April 24, 2010

On the Translation of Liturgical Texts (Part 4 of 4)

...continued from Part Three

Fourth. It is possible for the Church, without rushing into things or simply following the ways of the world, but in Her own willingness and eagerness, to transform the world, using proper methods for every specific period, to spread the message of God to man. The Church has always done this. That is, She expresses Her experiences with the linguistic facts of every period. Let us not forget that the Church is not conservative, but traditional. And when we talk about Tradition, we always mean the continuous energy of the Holy Spirit in the Church. From this perspective must we understand the evolution of our worship. But the issue is not found there. Nor do we deny every good effort in order for the people to approach more correctly the area of the Church to feel the fullness of life, joy and holiness which exists in Her. But the issue is primarily found in who will express this Tradition, meaning who will bring it to the contemporary period, translating or correcting new texts. Of course, this question does not bother the Church, but the secularized Christians. For there are always people (saints) who can particularly speak to particular men. They are the carriers of Tradition, the saints of God. They live the "theology of the facts"; they were totally transformed by the uncreated energy of God; they purified themselves from their passions; they achieved the illumination of the nous and the vision of God; they experienced the mystical Theology and the divine Sabbath, becoming true Theologians. Such people really exist, and these are the ones who have every reason to speak and express the life of the Church. Such work was done by the holy Fathers (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian, etc.), and not by whomever.

The translation of the liturgical texts or the creation of new ones is not an invention of examination of simple words, but a revelation of the Holy Spirit. Those who are filled with passions and have not tasted at all the hesychastic life, have not become "mad" from the love of God, but on the contrary are involved in juridical struggle, in fights, and are possessed with the thirst of being a reformer (egoism); they can never express the life of the Church. This is why they fall into big mistakes. I ask myself, if the contemporary holy men are afraid of these sketchy changes, how then can little men attempt to undertake this big step? From where do they derive this boldness?

In the attempted question WHERE are they and WHEN will these carriers of the Tradition appear to do this huge work, we can say that the Church is not pressured from the events. She is not in a hurry. She is not worried. She is not possessed with stress. She has Her life. When there is a demand for these changes, the Holy Spirit will illumine purified and holy men that will have high authority among the people and they will speak. From us there is no need to worry. Because with superficial and arbitrary acts we will also do what the other "Churches" did. They used contemporary methods of worship (organs and dances), in the hopes of bringing the youth into the Church, but they lost both the "Church" and the youth. They closed many churches and have sold them.

Maybe more views could be expressed on this crucial issue. We do not believe that it is fully covered with these thoughts. But what we want to emphasize is that it is very superficial to believe that with some external and spectacular acts we will attract people to the Church. The salvation and transformation of the world is achieved with illumined faithful that are constantly crucified. Internal transformation and pastoral care is necessary. Christ saved the world in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Golgotha, in His descent to Hades, with His Holy Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. And the more the shepherds enter into their own Garden of Gethsemane, the more they ascend the Cross by love for their brother, meaning the more they give blood and tears, that much more will they offer salvation in Jesus Christ to their Flock. This can be seen on Mount Athos. They chant the same texts there, and especially in the all night vigils, because they are chanted slowly, the dianoia (intellect) often times cannot follow. But the presence of holy, crucified monks even helps the most unbelieving to feel devoutness.

"We ask for the easy things". "One translation and we are okay". "We're doing the right thing". "We are helping contemporary man". This mentality is placed in the context of modern society that demands "less effort" and a "quick buck".

Translation by John Sanidopoulos