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Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

Meditating on the Orations of the Traditional Roman Rite

By Michael P. Foley

302 pp

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About the Book

At every celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, one of the greatest achievements of Christian culture passes by virtually unnoticed. The orations of the Roman Rite—the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion—are literary masterpieces: a unique species of rhetoric, they ingeniously combine tight structure, poetic rhythm, literary order, succinct imagery, and a panoply of human experience. These brilliant gems are underappreciated because much of their splendor comes from their deft exploitation of Latin, which, like any other language, has its own ecosystem and way of doing things. As a result, even the best translations will leave something out. Lost in Translation was written to introduce readers to these gems even if they do not know Latin. In its pages Michael Foley explains one or more orations for every Sunday of the Church year and for a number of saints’ feast days, unearthing the subtle nuances and vivid images that make these prayers such a delight. The result is a new portal into the beauty of sacred liturgy and the mystery of our redemption.


“The orations of the classical Roman Rite are rich and illuminating, especially when placed in their proper context: the days and seasons of the liturgical year. Acting as missal mystagogue, Michael Foley takes us on a delightful tour from Advent to Apocalypse, unpacking the prayers’ dense content, reveling in their linguistic finesse, and applying their lessons to our spiritual life hic et nunc. Food for prayer and

kindling for homilies, Lost in Translation is guaranteed to intensify

the reader’s astonishment at the treasure-chest of tradition, with the orations as its diamonds, emeralds, and rubies.” —PETER A. KWASNIEWSKI, author of Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright


“In this excellent book, Michael Foley skillfully guides us through the liturgical year using the Collects, Secrets and Postcommunions of the traditional Roman Rite. These liturgical prayers of the Church are crammed full of theological, biblical, and patristic insights as well as poetry, imagery, and wordplay, all of which can often be overlooked in vernacular translations. Dr. Foley’s valuable insights are sure to prove spiritually fruitful for laity and clergy alike, and will no doubt be a source of fresh inspiration for those entering into the Church’s traditional liturgy.”—MATTHEW P. HAZELL, author of Index Lectionum: A

Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms


“In clear, conversational prose, Michael Foley attentively studies the orations of select Masses of the 1962 Roman Missal in their context. His meditations foster personal inner appropriation of the Church’s common prayer and teach us how the

prayers school our desires. Foley’s work is pleasantly enriched by the pertinent inclusion of words from Fathers and Doctors of the Church and of historical facts and customs that tell us about a feast’s celebration or highlight theological and spiritual truths presented in its Mass texts.” —LAUREN PRISTAS, author of Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council

About the Author

MICHAEL P. FOLEY is a Professor of Patristics in the Great Texts Program at Baylor University, a Catholic theologian, and a former president of the Society for Catholic Liturgy.

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