Compare the following, a few examples of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, the book of texts used in Mass. The revisions are meant to be more faithful to the liturgical Latin that was used for centuries by the Catholic Church, until recently. The first one represents the language in use currently and the second italicized text is the newer "improved" version.
Nicene creed : Profession of faith
Jesus Christ is..."one in Being with the Father"
Jesus Christ is..."consubstantial with the Father"
Confiteor: The confession of sin at the beginning of the Mass
"I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my deeds, in what I have done and what I have failed to do."
"I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."
People's prayer: Before communion
"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you."
"Lord, I am not that you should enter my roof."
Second eucharistic prayer: Priest's part
"Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ."
"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like dewfall, so tht they may become for us the Body and Blood or our Lord, Jesus Christ.
There is more in this article in the New York Times (hope the firewall doesn't trip you up!) An excerpt:
Throughout much of the English-speaking world, the Roman Catholic Church is preparing its priests and parishes for the most significant changes to the Mass in the more than 40 years since the church permitted English in place of the Latin.
The changes are included in a new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, a translation produced after almost 30 years of labor, intrigue and infighting. The new missal, the book of texts and prayers used in the Mass, is intended to be closer to the liturgical Latin that was used for centuries than the current version. The church officials promoting it say it will bring an elevated reverence and authenticity to the Mass. Many Catholics who prefer a more traditional liturgy are eagerly anticipating the change.
But after getting a glimpse of the texts in recent months, thousands of priests in the United States, Ireland and Australia have publicly objected that the translation is awkward, archaic and inaccessible. Although most are resigned to adopting the new missal, some have mounted campaigns to prevent it from being introduced.
“What we are asking of the bishops is to scrap this text,” said the Rev. Sean McDonagh, a leader of an Irish group, the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents 450 priests — about 1 out of 10 — in that country. “I know people are not going to use it. I wouldn’t use it, because everything I know in terms of theology and anthropology and linguistics, it breaches every one of those.” ...
“The first time I saw some of the texts, I was shocked,” said the Rev. Richard Hilgartner, who as executive director of the American bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship is overseeing the introduction of the new missal in the United States.
“But the more time I’ve spent with it, the more comfortable I became with it,” he said. “The new translation tries to be more faithful to the Scriptures, and a little more poetic and evocative in terms of imagery and metaphor.”
One of the most noticeable changes is in the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith that Catholics learn to recite as children. Currently, Catholics say that Jesus is “one in being with the Father,” but in the future they will say that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father.” This is one of several changes that include unfamiliar vocabulary.
Father Hilgartner said, “We know that people aren’t going to understand it initially, and we’ll have to talk about it. I’ve said to priests, we will welcome and crave opportunities for people to come up and ask us about God. It’s a catechetical opportunity.”
Aside from the internal debate over semantics, archaic expressions and literary flair within the Catholic Church, I have a broader question regarding religious communication in general. Religious texts are meant to be at least in part, words from God(s) and short of every person of faith hearing the divine message with his/her own ears, it must be imparted vicariously through the language of man. Doesn't it then make more sense to facilitate that communication as simply as possible without the average Jane or Joe tripping over esoteric linguistic hurdles? This tendency to hark back to the "original" language is not peculiar to Rome. Non-Arab Muslims all over the world recite the Holy Quran in Arabic without comprehending a word; Hindu prayers chanted in Sanskrit during auspicious occasions wash over the heads of most adherents. Hebrew was essentially a liturgical language until the state of Israel recast it in its role as the lingua franca of a newly created Jewish state. In the case of Christianity, Latin was not even the tongue that Jesus or his apostles used to spread their philosophy. So, why this universal fondness for religious conversations and expressions of piety in ancient or foreign tongues? As long as the message is true and reasonably well constructed to evoke spirituality and a connection to the divine, shouldn't a language that the devotee understands best, serve as the most effective vehicle and constitute the true "Vox Clara?" Or is making religious dialogue linguistically obscure another way of keeping the seat of power firmly in the grasp of a privileged few?