Sunday, November 04, 2012


We’re well into the fourth week of our undertaking to read through the Catechism in one year as a part of the Year of Faith, and FINALLY there’s an opportunity for an Army Of Darkness reference (I mean, seriously, how can you run a respectable B-movie blog without the occasional Army Of Darkness reference?). To be specific, we’re talking about the scene in which our hero Ash is being questioned by the village wise man as to whether or not he properly performed the ritual necessary to safely retrieve the dreaded Necronomicon. The exchange went something like this…

Wiseman: When you removed the book from the cradle, did you speak the words?

Ash: Yeah, basically.

Wiseman: Did you speak the exact words?

Ash: Look, maybe I didn't say every single little tiny syllable, no. But basically I said them, yeah.

Of course, we viewers know better, don’t we? But just in case there are (inexplicably) some of you out there who still haven’t seen Army of Darkness, here’s what actually occurred…

Let’s face it, some words you just want to get right. Take the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal released in 2011, for example. The 1969 and 1980 translations were fine and served us well at mass for decades, but the 1st & 2nd edition translators had used the dynamic equivalent approach (meaning for meaning) rather the formal equivalence method (word for word), so even before 1980 Church scholars were already pointing out possible concerns with the phrasing. And you want to get the wording of the mass as correct as possible because, as the Day 24 reading of the Catechism points out, “We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch. "The believer's act [of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities [which they express]." All the same, we do approach these realities with the help of formulations of the faith which permit us to express the faith and to hand it on, to celebrate it in community, to assimilate and live on it more and more.” So, while some of the new phrasings in the 3rd edition are admittedly clunky to modern ears (yes, I’m looking at you “consubstantial”), they’re preferable because they get closer to the ultimate realities the mass is trying to convey.

And besides, as Army of Darkness taught us, if we get the words wrong… the mass will explode.

Okay, that may not be true. But still, you want to get the words as right as possible.


Unknown said...

An atheist friend of mine sent me an email right before the new translation of the Mass went into effect, asking me "what the heck is going on with this 'consubstantial' thing"? He's a well educated, very intelligent guy with a broad active vocabulary, and "consubstantial" was a clunker even to him.

While I rambled on about words having importance because they shape our thoughts and blah, blah, blah, interiorly I was rejoicing that the oddness of the word "consubstantial" provoked someone who didn't spend time thinking about God and His Church to stop and do just that.

EegahInc said...

That's fantastic. Who knows, that could pay off years from now. I can handle a learning curve to win a soul.

Unknown said...

Ha! I just ran across this:

Talitha said...

Now all that needs doing is to get a new... or at least *different* transalation of the Bible.
Seriously, that New American bible is mealy-mouthed in it's own... special way.

As for the new translation, "With your spirit" amply makes up for "consubstatial", I think. But I have to say, it is a thought provoking word, and I have found it to be a long term positive, if contemplation is encouraged during mass these days. It beats the heck out of tambourines!!

I have been seriously tempted to send Bruce Cambell a "Say the Red do the Black" mug. But I'm afraid that Fr. Z would hunt me down. After all, Bruce did NOT become a Catholic priest. *ducks*

EegahInc said...

I mostly use the NAB on this site because it's what most of my readers will hear at mass, but for personal reading I like to follow the lead of the Pope and go with the RSV-CE.

Tambourines? We've got a full drum set at my parish. Let me tell you, you haven't heard the Responsorial Psalm until you've heard it with a cha-cha-cha rhythm. (I wish I was kidding about that, but I'm not.)