Translations of Marian Masses

Author: Father Edward McNamara, LC


Translations of Marian Masses

ROME, MAY 15, 2012 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: My question regards the use of the collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary in English. I recently read that we will be able to use the old translation of this collection of Masses as long as we use English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal for: 1) the words of institution during the consecration; 2) all of the congregation's responses and acclamations; and 3) the new text of the Order of Mass, as well as the concluding formulae of the orations. The question I have is concerning the prefaces. Would it be appropriate or even allowed to insert the new translation of the beginning text of the preface (that is, "It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation ..." instead of "Father, all powerful and ever living God, we do well always ...")? It would seem that this would be an important change to make to bring these prayers more into conformity with the new translation. I hope that a new translation of this collection of Masses comes out soon. — F.H., Morse Bluff, Nebraska

A: This theme is related to the broader one of how and when to apply the new missal translation to other rites and celebrations.

An initial response has been made to this question by the Office for Divine Worship of the U.S. bishops' conference. Since these indications were also vetted by the Holy See and are grounded in liturgical common sense, they could also be applied outside the United States.

The principal adaptations are:

— Every occurrence of "And with your spirit," including, for example, the dialogue between the confirmand and the bishop in the Rite of Confirmation;

— The Confiteor;

— The prayer of the priest and the assembly at the invitation to Holy Communion ("Behold the Lamb of God" and "Lord, I am not worthy");

— The dismissal at other rites;

— The prayers of the deacon or priest in preparation to proclaim the Gospel.

The bishops' Committee on Divine Worship suggests that the following adaptations can be made to other liturgical rites in light of the Roman Missal, though these do not constitute obligations:

— The blessing of water and the renewal of baptismal promises at the celebration of baptism can be taken from the Roman Missal;

— The nuptial blessing at the celebration of marriage outside Mass can be taken from the Roman Missal (note that the Latin texts of the nuptial blessings have been modified, so the texts of the nuptial blessings in the Roman Missal are not merely re-translations);

— In the Funeral Liturgy outside Mass, one can make use of the various collects found in the collection of Masses of the Dead;

— In the Liturgy of the Hours (individually or communally), one can make use of the proper collects from the Roman Missal.

In applying these criteria to the collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary we must remember that what are specific to this collection are the proper texts of each Mass.

The texts of the Mass as such belong to the missal. The fact that the collection also contains the common Mass prayers is just a practical help to facilitate the celebration. Indeed, the translations of this collection promulgated by some bishops' conferences do not include the ordinary of Mass, so that it is always necessary to use two books when one of these Masses is celebrated.

Therefore, I would say that, pending the publication of a new translation of these Masses, it is better to use both books — the collection for the proper Marian texts and the new missal for all the rest.

With respect to the proper preface I would say that, in line with the above indications, the initial protocol ("The Lord be with you," etc.) should be from the new translation. The replacement of "Father, all powerful and ever living God, we do well always ..." with "It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation" is probably advisable in order to maintain the text's literary coherence; but I do not think it is obligatory. The current text continues to be an approved translation until officially replaced.

In the particular case of the Mass for Our Lady, Mother of the Church, the Mass and preface should be taken from the section on votive Masses found in the new translation.

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