Page 7, 25th December 1999

25th December 1999
Page 7
Page 7, 25th December 1999 — Being rude about liturgy

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Being rude about liturgy

From Revd. John Fitzsimmons

Sir, Your "Doubts & Queries" person, Fr Richard Barrett, has (in the best traditions of the know-itall) overreached himself.

So busy was he attacking (gratuitously and offensively) ICEL, that he failed to answer the question about the translation (or non-translation) of "benedixit" in the Institution Narrative of Eucharistic prayers. I would simply make the following remarks: 1. The present ICEL text goes back to the days when the translation of the "forms" of the Sacraments was not only reserved to the Holy See (CDF, Declaration Instauratio Liturgica, 25/1/74) but to the Holy Father personally (CDW, Circular Letter Dum Toto Terrarum, 25/10/73). All of this, of course, he might easily have found in ICEL's splendid Documents on the Liturgy, numbers 905909.

2. The question, as posed, has all the hallmarks of the "put up job" familiar to anyone who looks at agony columns. The "traditional Mass" referred to is, presumably, that of the 1570 Missal; since when did the 16th century become "traditional" against the background of two thousand years of liturgical development? Barrett at least has the sense to say that Hippolytus (+235 AD by reasonable common consent) does not even make any mention of "benedixit".

The point is this: the 1969-1975 Missale Romanurn of Pope Paul VI is infinitely more "traditional" than anything that came from much later sources: Trent, Pius X... whoever. What a pity Trent did not finish its agenda and get a truly vernacular approach to the Liturgy up and mining ! 3. Barrett is to be commended on his honesty in noting that the "modern" (by which, of course, he means the "traditional") text is an improvement on the Tridentine (socalled). His use of the NT is exaggerated and misleading, however. As is the nature of things, liturgical texts are "conflations" of many "variants". The NT itself is a "mixed bag"; one thing is for sure "benedixit" does not translate the Greek eulogesas.

4. The "blessing" in question is not a blessing of the bread or the wine.; it is a blessing of God for the bread and wine. This is more than adequately rendered by ICEL's "He gave you thanks and praise". This renders the spirit of the Berakah (as in the suggested prayers for the Offertory) better than a literal translation of the "b enedixit" ever would.

Barrett ought to do his homework. Unlike many another group working in and for the Church, ICEL has alway s published its work and invited comment and crit icism, of which there has been plenty since everybody who ever studied Latin at whatever level considers himself/herself to be an expert on how to render liturgical texts. All of them 'have been treated with more courtesy than Barrett has given ICEL.

Yours faithfully, JOHN FITZSIMMONS Chairperson, Advisory Cotnmittee ICEL 1981-1995

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