When the Second Vatican Council permitted the introduction of the vernacular (mother tongue) to the Liturgy it did so to promote a better understanding of what the Church is praying, since “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy… (and which) is their right by reason of their Baptism” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 14).
The delicate work of translating liturgical texts from the Latin is an often hotly debated subject within the Church. In recent days the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has issued a motu proprio giving more powers to the local Bishops regarding the translation of liturgical texts. This makes the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) a more pressing role in safeguarding the Sacred Rites and the theological riches they contain, whilst opening the texts that the faithful more enter more deeply into the mysteries they express.
ICEL is a mixed commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite. Representatives are sent from the Bishops of the English speaking work to work for the sole purpose to prepare English translations of each of the Latin liturgical books and any individual liturgical texts in accord with the directives of the Holy See.
In total eleven of the English speaking Bishops Conferences are represented on the Commission. The representative for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales is our own Archbishop George Stack. Many people will note from his engagements that he regularly attends ICEL meetings/conferences that often includes travel to the United States. Last week, Archbishop George was working alongside his fellow representatives in Washington DC as they continue their work of translating the most recent editions of the Liturgy of the Hours (the breviary) and the order of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Archbishop George Stack is pictured with his fellow members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy at a Mass celebrated in the National Shrine in Washington following the recent conference in Washington. Pray for them as they continue the important work of translating the Sacred Rites for the celebration of the Liturgy; especially as the implications of the recent mortu proprio begin to take effect. That they may remain faithful stewards of the Liturgical texts and shepherds leading the faithful through the Liturgy to the great foretaste of heaven in a full, conscious and active way.