I'm having some good conversations on the questions raised by the forthcoming English translation the 3rd edition Roman Missal. This is from an email conversation with an old friend:
There are lots of deep theological questions, but they end up as caricatures on all sides. Latin is a norm for the Latin rite, but in what sense? Is it a norm in the sense of a historical root from which other expressions may derive, or is it a norm in the sense that everything else is an unfortunate, but sometimes necessary departure?
Do other languages, English in our case, have their own genius and value in this regard, or not? One of the most interesting quasi-magisterial things I've read on these kinds of questions was the Holy Father's infamous Regensburg address. It got all of the press because of the Muslim question, but there was another section in which he was talking about the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, and it made the claim that this translation itself had revelatory value in the procession of Hebraic truth through the categories of Hellenic thought. It's quite something to say that translation can be revelatory. Is it similar with the movement of Christian common prayer from Aramaic to Greek? From Greek to Latin in the western Church? From Latin to modern European languages, e.g. the King James Bible or the American Sacramentary of 1976?
Drilling in we get to some hard questions about the nature of language diversity itself. Is it a curse, as Genesis might seem to say? Or is it an expression of the genius of particular cultures, and therefore a diversity to be celebrated, as we are taught by contemporary 'multiculturalism'? And how does the unification of hearing at Pentecost cash out in our actual practice of trying to pray together in an increasingly language-diverse liturgical environment?
If Vatican II, in its legacy of the liturgy in local languages, was therein just the Catholic Church finally accepting another idea of European modernity, i.e. the nation-state, imagining that Englishmen would pray the liturgy in English, Germans in German, etc., we have to admit that such a world is giving way to a much less language-unified world on the local level.
For a very real example: a bilingual Easter Vigil, fine. Trilingual, o.k. But when do you stop? When do these gymnastics of 'multiculturalism' stop serving, and when does 'inclusivity' become an idol before God himself? Is Latin the answer to such a thing, or just another non-answer, and worse because it's tinged with reaction?
Sorry to be ranting. The questions are big!