The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ~ “noble simplicity”

We’re a series of reflections (this is the fourth) on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  This is in commemoration and celebration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago on October 11, 1962.  In our last section, we looked at some of the translations of the people’s parts like “consubstantiation” in the creed and “And with your Spirit.”

Today, we’re going to look at the priests’ parts ~ the Eucharistic Prayer, which are more problematic, though you might not notice them as much as we priests would.

We’ll start with the most important part – the Narrative of the Institution (the Consecration).

Unfortunately, they changed the word “cup” to “chalice”, as in “This is the chalice of my blood”, rather than “This is the cup of my blood.”

Father John R. Donohue, S.J. in an article entitled “Cup or Chalice? ~ The Large Implications of a Small Change has this to say:

In the Greek original of all the New Testament accounts of the Last Supper, after the blessing of the bread, Jesus takes a cup (poterion) and says “this is the new covenant of my blood (Luke).

He goes on to show how it was translated in to Latin and then in to English. But suffice it to say the Catholic Douay-Rheims translated the Latin calix as cup.

The introduction of the English word “chalice” at the most solemn moment of the liturgy not only obscures the biblical and historical image of Jesus that distances him from the disciples of his own day and of ours. In contemporary English a “chalice” is a liturgical vessel, and people are likely to think of gold or jewel-encrusted chalices found in museums or seen in artistic portrayals.  At the Last Supper, Jesus was a Jewish layman using drinking cups of the world around him, which were to bear the deepest mystery of his life.  “Chalice” obscures this transformation of the ordinary by the power of God and distances the celebration from the lives of the participants.

Donohue / Commonweal / June 2012

And they changed the following also:

It will be shed for all   

which will be shed for many:

What is unfortunate about that is this:

 You’re sitting in the congregation and you’re not too sure about how you’re measuring up. And you hear that.  “shed for many”. ”You might well think,  “Well, I guess I’m not included.” Or even worse – that there isn’t any hope for you – that you’re on the outside – that Jesus didn’t shed his blood for you and does not love you.

But if you hear “It will be shed for all,” if you’re really praying at that moment, you’ll be comforted and feel included; you won’t feel excluded or even worse – damned.

See how the choice of one word (above) can have a detrimental or a healing effect on people?  True, this is not in the scriptural accounts of the Last Supper, nor in the Latin.  Yet, those responsible for the 1970 translation saw the wisdom of what I am saying here.

Let’s compare excerpts of the Eucharistic Prayers that the priest says.


From Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon)


Remember. Lord, your people,

Especially those for whom we now pray, . .

Remember all of us gathered here before you.

You know how we firmly we believe in you

and dedicate ourselves to you.

We offer you this sacrifice of praise

for ourselves and those who are dear to us.

We pray to you, our living and true God,

for our well being and redemption.  ~ 1970 translation


Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N.

and all gathered here,

whose faith and devotion are known to you.

For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise

or they offer it for themselves

and all who are dear to them:

for the redemption of their souls,

in hope of health and well-being,

and paying their homage to you,

the eternal God, living and true.   ~ 2010 translation

Notice that there are different theologies operative here. The celebrant includes the people in his prayer in the 1970 translation.  The priest is praying in the midst of the people.  One could almost picture Jesus in the midst of his people. In the 2010 translation, the priest prays for the people as if the priest is in front of the people – the leader of a parade. Note that the language is more formal.  It seems to be a kind of Old Testament distance between priest and people and also between God and the people. In the 1970 translations, the language is familial or colloquial – the way Jesus spoke in prayer Cf. John 17).  He wanted us to have an intimacy with his Father.  Read the passages above again and see for yourself.

Father, accept this offering

from your whole family.

Grant us peace in this life,

save us from final damnation,

and count us among those whom you have chosen.


Therefore, Lord, we pray:

Graciously accept this oblation of our service,

that of your whole family;

order our days in peace,

and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation

and counted among the flock of those you have chosen.

Again, one is familial; the other, formal “command”.

Brief excerpts from Eucharistic Prayer III:

Look with favor on your Church’s offering,

and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to himself.


Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church,

and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death

you willed to reconcile to yourself, grant . . .(4 + lines.)

The sentences of the 2010 translation follow the Latin and run on and are difficult to comprehend or control in speech.


May he make us an everlasting gift to you

and enable us to share in the inheritance of your saints,


May he make us an eternal offering to you

so that we may obtain an inheritance with your elect.

It is difficult for me to pray the new Roman missal, as it is for many priests.  This became evident at the convocation of priests I attended last June.  I notice at Sunday Mass, the priest normally uses Prayer II that is the simplest and shortest.

To conclude my study, I gave a couple of sentences from the 2010 translation to a friend of mine known for his competence in English grammar without telling him where they came from. This is what he had to say about this sentence:

“Surpass for the honor of your name, what you pledged to the Patriarchs, by reason of the faith, and through sacred adoption increase the children of your promise, so that what the Saints of old never doubted would come to pass your Church may now see in great part fulfilled.”

Too convoluted.  You have many subjects upon which you are treating in one sentence.  Can you break this up into smaller declarative sentences?

“so that what the Saints of old never doubted would come to pass your Church may now see in great part fulfilled.”

 I don’t understand this part.  It looks like a word or two is/are missing.

 so that what the Saints of old never doubted would come to pass and that your Church may now see in great part fulfilled.

 What if you omitted “that” from the entire sentence?

 so what the Saints of old never doubted would come to pass, your Church may now see in great part fulfilled.

 My friend didn’t know that this prayer came from the new translation of the liturgy.  When I told him, he said,

            “Domine, libera nos a malo.” . . . Lord, deliver us from evil. 

We’ll have our conclusion to this series on Monday.

With love,  

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ~ “full, conscious and active participation”

We are in the third of a series of reflections on the premier document of the Second Vatican Council ~ The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  

Last time, we said that “the Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious, and active participation that is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy (no. 14).

Today, we want to look at the implications of this amazing statement.  It indicates a dramatic change from the way we used to worship before Vatican II when we were mostly silent in Church and the priest was up there doing something we couldn’t see with his back towards us in a language we couldn’t understand.  Moreover, we didn’t look to the right or the left of us and the choir sang everything, usually, Mother, Dear, O pray for Me or other hymns in a solemn, pious voice.

Full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy brings us together in community.  

That was the reason they turned the altar around.  The Eucharist became an experience of family, of communion.   Our worship was no longer individualistic – between me and Jesus, me and God.

We were to find God in each other – to experience the horizontal dimension of the Cross, as well as the vertical.  All this becomes evident when we sing together.

Do you really pray when you go to Mass?  Do you listen to the readings and the homily?  Do you sing?

We Catholics were not known for our singing like the Protestants, but singing is an act of praise.  St. Augustine taught that the one “who sings prays twice,” though apparently he did not have a great voice himself.  So, you see, you can sing from your heart, even though you can’t carry a tune in a bucket!

Give praise to your God for what he’s done for you this past week.

When you say the “Our Father,” do you say it by rote, or do you pray it mindfully? 

When you offer the sign of peace to someone, do you look them in the eye and smile; in other words, do you do that well – or do you do it only because you’re supposed to?

The Liturgy Constitution also wanted dioceses to set up liturgy commissions (no. 44).  I recall right after my ordination driving the 68 miles from Orlando back to my parish in Satellite Beach late at night on a dark two-lane highway every few weeks for two years to set up the Diocesan Commission and then, as I said, the bishop appointed me Director of Liturgy.

I was all over the diocese giving training sessions for both priests and lay folk for four years, hoping that I could help them be “imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy.  I’ve had that spirit all my life and though I had to attend to my own ongoing liturgical education and training,  I did the best I could to set the Diocese of Orlando on a solid foundation in liturgical renewal.

One of the achievements I’d especially like to note is to this day almost every parish in the diocese offers communion from the chalice whereas some other dioceses do not.

We had to work hard to improve the music in the parishes. When I started, I had to wean the organists off of the “tremulo” that had the funeral parlor effect. So, early on I brought in Lucien Deiss for a workshop and later Alex Peloquin and others.

Today, most parishes have competent music directors and the hymn books are much improved as well. The National Association of Pastoral Musicians with my friends Dr. Michael McMahon and Dr. Gordon Truitt provide excellent support for parish musicians across the country.

The Council also restored the catechumenate for adults (no. 64). I was very interested in getting hands-on experience with the new Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  A few years earlier, I had attended a seminar led by Father Aidan Kavanagh who was the leading American authority on the catechumenate in those days.  I had the opportunity for two years to work with the new Rite and to form a catechumenate in a large parish in our diocese from ’66 – ’68 and then again in another parish in 1980.  We made a lot of mistakes in those early years.

The last quote I’d like to give from the SC is this:

“The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetition; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation (no.34).

 The reasoning that Pope John Paul set forth in calling for the revisions of the English translations of the Mass was to be more faithful to the Latin.

For example, the 2010 translation of the Gloria,

“and on earth peace to people of good will” is a literal translation of

                        “ et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.”

The 1970 translation has:

“and peace to his people on earth.

For most of our people the meaning of the sacred texts now is murky, not clear; encumbered, not simple.

And for many who’ve not known any of the old church, much of it is beyond their powers of comprehension – especially children. Jesus used plainspoken words in his parables and in prayer.

Our people seem resigned to the literal and arcane vocabulary “oblation,” “beseech,” “prevenient grace,” venerable”.

Let’s compare a few phrases from the 1970 translation (in red) and the present one (in black).

The Lord be with you . . .

And also with you. 

And with your spirit.

We Americans are used to being quite direct.  “And also with you,” connects with us better than “with your spirit,” that comes from the Latin “et cum spiritu tuo”.

From the Creed

one in being with the Father 

consubstantial with the Father

Most ordinary folks haven’t the slightest idea what the heck “consubstantial” means – and a child would stumble over it. They might think it was a special sandwich! (When I came home from first grade, I told my Mom I learned the Apostles Creek today.


born of the Virgin Mary

incarnate of the Virgin Mary

Why not speak simply?


He suffered, died and was buried. 

He suffered death was buried.


The Sanctus:


Lord God of power and might

Lord God of hosts.

The former is more understandable, more powerful.


Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Lord. I am not worthy for you to come under my roof but . . .

I realize that the latter reflects the Scripture story of the centurion and the formula from the old Latin Mass but it is weird, again, for children and just sounds odd to the American ear. If you have children, ask them what that calls to mind.  OK, that’s all for today.  We’ll tackle the priests’ parts ~ the Eucharistic Prayer that is a bit more problematic in our next section.

But before you go, here’s one of our beloved songs that came later in our repertoire of American liturgical music by the famous St. Louis Jesuits with a beautiful slide show ~ Be Not Afraid. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. CLICK HERE.

With love. 

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer



Pope Paul VI continues the work of Vatican II

In our last presentation, we talked about the opening session of the Second Vatican Council on October 11th, 1962.   Pope John the Twenty-Third solemnly opened the Council on that day and I gave an excerpt of his address.

Unfortunately, Good Pope John died of stomach cancer a year and a half later on June 3, 1963. We lost two great men named John within a few months of each other and the Catholic world – if not many others – felt their loss deeply. President Lyndon Johnson posthumously bestowed on Pope John awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award, in recognition of the good relationship between Pope John and the United States.

Pope Paul VI finished his work and the Council and set his own goals very clearly.  His opening address on September 29th, 1963 stressed the pastoral nature of the council, and set out four purposes for it:

• to more fully define the nature of the Church and the role of the bishop;

• to renew the Church;

• to restore unity among all Christians, including seeking pardon for Catholic contributions to separation;

• and to start a dialogue with the contemporary world.

The Council solemnly closed on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1965.

The premier document of the Sacred Council was Sacrosanctam Concilium – The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Pope Paul approved the “New Mass,” that was implemented in 1970.  Do you remember – if you’re of my generation – that suddenly the Mass was all in English, the priest was facing the people, and we were singing strange songs in church like Here We Are and Kumbaya,  (Praise God, church music has much improved over the years.)

The oils were hardly dry on my hands when my classmate Phil and I were asked to make the presentations to our brother priests how to celebrate Eucharist in the new fashion; we had been trained by Father Eugene Walsh, an outstanding pastoral liturgist before we left the seminary.

I’m going to reflect on some of the points from Sacrosanctam Concilium myself in these writings. I hope I can make it interesting enough for you, so give it a try.

This is central statement of liturgy document:

The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;

at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. (No. 10.)

(I’ll be speaking to my Catholic readers directly from time to time but I hope this will be informative to my other readers as well.)

Font and Summit. Is the liturgy the font, the source of and the summit, the focus of your Catholic life?

Have you gotten into the spirit of the liturgical life of the Church?

I’ve loved the sacred liturgy all my life.

I became an altar boy as soon as I could learn my Ad Deum qui laetificats. And in my senior year of high school I put together a book so that the priests could easily arrange the Holy Week services after I left. Later, in my seminary years, I was instrumental in persuading our university to provide good liturgy for the students. In my early priesthood, my bishop appointed me director of liturgy for the diocese, a work to which I gave myself enthusiastically.

These days, in my retirement, I still live the liturgy quietly from day to day. September, for example, is filled with feasts I love: Our Lady’s birthday (Sept.8th), the Exaltation of the Holy Cross that connects me with my beloved Holy Cross Cistercian Abbey in Berryville, Va. followed by St. Robert’s day, ending up with St. Michael’s Day at the end of the month. I also share my love of the liturgy with others through my blog ( (which you are reading) and my Arise reflection / letter.

Thus, the sacred liturgy is still the font and summit –the source and highlight of my life. And so, I ask again,

“Is the liturgy the font and summit – the source and focus of your Catholic life?

 Before Vatican II, we worshipped mostly in silence; we didn’t understand what the priest was saying, unless we used a missal the Scriptures were few and in Latin but the priest read the gospel in English; the sermon was rarely on the scriptures and the choir sang everything.

 But all that changed.

 The liturgy constitution (SC) said the “Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious, and active participation that is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy (no. 14).

Wow! That’s quite a strong statement and quite a change. And the SC goes on to say, “yet it would be futile to entertain such hopes of realizing this unless pastors themselves, in the first place, thoroughly become imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it.”

So, a question for you:

When you participate in the sacred liturgy, do you do so just to fulfill your Sunday obligation — half-heartedly – or do you do so “fully, consciously and actively” as the Council Fathers hoped the renewal of the liturgy would bring about?  

We’ll stop here for today and explore the implications of this powerful statement ~ “full, conscious and active participation” of the people in our next segment on Monday.  

But for your you go, for your listening enjoyment, here’s the song I mentioned in the last blog by Carey Landry, one of the earliest generation of liturgical composers ~The Spirit is a-movin’  Click here.  (There’s sound but no images.)  Carey sang that song at my ordination in 1969.  

With love, 

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer