Translations

by Father Sean Danda on February 21, 2021

On February 4th, the priests of the Archdiocese received a memo about the wording of the doxology used at Mass in the Collects (Opening Prayers).  As you know, the Roman Missal is written in Latin and translated into English and other languages. 

It’s true; translations are hard to get accurate.  That is why we’re getting, yet again, an update on our English translation.  But, being precise with our words is important.  We have a saying in the Church—Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi—which is Latin for:  “The Law of Prayer [is] the Law of Belief.”  In other words, how you pray forms what you believe.  So, it is important to get our prayers right lest we fall into error on our beliefs.

This is where having a certain base level understanding about the Latin prayers and their meaning can be helpful in not only appreciating but also expressing well our prayers and, thus, our beliefs.  I have to admit that I did not know that in the context of this prayer that “Deus” which means “God” was referring back to Christ himself.  So, even after eight years of seminary and twelve years of priesthood, there is still room to learn.

The following is the message from the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship:

“In May of 2020 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops regarding the concluding doxology of the Collects in the Roman Missal (which also appear in other liturgical books).

“Specifically, the Congregation pointed out that the current translation – which concludes “[...] in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever” – is incorrect.  There is no mention of “one” in the Latin, and “Deus” in the Latin text refers to Christ.  Therefore, the correct translation, which is already reflected in the Missal in other languages (including our own USCCB Misal Romano) is simply:  “[...] in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”  The Cardinal Prefect has pointed out the importance of affirming this Christological truth amid the religious pluralism of today’s world.

“English translations of the Missal for use by the faithful prior to the Second Vatican Council reflected the correct translation, as for example the St. Joseph’s Missals of the 1950’s.  However, when the post-conciliar texts were published in English, the word “one” was added.

“It should be noted that when the translation of the Missal currently in use was in progress, ICEL pointed out the discrepancy to the Congregation in Rome, but was told to retain the use of “one God” in the new translation.

“In light of the Congregation’s most recent direction in this matter, the Latin Rite Bishops of the USCCB have voted to amend no. 54 of the U.S. text of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal to reflect the change, and the Congregation has confirmed this decision, as it already has for the Episcopal Conferences of England and Wales, Ireland, and Canada.

This change to the concluding doxology of orations is to be implemented on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021.  The words “one God, for ever and ever” are simply replaced with “God, for ever and ever.”

In Jesus, through Mary and St. Joseph,

Father Danda

 

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