In this series we are looking at the new Translation of the Roman Missal and how it restores to us a clearer articulation of the beautiful truth contained in the Latin text. Many of these truths have been lost or ambiguously presented in the current rendering we are using. Lex orandi, Lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing). Hence the new translation, since it is more accurate and literal, gives us a chance to more clearly appreciate anew the beauty of our faith based on what we pray. The previous installments in this series can be found here:
As usual, the Latin text is presented, followed by the new translation, and then by the rendering currently in use.
LATIN: Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae, Genetricis Dei et Domini nostri Iesu Christi: sed et beati Ioseph, eiusdem Virginis Sponsi, et beatorum Apostolorum ac Martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli, Andreae, (Iacobi, Ioannis, Thomae, Iacobi, Philippi, Bartholomaei, Matthaei, Simonis et Thaddaei: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Ionnis et Pauli, Cosmae et Damiani) et omnium Sanctorum tuorum; quorum meritis precibusque concedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuae muniamur auxilio. (Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
NEW TRANSLATION: In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, † and blessedJoseph, Spouse of the same Virgin, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian] and all your Saints: through their merits and prayers, grant that in all things we may be defended by your protecting help. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]
RENDERING IN CURRENT USE: In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; we honor Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian) and all the saints. May their merits and prayers grant us your constant help and protection. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)
1. The Communion of the Saints– It has been a long and ancient tradition to refer to our relationship with the saints as the “communion of the Saints”. The current rendering fails to use the word communion, but only union and adds the phrase “the whole Church.” It is not wrong to say that we have a communion with the whole Church if we hold the faith and are in a state of grace. However, noble though this idea is, it is not what the Latin says. The Latin text literally says, “In communion (with) and venerating the memory of…..” and then goes on to list the saints. Hence what we have described here is the communion of the Saints and the fact that we venerate their memory and are swept up into the communion of the Saints. This communion is described as a kind of hierarchy beginning with Mary (see just below) and then Joseph. Then the apostles and then the martyrs. The prayer goes on to mention all the apostles by name along with some of the early martyrs. The prayer will conclude by asking the Lord’s protection on account of their prayers. The new translation thus restores to us, by a more literal rendering, a more proper understanding of the communion of the saints to which the prayer refers.
2. The glories of Mary re-articulated– The current version we are using rather flatly says, “We honor Mary, the ever virgin Mother…..” But the Latin (and the newer and more accurate Translation) speak of her more effusively, indicating that we venerate the memory “especially, the glorious ever-virgin Mary.” Note that Latin says we honor her “in primis” (in the first place). The New English captures this reasonably by saying “especially.” The Latin calls her glorious, as does the new translation. Why all this? Mary is not just any saint. She is the Queen of all the saints. She is Queen Mother of the Church. She is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” She is God’s masterpiece. She is the new Eve. She has pride of place in any listing of the saints. Many Old Testament texts have been taken by the Church and applied to Mary down through the Centuries. For example: You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the Joy of Israel, you are the highest honor of our people. (Judith 15:7). I am the rose of Sharon, I am the lily of the valleys (Song 2:1). Your name will be renowned through all generations; thus nations shall praise you forever (Ps 45:18). Blessed are you, daughter; by the Most High God, above all the women on earth. (Judith 13:18) . The trust you have shown shall not pass from the memories of men, but shall ever remind them of the power of God. (Judith 13:25). Well, you get the point. Mary is honored in the first place and is the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. The new translation, by accurately reporting the Latin restores her glories and pre-eminence among the saints.
3. Clarity about Joseph– The reference to Joseph in the Roman Canon is relatively new. It was added in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. The exact Latin phrase that was added was sed et beati Ioseph, eiusdem Virginis Sponsi (and of Blessed Joseph, the spouse of the same Virgin). The wording was chosen very carefully to reflect the fact that he was her husband to be sure, but she was the same Virgin who was just called “ever-virgin” in the previous phrase. It is a way of re-emphasizing Mary’s Virginity which is necessary today in an age where many, even in the Church have wanted to doubt it. The current version lost this nuance when it simply said, “Joseph her husband.” The new translation restores the emphasis by translating it: “blessed Joseph, Spouse of the same Virgin. ” Note too that Joseph gets his adjective back: “Blessed.” The current version so often just eliminated words without apparent reason. Why not call him blessed as the Latin does? It was puzzling. But thankfully the new translation will have us giving Joseph his due.
4. Blessed apostles and martyrs– The same may be said for the apostles and martyrs whom the Latin calls “blessed.” The current version eliminated the word. Why again is a mystery. But the new translation will once again let us give them their due. They are blessed indeed.
5. They Are God’s Holy Ones – Perhaps I am being picky but the current version says, “and all the saints” but the Latin says, “and all YOUR saints.” They are God’s saints after all, his holy ones. The New Translation gets this right as well.
This is a video I put together some time ago in honor of the Blessed Mother, she who is our tainted nature’s solitary boast: