" to Churchmen who had sold him out! Well, I am taking back for myself and for my children what was stolen from us. Too bad I can't even make my own siblings see that they were robbed and they need to reclaim their stolen property. They probably couldn't even identify their property anyway!

  8. Really? The Spanish translation says "para todos"? The Spanish translation is still better than the now defunct English one. E.g., the Confiteor actually says "por mi culpa" etc.

  9. Bravo "not Spartacus"!

    NC - thanks for the explanation. I'm disappointed to hear that many people will have to continue to put up with this egregious error for some time to come. I hope that despite the obstructionist attitudes of most of the hierarchy the traditional mass will take off. Maybe we should take out ads in the newspapers, TV, etc?

  10. "Pour la multitude" is a more accurate rendering of 'pro multis' than 'for many'. But 'for the multitude' would sound odd in English. (In 1966 the Irish bishops distributed an excellent translation of the Roman Canon which had 'for the many'.)

  11. Exiled6:14 PM

    another exemple:
    a confirmation in France, where we have absolutetly NO liturgy crisis:
    check out the "orchestra" lady with the accordeon...

    the marvelous Our Father, the "Protestant/American wayy"
    Check out the" Altar"

    The church building is beautiful though. What a shame!!!

    Then I cry and listen to this:

    (I believe in God, but not any more in His priests, among them are Judases and traitor. A cold, freezing wind blows form the east which takes away the essence of their preach now inspired by the nomemclatura. And if they still lift their hands towards heaven, Marx's "capital is their new missal.

    Hail Mary full of grace, May Thy name be sanctified, but please be aware of your priests

    I believe in God, but not at all in men, our children do not care about Rome anymore either, they take paths differents from the tourists'. The sacred road has taken an appearance of racetrack.
    Where is the Messiah, the Shepherd who will get together his beached sheep? Where is the cassock wore by the man of God which we recognized with respect when he was walking among us?

    Protect your sheep from those hawks who already have sacrificed them

    I believe in God, but the coffin of my father was very lonely, although crushed under flowers. The Cross in one hand, in the other one the donation plate, the old priest was mumbling the words of the Gospel in the sad little chapel where the garden of Eden was giving dead flowers.
    When there are no children singing the Credo (in Latin) the Holy water in the font has no more meaning (is only ordinary water.)

    Je vous salue Marie
    Pleine de grâce
    Que votre nom soit sanctifié
    Your preachers of today have momified gestures

    Get up, stand up, beautiful words, ancient/antiques words, incantations,and choirs of Hymns, we must be like monasteries and tell ourselves that we are a great mystery, and that from the craddle to the coffin man is a sect in himself

    Je vous salue Marie
    Pleine de grâce
    Que votre nom soit sanctifié
    The Gospel is submitted to those in the East, Your Son is being crucified again

    My translation is "bancale" not great but you see the meaning, even if there are theological problem in his song, Lama understood the communist/socialist were taking everything reverent from the Mass.

    Remember we might not have "liturgy Crisis" but we still have priests workers, and general confession instead of individual!

  12. Exiled6:36 PM

    Zut! Ca ne marche pas. Sorry about that

    hopefully those links will work:

  13. Then you have been reading other "Conservative" sources than those we have been reading - and hearing -, Asclepius.

  14. I have to admit, I always considered myself a 'conservative' Catholic of the 'reform of the reform' variety, but this debacle with the translation has been but one of many things that has driven me further and further into the traditionalist camp. It really is disheartening how many people just think, "Oh, thank heavens! Now that the translation is in effect, everything is going to be lollipops and rainbows in the English-speaking church from now on! Good work, everyone!"

    I'm being a bit uncharitable in my characterization, but frankly with every step in the right direction that the Church makes it only highlights how far in the wrong direction the Church went in the first place following "the Spirit of Vatican II".

    We're all supposed to grovel in gratitude that a handful of words here and there were tweaked to good effect in a fundamentally irreverent, spiritually bereft, theologically limp, aesthetically neutered, etc., etc., new mass. I hold nothing against the people who have worked and continue to work very hard at introducing good incremental changes, but at some point the intellectually honest thing is to admit that even a greatly improved new mass falls short of the solemnity and wisdom and grandeur of the usus antiquior.

  15. Dear Sjgmore,

    I could not say it better. Thank you.


  16. George9:31 PM

    New Catholic, I love your site and I consider myself to be a committed traditionalist. However, I firmly disagree with you about these translations.

    I have attended two weekday masses now with the new translations and the difference goes _way_ beyond "and with your spirit." The word "sacrifice" conspicuous by its near-absence from the old translations, pops up every few words in the canon of the Mass; the collects actually talk about sin and purification by Christ; and the prayers of the priest make it clear that he is offering the "oblation of this pure victim" in the person of Christ. In the prayers for the dead, the priest asks not only that they "share Christ's resurrection" (which put off until the eschaton whatever we were asking for them) but also asks that they be given "kind admittance" to heaven now. All of the adjectives that were formerly left out are now back in. The chalice is "precious," Christ's hands are "holy," the oblation is "pure" and is offered for God's "holy" Church. In total, it is a _dramatic_ change.

    It is still the Novus Ordo. It does not have aspects that we cherish from the traditonal Mass. However, it is probably by now the _best_ translation in existence--far better than the French, which despite "la multitude" was still translated under the regime of "dynamic equivalence" which often boiled down to "hide the things you don't like by leaving them out of the translation."

    Please stop acting like this is inconsequential. It is _extremely_ consequential. I grew up in the Novus Ordo and had never felt that it was about anything particularly sacrificial, holy, or purificatory. Now it undeniably is. This will have an impact.

    Just borrow an old sacramentary and compare the old and new translations of the collects and prefaces for the Mass that was said on Monday. It is _extremely_ striking.

    The Novus Ordo is still an inferior liturgy. However, much of ambiguities by which non-sacrificial and watered-down theologies were imposed on people for two generations has now been removed. This is a lesser good, but that does not evacuate its significance.

  17. "... I consider myself to be a committed traditionalist. ... I have attended two weekday masses now with the new translations ... "

    Ok, then.

    "Please stop acting like this is inconsequential."

    No, and this is not an act.

    " is probably by now the _best_ translation in existence..."

    Considering that there are dozens (hundreds?) of official translations, that is a very sweeping statement.

    By the way, there is only one Canon - the other texts are the made-up "Eucharistic Prayers"; I find it highly unlikely that you heard even the Canon-based Prex I in a weekday new mass.

  18. Peterman1:42 AM

    I was at the "life teen" mass 6pm
    Sunday here in my liberal Florida diocese (don't ask, I know). Anyways the two things I heard loud and clear "I believe.." and "for you and for MANY."

    Just the previous week it was "We believe.." and "for you and for ALL".

    If you're not from this lib diocese you have no idea what a minor miracle this is. Deo Gratias!

  19. Brian1:58 AM

    We're all supposed to grovel in gratitude that a handful of words here and there were tweaked to good effect in a fundamentally irreverent, spiritually bereft, theologically limp, aesthetically neutered, etc., etc., new mass.


  20. I haven't heard we are supposed to "grovel in gratitude," but anyway the words "a handful of words here and there were tweaked to good effect" could only be spoken by someone who knows so little of what he's talking that he may as well be utterly ignorant of the subject. Furthermore, among the things that make the reformed Missal inferior to the traditional Missal, "fundamentally irreverent" is certainly not one of them. I must wonder if God has allowed Church the ability to promulgate rites that are fundamentally irreverent.

  21. Lopes4:38 AM

    Once, back in Brazil, a priest said that we should vote for the communist candidate. My dad and
    I left the Mass right away.

    A few years ago here in the U.S., a priest said that Martin Luther was a good Christian. I left again (did the Pope really say the same thing???).

    Anyway, do you all think that an improved translation will change the Modernist mindset of the majority of the NO clergy or the people?

    Sadly, most Catholics are completely ignorant about the Faith. A new translation is far from a beginning to real change.

  22. On the contrary, it is the liturgical Rite in its authentic Latin form which makes all the difference.Nothing else will suffice for the western Latin Rite Church.

  23. You're probably right, Jordanes, that I was intemperately harsh in the way I phrased my criticism, but I think the gist of what I said still holds true. The problem is that regardless of how much better the actual translation itself is (and it is considerably better, I'm not ignorant of that fact), on the scale of things that have been lost or mangled or innovated since Vatican II, this new translation does count as a "tweaking" that only slightly scratches the surface of the massive overhauls that are truly needed, in the mass itself and in the broader Church.

    And while the new mass itself may not be fundamentally irreverent, it has been part and parcel of fostering contemporary Catholic identity and practices that are.

    Maybe I should have been more moderate in how I phrased my thoughts, but the fact remains that all of the hubbub over the new translation still has the overall effect of throwing into relief how far we've been driven into error and impiety.

  24. No amount of translation will ever make the NO Roman Catholic. Being protestant in its essential nature and disunifying linguistically it can never bring the church together liturgically. The question at bottom is that of embodiment. It is upon this principle that everything else takes its form. This will not be the last edition once it is realised that it alters none of the novel norms and values which have ensued as a consequence of its implementation.

  25. the exialed7:13 PM

    The question is how many conversions did we had when a person attended the Tridentine Mass?
    and how many do we have when a person is attending the NO?

    I know of at least three: Claudel , Mother Seton and my parish priest.

    I am sure you can add to that least.

    I do not knwo anyone who boasted that he was so overcome by the beauty of the NO Mass, that he converted on the spot!

    I do not remember in the French translation having the "grevious fault". either

  26. "The question is how many conversions did we had when a person attended the Tridentine Mass?
    and how many do we have when a person is attending the NO?"

    Suffice it to say that the vast majority of adults who convert to Catholicism do so in all-Novus-Ordo parishes.

  27. Yes, of course, CFD! The New Mass is everywhere! Statistically, that must be the case. The Exiled obviously did not mean that.

    By the way, The Exiled, you may add New Catholic to your list: even though I had been convinced forever of the historical claims of the Church, it was only when I went to my first Traditional Mass that the call became irresistible. The Novus Ordo had kept me away from the Church (as I only became aware later), with its unbearable banality and dulling reality, for many years.

  28. CFD wrote:

    "Suffice it to say that the vast majority of adults who convert to Catholicism do so in all-Novus-Ordo parishes."

    Yes, and the vast majority of today's adults in Novus Ordo parishes do not believe in the Real Presence, use contraception, and divorce and remarry. The vast majority of converts in Novus Ordo parishes have a quasi-Protestant understanding of the faith. Can any faithful Catholic seriously be satisfied with that?

  29. Catholic11:39 PM

    No liturgical crisis in the Francophone world??? This is where the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris has Mass every year from the Big Top with everyone dressed as clowns and acrobats. This is the home of Taizé the spiritual centre of everything ambiguous in the liturgy. These countries were known for being super liberal from the 60's. Need I mention the fact they were messing with liturgy in the 30's/40's. Facing the people/vernacular in scout groups etc.


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