Priest’s shying away of the masculine pronouns
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 165
    I think this was the first time I’d ever experienced a priest changing the masculine pronouns during Mass. We had a visiting priest today, and while the homily was pretty good, once we got to the Creed, I had to chuckle: “For us people and our salvation, Christ came down from heaven…”

    Then, at the Doxology: “Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ…”

    Oy vey.

    Edit: I realize that “men” is not a masculine pronoun, just a noun. But my comment still stands…
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 999
    "People" is a dumb replacement as it's not quite cognate to "men/women", but I've never understood why ICEL had to choose "for us men". I can think of several more poetic gender-neutral substitutes that would work better, even.

    God's pronouns are off-limits, though.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,633
    Was it "people" in 19th century Russia? It was not.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,003
    But in 16th century England (and many other places) it was "Orate fratres et sorores ...", though not in the Roman Curia, where women knew their place (in clerical beds).
    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,607
    All I can say is “run”.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,182
    Aside from the fact that this priest, nor any other, can licitly change one iota of the ritual text, the grammar of his adventure is appalling and deserving of hearty laughter. And, in that it erases the distinctions of the Holy Trinity, is it not heresy? Jesus was, after all, a Son of the Father, a Man.

    (The Ordinariate Use has us saying 'for us men...')
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 165
    I just went back and listened to the livestream, and I forgot this part of the Creed: “For us people and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became one of us.”

    I found it odd how he kept the “he” for “He came down from heaven.” Must’ve slipped.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,182
    Whence '...and became one of us...'???
    Is this really what the Roman Missal says?
    I don't remember that it is.
    In the Ordinariate we say '...and was made man...'.

  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 999
    The ICEL text is "For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man."
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Schoenbergian,

    There's no need to make up a gender-neutral version. "For us men and for our salvation" is already gender-neutral (reflecting the fact that the Credo doesn't say "propter nos vires" or something equally silly).

    If you don't accept that it is already gender-neutral, consider the "man-eating" shark. Your wife or daughter or sister isn't safe in the shark's presence.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 999
    The collective "man" and "mankind" are arguably gender-neutral. "Men" is not, just as "sons" and "brothers" are not. You can argue in older texts that what was intended encompassed all of humanity, but that is not the definition of the word today.
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 340
    All the more reason to just use the Latin.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,579
    Too bad, honestly. Hand-wringing about this would be amusing, were it not for the fact that gender-neutral language is a trifling concern. That is, even if we did choose to eliminate "men" (I don't think we can, it's in the text of the Creed of two ecumenical councils, and it signifies that it's the human race which is saved in a particular way, but I'll allow it for argument's sake), there's always something new from the revolution that would become the new battlefield.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 328
    God's pronouns are off-limits, though


    Funny you mention that. I just noticed this Sunday that OCP removed the masculine pronouns for God in Sing a New Song. The line, “play for Him on glad tambourines” was changed to “play for God on glad tambourines.” Though, I could hear someone in the choir loft sing “Him” quite loudly.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 253
    ICEL did it to the gloria - "Et in terra pax hominibus" is now "And on earth peace to people" ... so this priest can do it to everything else or so he thinks.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,841
    I just went back and listened to the livestream

    How convenient! There's video evidence!
    "Drop a dime" to the chancery.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,562
    Though "dropping a dime" in that manner without first engaging the priest and (if different) also the pastor can be a great way to be ignored with prejudice.
  • Schoenbergian,

    "Men", in this case, adequately renders "hominibus, which is plural.

    As to the changed meaning of the word, the following also exist in the entirely secular realm:

    "People of Color" is ok, but "colored people" isn't.
    "trans man" must be taken to mean "man"
    and
    a Supreme Court nominee (since confirmed) can't define "woman".

    In that environment, I'll take the older meanings.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw francis CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,633
    The Byzantine translation is, "who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became Man. "
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,891
    We Americans who recall the words "All men are created equal" can hardly be faulted for thinking that it applies to both sexes.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,003
    Doesn't seem to have meant votes for women at first, or for quite some time, evidently meanings can change.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Elmar
    Posts: 438
    All the more reason to just use the Latin.
    Then at least it is obvious that more explanation(/catechesis!) is needed to fully grasp what is meant.

    Putting all that in a single phrase in any living language is next to impossible; subtle messages that are associated with specific wordings keep changing over the years (and can be quite different in countries that are separated by a common language).
  • Reval
    Posts: 153
    How about "For us mortals" rather than "us people"?
  • Reval,

    Elephants are mortal. They can't commit mortal sin.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,891
    These words of the Nicene Creed are essential to its meaning:

    "Propter nos homines ..... homo factus est"

    "For us men .... he became man"

    To claim that the word "man" cannot be unspecific as to sex -- that the word has fewer meanings now than it used to have -- is precisely Orwellian. In his dystopian novel "1984", the Party aimed to control thought by excluding disfavored meanings from existing words: for example, the only meaning for the word "free" would be "lacking in": as in "this dog is free of fleas". The notion of someone being "free" to act would no longer exist.

    This manipulation of language --- well, delenda est.
  • Chonak,

    Accepting the gist of your thread, and heartily agreeing with it, I find myself asking, why you didn't write "and was made man". I've been uncomfortable with became for some time because (although I see that it can have a perfectly sensible Catholic meaning, it doesn't do so nearly often enough. Following what you've said, should we fight for the proper and just meaning of became?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,003
    I am not at all sure that the Latin et homo factus est accurately represents καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα. Translations rarely coincide totally, there are usually shades of meaning which will differ between languages.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,607
    CGZ, at least to me, “and became” [active] seems more appropriate than “was made” [passive]. It was by His own volition that He became man; it wasn’t an accident or something that “happened to” Him.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,562
    Well, it would appear it depends on whether one is translating the Latin or the Greek. The initial direction for translation of liturgical texts after Vatican II was to look through the Latin to the Greek original, as it were. "Factus" gets the passive, "enanthroposanta" would get a more active, rendering, though it's not as graceful in a Germanic language to translate "put on [human nature]" in a single verb formation. (For some reason, I think of the gracefulness of the invention of an adjective in Spanish for describing something that has been enrobed in a sauce of chillies: "enchilada". "Enchillied thing" would not be graceful English, so we just use the Spanish. Then again, I experienced mandatory foreign language instruction from age 9-18, and Spanish syntax became more instinctively "right" for me in some ways than English by the time I reached high school, though that instinct withered on the long-untended vine thereafter.)
  • Chris, he may have also used became instead of made, since became is in the official ICEL translation.
  • Let me steer the conversation (slightly) back toward the OP's question about shying away from masculine pronouns.

    What goes on isn't the refusal to use masculine pronouns, but pronouns at all.
    “For us people and our salvation, Christ came down from heaven…”

    Then, at the Doxology: “Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ…


    A separate question is one in which we pluralize all references (so, "I spoke to my friend, and they said to me....")

    While these phenomena are different, they are, it seems to me, equally evil. They deny individual personhood, they show a desire to obfuscate the (real) male self revelation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and they aim to cater to the world, rather than converting it.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,579
    It's one thing to be against using masculine pronouns for the Trinity, although I find this to be stale, and it's wrong and gravely sinful. It's another to be against this for Jesus, who was born a man.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,891
    I used "became" since it's the official translation and because I hold the opinion that it's close enough in meaning to "was made".

    (After all, "became" can be either active or passive in meaning.)
  • Chonak,

    Thank you.

    Matthew,

    You'll notice that people don't generally avoid masculine pronouns for God, but pronouns at all, as a way of avoiding the self-revelation of God as "father".

  • Liam
    Posts: 4,562
    I would note that third person pronoun-verb agreement is one of the later developments in prescriptive English diction, and I am not surprised it's been tenuous at that, and vulnerable now. But the practice that triggered this post is very early 1990s, and didn't even make it into the canceled 1998 Sacramentary.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,003
    A separate question is one in which we pluralize all references
    Doeth thou not use plural forms habitually, of pronouns and verbs, when addressing just one person?
  • Yea, verily, nay!
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,579
    Chris, I don't know if I can pronounce on that. But what I would say is this: it is one thing to use "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier," and yes, one avoids all pronouns by doing so. In passing, I also note that, according to a professor that taught two of my college theology classes, some American Dominican nuns used something referencing the eternal first principle, the Word, and the Holy Spirit (I can never recall what they said for the Father), recognizing that "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" was insufficient.

    But the priest saying "Through Christ" has taken it one step further because God created male and female, even though He transcends those realities, so to avoid "Him" is to deny that Christ is a man, and that seems to be a more recent development, even if the original practice with the references to the Trinity itself feels rather old.
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,891
    On the formula mentioned above, CDF has stated that baptism "in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier" is invalid.
    https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20080201_validity-baptism_en.html

    CDF is right, of course: the expression gives the false impression that only the Father creates, and that only the Son redeems, and that only the Holy Spirit sanctifies; hence the expression does not reflect authentic Trinitarian doctrine.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,579
    Right. But it's almost beside the point.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,891
    My best posts on the forum are like that.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,607
    Then there’s that nit-picky little detail where Christ gave us the formula Himself… so… there’s that.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 438
    where Christ gave us the formula Himself
    ... in which language, in which wording?
    Sorry for this extra nit-picky little detail, but as far as I know we only have second-hand quotations in Greek. Extensive discussions in centuries, including several councils, dealt with the correct understanding of what the Gospel reports in four shades about what Jesus taught us.

    And when today it comes to discussions about e.g. the 'maleness', 'male+femaleness', or 'trancending male+femaleness' of the Holy Spirit, we have to deal with different languages whose grammer (grammers?) differ in their use of genus; where πνεύμα is female, Spiritus is male, Spirit is indifferent as a noun (even when joined by an adjective, in predicative as well as in attributive use) but is replaced by the male pronoun, etc.
    Btw. the latter makes the discussion about avoiding pronouns so special in English - same in Dutch.
    And you have languages that simply have different words for a human and a male individual (vir/homo), two slightly different words that are obviously related (Mann/Mensch, man/mens) or exactly the same (man, hombre, homme) where the context determins the meaning - and sometimes doesn't so satisfactorily.

    On the one hand, confusing people (actively) should be avoided; on the other, it is dishonest to pretend that an issue was easy when in fact it isn't.
  • confusing people (actively) should be avoided;


    IF they mandate "gender neutral" pronouns, the confusion already exists. Refusing to let them continue to be trapped in this web is, it seems to me, an act of charity.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,607
    Seems there’s little disagreement among translators…
    http://biblehub.com/parallel/matthew/28-19.htm
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Elmar
    Posts: 438
    This is only English... the problem is wider than the community of English-speaking nations... in Spanish and French we have two shades of 'the', in Dutch also but different ones, in German we have three...
    Yes, there are other nations - yes, some of them do speak other languages (running away as fast as I can)
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,049
    πνεῦμα is neuter, of course.

    In semitic languages, Suriac, Aramaic, Hebrew, ruah =breath,spirit is grammatically feminine.

    In languages with grammatical gender there's a bit of blur between the grammatical gender of things and the sex of people and animals and personified things. My Polish-native Anna thinks of squirrels and mice as female and the Moon as male; but I (English) tend to think the reverse. But in German, at least colloquially, Mädchen (=girl, but grammatical neuter) often gets the feminine pronoun, for obvious reasons, even though strictly speaking it's a solecism. Similarly, in Syriac, over centuries, the grammatical gender for verbs and adjectives of Ruha which means (Holy) Spirit changed from feminine to masculine, perhaps under influence of Greek (since Semitic languages have two genders not three), but surely also of theology.

    And in colloquial English the use of plural forms for individuals has appeared (or rather revived, since it was known in earlier centuries too) under social impetus to avoid assigning a sex by assigning a gender.

    No absolute answers are to be found in grammar of pronouns.

    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Liam Elmar
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,579
    (or rather revived, since it was known in earlier centuries too)
    Unless there has been more work on this of which I'm not aware, "they" was used as a singular only if the sex was unknown, and I would surmise that the actual number was also irrelevant. This is frequently elided in order to defend "they" as a completely neutral pronoun with a known referent who chooses not to identify with biological sex…

    But it is indeed the cases that grammatical gender or form doesn't necessarily correspond to biological things, and re: Elmar's point: it's easy when the pronoun choice was made by the church and has a known referent, i.e. Christ, who is a man.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,365
    I wonder how long it will be until the 'pronoun identification' practice will enter the church.