Changing… Prayers?

I do not know about you, but I find it highly disquieting that the French clergy has now decided to change the French text of the “Our Father”. Do they really think they know better than past generations? Do they really think there is more value in choosing a supposedly more accurate or convenient translation than by leaving the faithful safe in the knowledge they will die with same prayers they were born with?

This “change” introduces the very dangerous concept that the Church might have done things the wrong way even in fundamental things like the “Our Father”. “Look” – the French atheist will say to his friends – “these people say they are the depositaries of eternal truths, and now say to us even in the case of their most important prayer they didn't get it right”.

If you ask me, the vernacular version of the most common prayers should be the one that has been honoured by centuries of private devotions, not the one the last translator who has come around thinks appropriate. A prayer is more than its words. It is an entire world. You don't mess with it.

If the slow usage of the centuries has the effect that the way people understands the meaning of certain words change, then – if you ask me- the proper meaning should be duly explained, not the words changed. The Creed in English says “he descended to hell”, and it is part of Catholic education to know this is the limbus patrum and not the Gehenna.

If we start to play with words in this way, soon nothing will be safe anymore. Is the Hail Mary orthodox? How can I know, if I am praying the version given to me by a XXI Century Jesuit?

Tradition is just this: traditio, “transmission”. Let's transmit to the next generation the prayers we have received from the preceding one. Let's explain what there is to explain. Let us not make linguistic experiments with prayers.

I often say that what was good enough for my grand-grandmother is good enough for me. I can't see why the Our Father should be an exception, nor can I imagine an army of French grand-grandmothers led to erroneous belief by a wrong interpretations of the Our Father.

They were Catholic, you see. They knew things. They weren't people who do not even know how to make the sign of the cross and whose prayers must be dumbed down to match with how dumb they are.

Personally, I think the French clergy should focus their effort on explaining and evangelising, rather than running after language usages of people who don't know jack about what the clergy themselves should teach them.


Posted on October 25, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Incredible isn’t it …they want to change the words of the OUR FATHER…..words given to us by Jesus Himself!
    Nothing really shocks me anymore ….Lord have mercy on us!

    • Well they change the translation of it, allegedly to make it more truthful.
      But seriously, one can one trust any “improvement” in this day and age?

  2. The version currently being revised was the result of some ecumaniacs who developed and adopted the “World council of churches” version, hence the errors and problems in it. Apparently it is traditional to refer to God as “vous” in French (not the case in German, but French trads find the “toi” terribly offensive). I think the revision is a step in the right direction, but it wont be used in the Liturgy for some time and it isn’t a return to the traditional form.

    More information here:

    • Thanks, Nordic Trad!
      For the readers who do not read French: nuChurch had already changed the “Our Father” in 1965! Today’s is a further change, meant to improve on the hippie translation of 1965!
      Still,the blog reports the Traditional Version, the one used by the famous grand-grandmothers. This means the traditional version has now been abandoned through two changes.
      Go back to that at once, say I, and no further discussion.


  3. I understood the matter differently. There was an admission that the format used had been modified to bring the prayer to one acceptable to Protestantism, and, that the change was to bring the format back to the original and traditional form.

    • Thanks, I have in the meantime received a very enlightening link.
      Still, I think the point of the blog post remains: the use honoured by the generations is the one worthy of being employed.
      Here, it seems to me an entirely wrong step was followed by a very timid half step in vaguely the right direction, though others (priests at that) question the new choice of words.
      It would have been so easy to say “forget the hippie times: we go back to the way we have always prayed”. Even the atheists and anticlericals would have had to admit it is a return to orthodoxy.


  4. Just so long as there is no more dyslexia by someone unable to tell their M’s from their P’s.

  5. When I was a Lutheran, there was talk about using a more modern version of the LP since we were using a modern Bible (the NIV). Guess what? Tradition ruled the day. We used the KJ version of the prayer even though we were using the NIV Bible.

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