Friday, February 18, 2011

New Roman Missal - Will it Take a Graduate School Education to Understand It?

An interesting post over at the Pray Tell blog about a readability test run on parts of the new Roman Missal reinforces the need for lots of catechesis and help for children and youth... and most average adults as well, because of the vocabulary and sentence structure of the Mass texts.  The test was conducted by Father Padraig McCarthy, a retired priest from Dublin, Ireland.

The result that jumped out for me is that according to the tool he used to test it, the amount of education a person needs to understand the new wording jumps, in some cases, to 16 or more years of formal education. The jump in the number of words per sentence, for example,  means, according to Father McCarthy that

... it will make full active conscious participation in the Liturgy very difficult for many people who do not have a college education, and even for many who have! It goes contrary to what paragraph 25 of Liturgiam Authenticam states: “So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable.” 
Whatever one thinks, it is a "done deal" that these are the texts we will be implementing in November.  This is not the vernacular of 21st century people - and the average member of the English-speaking Assembly at Mass will need all the help that catechists and priests can give to understand the new words.  What we may need to help them is a translation of the translation!

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