Thursday, June 03, 2010

What Catholic Answers Isn't Telling You About the New Mass Translation

Over the past few months I've seen a number of requests for funding from Catholic Answers to support what is billed as the "new translation" of the Order of the Mass. Some of the earlier requests seemed vague as to why this is important. The latest email claims that the issue is that the current translation is "clunky" whereas the mass is supposed to be "sublime."

On the one hand, one can hardly imagine this same conversation happening 50 years ago, when it had been Rome's practice for centuries to essentially use Latin only (plus the Greek words kyrie eleison) in the order of the mass (with a few exceptions, such as the homily). To that time, one would expect to see reused the arguments against the Reformers as to why it is better not to place the mass into English.

Nevertheless, it was put into English and, as Catholic Answers' recent email has noted, they (the mysterious "they" that makes decisions for the English-speaking portion of Rome's church) did not simply reuse the existing parallel English that had been prepared for the aid of English-speaking priests. Instead, a new translation was provided.

What Catholic Answers hasn't been mentioning in the emails I've seen (though perhaps I'm not privy to all their communications) is that there are theological issues with the translation that has been in use for the last few decades. One prominent example is the issue of the very wording of the consecration.

The order in use offered four alternative "Eucharistic prayers" but all of the alternatives stated:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it;
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
(source - see the "institutive narrative" section)

The new translation of the mass fixes this erroneous statement with respect to the atonement. In relevant part it states:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT,
FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD,
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT,
WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY
FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
(caps in source)

This is a theologically significant change, and one that has been grist for the mill of sedevacantists, as can be seen at the following link from a sedevacantist site (link to arguments for the invalidity of the new mass).

While it may be true that the order of mass in use for decades in the English-speaking world has been clunky, has Catholic Answers' mission ever been to improve the style of American Romanism? One possible explanation is that at least some of the arguments of the sedevacants against the new mass are compelling enough to force a revision that reverts the language to the more traditional form.

I've addressed one issue, an issue that was brought to my attention by Peter Dimond's debate with William Albrecht on the subject (link to debate). I've also addressed this theological issue because it has significance to the issue of the atonement.

The words "shed for many for the remission of sins" should remind us:

1) That the shedding of Christ's blood, not the drinking of his blood, is the way by which the guilt of sins is remitted. Not "drunk ... for the remission of sins" but "shed ... for the remission of sins."

While we are taught that we must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ to have life in us:

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

It is because Christ is our source of life, not because it is the eating and drink that provides forgiveness. It is the shedding of the blood that provides the forgiveness.

2) The only way that sins are forgiven is by the shedding of Christ's blood.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

3) The sacrifice of Christ is a time-bound event. It was future at the time of the institution of the sacrament, though it is past now.

Hebrew 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

4) Christ's aim in having his blood shed was to remit the sins of many, not all.

Thomas Aquinas explains it this way:
Objection 8: Further, as was already observed, Christ's Passion sufficed for all; while as to its efficacy it was profitable for many. Therefore it ought to be said: "Which shall be shed for all," or else "for many," without adding, "for you."

Reply to Objection 8: The blood of Christ's Passion has its efficacy not merely in the elect among the Jews, to whom the blood of the Old Testament was exhibited, but also in the Gentiles; nor only in priests who consecrate this sacrament, and in those others who partake of it; but likewise in those for whom it is offered. And therefore He says expressly, "for you," the Jews, "and for many," namely the Gentiles; or, "for you" who eat of it, and "for many," for whom it is offered.
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 78, Article 3 (Objection/Response 8)

- TurretinFan

1 comment:

natamllc said...

Well that's interesting!

It raises the question about who is on first?

Who would you speculate is behind this move if the Vatican is not?

I have a question for you. Do you believe Judas, Simon Iscariot's son partook of the Lord's supper?

I ask that because of this:

Joh 13:29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.
Joh 13:30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.