Friday, June 16, 2006

U.S. Bishops Approve New Mass Translation

[As a few people have already noted in the comments box of another thread, the U.S. bishops overwhelmingly passed the new proposed translation of the Roman Missal.

A few other additional thoughts: it is interesting to read the acknowledgement from Bishop Trautman of how rough and abrupt the changes to the liturgy were 40 years ago, and in relation to the faithful. This is a different tune than what we've come to expect to hear, which is the claim that people where overwhelmingly desirous of liturgical changes. Bravo to Bishop Trautman for being straightforward about this fact.

There are various inconsistencies in the arguments used against the translation, seen here and elsewhere (New York Times article on the same for instance). Really these arguments do represent a fundamental ideological difference in the understanding of the liturgy and its relationship to the faithful, to the sacred, etc. For example, the concern that we are moving to a "sacred" form of English; it seems odd that for the sacred liturgy, that should be a concern. Should not our language be sacred in the context of divine worship?

As well, the concerns about how people will receive it, or if it will push them away from the liturgy. Again, I think this is a cart before the horse issue. It is arguable that people have been pushed away from the liturgy by the lack of the sense of the sacred, the lack of evident spiritual depth, the lack of beauty, and the presence of the banal. Some have used the sex abuse scandals in this regard, arguing that such changes now would have this negative effect. But I would argue that in fact, what people precisely need to be taught and reminded of now, in this context, is the sacred, the holy, and the divine. When we do not have a clear sense of the divine in front of us (and let's face it, for most that only comes by means of Sunday Mass at their parish) it is then that the all too human frailties of those in our pews and in our sanctuaries can be as destructive as they are to the Faith of so many people -- why? Because they virtually only see the human aspect in front of them; they are not reminded of the divine so much in action and experience. People need to be reminded that the Church is both human and divine, and the tie to the Divine is the tie that connects all of us, whenever we are displeased with something our parish priest does, or Sister does, etc., back to God and to the Church. It gives us stability. Thus, having a liturgy which is more attuned to a sense of the sacred, where the divine flows more evidently from it and takes us outside our everyday human interaction, this can only have a positive spiritual and psychological effect.

But I digress. I think at this point, rather than worry about those inconsistencies, we rather seek to help those who have trouble accepting these changes to understand why they are good and necessary. As well, I think now is the time to be thankful that at least one step toward a reform of the reform has been taken.

The big hurdle now: implementation.]

Friday June 16, 2006 2:31 AM


Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The nation's Roman Catholic bishops signed off Thursday on a new English translation for the Mass that would change prayers ingrained in the memories of millions of American parishioners.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted at its biannual meeting for a new translation after a brief but vigorous debate over several small changes in wording. The 173-29 vote on the Order of the Mass was aimed at satisfying Vatican calls for a translation that's closer to the Latin version.

Before Mass changes at the parish level, the Americans' version must go to offices in the Holy See for final approval. The bishops' leader on the issue said that process could take years.

``Without a doubt, this is the most significant liturgical action to come before this body for many years,'' said Bishop Donald Trautman, chairman of the conference's Committee on Liturgy.

``It will take some adapting, but it is not earth-shattering when you think of the changes we went through 40 years ago,'' he said, referring to the Second Vatican Council, where the Latin Mass was replaced by the vernacular languages in each country.

The new translation alters the wording of key texts spoken by Catholics during worship, including the Nicene Creed, the Gloria, the Penitential Rite, the Sanctus and Communion.

Some have worried about changing a fundamental rite of worship that is so much a part of Catholic identity, especially now. Mass attendance has been declining, the priest shortage has left a growing number of churches without a resident cleric, bishops and parishioners have been battling over the closure of old churches and schools, and the prelates have been trying to rebuild trust in their leadership after the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Prior to the meeting, the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and a Jesuit priest, said the new Mass would ``cause chaos and real problems and the people who are going to be at the brunt end of it are the poor priests in the parishes.''

Trautman acknowledged the adjustment could be difficult. ``I think we all recognize that our priests are overburdened now and stretched thin,'' he said. ``We do believe, however, that this is important for the worship life of the Church. These texts are presenting a new richness that we haven't seen in the past so that will have to be the driving force.''

Minor changes to the wording of many portions of the Mass will be obvious to Catholics. The repeated exchanges ``The Lord be with you'' / ``And also with you'' between a priest and his congregation, for example, become ``The Lord be with you'' / ``And with your spirit'' in the updated version.

The prayer said before Communion would become ``Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,'' instead of ``Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.''

Survey results released by the conference's Committee on Liturgy last November found that U.S. bishops were split over whether the changes were necessary, but in the end the proposal won more than the 168 votes it needed for approval.

Some bishops said the changes would deepen lay people's understanding of Catholicism and Scripture. They said priests could use the changes to spark a discussion of the liturgical reasoning behind them, including citing biblical stories and the Latin version.

``All these changes should require ... a certain amount of explanation and allow the people who are using them to grow in faith and not remain where they are,'' said Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of Mobile, Ala.

Bishops debated for about 20 minutes on a variety of wording changes, some pitting the familiar against the new. A proposal to change the words of the Nicene Creed from ``one in being'' to ``consubstantial,'' which is closer to the Latin, failed.

Roman Catholic bishops in Australia, England, Scotland and Wales have already approved translations with at most only slight differences, said Monsignor James. P. Moroney, who leads the liturgy office for the bishops' conference.

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | U.S. Bishops Approve New Mass Translation

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