ON THE TRANSLATION OF THE OUR FATHER

– Nicola Bux

Recently the Italian Conference of Bishops has approved some changes in liturgical translations. These changes were at the center of a very strong debate between scholars. One of the changes is in the Our Father. In Italian is said “e non ci indurre in tentazione” (and lead us not into temptation) is now changed to “e non abbandonarci alla tentazione” (and abandon us not to temptation). The famous italian liturgist and priest Nicola Bux has commented on this and other issues related to liturgical translations.

The weakening of the capacity to understand the immutable nature of the sacred liturgy (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, chapter 1) has contributed not only to the widespread ignorance of it in the clergy and, consequently, in the faithful; but a contribution came also from the experimentation, spasmodic and continuous, of the so called emotions-shock, as defined by Michel Lacroix (The cult of emotion, Life and thought, Milan, 2002), that is, particularly intense and powerful emotions (see, for example, the liturgy of the charismatic groups), which, in the long run, anesthetize our ability to participate objectively, exalting the subjectivism and emotions of the individual.

To participate in, and we could say to understand, in fact, the Sacred Liturgy – where the attribute “sacred” indicates the divine presence – it is necessary to understand clearly that the worship given to God silences the ego, in order to to reach the truth contained in it. The Easterners understand this aspect very well. For this reason they have been careful not to fall into the temptation to constantly change the liturgical books.

Remember the schism, raskol, which originated in Russia in the mid-1600s. The reform of the liturgical books introduced by the Patriarch of Moscow, Nikon, who wanted to reestablish the uniformity between the liturgical practices of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian one, led to the division of the Russian church into an official Orthodox church and movement of the Old Believers. On that occasion, the innovations met with a strong resistance both among the people and the clergy, which discussed at length about the legitimacy and correctness of these reforms, which did not reflect the traditions of orthodoxy in the Russian lands. To impose these reforms, supported by the Tsar Alessio of the Romanov family, there were persecutions and abuses (famous, for example, the bonfire of Bishop Pavel of Kolomna happening in 1656, a staunch opponent of this reform).

Looking at us, one wonders whether it is necessary to make further changes to the texts of the Roman Missal in the next Italian edition. From what we know, the “two weights two measures” policy was adopted: a change in the first sentence of Gloria, to be faithful to the Lucan text, and not a change in the famous pro multis (which should be made “for many”) of the consecratory formula, which, however, will remain “for all” in homage to the inclusivist ideology; not to mention the announced variation of the petition of the Pater noster “do not lead us into temptation,” where, in fact, we will not remain faithful to the original Greek and Latin text.

We are also asked, at such a low attendance time for the faithful to attend Mass and to attend the sacraments, if it were really necessary to make similar changes instead of promoting – as it would have been desirable – a widespread popular mission given the ignorance of catechism and widespread immorality. Would it not be appropriate to invest here apostolic efforts, or pastoral, if you prefer, as well as economic ones?

Noting the widespread abuse among priests of changing liturgical texts to their liking, one should not be surprised if some wanted to remain faithful to the current edition of the missal in Italian, invoking a sort of conscientious objection. Who could at this point talk about abuse?

We recall the experience in Argentina, where this has already happened. The new translation of the missal in Castilian (III Editio Typica) was introduced in 2009-2010 (decree of 13-15 August 2009) (see M. Caponnetto, The translation of liturgical texts: a personal experience, in Adelante de la Fe, 17.10.2018). It had been entrusted by the Argentine Episcopal Conference, at the time presided over by the then Card. Bergoglio, to a commission whose most famous exponent was Christian Gramlich, later reduced to the lay state.

As far as it is known, the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote to the then archbishop of Buenos Aires, as president of the Episcopal Conference of that nation, not to impose the new translation, but to leave it to those who want the use of the previous one.

One last aspect should not be overlooked: in fact, the fundamental characteristic of the liturgy is its memorability. This character of the liturgical books has favored, over the centuries, the memorization by the faithful of the prayers contained therein, allowing them to transmit and pass them down for generations, even in situations and contexts of oppression during which the persecutors often proceeded to the requisition and destruction of the liturgical books (think, for example, of the first persecution’s edict of Diocletian of 303 AD). If many ancient prayers have been perpetuated, we owe it precisely to this fundamental character of the liturgical texts.

So, it is deleterious and deplorable, this craving for continuous change, which seems increasingly to be a tribute to the ideology of the provisional, of the continuous evolution, of the use and throw, but also, it is not excluded, a way to justify the reason of being for the creation of commissions.

The liturgy, therefore, does not become and is not a land of ideological clash, in order to impose on the faithful their own points of view and the dominant convictions in a certain historical moment!

We therefore ask the bishops to invite them to consider all this in order not to cause further tensions and divisions among the faithful.

(From www.scuolaecclesiamater.org, 2018©AP. Used with permission)

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