Mykola Myshovskiy: translator / interpreter builds bridges of understanding among people

The editor in chief of rome-catholic edition "CREDO" the father Mykola Myshovskiy interpreted the Bible story about the Tower of Babel, described the traditions to celebrate Whitsunday and explained the principles for liturgy and the usage of languages in Rome-Catholic Church.

1. Everyone knows the story of the Tower of Babel, but the interpretation of this story is different. Please, remind us this story in short and emphasize its morality?

The story of the Tower of Babel is one of the first in the Bible. Right after the story about the creation of word, after Adam and Eva, their sin, Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel is described. The morality of this story is about the fact that the humans became conceited. The story of the Tower of Babel that is not the story about the separation of languages, the main idea is that people stopped to hear each other. They started to be concentrated on themselves, became supercilious, self-centered, stopped to listen to others. This story should not be treated word for word, as a lot of things that are written in Scripture. But in fact, from the point of view of genetics and anthropology, people can descent from one pair of people. And in places, where people once passed by, on the territory of Iraq, in former Mesopotamia, it is quite probably, that the Babel was there. From that point people started to develop. Even modern history, anthropology, genetics confirm these Bible truths, but it is worth mentioning that Bible that is not a documentary. It does not have a purpose to explain us something in such a way, as history does it. The Bible explains other truths: who the human is, what for he is created, what he should do etc. But it is not a book on history, geometry or other natural sciences. The first and the main idea about the Tower of Babel is that people disconnected, but first of all not because their languages were mixed up, but because they stopped to hear and to understand each other. Here we talk more about egoism, reticence of people and their concentration on their own needs.

2. Actually the appearance of different languages is seen as punishment. Translator is a carrier of different languages; actually he/she helps people to communicate. How does the Church treat it - do you think that a translator goes against the will of God or vise versa - gives people an opportunity to understand each other?

Affirming that a translator is from devil is the evidence of extreme religious narrow-mindedness and, as for me, such views just turn people away from religion and from God. Here we should understand that every nation within thousands of years have been nourishing their language, dialects and it is a certain gift from God, as every language has its melody, unique colour and peculiarities. The evil will be when the languages start to disappear, and some of them are disappearing right now. The rare languages are disappearing every year. When we preserve the language, we preserve our individuality, originality and uniqueness, as every language is unique and should be preserved. And the translator fulfills the will of God in such a way that he/she gives an opportunity for people to understand each other better, to know each other better. There is misunderstanding among the people in everyday communication, not mentioning the misunderstanding because of unknown language e.g. at work, in the family, when a husband does not understand his wife, a wife does not understand her husband. People have to understand each other in spite of the language of communication, and when it prevents from understanding and developing, it is necessary to use all possible efforts to understand the other person. It would be great, if older generation understood the younger one, parents understood their children, and husbands would try to understand their wives better. I think that it would be right. Also it is true about the understanding among other nations, whose languages we do not know. That is why, as for me, the translator / interpreter has a very good and important profession, as he/she builds bridges of understanding among people.

3. Please, tell us about the Whitsunday. What happened on this day? How this holiday is celebrated and what are the traditions to celebrate it?

The Whitsunday itself is a kind of antagonist to the events that took place during the building of the Tower of Babel. So, people stopped to understand each other and their languages were separated, and during Whitsunday they started to understand each other.

In Ukraine we live in a kind of religious vacuum, as not a lot of people know about the origin of this holiday and people simply call it "Zeleni Sviata" (Green Week) and they do not connect it with the fact that the Holy Spirit came to Earth. It happened in a following way: Jesus resurrected and promised to send the Holy Spirit to Earth, and after that to the Apostles and to Maria, who were praying together, the Holy Spirit came. They started to understand other people, talked the languages that previously were not known to them, and later they dispersed all over the world. They gospel telling about the Salvation of God. This holiday is a kind of contradiction to the events that took place during the building of the Tower of Babel. The Holy Spirit came to people and they started to understand each other.

As for the traditions goes, the main tradition is that in Ukraine, as I mentioned above, this holiday is traditionally called "Zeleni Sviata" (Green Week), so you cover your dwelling with verdure, reed or periwinkle. It is connected with the fact that the Holy Spirit symbolizes something live, dynamic, new. Traditionally in Ukraine for this holiday in houses with earth floor (earth and not wooden or tiled) people covered this floor with verdure. In our Church (Rome-Catholic) we do not pay a lot of attention to this folk tradition.

4. Besides of Whitsunday are there any other church holidays, events that are connected with the usage of several languages, may be they are used for understanding? The Forgiving Sunday comes to my mind; it is a kind of holiday for understanding.

If we talk about the understanding, the Forgiving Sunday can be such a holiday. Also during the liturgy itself people several times admit their own sins. In rome-catholic liturgy there is a ritual of "transfer the sign of peace" - the believers shake hands of each other, it means that “I have nothing against you and I stay here with you to pray and I wish you everything good”. During different holidays different terms from other languages can be mentioned. In our latin rome-catholic liturgy we use a lot of foreign words. In Greek we say "kyrie eleyson" - "God, save us". So we use some words not in Ukrainian and not even in Latin. In many cases we use words from Jewish, such as "alleluia" which means "let’s honour God with a song". The liturgy itself is international. Its roots and traditions come to the first centuries of Christianity.

5. What languages do you use during the Service in rome-catholic churches and why?

I do not know what rome-catholic churches you have visited. If in Kyiv you come to the St. Olexander church (which is 100 meters from Maydan), you will see the schedule of services that are available in many languages: Polish, Russian, French, English and others. I did not take into consideration the Ukrainian one, as for sure, in Ukraine, the main part of services is available in Ukrainian.

Let's imagine, that there is such a holiday where there are not only representatives from one nation, but there are representatives from different nations. There was the canonization in Rome two monthes ago, when two Popes were proclaimed to be Saint (Ioannes Paulus PP. II and Ioannes ХХІІІ). Several millions of people came to this canonization at once. It is clear that such a liturgy should be in language that is understood by the majority of these people, and in this case it was Latin. Here it plays a role of lingva franca (a common language) that is understood by the most part of the believers all over the world. The liturgies in rome-catholic Church are served in Latin. But now you will not see it very often. If we are talking about the European languages the most of them come from Latin, so for people, that speak one of the European languages, Latin will be easily understood in most cases. The concept of Catholic Church is that the word "catholic" itself means universal, global, for everyone. And the liturgy is held in language that is spoken by people in a certain country or parish. Here in Ukraine it is not Latin. In most cases we are talking about the languages that are needed for certain region. Somewhere there is a community of Slovaks, somewhere - Hungarians, somewhere - Polish and for them the Service is held in their languages. As usual there are enough of such services to satisfy the needs in certain region, parish.

6. May be you have any wishes as for the situation we have now in our country?

As for me, now we are in such a situation when all of us need to have a dialog, and it is of vital importance to understand other people. And to do it we need to understand ourselves. The problem is not in language or in languages, but in the fact that an individual does not know, what he wants or is not going to listen to others. All the problems are because of that. I think that to achieve a global understanding, our country should pay more attention to Christian education. Even if someone does not believe in God, it would be very useful for him to know the basic truths of Christianity, as they give the opportunity to find yourself. 

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