Saturday, October 08, 2011

Attacks on the 1969 Mass

I have just blogged about Dom Sebastian Moore OSB complaining about 'calix' being translated 'chalice'; in the background is the issue that the Roman Canon actually says 'praeclarum calicem' - 'precious chalice' - and the translation Fr Moore prefers simply ignored the 'precious' bit and use the most prosaic word possible to render 'calix'. It similarly ignored the 'holy and venerable hands' which, in the Roman Canon, comes next.

What is at the bottom of this is, as I have said, an attack on the Roman Canon itself: the most important liturgical prayer of the Latin Church. The text of the new Novus Ordo missal is not an immediate issue for me or the Latin Mass Society, but the Roman Canon certainly is.

Fr Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ is pulling the same trick, and it is clear this time. He likes the old translation of

'Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tanto dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea'

simply as

'Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.'

The new translation says

'Lord I am not worthy to receive you under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.'

His arguments evade the fact that the words 'under my roof' are simply a translation of the Latin words 'sub tectum meum'. Leave aside, for a moment, the issue of whether we want a more explicit reference to Matthew 8:8, or if that is too complicated, or indeed whether the faithful are too stupid to understand difficult words like 'soul'. The question is: do you want a translation of the Mass at all? The 1973 text simply does not translate the words 'sub tectum meum'. As a translation, it is a failure.

With that in mind, we come back to Cameron-Mowatt's arguments. These aren't arguments about felicity or fidelity of translation. They are arguments that this ancient Mass text (as Cameron-Mowatt observes, this particular Latin text is unchanged from the 1962 Missal) was liturgically defective, and that the 1973 translation was an improvement, not in style but in substance. It is interesting to see that he says that the text may have been appropriate in the context of a liturgical practice in which the faithful received communion only infrequently, so it would not have been defective in 1570, but was in 1970. (His argument as to why that is does not seem very clear to me, but let it pass.)

Obviously the 1969 Mass text, what was called the 'Missa Normativa' at the time, in Latin, was reformed in the context of the modern practice of frequent communion, and retained the full version of this particular text, including 'sub tectum meum'. Fr Cameron-Mowatt thinks that this was a mistake.

From time to time traditionalists are asked: do you attack the 1969 Mass? Do you accept its theological merits? Speaking for myself, and as a matter of LMS policy, the answer is: our concern is to do as the Holy Father has requested, which is to give a place of honour in the Church to the 'riches' represented by the Church's ancient liturgical tradition, not to engage in polemics about the reformed Missal. But here is someone, Fr Cameron-Mowatt SJ, who really is attacking the theological aptness of the Missa Normativa, and doing so from a liberal direction. Less explicitly, Fr Sebastian Moore is doing the same thing, and so are a whole gang of liturgists on the 'Pray Tell' blog and elsewhere, who are kicking up a stink about the new translation. In their view, clearly, Bugnini and his collaborators who put together the Latin text of the Novus Ordo got it badly wrong.

They were wrong to include the phrase 'pro multis'; they were wrong to include 'praeclarem calicem' (and maybe even the whole Roman Canon, as an option); they were wrong to include 'sub tectum meum' and to use the word 'anima' (soul); and so on in case after case. They were wrong in precisely those cases, I suppose, that they retained elements of previous editions of the Roman Missal in the new one. Insofar as there was continuity, there was error.

I begin to feel sorry for Archbishop Bugnini. Who is going to speak up for him, I wonder? But the bigger picture is that these liturgists are attacking the entire liturgical tradition of the Latin Church, even as represented by the post-conciliar editions of the Roman Missal. This is a fact which should be exposed.

(Pictures: Christ hearing the petition of the Centurion to heal his servant, by Veronese; Archbishop Annibale Buggnini.)


  1. Jennifer9:04 pm

    Fr Cameron Mowatt also states that in pre-Vatican usage, as he describes the traditional Mass, 'the Holy Spirit was not invoked to transform the gifts'. Presumably he hasn't checked the offertory prayers which were unceremoniously cut. According to my old Missal the priest raises 'his eyes to heaven, he invokes the Holy Ghost upon the Oblation, over which he makes the sign of the Cross saying:
    Come thou the Sanctifier, God Almighty and Everlasting; bless this Sacrifice set forth to the glory of thy holy Name.'
    How can these people purport to be 'experts' when they manipulate or ignore the evidence and pronounce their theories as facts?

  2. Ioannes Patricius11:56 pm

    "<span>I begin to feel sorry for Archbishop Bugnini. Who is going to speak up for him, I wonder?"</span>

    I can see the headlines now: Dr Shaw in defending Bungling-Ninny shocker!

  3. Don't ask me to remember where I read it but wasn't it because of a personal intervention of Paul VI that the Roman Canon was retain in the Novus Ordo at all?