Varietates Legitimae 39: Adapting Language

39. Language, which is a means of communication between people. In liturgical celebrations its purpose is to announce to the faithful the good news of salvation (Cf. Canons 762-772, especially 769) and to express the church’s prayer to the Lord. For this reason it must always express, along with the truths of the faith, the grandeur and holiness of the mysteries which are being celebrated.

Nothing to say explicitly on artistry here–that would be my criticism of VL 39. Expressing the faith: important. Grandeur and holiness of the liturgy and sacraments? That needs an artistic rendering, too, not just Latin grammar.

Careful consideration therefore needs to be given to determine which elements in the language of the people can properly be introduced into liturgical celebrations, and in particular whether it is suitable or not to use expressions from non-Christian religions. It is just as important to take account of the different literary genres used in the liturgy: biblical texts, presidential prayers, psalmody, acclamations, refrains, responsories, hymns and litanies.

Any linguistic aspect could be introduced. Non-Christian expressions of vocabulary are, of course, another matter. The translation principle suggested here is also interesting: don’t just render the words, but also the style of the text.

 

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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