Vox Clara, advising Vatican on English liturgy texts, gets new members

Following the recent interest in our posts on the translation of the Roman Missal, the following, from CNS reports on additions to Vox Clara:

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the new English translation of the Roman Missal “substantially complete,” a committee that advises the Vatican on English translations has added five new members, including two Americans.

The new members of the Vox Clara Committee, established by the Vatican in 2001, included Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship.

Other new members of the international committee, which met Feb. 2-3 at the Vatican, were Irish Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; Auxiliary Bishop David McGough of Birmingham, England; and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

A press release about the meeting was posted on the blog of Vox Clara member Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario.

According to the press release, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, chairman of Vox Clara, said that “with the work of the translation of the Roman Missal substantially complete, initiatives should continue around the English-speaking world for its effective reception.” The Roman Missal is the book of prayers used in worship in the Latin-rite church; the third edition of the missal was published in Latin in 2002.

Marist Father Anthony Ward, an official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said the remark implying some work remained to be completed did not refer to the Mass texts common to all Catholics, but simply to the approval of special adaptations requested by individual bishops’ conferences and to prayers for a nation’s special occasions. An example of a prayer for a special occasion would be Thanksgiving Mass prayers in the United States.

National bishops’ conferences have different timetables for readying their priests and people to use the new translation and have set different dates for beginning to use the text. The U.S. bishops have announced that use of the new Missal will begin the first Sunday of Advent, which is Nov. 27. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said parishes will begin using the basic Mass prayers in September but would not switch totally to the new translation until the texts for local feasts have been finalized.

While the Vox Clara press release said committee members were pleased that the new translation “has been welcomed throughout the English-speaking world,” not everyone has been enthusiastic about the final product or about the way the translations were done.

Most recently, a group representing more than 400 of Ireland’s 4,500 priests called in early February for a five-year waiting period to study alternatives to the new English translation of the missal.

During the meeting, members discussed “the process for the completion of the Roman Missal, continuing initiatives for publications of the Lectionary (book of Scripture readings) for Mass by various conferences and the recent confirmation of the Grail Psalter” of Psalm texts, the press release said.

Father Ward said the Roman Missal will not be considered complete until each English-speaking country has printed and distributed copies of the text.

As for the texts of the Psalms, Father Ward said that every English-speaking bishops’ conference around the world has approved and is using the Revised Grail Psalter for the Liturgy of the Hours, including morning and evening prayer. The Vatican, and most bishops’ conferences themselves, would like to see the same Psalm translations used at every liturgy — including for the responsorial Psalm at Mass, he said.

Vox Clara members also discussed the English translation of the blessing of holy oils for the chrism Mass, the press release said; each year, often the morning of Holy Thursday, diocesan bishops bless the oils that will be used in the diocese during the coming year for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

Because only a bishop uses the prayer of the blessing of holy oils, it is not part of the Roman Missal and was not translated with the Mass-text project, the press release said.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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4 Responses to Vox Clara, advising Vatican on English liturgy texts, gets new members

  1. Gertrude says:

    Since our postings on the new translation, I came across the following from Fr. Dwight Longenecker who argues, very intelligently, that the words of the Mass are secondary to the way in which we, the laity (and some priests) approach the celebration of Holy Mass:

    “However, we must imagine that a more dignified and more accurate translation of the Mass is going to automatically make Catholic worship reverent. Catholic worship isn’t reverent or irreverent just because of the words you use. This should be obvious to anyone who has attended a reverently and carefully celebrated Novus Ordo Mass.

    What is more important than the words is how the Mass is celebrated by both the priest and the people. I am quite sure that when the new Mass is introduced that Fr. Folkmass will still celebrate Mass in his usual game show host style while other priests will celebrate the Mass casually and carelessly. Many Americans will still shuffle into Mass late wearing shorts and flip flops. Comfort hymns and crooners with hand held microphones will still lead the music and politically correct former nuns will still bully everyone into singing protest anthems instead of hymns.

    Mass isn’t reverent simply because you start using lofty language that ‘sounds religious’. True reverence is the fruit of a condition of heart. Reverence in worship is a by product of a certain type of Catholic mindset. It is not the automatic product of a particular form of words.

    This is why I am not that optimistic about the new translation making Catholic worship more reverent. To understand the irreverence in much Catholic worship we have to probe much deeper than the form of words we use for worship. Catholic worship is too often irreverent because Catholics (priests and people) have stopped really believing the Catholic faith.

    I’m sorry to call a spade a spade, but far too many Catholics don’t actually believe in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They believe in the fellowship meal. They don’t believe in transubstantiation. They believe in ‘the real presence’ (a vague and flexible term which can mean practically anything) That’s why Mass is irreverent–because they’ve changed it from a participation in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which takes them into the very presence of the throne room of the King of Kings to a cross between a protest march and a pot luck supper at which we sing campfire songs.”

    I think this is a very sad, but often true, assessment.


  2. leftfooter says:

    …. “a cross between a protest march and a pot luck supper at which we sing campfire songs.”

    Excellent description. Mass should not be an embarrassing ordeal.


  3. golden chersonnese says:

    Father Dwight observes: To understand the irreverence in much Catholic worship we have to probe much deeper than the form of words we use for worship. Catholic worship is too often irreverent because Catholics (priests and people) have stopped really believing the Catholic faith.

    Thanks, Gertrude.

    And, I agree, there’s the nub of the matter.

    It’s all really does get down to ‘modern’ versus ‘traditional’ theology.

    I think that contest will be settled when we see who is left standing in ten or twenty years time – the ‘spirit of Vat2-ers’ (who are now ageing and their orders dying) or those who desire more continuity in the Church.

    I think I know who.



  4. golden chersonnese says:

    I can’t remember too well whether there has been a post on the new English translation of the Roman Missal? I suspect there has been, but can’t locate it. Wasn’t they’re something about that group of Irish priests sticking their tongues out or something to that effect?

    But here a rather good address delivered by Bishop Peter Elliott, auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne (besides being the son of an Anglican parson) on the essence of the changes with very helpful examples. (I’m glad they’re fixing up the collects too. Goodness, but they are nearly all terribly banal in their current form, aren’t they?)


    Again it’s from ‘the Record’, news organ of the Archdiocese of Perth – always not a bad read at all.


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