Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"So what's your favorite part of the new translation?"

I've been traveling in liturgical circles for a little while now. So while this new translation of the Missal didn't take effect until this past Advent, I've been familiar with quite a number of the texts since the fall of 2007.

Yet it still caught me completely off guard when I was catching up with a dear friend, then finishing her notiviate with the Carmelites, and she asked me what my favorite part was of the new translation. Well, I don't know. The whole thing, really. I'm a huge fan of this whole formal equivalence principle of translation, wherein the English kind of sounds like the Latin does, only, ya' know, in English. She, in response, had some incredibly profound reflection on how one particular phrase was a real testament to God's incredible love for us (unexpected profundity has always been one of her strong suits, but still).

I don't generally have "favorites" very often, of anything, yet her question stuck with me. And now, that I've been praying this translation day in and day out for months, I do have a favorite part: "poured out," during the consecration of the chalice.

take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
do this in memory of me.

We used to pray "which will be shed." Most (possibly all) of the English hand Missals printed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, used by parishioners to pray in English what Father prayed in Latin, translate that as "shed." Even hand Missals being produced now for the traditional Mass seem to all say "shed."

Part of the rationale given for the change was that "shed" is inferior because it only works for blood, not for wine (you can't really shed wine), so "poured out" is better because it's more symbolic and evocative and whatnot. That's all well and good, and entirely true, but still falls short of the fullness of the Latin original.

The Latin original of the word in question is effundetur. I'm no great Latinist, but they tell me effundetur means more than "shed," more even than "poured out." It means emptied out of every last drop. Think of when Our Lord was scourged, then crowned with thorns, then crucified, and even then, after He had died, the soldier pierced his heart with his lance, and more blood (and water) flowed out. He gave and gave and gave until he quite literally had nothing left to give, no blood that had not been spilled for our sake.

THAT is how we are called to love in His image: to give of ourselves, for the love of Him and of His children whom He has entrusted to us. We are to give and give and give -- and even when we're completely at the end of our rope and couldn't possibly give any more, to give just a little bit more. He'll be right there, giving us the strength to do it, just as He did on that Good Friday so many years ago.

You'll never read this, Sr Teresa Margaret, but I can now tell you: my favorite part of this beautiful new translation of the Roman Missal is that reminder of the fullness of His sacrifice -- literally to the last drop. Thank you for putting that question in the back of my mind all those months ago, and for your prayers which probably led me straight to this reflection. I only pray that each day I may pour myself out for Him half as lovingly as He did for me.

Sanguis Christi, in Cruce effusus, salva nos.

Cor Jesu, lancea perforatum, miserere nobis.

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