We are in the heart of Lent but for one day we step back into the Christmas cycle. It is nine months before Christmas and today we celebrate the true feast of the Incarnation. December 25 is the Lord’s birth but today is His incarnation as he is conceived in his Mother’s womb. TODAY the Word becomes flesh.
This needs to be emphasized in an age of abortion where some in our culture deny explicitly or implicitly that human life begins at conception. You are aware that a new translation of the Mass will soon come to us in the English speaking world. It is long needed and treasures of the faith kept hidden for long decades (except for those know Latin) will become visible again.
Among the most egregious errors of the current English version is in the Creed which erroneously indicates that Jesus became man at his birth, rather than his conception. Here is what the current version says:
For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary , and became man.
Notice that the text says he became man when he was born. As a poor translation of the Latin text it is irritating enough but to have this mistranslation exist when abortion is thought a legal right is a complete disaster. The Latin text does not say that Jesus became man at his birth (celebrated December 25), but rather at His incarnation (celebrated March 25). Here is what the the Latin text says:
Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.
The New Translation which will be implemented in a little over a year renders it correctly in the following way:
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
I for one am grateful for the accuracy. The whole translation is going to take some getting used to but it will be of great benefit to see our Holy Faith, so beautifully articulated in the Latin text, properly translated and conveyed at last. Since 1970 the text has been really little better than a paraphrase and so much is lost. This mistranslation of the Creed is but one of ten thousand examples where the current translation is woefully inaccurate and/or incomplete. But surely the mistranslated Creed is most egregious for the reasons stated.
A final thought on this section of the Creed – The Bow. The Congregation is instructed to bow at the words: and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. This is in recognition of the great mystery that the incarnation is. How can God, whom the very heavens cannot contain dwell in the womb of the Virgin Mary? How can the infinite become an infant? It is a mystery too great and so we bow in reverence. In the Traditional Latin Mass the practice is to kneel at these words. Such was the practice until about 1970 when it was replaced by a bow. Personally I think we Americans are terrible at bows and would be happy if the genuflection returned. In other cultures bowing is graceful and natural. For most of us here it is awkward and usually lacks proportional and graceful movement. But bow we are told and bow we should. One ought to fold the hands and bow at the waist. Think of your waist as the hinge, not the neck and shoulders which should not move in proportion to the shoulders. The bow is a reverent acknowledgment of the mystery of the Incarnation we celebrate today. Interestingly enough there are still two days in the year when we still kneel at the words of the incarnation. We kneel and pause at these words on Christmas and today, March 25, The Feast of the Annunciation. Otherwise we bow, as gracefully as possible 🙂
I am curious if you bow at these words in the Creed and if it is common in your parish. Does your clergy bow, do they teach others to do so? Just asking!
Happy Feast Day!