Back when I was a child and learning to read, I sat down with a copy of Stevenson’s Treasure Island intended for young readers. I thoroughly enjoyed it: the characters came alive, and I got the basic narrative.
A couple years later, I sat down with the original, unabridged book, and fell in love with it to an even greater degree. The characters were even more complex, and the story was more detailed and complete. There is a depth of meaning in the original that cannot be matched by a summation of ideas and themes.
I’ve spent considerable time with the new translation, and I could have told you before yesterday that the translation would benefit all the faithful in regard to its literary merit. Translation though it is (all translations being imperfect), that the revision seeks to stick as closely as possible to the Latin text allows us to maintain a poetic quality we simply didn’t have before. I could write another post on the concept of “dynamic equivalence” through which our previous translation came to us, but suffice it to say that whenever we isolate one meaning in the name of clarity, we cut out other potential realities.
The old translation was always meant to be a transitional one, and now it’s as if the English world has taken off its training wheels. The new translation assumes that we’re mature and smart enough to handle elevated, poetic language, and I cannot help but wonder why the typical wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth crowd misses this for the liberation it is.
Again, I could tell you all of this before yesterday.
What I could not tell you before yesterday was just how beautiful it would be to publicly celebrate this new translation. No one is able to anticipate beauty, and the act of anticipation in this regard tends to end in something short of awe. I went in expecting an edifying experience through the language, and left struck by the grandeur of God. The elevated language combined with the chant contained within the Roman Missal — and we’re using that chant liberally from here on out at my parish — was like receiving a breath of fresh air. As one Traditionalist friend in his mid-twenties said after Mass, “It felt like I actually went to church today!”
Of course, as is the case with anything new, there’s a tendency for us to become overly excited by a break in the routine. Undoubtedly, the new translation will become old hat very quickly. But again, that’s where the language comes in: if we pay attention to its depth, to its multitude, we will continue to see the beauty of the Church’s prayer.
I’m back! And hopefully for good this time.
Truth be told, my writer’s itch gets scratched through weekly homily composition. Writing a homily is a lot like blogging: they both center around fact-analysis in an attempt to relate something the writer deems important enough for the audience to hear. Plus, giving a homily is more immediately gratifying, as reactions to what you say prove whether or not you’ve missed the mark.
Homiletics makes it difficult to blog. Before all, blogging should be fun, and one should have some latitude to write on whatever he or she chooses. But as a priest, I feel like my blog should have theological content above all; and yet, at the end of the day I don’t feel like writing about theology, since I spend all day surrounded by it either in private study, prayer, ministry, or homiletics.
So, as a sort of Advent resolution, I’ve resolved to just plain write on whatever. Writing is good for me, no matter how it comes or where it goes.
At any rate, I am — once again — back.
BONUS! BONUS! BONUS! ARTWORK! ARTWORK! ARTWORK!