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Archbishop's Desk

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  • On receiving the pallium

    On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I was blessed to receive from the hands of...

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Milestones

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  • Daughter of Mary Immaculate professes final vows

    NEW BRITAIN – Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso poses with Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll,...

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Youth

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  • St. Dunstan's awards two scholarships

    GLASTONBURY – Two graduating seniors from St. Dunstan Parish have received the Rev. Joseph R....

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MsgrLiptak_TNThe Church in the United States has begun to use the newly translated English Missal (or, technically speaking, the new English Sacramentary, which together with the standard Lectionary, completes the unit known as the Roman Missal). Although inaugurated in America on the First Sunday of Advent, it has been in use for several weeks in at least three other English-speaking nations. By and large, the new translation has been generally well-received. In many respects, it seems, the 2011 version clearly represents an improvement over the 1973 text insofar as liturgical English is concerned.

An obvious example occurs in the translation of the "words of the Lord" (verba Domini), which constitute the essential formula for the twofold consecration of bread and wine. I refer, of course, to the modification, in the new translation, of the phrase "for all" with the more accurate phrase, "for many." "It [the Precious Blood] will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven," has been newly rendered as "the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many."

No one, I think, has explained this modification better or more concisely than Pope Benedict XVI in his best-selling Jesus of Nazareth, Volume II (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2011. See pp. 131 sqq.). Pope Benedict, a world-class theologian in his own right, observes that the formula which Jesus articulated over the Chalice reflects three interwoven Old Testament passages; Exodus 24:8; Jeremiah 31:31 and Isaiah 53:12. The citation from Isaiah foretells a Suffering Servant (Ebed Yahweh, in Hebrew transliteration), who will effect mankind’s salvation while bearing the sins of many.

Now, in New Testament times, the "many" of Isaiah 53 clearly indicates a totality, but – in Pope Benedict’s words – this concept of "totality" cannot be equated with "all." More precisely, Pope Benedict notes, the "many" in Isaiah’s crucial passage spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper means the "totality" of Israel. Moreover, "it was only when the Gospel was brought to the Gentiles that the universal horizon of Jesus’ death and atonement came to the fore, embracing Jews and Gentiles equally." (p. 135)

Of course, there is also a translation problem in this context. Recall that both English versions of the Latin Mass (1973 and 2011) reflect the ancient Roman Rite Latin Mass. But even the Latin itself doesn’t warrant rendering the phrase pro multis ("for the many," or "for many") as "for all." Technically, therefore, the 1973 translation is not quite precise – to say the least. Besides, an ancient, perennial rule about liturgical translations is that they should be faithful, insofar as possible, to the original.

Which prompts another issue: simply speaking, the Roman Mass was not initially celebrated in Latin but in Greek. Greek, the language of the New Testament, was the lingua franca of the Roman world at least from the fourth century B.C., when the Greek emperor, Alexander the Great, conquered everything in sight. Furthermore, Greek was a highly sophisticated tongue, required for social advancement at the time. Latin didn’t begin to acquire respect until Cicero and Vergil made it artful. All this is important because liturgical translators must keep in mind the Grecian origins of the Roman Mass – as well as the Hebrew and Aramaic (which Jesus must have used for everyday discourse).

A bedrock tenet of Catholic doctrine is the universality of salvation; Christ our Lord came to save all persons in principle. This is a Biblical datum; see 1 Timothy, 1:15. However, even God can’t save one who absolutely refuses to be saved, one who totally rejects the grace of conversion, in other words. Thus, while St. Paul reveals that everyone is predestined to glory – read Ephesians and Romans, especially – God awaits each person’s assent given in freedom, with which he never tampers, much less interferes.

Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of The Catholic Transcript and censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Events Calendar

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06:00 PM
St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 28, 2014
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06:00 PM
St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 29, 2014
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05:00 PM
St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 30, 2014
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