New Translation Catechesis

This is a fantastic video explaining the New Translation for teenagers, which most adults would probably benefit from too:

It is sad that someone writing for a purportedly “Catholic” publication did not watch this video before they claimed that teaching children the Confiteor is tantamount to child abuse. This article which I stumbled across recently has been addressed elsewhere, but to give you the gist of it…

Surely if Catholic children are cajoled by teachers at the behest of the Catholic hierarchy to beat their breasts on regular solemn occasions and pronounce themselves inwardly filthy, we should be shown the psychological impact study they carried out. Or did they not do one?

This is the damage that happens when someone isn’t taught the doctrine of sin: they have a completely warped understanding of what “sin” means so they write it off altogether. Why do we need to go to Mass if we are free from sin, anyway?

Being sorry is part of being human

Valuable, liturgical catechesis can come from the New Translation. Here, in the Confiteor, it is evident: the words “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”, are a closer translation of the Latin (well explained in the video clip above).

We are human beings, we are body and soul, we pray through our bodies as the physical expression of the inner world of our soul. The striking of the breast gesture is richly biblical: the tax collector in Luke 18:13 who beat his breast and prayed from his heart, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” was the one Jesus said went home at rights with God, not the proud Pharisee.

Humble like the tax collector or proud like the Pharisee?

It goes without saying that we have lost consciousness of sin in our culture. But there is something deep inside of us (our conscience) that wants to repent to the Father when we have gone wrong, and our bodily gestures both express our sorrow and help to foster it.

Romano Guardini wrote in Sacred Signs:

It is an honest blow, not an elegant gesture. To strike the breast is to beat against the gates of our inner world in order to shatter them. This is its significance. … “Repent, do penance.” It is the voice of God. Striking the breast is the visible sign that we hear that summons.

To me, it strikes me as a lack of emotional maturity when adults refuse to acknowledge that they sin. And it is sad that they project this lack of maturity onto their children.

For catechesis with adults, this raises the big question: How can adults move away from the certainty that they are sin-free, and come to experience the beauty of being a child of God who can freely repent to God their Father? With most people, this can take years of stubbornness, complaining and whining, but it is possible to see a turnaround. We see it in people in the parish. What is needed, however, are strong, honest and unflinching sermons on common areas of sin and the invitation to repentance. What is needed is faithful, convincing catechesis that presents the beauty of living the freedom of life of Christ. What are needed are Catholic friends who are willing to challenge them, pray for them, and make sacrifices for them. Slowly, but surely, I think we can win people back over for Christ.

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

5 responses to “New Translation Catechesis

  • Marc Cardaronella

    You are right, that is sad! I think you’ve hit on something very central to the modern understanding of sin. The attitude takes a psychological rather than spiritual perspective towards the idea of sin. Saying that you’ve failed in the eyes of God, sinned, is not a condemnation of who you are as a person. It doesn’t make you a failure or evil or worthless. It’s just a recognition of who you are before God and an understanding that you’re not self-sufficient spiritually. You need God!

    Perhaps that’s another area where people don’t really like to look at themselves truthfully. We don’t like to say we’re not sufficient in ourselves and we need help. We want to be the masters of our own fate and in control of ourselves. Saying you’re a sinner means giving up a certain amount of control. Letting God have control can be difficult.

    Great insights! Thanks for the post!

  • transformedinchrist

    I think you’re right. It is based on an incomplete understanding of human nature. Thanks for reading!

  • Jude Vaughan-Spruce

    I think it’s really sad that people think it’s tantamount to child abuse to teach children that they sin! I think the new words to the Confiteor are so beautiful and it’s something that always struck me about the Latin – “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”. It’s an incredibly humbling experience. It’s the difference between us as Catholics and the secular world – we are willing to admit that we sin, that this is a bad thing, and that we must do all we can to change it and come back to God, whereas the secular world says that they don’t sin because they should be able to do what they like.

    Sadly, as people lose their awareness of sin, they lose their awareness of love. If freedom consists of doing what you like and not having to take responsibility for it, that means putting your own desires before what is actually good for yourself and others, and ultimately saying your own desires are more important than God. It’s a selfishness and, as you say, an immaturity.

    Great post, and I LOVE the Life Teen video you used 🙂

  • Jude Vaughan-Spruce

    There’s actually a great post about sin on Life Teen – which you can find here:

    But this is my favourite part:

    If we really believed that God was not okay with our sin we wouldn’t even have to stand up at Mass and say “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned.”

    You know how people would know? They would see the imprint of the carpeting on our forehead. If we really understood that God is not okay with our sin.

  • transformedinchrist

    I agree! We have more freedom once we admit we are sinners…

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