New Zealand Roman MissalLate last week the new New Zealand Roman Missal (with its new translation from the Latin) arrived. It had previously been delayed because the first ones printed couldn’t be ensured to lie open, and so could affect a priest’s gestures. The irony was that New Zealand was the first to begin introducing the new translation – it is now probably one of the last to complete that. I wonder if affecting a priest’s gestures will be a new irony of this publication, as will be explained below.

Grammar

I unwrapped it and flicked it open enthusiastically, in the presence of some well-educated adults, to the Sunday collect:

“O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son,…”

“It hasn’t been proof read”, was the immediate response of one person. So I turned over the page to the next collect:

“O God, who have taught us to chasten our bodies…”

“Maybe they are referring to God as Trinity,” said another person. I forget how many degrees he has. We are, of course, not tri-theists.

Since then, I have run this past three senior staff in our English Department who all see this construction as incorrect, an awkward construction. The question was asked, “How do Roman Catholic priests understand this, deal with this?”

But enough on that – there’s plenty of other places that discuss the translation from Latin into English as it is not used, the loss of ecumenically-agreed texts, and our shared musical tradition.

The missal has a strong red cover, good page thickness, and a clear font. Its 1475 pages is bound as 18cm x 23cm x6.5 cm (9”x7”x2.5”). It comes with a Companion to the Missal (same dimensions 518 pages, 2.5cm, 1” thick). This contains Entrance Antiphon, collect, Prayer after Communion; Introductory Rites; Concluding Rites; Blessings at the End of Mass and Prayers over the People – to be used by the priest at the chair.

Te Reo (Maori)

The missal is in both English and Maori – a very positive development. The Maori is always visible alongside the English. But not every part appears to be available in Maori. Is the intention, then, in a Mass in Maori to have those parts in English? I am not clear if one might switch between languages for available parts? (I don’t like this particular prayer in English we will use the Maori equivalent…) I know priests and bishops in a Mass in English bless in Maori – but I haven’t yet found the blessing in Maori. Will that cease to be permissible when this book becomes mandatory (25 March 2012)?

Only Eucharistic Prayers 2, 3, Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation 2, and “Jesus, the Way to the Father” are available in Maori and English. The Roman Canon is not available in Maori?! With the Vatican having altered about 10,000 places in the English, I wonder how many Maori-language experts there are in Vatican corridors and how many alterations they made to the Maori text provided?

Of interest: “Father” has consistently been translated as “Matua” (“parent”) rather than “pāpara”.

Page turns

A friend pointed out an issue with page-turning. With a quick flick, the most astonishing one I spotted is in Eucharistic Prayer 1:

The priest says: “On the day before he was to suffer,”
Turn the page, take the bread
“he took bread into his holy and venerable hands…”

Eucharistic Prayers 2 and 3 are diglot (English left hand side, Maori right hand side – I presume there is no suggestion of changing languages in the middle of the prayer? So this layout decision means there are twice as many page turns than necessary. The brief Eucharistic Prayer 2 is 12 pages, Prayer 3 is 14).

In Eucharistic Prayer 3:
The priest takes the chalice and holds it above the altar
“… and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:”
page turn!!!
“Take this, all of you,…”

There are several page turns breaking the priest praying with hands extended (orans). I do not like the using-a-recipe-book look of a priest at the altar and prefer a laminated version of the full prayer flat on the altar. But I suspect that is not allowed.

I do not understand why the six Eucharistic Prayers (for Reconciliation, unity, etc) are in an “appendix” rather than simply with the other four prayers.

Posture

There is much stress that the new rules for postures become mandatory 25 March. Halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer the laity are now required to kneel. In a monastery, with all the monks standing around the altar, is there to be a sudden division between monks as those not ordained kneel while those ordained continue standing? Forming Christians into understanding standing as the posture for prayer and honouring, suddenly this formation is abandoned solely halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer. Roman Catholics often avoid clericalism, applying the same rules to laity as to clergy – here is an exception. Priests stand while laity kneel. The Eucharistic Prayer is a single, united prayer – changing posture halfway through loses that insight. I think this is a mistake.

Conclusion

I conclude by highlighting the new dismissals which have positive images:

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

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