Comme Le Prevoit 21-24

Why is adaptation necessary?

21. A translation of the liturgy therefore often requires cautious adaptation. But cases differ:

22. a. Sometimes a text can be translated word for word and keep the same meaning as the original, for example, pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

23. b. Sometimes the metaphors must be changed to keep the true sense, as in locum refrigerii in northern regions.

24. c. Sometimes the meaning of a text can no longer be understood, either because it is contrary to modern Christian ideas (as in terrena despicere or ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris) or because it has less relevance today (as in some phrases intended to combat Arianism) or because it no longer expresses the true original meaning “as in certain obsolete forms of lenten penance.” In these cases, so long as the teaching of the Gospel remains intact, not only must inappropriate expressions be avoided, but others found which express a corresponding meaning in modern words. The greatest care must be taken that all translations are not only beautiful and suited to the contemporary mind, but express true doctrine and authentic Christian spirituality.

This seems to be a good checklist:

– beautiful

– suitable to the contemporary mind (would the detractors say “relevant?”)

– doctrinally truthful

– spiritual, in a Christian sense


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Comme Le Prevoit 21-24

  1. Rob F. says:

    CLP#21-23 once again state a good principle, but I’m not so sure that the example of “locum refrigerii” is a good one. Even in northern regions, people know what it means to work up a sweat, and what it means to be given a chance to cool down.

    On top of this, you have to consider the biblical allusion to Ps. 65(66):12, Act 3:20, and Wisdom 2:1 and 4:7. If you alter the metaphor, you lose the allusion. It seems to me that this example is in conflict with what is prescribed later in CLP#30 and 31.

    Regarding the modification of contrary or irrelevant texts described in CLP#24, I think that interpretation now needs to be done in light of Liturgiam Authenticam, namely LA#20 and LA#22. Those two articles seem to be saying that contrary and irrelevant texts have already been suitably modified during the renewal, and it is not the job of the translator to reform the reform.

    It is not apparant to me that the consilium made a clear distiction in CLP between the job of translation and the task of renewing the Liturgy. When CLP was written, translators were already busy translating the old unrenewed edition of the liturgy, and the new edition had not yet been published. Before the publication of the new edition, perhaps the translator and renewer were indeed the same person.

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