Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee

Why Does the English Translation Have to be Closer to the Latin? A Further Comment

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Further to the recent article giving some explanation on the move to Formal Equivalence in translation (or an “as close as possible” match between the English and Latin), one matter I did not go into was how the texts of the prayers we hear and use at Mass form us in faith.

If you lose a degree of meaning from the texts through the translation process (which many people argue did happen when the translation we currently use was prepared), then you also diminish the capacity of the prayers to convey the fullness of what we believe in.

Some would argue that to preserve that depth of meaning, and to continue to pass on the faith through our prayer texts as fully as we have done in the past, we need to faithfully translate the Latin texts as close as possible. Others would argue (see the comments in the blog post linked above) that Latin is not the “be all and end all”, and there are riches to be discovered in all cultures and languages. For now, translation of the Latin text according to the method of formal equivalence is how we have been asked in the English-speaking world to respond to the challenge.

Regardless of our own viewpoints, I think we can agree that given the ability of our prayer to shape us in faith, our prayer texts need to be the best they possibly can be. The question a lot of people are pondering now is “are we there yet?”

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