Friday, March 16, 2012

Letter to the Editor, The Record, Mar 15, 2012: Jesus the New Adam in the Mass

Jesus the New AdamTo The Editor:

In the Jan 12 edition of The Record, I was disappointed to read the response given in the “Question Corner” to the concern about inconsistent inclusiveness in the Gloria and the Creed at Mass.

We say in the Gloria, “Peace to people of good will,” yet we say in the Creed, “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.”  I would like to comment on the decisions made by the translators.

In the Gloria, “people” is the well-known and close translation of the inclusive, Latin word, hominibus, as the 2001 document on translation, Liturgiam Authenticam, recommends (see no. 56).

In the Creed, homines, also an inclusive word, is translated “men,” reminiscent of the once-common and inclusive term, “mankind.”  Because few use “men” inclusively anymore, Father Doyle says that the translators should have “bowed to that reality and used the generic phrasing,” like “people,” for example.

Liturgiam Authenticam cautions, though, that the liturgical texts “should be free of an overly servile adherence to prevailing modes of expression,” thus freeing the liturgy “from the necessity of frequent revisions when modes of expression may have passed out of popular usage” (no. 27).

The use of “man” in the Creed recalls important theological and anthropological correlations between Jesus and Adam, the first man, whose original sin and the resulting tendency toward sin is passed on to all of the “sons of man.”

Jesus Christ, the New Man, the Son of Man, “came down from heaven” in order to save us from sin and draw all of us, men and women, into a participation in his own sonship in the life of the Trinity.

Father Doyle, in order to be more inclusive, excludes these important correlations when he recommends saying, “for us – (pause) – and for our salvation” at Mass.  I do not think this is a valid choice.

With the above reasons, let us remember the caution from Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium: “No other person [than the bishop(s)], not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (para. 22).  This is because the Mass is not our creation; it is a gift from God and his work.

Father Matthew Hardesty
Elizabethtown, KY


K-Mo said...

Additionally, two parts in the creed have a poetic unity: "for us men" "he became man." In other words, God became what God came to save. The translators were trying to preserve that beautiful parallelism.

Fr. Matthew Hardesty said...

Good point K-Mo, thanks!