NRSV at Mass

There really is no shot of it becoming standard in the lectionary once again, but I do wish the Bishops would give it some consideration. I don’t think they are focusing on accuracy, but readability.

// nrsv??? i don’t get it…what do these protestant based bibles have that make the bishops and catholics want to use them??? :confused:

// for that they should base the lectionary on the new jerusalem bible or new american bible or the douai-rheims (update the text)…or as you wrote make an [new] english translation of the vulgate… :shrug:

i don’t get it…what do these protestant based bibles have that make the bishops and catholics want to use them??? :confused:

Why ? Only one reason that makes sense to me…(“ECUMUNISM”) There are a number of bishops, priests, and those in the laity today who prefer a cafeteria-style Catholic Church that adopts preference for liberalism and pluralism in the Church. Harsh words yes. But then again the truth sometimes hurts. Of course there are some Catholics who think Ecumunism is the best thing that happen in the Church. Well for me I don’t like it. At least not to the extremes that a some of the clergy have taken it.
The Catholic Church (“IS”) the ONE TRUE CHURCH

// i don’t like it either…ecumenical bibles is NOT my thing…

It seems as though my dear Canadian friends are contending with the same problem that those of us south of Niagara and the Great Lakes have. Just as the NRSV has its foibles, so, too, does what we have to listen to week after week, the RNAB.

I am reminded of an excellent article that the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote back in 2006 called “Bible Babel.” His words, though geared towards the NAB and the RNAB, certainly apply here:

One has to wonder what those in charge of Catholic translations thought they were doing since the NAB project was launched. An answer commonly given is that they wanted to produce the most literally “accurate” translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts. It is usually said that Catholics are not biblical literalists, but that appears not to hold in this instance. Even literalism does not explain the many eccentricities introduced in the NAB. Probably the best known of all psalms is Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd”. In the KJV and the RSV, the psalm concludes with, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Readers of the Douay-Rheims express the confidence that they will “dwell in the house of the Lord for length of days”. That is very open-ended and may be very much like “forever”.

Even the more recent and trendy New Revised Standard Version invites me to believe that “I will dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long”. My whole life long will, please God, be life eternal. Then comes the NAB: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come”. For years to come? It inevitably prompts the question of how many. Ten? Twenty? Fifty? Whatever the answer, it would seem to be far short of forever. Note that there is nothing in the Hebrew that requires or even suggests such a change.

Here are some other observations that Neuhaus, a former Lutheran minister who converted and was subsequently ordained a Catholic priest (and who knew his Bible very well), notes in his article:

Consider the parable of the prodigal son: After his dissipation in a “far country” (NAB has “distant country”) the RSV, following the English-language tradition and the Greek text, says “he came to himself”. NAB says “he came to his senses”. No, he didn’t just become more sensible. He came to himself; he returned to who he truly was, the beloved son of the loving father. The theologically literate preacher is regularly compelled to correct the NAB translation prescribed for public reading. Those responsible for the NAB and its perpetual updatings are not heretics and I am sure they do not intend to be doctrinally subversive. It would appear that they are simply indifferent to the great tradition of the Bible in English, frequently indifferent to the history of scriptural interpretation in the Church, and almost always indifferent to good English usage.

So why do they, and so many other translators, do what they do? The answer is undoubtedly related to the fact that, without the production of novelties and revisions, translators would be out of a job. A telling indictment of the NAB is that it is not used or even referred to by non-Catholics and is seldom employed by Catholic biblical scholars who, quite sensibly, prefer other translations. It is a translation that is used at all only because its use has been made mandatory.

But perhaps a few more examples are in order. In Mark 10:9, Our Lord says of marriage, “What therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder”. (RSV) The NAB renders this, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate”. No human being must separate, but a human being may separate? Perhaps angels must separate? Then there are the much quoted words of Psalm 111, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Compare that to the never-to-be-quoted rendition of NAB, “The fear of the Lord is the first stage of wisdom”. Saint Paul exhorts Timothy to “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season”. In the NAB – in the event you were wondering what clunky means – that becomes, “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient”. It is too easy to imagine an NAB version of the Gettysburg address: “Approximately eighty-seven years ago, political leaders developed a system of government … ”

It is almost as though we have made cultural trend the norm for translations. I wonder if any other English-speaking conference has these same problems? :confused:

Of course, this also begs another question. When making the new translation, did anyone consult Liturgiam Authenticam? :shrug: This is the document that conferernces are supposed to use when translating everything. It not merely limited to the Roman Missal, but to Scripture, as well.

  1. The norms of this Instruction, as regards all rights, refer to the editiones typicae that have been or will be published, whether of a whole book or of a part: namely, the editions of the Missale Romanum, the Ordo Missae, the Lectionary of the Missale Romanum, the Evangeliary of the Missale Romanum, the Missale parvum extracted from the Missale Romanum and Lectionarium, the Passio Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, the Liturgia Horarum, the Rituale Romanum, the Pontificale Romanum, the Martyrologium Romanum, the Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine and its Lectionary, the Graduale Romanum, the Antiphonale Romanum, as well as the other books of Gregorian chant and the editions of the books of the Roman Rite promulgated by decree as editiones typicae, such as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum and the Calendarium Romanum.

Thus, Liturgiam Authenticam also affects the Lectionary.

Here is a part of the section that pertains to Sacred Scripture:

  1. Other norms pertaining to the translation of the Sacred Scriptures and the preparation of Lectionaries
  1. It is preferable that a version of the Sacred Scriptures be prepared in accordance with the principles of sound exegesis and of high literary quality, but also with a view to the particular exigencies of liturgical use as regards style, the selection of words, and the selection from among different possible interpretations.
  1. Wherever no such version of the Sacred Scriptures exists in a given language, it will be necessary to use a previously prepared version, while modifying the translation wherever appropriate so that it may be suitable for use in the liturgical context according to the principles set forth in this Instruction.
  1. In order that the faithful may be able to commit to memory at least the more important texts of the Sacred Scriptures and be formed by them even in their private prayer, it is of the greatest importance that the translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for liturgical use be characterized by a certain uniformity and stability, such that in every territory there should exist only one approved translation, which will be employed in all parts of the various liturgical books. This stability is especially to be desired in the translation of the Sacred Books of more frequent use, such as the Psalter, which is the fundamental prayer book of the Christian people.31

The Conferences of Bishops are strongly encouraged to provide for the commissioning and publication in their territories of an integral translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for the private study and reading of the faithful, which corresponds in every part to the text that is used in the Sacred Liturgy.

  1. If the biblical translation from which the Lectionary is composed exhibits readings that differ from those set forth in the Latin liturgical text, it should be borne in mind that the Nova Vulgata Editio is the point of reference as regards the delineation of the canonical text.32

This is indeed something to consider.

// i’ve read Fr. Richard’s article before…i did borrow the bible bable from him when i refer to the new american bible as the new american babel bible… lol …the wording is just bad in it…seriously reading from the lectionary at church is not easy for me…some thing’s just make no sense…

When I have had to proclaim the readings, I will use my trusty Ignatius RSV-CE 2nd edition, translated under the guidelines of Liturgiam Authenticam, to prepare myself. The Epistles are the worst because the translation that we use in our lectinary carries one sentence for four or five lines. :confused: Even the Lectionary aprproved for the Mexican Episcopal Conference that we use for our Spanish-language Masses, does not have this problem.

By the way, usage of the MEC lectionary and Book of the Gospels is approved here in the United States for Spanish Masses.

// i’ve been through those…one sentence keeps going, and going, and going, that i say to myself “when will the sentence end?”… i think our lectionary is the latest version…not sure…i know the psalms are not the same and the new testament is not the same as the new american bible that is being sold…

// our castillian version lectionary is old (based on la biblia latinoamerica 1970 or 1972)…it does not match the missal (united in christ/unidos en cristo); only the psalms match…

// why did they not approve the lectionaries from spain? :confused:

The Bibilia Latinoamericana had some problems because it is tinged with Liberation Theology. When I attended the 2003 Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Committees Conference in San Antonio, I asked Msg. Maroney, who, at time was the secretary to what was then known as the Bishops Committee on Liturgy, about what had been popularly known as the Orange (Sunday) and Blue (Daily) lectionaries that many parishes were using at the time. He told me that since this was based on the Bibilia Latinoamericana, it was not to be used because of the Liberation Theology issuse. Liberation Theology is a heresy, if I recall, and the lectionary should not promote this viewpoint, for obvious reasons. That is why he noted that we should be using the Lectionary and the Book of the Gospels from the Mexican Episcopal Conference.

He told me that within five years, we should be having our own Roman Missal, Lectionary and Book of the Gospels in Spanish for use in the United States. However, we are now in the sixth year and nothing has happened. Our second (and former) diocesan director of Divine Worship was on the committee for the Spanish language translation, but even he did not give a defiinitive date. I suspect that this is going to be as long and drawn out a process as the English one has become.

I do wish that we could just use the Mexican translation of the psalms. I do not think it is a good idea to mix and match. :shrug:

I do wish that we could just use the Mexican translation of the psalms. I do not think it is a good idea to mix and match. :shrug:

// not me…i wish they use translations from spain and not the butchered castillian from mexican translations…


I can sincerely appreciate everything you have expounded on here.
There was a time when American and Canadian Catholics shared virtually the same Sacramentary and Lectionary. I own both the American NCCB and Canadian CCCB Sacramentary and Lectionary and I can tell you that there is markedly a radical difference.
It’s no secret that the feminist movements in the Catholic Church have been at the forefront pushing the issue of inclusive language in the Liturgy of the Word but also inclusive terminology in the Liturgy of the Eucharist persuading Bishops to side with the present liberalism adopted by the I.C.E.L. (“International Commission on English Liturgy”)
In the last two decades the Vatican has expressed harsh criticism towards the I.C.E.L. and it’s push to side with the pressure of feminist movements to adopt inclusive language in the Catholic liturgy. It makes me wonder sometimes who is running the liturgy in the Church; the weak backbone of the clergy or feminist ? I guess my question is, how long do we Catholics have to sit in the dark and listen to poorly constructed liturgies that do not herald the richness our Catholic liturgy deserves ?

// the only thing i can think of is to write to the bishops and to write to the i.c.e.l. and voice our opinion…

It’s not likely to happen. The Central and South American Spanish-speaking countries want nothing to do with the translations from Spain, either in their Lectionaries or their Roman Missal because they don’t speak that way. One Peruvian priest told me that their conference did up their own Roman Missal translation and used it illicitly until Rome finally approved it.

One of the major differences I can think of between Sacramentaries is the Memorial Acclamation. We are the only ones to have a different introduction to each of the response options.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus, firstborn from the dead!
Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.

We are faithful, Lord, to your command:
When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.

Christ is Lord of all ages!
Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

The rubrics say that we can use any of these responses with Let us proclaim the mystery of faith but in practice I haven’t heard it done in decades.

Your frustrations are shared.

Much of the Catholic faithful (“clergy & laity”), over the years have become perturbed and confused over radical changes in liturgy translation and its presentation to the concerned faithful. The constant agitation of liturgists who blatantly introduce ritual novelties is met with hostility by some, momentary excitement by others often followed by indifference or a demand for more stimulation. In this psychological climate to introduce a drastic change in the text would be a rash experiment, not to mention the theological problems in the text of the liturgy. It is consequentially crucial that bishops insightfully consider the pastoral chaos which will ensue in our common Catholic life of prayer among children, youth and adults, as well as between ‘conservative’ and more ‘progressive’ elements, already in conflict" with today’s Holy Mass.

The passage of the ICEL proposals for inclusive language in liturgical scripture text over the years has imposed a grave crisis of conscience on conservative faithful priests who are cognisant of the defects of the text and yet are mandated by obedience to their bishops to impose it upon the Catholic faithful.

There is great consequence that today’s constant recycling of liturgical texts to conform to “the evolutionary and revolutionary tides of “popular opinion” would be the most compelling argument for many Catholics to have recourse to the ‘Ecclesia Dei’ indult, a prospect many bishops who favor ICEL projects will not warmly welcome".

It is questionable as to whether the Vatican has the strength and resolve to correct the ever growing damage that is being done to liturgical translation in the liturgy altering not only how biblical interpretation is viewed but even liturgical translation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for all faithful English-speaking Catholics.

The following below is just a scratch on the surface how interpretations from liturgical text in the Rubrics of the Mass and Scriptural Text in the Liturgy of the Word have been purposely altered to deceive the thinking of the Catholic faithful who passively accept what many new priest are implementing.

  • Deleting some prayers that refer to the priest’s role as the one who offers sacrifice ‘in persona Christi’ to God. For example, the response to the “Orate, fratres” eliminates “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands.”
  • Deleting many uses of personal pronouns (“he”, “his”, "and “him”) when applied to God. Changing “God, the almighty Father” to “God.”
  • Translating the Nicene Creed’s “homo factus est” (translated literally in 1973 as Jesus “became man”) as Jesus “became truly human.” As well, ICEL conflates the passion with the death of Christ: “… he suffered death.”
  • Providing “pastoral notes” which are not subject to approval by the Holy See but may be read as if they are rubrics. For example, one note suggests that “In Masses with smaller groups it may be desirable for people to leave their seats and regroup around the altar.” Another note reads, “It would normally be quite inappropriate for a priest or minister to appear solely at the moment of communion (to assist with distribution of the hosts).”
  • Stressing the “table-fellowship” of the Eucharist so much as to neglect the sacrificial character of the Mass and the distinct role of the priest: "The regular use of larger breads will foster an awareness in priests and people of the fundamental Eucharistic symbolism of sharing. There is no reason to continue the distinction between “priest’s” and “people’s” hosts, and “where practicable the use of individual hosts should be avoided.”
  • Changing the Our Father: adding the doxology, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever,” to the scriptural prayer; replacing the phrase “and lead us not into temptation,” with “save us from the time of trial;” and, replacing “trespasses” with “sins”.

Well, I called my local Catholic supply store and asked if the new Lectionary was in stock. They said they had 3 editions, the study, chapel, and ambo editions. I immediately headed out and picked up the chapel edition which cost $75 plus taxes. The study edition is soft cover and rather cheap, only $35, and the ambo edition, certainly a true liturgical book but costing $275 is certainly for parishes. Included with the Lectionary is a booklet that outlines the history, the changes and the approach taken.

I must say I am impressed, while the Lectionary is based upon the NRSV, in truth it cannot be considered the NRSV anymore. All the political issues that ended up impacting the RSV revisions have essentially been revised, and done so in a fairly traditional manner. The Vatican certainly ensured that the Lectionary conformed to the principles of Liturgicam authenticam.

The Lectionary is effective Pentecost 2009. Some of the changes worth highlighting:

-where the NRSV had a tendency to used “Messiah” the Lectionary has retained “Christ.” For example in the Birth Narrative in Luke, and in Peter’s confession of faith.
-where the previous Lectionary used “Jewish authorities” in John, the new Lectionary has restored, “the Jews.”
-in the creation account, “man” has been restored. “Let us make man in our image.”
-in the passion account in Matthew, where in the previous Lectionary, “His blood be on us and our children,” was removed, this has been restored.
-“mortal” has been removed and replaced in most cases with “human being.”
-In the account of the Annunciation, “Hail, favored one” has been replaced with, “Hail, full of grace.”

There are a couple of weaknesses:
-“virgin” in Isaiah 7, is still rendered, “young woman.”
-the call of the first disciples still is rendered, “fishers of people.”

So not perfect, but a considerable improvement.

I really like the Knox Version. I think many talk about the RSV only because of its exposure on EWTN. I really like the Knox and the Jerusalem Bible.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit