MR Prefaces: Ordinary Sunday V

What is the most recognizable of the eight prefaces for Ordinary Time? Certainly the one associated with the Mass of Creation. In the Missal, it does title this priest’s text “Creation.” It wasn’t an invention by a Minnesota composer.

Here, we see the MR2 translation:

“All things” rings truest in the modern view of the universe. Maybe the only improvement might be a reference to God as creator of the universe, rather than just things. Sure, that’s not what Genesis describes in particular, but we hold it to be true. “Human family” captures the inclusiveness of the entire human race, and leaves aside the at0tijmes clumsy translation of the Latin homo into “man,” rather than reserve that English word for the Latin vir.

For you laid the foundations of the world
and have arranged the changing of times and seasons;
you formed man in your own image
and set humanity over the whole world in all its wonder,
to rule in your name over all you have made
and for ever praise you in your mighty works,
through Christ our Lord.

The reference to “rule” is in sense a bit inferior to the reference to human beings as “stewards of your creation.” That captures a bit more of the image of the Gospel parables in which the landowner leaves a servant in charge of property and/or money.

I think a more fitting preface would look at some of the more lyrical passages in Old Testament wisdom literature for a few choice expressions about life on Earth. Maybe such a preface would be a bit longer, but when one prays and references “creation,” I’d think something more expansive is fitting.

Would this be useful on a bright and joyful sunny day? That seems a too-easy connection. Luke’s Gospel in cycle C strikes me as most connected with the notion of nature and God’s creation–that’s just my own association. But really, for a brief mention of God’s universe, any celebration of Mass would seem to do.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to MR Prefaces: Ordinary Sunday V

  1. Devin Rice says:

    “Rule” is certainly more biblical in terms of Genesis. My understanding is that the underlying Hebrew term usually translated as “rule” or “have dominion over” is the same word used as a conquering king completely subduing and utterly conquering a city in battle. This plays up a motif in Genesis (and the rest of scripture) that nature is a force of chaos that has to be subdued.

    Also the naming of animals or objects in Ancient Near Cultures was sign of kingly rule, so giving this ability to Adam/humankind is a sign of humanity royal power to rule.

    This doesn’t mean that the stewardship motif is incorrect. It is also found in scripture. And is also implicit in the creation narrative with the repetition that God found his creation good. But RM2 choose to replace a true scriptural and doctrinal reference found in the Latin with a different one not found in the Lain. Yes the stewardship reference is also true, but so was the “rule” one. So why was it left out? I have my theories….

    • Todd says:

      My theory would be that human beings have evolved technologically. To rule over creation is possible in the sense that humanity is now capable of not only taming the planet, but utterly destroying it, as you reference, exactly like conquering a city, as was done in ancient times. Killing its defenders, raping its women, enslaving its children, leveling its buildings, looting its riches, and sowing the ground with poisons to permit nothing to grow. I’m not sure we’ve outgrown the ancient urge. Our tools for conquest are just more effective. Jesus would seem to update Genesis in his parables. The landowner or investor expects fruitfulness, and improvement upon his return. Not the same.

      And let me be clear about my criticism here: the Latin original isn’t Gospel and in some places probably needs to be retired or replaced with something better.

      • Devin Rice says:

        I think what we are disagreeing about here is key: does the Latin preserve Holy Tradition that interprets Scripture or a simple cultural response to scripture that is dated and often wrong? This was the true “battle” behind the abandoning the 1998 translation. Yes there are degrees of formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. But how a dynamic equivalence translation turns out depends on how you view the underlying source text. A scholar with my assumptions about Latin will produce a very different dynamic translation than a scholar who shares your assumptions.

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