“For those who do not believe in God”

This Good Friday the prayer for those who do not believe in God is this:

Let us pray
for those who do not believe in God,
that they may find him
by sincerely following all that is right.

Next year, it is as follows:

Let us pray also for those who do not acknowledge God,
that, following what is right in sincerity of heart,
they may find the way to God himself.

6 Replies to ““For those who do not believe in God””

  1. Frankly, though it's better than the current one, the new translation is not right at all. The Latin ends, "ut, quae recta sunt sincero corde sectantes, ad ipsum Deum pervenire mereantur" — "so that, following with sincere heart those things that are right, they may *merit* to arrive at God himself." The prayer is "ut mereantur," not "ut perveniant." "Mereantur" might mean "that they may merit," or something more like "that they may be found worthy." Either way, it drastically changes the meaning of the prayer. It is supposed beg God to look on the right actions of nonbelievers, acknowledge their merit and find them worthy, and *grant* them, as something merited, a path to find God. Instead, this version, like the old one, seems content to propose that merely following one's heart *is* the way to God. Terrible.

    Let us pray also for those who do not believe in God, that they will come to a knowledge of God through their wholehearted seeking of all that is right.

    (Same as 2010, except more accurately rendering sincero corde as "with a sincere heart" instead of "in sincerity of heart".)

  2. I do find the difference in the first line striking. Pray for those who do not "believe" vs. those who do not "acknowledge." I don't know Latin and cannot compare the accuracy, but this much at least does seem better. Its strikingly more authoritative. It's not a matter of belief (as in believing in Santa as a child), but rather of ACKNOWLEDGING what IS ACTUALLY there. No ifs, ands, or buts… God exists, and the question is to acknowledge this truth or not. Wow!

  3. "Acknowledge" is a more accurate rendering of the Latin "agnoscunt". Giving atheists a special prayer is a novelty; previously they were lumped with pagans. Some of the newer prayers are a bit wishy-washy, even in the original Latin; if we want Christian unity we need to pray for the conversion of heretics and schismatics, however unfashionable these terms might have become. And the current prayer for the Jews is pretty meaningless. No doubt it was an over-reaction against the previous one, which was unnecessarily offensive.

  4. Your word means: receive one's share; deserve, merit, be entitled to, be worthy of; earn, gain, get, obtain, acquire; get by purchase, buy, purchase; earn pay; serve as a soldier, serve in the army; serve in the oldest profession; behave in a certain manner good or bad.

    I suspect that "find" is taking a more poetic view of "get", and that there's probably some literary or theological reference which is influencing them to use "get" instead of "merit". They may also be averse to a prayer that makes it sound like atheists don't know God because they just don't do enough good works.

  5. I like how the syntax of the new translation of this prayer reflects the subject poetically, ending with "God himself" as its final destination.

  6. @suburbanbanshee:

    Surely you can't think that "find" (what, stumble across?) is actually what was intended by "mereantur." And if it were, then what happened to the word "pervenire"? *That's* the word that means "find the way to."

    Incidentally, this is not at all the first time that I have seen mereor and its forms ignored and elided in these translations.

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