Friday, 31 October 2008

Home alone

As much as I love peace and quiet, being home alone doesn't suit. There are too many little things to do and my complete inability to "multitask" means I spend rather too much time dithering. I've reached the conclusion I'm better off at work!

Take for instance reciting the Morning Office, with only a short window of opportunity to say this on a school day, I have to be very organised and very focussed. Today, in my little dream world I found my mind wandering and I'm not sure its has been fruitful.

I like to use the pocket sized Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer published by Collins. This is not because I like the text, but because it unites me to all those others in other parishes and religious communities I know are using it too; prayer is not an isolated experience. However the text is woeful and today's readings are no exception. Normally I wouldn't give this a second thought, but dangerously, I've got time on my hands:

The scripture reading is taken from Ephesians 2: 13-16, in the Collins it is rendered thus:

Now in union with Christ Jesus, you who used to be far away have been brought near by the death of Christ. For Christ himself has brought us peace, by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With his own body he broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies. He abolished the Jewish Law, with its commandments and rules, on order to create out of two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace. By his death on the cross Christ destroyed the enmity; by means on the cross he united both races into one body and brought them back to God.

The same reading for today is rendered here thus:
Now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God: in his own person he killed the hostility.

This is taken from the Jerusalem Bible and as a reading it flows better and does not contain the questionable phrase He abolished the Jewish Law, with its commandments and rules, on order to create out of two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace. This so goes against everything else St Paul writes that it can't be a good translation: why does the Collins use it?

One of the fruits of the current Papacy is a legitimising of our(the ordinary pewsitter's) desire for worthy liturgy. I feel we are more likely to question Fr when liturgical norms are not adhered to. The internet allows us to reach for the GIRM as soon as we get home from Mass. What does this do? Well, often we end up saying "Ha, I was right, Fr was nearly out of order there....that wasn't quite as it should be". What has it done to my soul? Does it now shine brighter having partaken in the liturgy but having been distracted by intellectual meanderings and irritations with imperfections. Has this made me a better Catholic? Am I using the little bit of love planted in my heart to the best possible advantage so that is may become fuller with that same love?

For me, this is spiritually quite draining. I am thirsting for pure water and needing to drink out of desperation at streams that are muddy and brackish. I have no doubt that this is a thirst I should hold onto, but I am feeling so weak, so isolated and so lacking in that sustainance that is our right. I'll have to keep at the clouded waters, I'm not running to my cassock clad lovelies in another diocese....It is a St Bernadette is mortification, and in this year of St Paul I'm determined this weakness can become my strength.


Ponte Sisto said...

Hi Rita

Sorry to go "off topic", but I thought you might be interested to know that tomorrow on EWTN, there is a 3 hrs film on the life of Saint Rita which highlights her heroic virtue and unrelenting faith in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Sat 1/11/2008 6:30 PM ET. You'll probably need to set the video recorder for it!

Rita said...

Thanks Phil,
I'll try to catch this on "tinternet", we're sadly without access to EWTN-friendly viewing equipment...

My poor patron is working very hard at the moment with husband and family related ishoos....I hope the film doesn't display her husband as a violent drunk, it doesn't do her
cause any good at all...Her life is about peace in the family and peace in the heart and constantly working to reduce opportunities for sin in oneself and in others.

Ttony said...

I was luckly recently to have been given a copy of "The Little Breviary", first published in 1956, which is a simplified version of the EF Breviary, but in English, using the Ronal Knox translation. It was a stunningly welcome present.

Irene said...

Rita, I do not wonder that you are puzzled. When I read your post I immediately pulled out my Greek Testament to try to discern what was going on. And I discovered the usual situation -- neither translation is perfect. (In all fairness, Paul is extraordinarily difficult to translate because his reasoning can be so complex and contorted.)

Here is a literal, word for word translation:

"But now in Christ Jesus, ye (the ones then being afar) became near by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace of us, the (one) having made both one, and having broken the middle wall of partition, the enmity, having abolished in the flesh of him the law of the commandments in decrees, in order that he might create in himself into one new man, and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, killing the enmity in himself."

The Vulgate and the Douay actually are fairly close to this literal rendering; yet neither of these newer translations is. Why?

The fact of the matter is that a person cannot translate something without injecting some of his own thinking into the translation; the more emotional the content, the more "creative" the resulting translation. If the translator is pentacostal, the translation is going to be slanted in such a way as to support pentacostalism, if Lutheran it will be Teutonic, and if Catholic, it will support the magisterium. And within each tradition, individual translators have varying philosophies or perspectives. Over the years I've looked at countless different translations, and none of them translated the Greek without bias.

This is why I do not trust any translation. Sure, for quick lookups of non-contentious passages, I will grab the Douay or its derivative, the King James, just to save time. But when there is any uncertainty or when the stakes are high, I turn to the original language. Even then, one must remember that the early manuscripts have significant differences and were written without punctuation, capitalization, or even spaces between words and paragraphs -- so one can come up with variant readings quite honestly, before even getting to the translation issues.

Personally I use the Universalis web site for the Office, but that is solely because I read it on the computer.