Catholics unable to look deeper into Our Father?

Italian bishops latest to submit to modernizing

From Christ the Light of the World, by William Holman Hunt

The following comes from a Dec. 28 story in First Things by Charlotte Allen.

On November 15 the Italian Bishops’ Conference announced that it plans to change the wording of the Lord’s Prayer in the Mass liturgy. The bishops want the current Italian equivalent of “lead us not into temptation” to become “do not abandon us to temptation.”

The bishops have now petitioned the pope to approve this proposed alteration—a petition he is almost certain to grant. In a 2017 interview with an Italian Catholic television channel, the pontiff expressed his distress with the current Italian wording—non c’indurre in tentazione, a literal translation of the Latin ne nos inducas in tentationem that is part of the Lord’s Prayer in the Vulgate versions of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. (The Vulgate version is in turn a literal translation of words [the root verb is eisphero, “bring into”] that appear in the oldest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament—which means there’s a good chance the clause preserves the exact wording Jesus used when he proclaimed the prayer in his native Aramaic.)

Francis had complained that indurre, literal though it might be (“lead into” is what my own Italian-English dictionary says) was “not a good translation.” Francis opined that “lead us not” might confuse the Catholic faithful, because “it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell.” That means it is likely that Italian-speaking Catholics will soon be uttering a kinder, gentler non abbandonarci nella tentazione. It might not reflect what Jesus actually said, but it might make them feel more comfortable attending worship services in a country where only 31 percent of baptized Catholics show up for Sunday Mass on a regular basis.

Some observers have speculated that Francis more or less strong-armed the Italian bishops into modifying their literal translation of the offending words—for him and for Catholics worried that a God who “leads” people into temptation might seem too sadistic. In fact, though, according to a report in the U.K. Express, the Italian episcopate has spent a full 16 years pondering whether to slide away from the literal implications of indurreand inducas. In 2008 they substituted non abbandonare for non indurre in the Italian Catholic Bible, although not in the Mass texts. And the Italians are a few years behind other Europeans in inventing nicer ways to say “lead us not into temptation.” In Spain and other Spanish-speaking lands (including Francis’s native Argentina), the translation is no nos dejes caer en la tentación (“do not let us fall into temptation”), and Belgium’s Flemings use a Dutch version that translates as “bring us not to the test.”

The Catholic bishops in the Francophone world have invested more than half a century—since 1966, the year after the Second Vatican Council ended—in experimenting with liturgical alternatives to the ne nous induis pas en tentation of the French New Testament (note the induis, a Romance cognate of inducas and indurre). During the immediate post-Vatican II years ecumenism—rapprochement with mainline Protestantism—was all the theological rage, so the French Church adopted a standard Protestant translation, ne nous soumets pas à la tentation (“do not submit us to temptation”). In 2017 bishops’ conferences in France, Quebec, Benin, and other French-speaking regions mandated a more easygoing ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation (“do not let us enter into temptation”) for liturgical use starting in December 2018.

Canadian liturgist Marie-Josée Poiré explained the change in an interview in Crux: “Today’s liturgy, let’s admit it, no longer speaks the language of the majority. So you have to be concerned about liturgical participation in a way that people are not just attendees, but participants.” Bishop Serge Poitras of the diocese of Timmins, Ontario, told Crux that the liturgical Lord’s Prayer is just a “theological construction” not necessarily related to either the wording of the Gospels or what Jesus might have really said.

It is always irritating when professional liturgists, theologians, and prelates deem ordinary Catholic laypeople mentally incapable of looking beyond the surface meaning of “lead us not into temptation” and understanding that the words might actually imply a subtle and nuanced understanding of God the Father’s providential concern for sinful humanity. It is especially irritating for English-speaking Catholics to face—possibly—the prospect of changing, on a whim of bishops or pressure from the pope, the deliberately archaic language of their own beloved Christian prayer that has included the words “lead into” as a translation of inducas since Anglo-Saxon times. Proposals to “modernize” the English Our Father have surfaced from time to time, but so far both clergy and faithful have rejected them.

The problem is deeper than just the unwarranted dumbing down of an ancient phrase. Updating the ne nos inducas is another knot in a long string of failed efforts to reverse the catastrophic decline of practiced Catholicism (especially European Catholicism) in the wake of Vatican II by piling on more of the accommodations with secular modernity that Vatican II supposedly mandated. To most of the theologians—nearly all hailing from Europe—who engineered the supposed liturgical and disciplinary “reforms” of the Church in the wake of the Council, many traditional rules and practices were simply too arcane and rigid for the secularized modern mind to deal with….

Comments

  1. Lead us not into schism.

  2. God does allow us to be tested. Matthew 4:1 clearly states in both the Douay-Rheims and the New American Bibles that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. The Jewish culture had a certain way of saying things such as three days not necessarily meaning three whole days but part of the first, all of the second day and at times part of the third day meaning three days, not twenty four hour days. People who understand this have no problem with it.

  3. Who says that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) does not allow tempation or leads others to be tempted?

    Here it is being stated in Holy Scripture in Luke 4: 1 – 2:

    “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.”

    Since the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and each Person of the Trinity is co-equal, and where one Member of the Trinity is present, the other two are also present, the current translation appears fine.

    • James 1:13
      Catechism of the Catholic Church 2846
      The Roman Catechism has a discussion on tempting for a good purpose (such as God’s testing through want or illness or to prove virtue) and the devil’s tempting which is for a bad purpose (to cause our own destruction by sin.)

      • Steve Seitz says

        Anonymous,
        Is it that God allows the tempting and draws good out of it [such as in the book of Job] or that God intentionally tests people?

        Do you have any further insight?

        • I am another “Anonymous!”.I know that Our Lord went out into the desert for 40 days, before starting His Ministry– and was tempted by the Devil. And He passed the test, of course! I say my prayers devoutly, and mostly — the words do not mean as much to me, as being deeply close to Our Lord! He is present with us! And also present, with a group of believers, who devoutly recite the Our Father together.

  4. Vince Ryan says

    “Today’s liturgy, let’s admit it, no longer speaks the language of the majority.”
    Next from Paulist Press, ” The Lord’s Prayer for Dummies”.

    • Amen! No matter what language one uses, nor how old or new, there will always be someone asking what something means. As the saying goes, “Don’t make mountains out of mole hills”. Now someone will be asking or googling what that means.

  5. I sincerely doubt tweaking one or two clauses in a major prayer of the Mass will improve the Sunday attendance rate in Italy or any other country. That being said, all ‘living’ languages are dynamic. What was a great translation two centuries ago sounds stilted and/or archaic now.

  6. The “Our Father”is holy, the very words of Christ. This holy prayer is now over 2,000 years old! The Pope should not change one word of it. Nor change Our Lord’s words in the Bible, either. Instead, he should seek to cultivate holiness and respect for Our Lord, in the Church. That will draw many believers, to Mass and religious devotions.

    • So I assume you will pray it in Greek from now on. After all, we mustn’t change one word. Or maybe you’ll attempt to reconstruct the original Aramaic from the biblical Greek? And which version will you use? Matthew’s or Luke’s?

      • Stephen, the Our Father is not an intellectual exercise for academicians. It is very holy, and contains the words of Our Lord. It is a very important and holy prayer, and has unified people of Faith, even in times of tragedy, persecution, suffering, war, illness, and death, throughout the centuries. It is one of the first prayers my mother taught me– and the last I prayed, with family, at the bedsides of my dying father, and later, my mother, holding hands together. We need to be able to easily say our prayers, and come close to Our Lord, without disturbance or confusion.

      • Stephen, the Our Father is not an intellectual exercise for academicians. It is a holy prayer, and contains the words of Our Lord. It has been a unifying and comforting prayer for people of Faith, for centuries– especially in times of tragedy, persecution, suffering, war, illness, and death. It is one of the first prayers my mother taught me– and the last we prayed, as a family, at the bedside of first my father, and then my mother– holding their hands, together, at the hour of death. People of Faith need to be able to devoutly say our prayers together, and come close to Our Lord, without distraction or confusion.

  7. I think these men ought to address the reality of Catholics reciting the Our Father with mechanistic mindlessness before they go mucking around with a translation. Though I doubt the people they might have in mind will notice anything at all once it becomes routine again…

  8. Something very important is being missed by those who are stressing to make the language immediately more ” acceptable” for the community. Our entire practice and understanding of prayer and sacrament is based on the practice that as we grow into our prayer life or sacramental life the repetition of the prayer in its constant form brings us into a deeper meaning of it’s truth and also brings us into a more adult relationship with our faith. If we give in to need to constantly change our prayers and in actuality our spiritual indenity we are in danger of losing our ability to hand on the faith to the next generation. It’s time to stop the need to update our prayers but catechize our community into the beliefs and sacred mystery…

  9. From my simple perspective its logical for God to lead us into temptation because that is the only place
    we can resist temptation and therefore grow in virtue, but to insinuate that he might abandon us seems
    contrary to the incarnation.

  10. There are many true stories, in which devout Christians have asked others nearby, to pray the Our Father with them, when close to death. Soldiers at war, pilots in shaky planes calling the Control Tower, people with accidents or tragedies dialing 911, parents in the sudden loss of a child, terminally ill patients in hospital or hospice care, imprisoned and tortured people of Faith, on Death Row, for being a Christian. During 9/11– some people with cell phones, dialed loved ones and others, from airplanes– and asked them to pray the Our Father with them, before death, over the phone. At these times, we need the words to the Our Father to be very stable and secure!

  11. The new PC-Lord’s Prayer:
    Our Parent up there somewhere,
    You are so cool.
    Make earth more like where you are.
    Give us what we want,
    And be nice to us
    As we are nice to others.
    And when we die make everyone happy with you forever. Amen.

  12. helen wheels says

    Karen: brilliant !
    also ask God to deliver us from the fires of heck

  13. I think God permits but He will not abandon us.

  14. In meditation in the phrase ‘And lead us not into temptation,’ I rephrased it: ‘lead us away from temptation (to sin). But over the years I abandoned that thought to keep my prayers simple: ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ May Our Precious Lord guide and protect us, and keep us under the shadow of His Wings!

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