They sent me a sample magazine and assorted literature urging me to join, donate, and what-not. I don’t think they’ve read my blog.

I did spend some time with Michael P. Foley’s analysis of Summorum Pontificum and I came away unimpressed. He was concerned about the use of the vernacular Lectionary with the 1962 Missal–apparently the Ecclesia Dei commission has approved of this. The fatal flaw was his complaint about the poor “1970 translation” being unsuited for the ritual demands of the earlier Missal.

Most interesting.

Though I know it’s an English language publication, the myopia that vernacular equals English was striking coming from Latin lovers.

Another thing: except for pastors too cheap to upgrade, the Lectionary’s English translation was updated in 1998. I think it’s safe to say practically nobody is still using the English language Lectionary from 1970.

For the motumania movement: make your case if you must, but try to get your facts straight.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Solicitations

  1. Todd,

    It’s funny this should come up now. I was just worrying to someone today about the fact that so many Traditional Mass lovers get their information from this magazine, which is, shall we say, not particularly known for its liturgical erudition.

  2. Todd says:

    Your link on NLM is not meant as an endorsement, then?

  3. I make no decisions regarding links.

  4. Michael Foley says:

    Michael (right?),

    I don’t think you are being quite fair to my article. I was not equating “English” with “vernacular” but merely following the wording of Article 6 of the m.p. (see my Wall Street Journal article, for my own explicit opinion on this topic). However, in the case of the English translation of the new Lectionary, I would say that part of the problem is that IT is too vernacular and not sacred enough. Yes, changes to the translation were made in 1998, but not enough to rescue it from the banality and inaccuracies that come from the school of “dynamic equivalence,” and the 1998 version is still a translation of the Lectionary promulgated in 1970: hence my calling it the “1970 Lectionary.”
    Moreover, you ignore my main point, which has nothing to do with translations: that whatever one may think of the 1970 (Latin) Lectionary, grafting it onto the 1962 Missal would be grossly incongruous. The Byzantine rite’s annual readings, for example, are superb, but as they are based on a different set of organizing principles, imposing them on the Tridentine rite would be monstrous (in the Aristotelian sense of the word). How much more so for the three-year cycle of the New Lectionary. It would surely be, in the words, of Cardinal Ratzinger, “fabricated liturgy.”

    In Christo,
    Michael P. Foley

  5. Michael Foley says:

    P.S. I forget to mention that I never used the phrase, “1970 translation,” which you insinuate that I do, but rather “the notoriously poor English translations currently disfiguring the 1970 Missal.” I share your concerns about some traditionalists and the problem of accuracy, but please do not accuse me of getting the facts wrong with facts about my article that are wrong (grin).

  6. Todd says:

    Michael, thank you for posting and clarifying your intent with the reference to poor translation.

    I think you’ve blended two objections into one, however, with your criticism of dynamic equivalence. Inaccuracy in the English version of Roman Missal I might easily be accredited to quick and uncareful work. Banality, too, from inadequate consultation with poets, oral experts, and musicians, and not necessarily translation philosophy.

    My point would be that the 1962 Missal, as it stands today, is in need of dire reform. Knowing that there might be principled opposition to that within the EF movement, nevertheless, I think the burden of adhering to Sacrosanctum Concilium rests with traditional Mass advocates. Even if the pope doesn’t see fit to hold you to that standard, as other Catholics are held.

    I hear lots of complaints about a lack of organic development, and poor process and results from the 60’s and 70’s. So I’d say, fine: show us how you would do it.

  7. Michael Foley says:


    And thank you for your thoughtful reply. In an effort to clarify my own position further, I would state the following:

    1) the current English translations of the biblical readings in the Novus Ordo are, in my opinion, woefully inadequate, both because they are banal and because they are inaccurate.
    2) It seems to me that the latter defect, inaccuracy, stems from the translating principle of dynamic equivalence rather than an ignorance of the language per se or inadvertent sloppiness. Dynamic equivalence, thank God, was rejected by “Liturgicam Authenticam” several years ago because the Magisterium under Pope John Paul II recognized how much damage it had done. Our current translations, then, do not reflect the mind of the Church regarding sound principles of translating.
    3) On the other hand, you may well be right that banality is not necessarily the product of dynamic equivalence, but the latter sure does seem to lean in that direction. For the principle of dynamic equivalence requires one to substitute an ancient idiom for a contemporary one, and most contemporary idioms are not exactly the acme of eloquence.

    The rest of your post, e.g., your claim that the 1962 Missal is in dire need of reform, is a very big topic that would require a much longer reply than I have the energy to give. I will only say now that I disagree, and I suspect that we read what exactly “Sacrosanctum Concilium” mandated differently. But by no means am I going to comply with your imperative and show you how to do organic development: for the whole point of organic liturgical development is that it is the subtle work of the Holy Spirit, and I’m really reluctant to do His job for Him without His permission.

    In Christo,

  8. Liam says:

    There is an anachronism that should be flagged: “Our current translations, then, do not reflect the mind of the Church regarding sound principles of translating.”

    The translations currently in use reflected the mind of the Church’s curia regarding sound principles of translating – when they were translated.

    The Church’s curia has since – and rather recently, as these things go – changed its mind about the principles.

    The forthcoming translations have been undertaken with the newer principles.

    This is is the kind of anachronism that causes unnecessary and polemical confusion in discussions of liturgical matters.

  9. Todd says:

    Liam, thanks for that perspective. The useful metaphor that comes to mind is criticizing 1870-rules base ball players for catching balls on one hop. By those rules, it’s still an out. Whether that rule is a good or useful one: that’s another discussion.

    Michael, thanks for your follow-up. Lacking a lesson in organic development, I’d like to see traditionalists sit down with Sacrosanctum Concilium, reviewing it as a whole and bit by bit as we’ve done on this web page, and assess their differences with the way in which the rest of the Roman Church has implemented the document. Do you suppose there’s a chance of that, or are traditionalist liturgy people pretty much on their own track?

  10. Michael Foley says:


    There was no polemical motive behind my remarks, just an attempt to clarify my own position for further discussion. Let me now add a corrective to your objection: I spoke of the mind of the Church, not the “curia,” that is, the Magisterium, not the fellows who work in the Vatican. True, there is much overlap between the two, but there is also an important difference. For example, to my knowledge the Magisterium qua Magisterium never officially endorsed dynamic equivalency as a translating principle–though it did approve the fruit of those principles, the translations we are now calling into question, during the reign of Paul VI. This does not,however, constitute an embrace of the principle tout court. The document favoring dynamic equivalence that became the magna charta for modern translations, “Comme le prevoit,” was an “instruction” issued by the Consilium in charge of drafting the new liturgy, but it never had magisterial weight, since the Consilium was not an official part of the Church’s teaching authority. “Liturgiam Authenticam” was the Church’s definitive answer to the so-called authority of “Comme le prevoit.” This was not so much a case of the Church “changing its mind,” since “Comme le prevoit” never spoke on behalf of the Church in the first place.

    Todd, I think His Holiness Pope Benedict has already done much of the heavy lifting on your question when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, such as his teaching that the full, active, and conscious participation of the laity, which motivated much of the reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium, can and should be enacted during the celebration of the 1962 Missal, and his questions about whether or to what degree the 1969 Novus Ordo was indeed a faithful reflection of the mandates of Sacrosanctum Concilium. His writings and speeches are thus an excellent starting point for this issue.

    I’m running out of steam, gentlemen, so I’m afraid I must sign off for good. God’s blessings in your endeavors, and thank you for the conversation.


  11. Liam says:


    My objection still stands firm, because the principles adopted in 2001 were not in place in 1970. It’s anachronism, pure and simple. And not a minor one – it’s a confusion that dogs these discussions constantly, in my experience. Any writer caring to discuss the quality of translations vis-a-vis the Church’s “mind” should be explicit to avoid such confusion. A good editor should insist on it, but unfortunately, standards of editing are not what they once were; I see lots of argumentative sloppiness nowadays in professional writing that once would have been caught by good editors.

  12. Todd says:

    Count me as one who is a little sorry somebody’s running out of steam on this thread–just when we were getting substantive and clapping each other on the back for being so thoughtful. In the real world, a conversation like this usually leads to a few rounds at the pub and much laughter and stories.

    One of the criticisms of Sacrosanctum Concilium (one in fact which I’ve seen on another major Catholic blog this past week) was its fuzziness about many particulars. Yet any reading of SC will show that the council bishops were very particular on some points: the revision and expanding of the Lectionary, the restoration of the permanent diaconate and catechumenate, the reintroduction of the baptismal quality of Lent.

    I don’t see how the Roman Rite can continue without these explicit reforms. Nor do I see how the movement of the Holy Spirit can be easily discounted in the post-conciliar liturgical developments that garner near-universal affirmation among Catholics.

    As for the place of Comme Le Prevoit in the collection of post-conciliar documents, it was, like Musicam Sacram, listed as an instruction, written by a curial department, as was Liturgiam Authenticam.

    While I know, Mike, you haven’t mentioned anything about MS, your confreres at the New Liturgical Movement, where Latin Mass Magazine is linked, seem to approve the elevation of MS to a degree or two higher than you attribute CLP.

    These documents all were approved by the pope, and while CLP would seem to be more relevant to committees and less to pastors and liturgists in the field, I think a too casual dismissal of “problematic” documents is disturbing.

    Liam, I think I agree with you on your point about editing, but I’d add another consideration. I know that sparring with conservative and traditional liturgy people has helped me sharpen my thinking and writing. I wonder if the ghetto mentality among many Catholics has weakened their ability in apologetics.

    For the record, I’m glad that a professor of Patristics saw fit to respond to my criticism and set the record straight here. Mike, you’re welcome to return anytime the steam strikes you.

  13. Tony says:

    But by no means am I going to comply with your imperative and show you how to do organic development: for the whole point of organic liturgical development is that it is the subtle work of the Holy Spirit, and I’m really reluctant to do His job for Him without His permission.

    That made me smile, Mike. Though you seem fit enough to criticize the Holy Spirit’s work with regard to the Novus Ordo. If I remember correctly was promulgated by a validly elected successor to St. Peter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s