Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Absolution in the new NO translation

A friend recently sent me a preliminary copy of the draft of the Novus Ordo in English that the bishops are preparing. I have not had time to go through the whole thing, but one thing stuck out like a sore thumb: the language of the absolution after the Kyrie.

Many people have criticized the Novus Ordo because the words of absolution are not strong enough (as is the case with NO exorcisms). In the Extraordinary Form, the words of the absolution are:

"May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting (Amen). May the Almight and merciful God grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins (Amen)."

Just so there is no confusion about what is going on at this point, the gloss on the side of the Ecclesia Dei Latin-English Missal says, "All accuse themselves of having sinned. May God's mercy, the intercession of the Saints, and the Church's absolution cleanse our souls." A clear connection is made between the rite of absolution and the fact that an absolution is actually taking place.

Now, in the NO we have all come to know and love, we have the following phrase:

"May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and lead us to everlasting life. Amen."

In the NO, we tend to have two extremes (1) In many parishes, people are ignorant that this is an actual absolution at all. There is no language about pardon, absolution and remission at this rite. It seems like it is asking God to have mercy on us without actually conferring the reality that the rite itself is the channel by which this mercy comes.(2) Many parishes go to the other extreme and make this absolution replace private confession, asserting that it can remit mortal sin. What does it say about the Novus Ordo when we can get two interpretations that are so widely variant out of the same text?

Now let's look at the language in the proposed English translation:

"May Almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life."

Now what is that all about? Can that be any more confusing? The rite is clearly labelled "Absolution" in the Missal, but is there any hint that an absolution is happening? The language is so wimpy. It is in the passive voice, like the Church is being timid or something. It divorces the absolution from the rite even more execessively than the old NO did, and furthermore, it is worded awkwardly in such a way that can be taken to mean that everybody will have their sins forgiven.

Before, we have, "May Almighty God have mercy on us/you, forgive us our/your sins." Now God does not have mercy and forgive, He has mercy and leads. "May Almighty God have mercy on us and lead us." Where is the forgiveness? Is it implored? Is it even asked for? No. It is implied, as if everybody who prays the prayer is forgiven already. "May Almighty God lead us...with our sins forgiven." Forgiven is past tense, as if it had already happened or something. Gone is any notion that we are sinners asking God through this rite to cleanse us and forgive us. And what about any reference that this cleansing is aimed towards making us worthy to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass? That is even more far gone.

Well, this translation is only a rough draft, and perhaps it will be changed. But for heaven's sake, when will the Church stop talking wimpy and start taking its God-given authority? In the army, when we were marching and singing those annoying martial tunes, if we weren't yelling loud enough, or if we lacked enough enthusiasm, the drill sergeants used to yell, "C'mon! Sound off like you got a pair!" If the Church wasn't feminine, I might say the same thing to her!


Jeffrey Pinyan said...

The Latin is Misereátur nostri omnípotens Deus et, dimissís peccátis nostris, perdúcat nos ad vitam aetérnam. The new English translation is a pretty literal one, if I'm not mistaken. Word-for-word, it's "May-he-have-mercy-on us almighty God and, having-been-forgiven sins our, may-he-lead us to life everlasting." This is essentially identical to the Latin of the TLM.

Translating "dimissís peccátis nostris" as "forgive us our sins" isn't quite right: dimissís is 3rd person plural, perfect passive participle. That clause says "our sins having been forgiven" or more colloquially, "with our sins forgiven". If the verb dimittere was meant to be applied to God the same way that miserere was, it would be dimittatur: third person singular present passive subjunctive.

Anonymous said...

There are more erronious wordings throughout the draft. It doesn't get better. I have told friends, who think that the free return of the Latin rite will eventually push the N.O. out, that the road to returning to the True Faith will not happen. There are too many out there, Bishops, priests, and lay, who will be against the return to the Truth. This is evident in reading the draft. I see this as a means to appease those who are ignorant. The wording makes the path wider to destruction. It fools those who listen to the wolves that have been misleading them. Priests who use secular philosophy to attempt to explain lessons from Scripture, bishops who advocate the freedom to partake in worldly activities that have clearly been condemned by the Early church Fathers, Doctors and Scripture. It is another example of liberal modernism infecting the Church like a cancer. It encourages narcissism through an emminent front of love and peace.

The Traditionalists are in for a long difficult battle. Satan is still in control of the majority of the so called faithful. He is in fact occupying churches this very moment. I could name a few that I know his demons reside in.

I believe that there will be minimal change to the draft, except maybe for a spell check. The heart of the church is bleeding. It is bleeding because of the lack of intestinal fortitude of those who claim to want Tradition and because of those who portray themselves as "holy" and have others convinced that they are. What a great deception. To have others believe one is holy or spiritual because they are a good actor. There is an entire generation of so called men who are part of the demasculanized generation. They call them priests now among other lay terms.

These demasculinized men are the ones in control of the church. I speculate that the agenda is to keep the gay issues open and to eventually condone these actions like some bishops have done already.

If we keep these issues, along with an entire book of others, in mind, read the draft, put the pieces together, one can see that this is another step to a greater liberalism.

Boniface said...


Perhaps it does say almost the same thing in the Latin, but what good does that do when we are talking about an English translation from the Latin? There is a huge difference in English between "forgive us our sins" and "with our sins forgiven." What good does it do to have consistent Latin versions if the English translations vary so widely?

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Perhaps it does say almost the same thing in the Latin, but what good does that do when we are talking about an English translation from the Latin?

Is there an "official" English translation of the 1962 TLM? I've seen differences in translation between, my 1961 daily missal, and other sources.

No matter how you slice it, in Latin, the prayer is not saying "forgive us our sins", but is describing our sins as having been forgiven.

It is a mistranslation for anyone to say that the English of the Latin is "forgive us our sins", whether they're looking at the 1962 or 1969 Latin text.

If you want the prayer to mean "forgive us our sins", the Latin typical edition will need changing. It would have to be written like so: Misereátur nostri omnípotens Deus, dimittatur peccáta nostra, et perdúcat nos ad vitam aetérnam.

The new English translation is accurate here; the English translation you see in your English-Latin 1962 daily missal is inaccurate. Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis vestris, perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam. is NOT properly translated as "May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you to life everlasting." but rather as "May Almighty God have mercy upon you, and your sins having been forgiven, bring you to life everlasting."

The sins are forgiven by God having mercy on us. That part seems obvious to me.

Boniface said...


Well, not being as fluent in Latin as you, I will take your word for it then!