Tarheel Workshops

Yesterday I led my third Roman Missal workshop in the Diocese of Raleigh. Our task force was appointed by Bishop Michael Burbidge under the direction of the Office of Worship to chart a course for the implementation of the Roman Missal for the diocese. These workshops for faith formation directors, catechists, youth leaders, and parish liturgical ministers followed on an earlier workshop for diocesan clergy as the first stage of formation in the diocese. Each of the full-day Roman Missal workshops being offered in various locations throughout the diocese consist of three DVD presentations on liturgical catechesis (outline below) by fellow task force member, Monsignor Michael Clay (D.Min. in liturgical studies, CUA), and a fourth and final piece addressing the new text itself (PDF below) based on the earlier presentation I gave at the Catholic Convocation in October. Full videos of Monsignor Clay’s presentations will be available online once our final diocesan workshop is completed (March 19). In the latter I included the ICEL chants available from NPM to accompany most of the texts as well as some sample new Mass settings played over lunch.

Open discussions and the evaluations from the 100 participants at Thursday’s workshop at my home parish and the 40 additional from yesterday indicated that there remain no small number of questions in choosing musical settings for the sung parts of the Mass, no little concern with the task of catechizing whole parishes about consubstantiality, and some anger. Yet most participants (greater than 90%) expressed a sense of appreciation for the larger and rich context of liturgical theology and the exposition of the new texts with their scriptural, historical, linguistic, and theological implications by means of which most voiced their positive reception of the revised texts to which they were introduced.

I am not unaware that such a reception of these Roman Missal workshops does not necessarily predict a positive reception of the text itself in November. I am also not unaware that this initial positive evaluation of the text and the workshop stands in sharp contrast to most of the sentiment expressed on Pray Tell. With those caveats, I would suggest that the key to the positive response to the three workshops I have facilitated thus far has been the result of the decision our task force made to not simply present the text of the Roman Missal but rather to use this as an opportunity to invite the faithful to consider more deeply how the liturgy brings us into interaction with the living presence of God—something the liturgy does regardless of the particular language or translation. Cast in that light the textual changes are placed in a derivative position of considerably relative importance.


Outline of the first three presentations:

  • To Whom Do We Pray: An Evangelical Theology
    • Trinitarian Overview
    • Paschal Mystery
    • Liturgical Theology
  • As Whom Do We Pray: Liturgical and Ecclesial Spirituality:
    • Principles of Liturgical Spirituality
    • Communio Theology
    • Cultural influences that impact the people who worship
    • Diakonia: A Theology of the Door
  • Why It Matters How We Pray: Ritual Prayer
    • Lex Orandi Lex Credendi: An Overview
    • Grieving Change
    • Kenosis Spirituality
    • Obedience as a Virtue

The Roman Missal: Where We’ve Been and Where’s We’re Going (PDF)

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26 comments

  1. “to use this as an opportunity to invite the faithful to consider more deeply how the liturgy brings us into interaction with the living presence of God—”

    Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to post what your diocese is doing. I am going to show this to my pastor. Your approach makes sense to me.

  2. I like this too – what we are dealing with is bigger than “the changes” – but I am puzzled to see that the translation of the Collect for Advent Sunday at the top of the pdf is not the one that is supposed to come into use.

  3. Most of the national preparation we hear about focuses on an introduction to general liturgical theology. An amiable task. But is that the task of introducing a supposedly “superior” translation ? Isn’t such preparation, that never really focuses on a “wonderful” new text, just a sleight of hand because of the fear of how divisive such workshops that actually introduced a new translation would be. Its treating the most highly educated lay body in the modern era as children to tell them while the church has spent decades changing “how” they pray we will only address “why” they pray; Really implying that it is neither their place, nor their competency, nor within their grasp to deal with “how”. We should be very honest that most of this “preparation” is not really a preparation for a new translation as such. So lets stop saying it.

    1. “The most highly educated laity in the modern era” or even the history of the Church is a quote thrown around a lot, but how true is it? Yes they may have advanced degrees and be highly educated in many things and areas, but when a great many can’t name the seven sacraments wouldn’t some basic catechesis on the liturgy be a good thing? Some people (and I am not saying you) will state that the laity are the most educated and yet in the next breath say that there are too many words they won’t be able to understand. My parish is using the six months from January to June for general liturgical catechesis and discussion, focused on the Eucharist in particular. The summer and fall will be dedicated to more of the specifics of the translation. This would be the same approach whether it was the 1998, 2008, 2010, or 2035 translation. I don’t see any value in just jumping in one day and saying the prayers are changing, here are the new ones, good luck.

      1. 1. Yes, catechesis on the liturgy is “amiable”, as I immediately stated.
        2. Some critiques of the new translation questioned individual words not commonly used – dew, consubstantial, deign, gibbet. These might be solved with “education.” Too many words, poor English syntax and grammar, thus affecting proclaimability and reception, however, are not education issues – its trying to make a language do something it doesn’t, it has little to do with the education level of the hearer.
        3. The timeline and its content you suggest seems promising: yes, let’s get to the actual specifics of the translation. Yet, one can hardly claim, as the initial post seems to do, a quiet successful public introduction to the translation when in fact no one is actually talking about the translation. What was successful and well received was a catechesis on the Mass.

        What does have to do with the laity and their education is not trusting in this entire translation process to seek their consultation, before or after, accepting their critiques, for good or ill, believing their faith commitment when they say yay or nay – all of which is in evidence when the church says “here’s a new translation, but in order to prepare your docile reception, we’re not really going to talk about it.” I.E., We know we’ve been preparing to rearrange the furniture in your house you’ve lived in for 60 years and we said we would talk about it, now the time has come and we have decided to talk not about all the disasters and pleasantries of the new scheme in which you will now live, but rather, how the roof keeps rain off your head, whether you like our redecorating or not.

    2. Andrew’s preparation is about the liturgy in general and the new translation in particular. I see nothing dishonest or pretend about it.

      How would you catechize about the new translation?

  4. The faithful are absolutely charmed at the interest being taken just now in their eucharistic culture and education. But yes, the diagnoses above are telling. An ethically dubious sleight of hand does seem to be taking place. The Vatican have pushed bishops, priests and lay employees into an immense activity of putting lipstick on a pig, and the result has been a catechetical spurt that has value in itself but that is not going to allay the sense of deflation when the texts are brought into use. In fact by raising expectations that the Mass is suddenly going to become more engaging and meaningful it may intensify the disappointment.

    “This would be the same approach whether it was the 1998, 2008, 2010, or 2035 translation. I don’t see any value in just jumping in one day and saying the prayers are changing, here are the new ones, good luck.”

    If the prayers were effective they would be the major offering of the catechetical program from day 1. There is just too much unease about them and they are too limp and flaccid to allow them to be used as a positive catechetical resource.

  5. Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
    hanc tuis fidelibus voluntatem,
    ut, Christo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes,
    eius dexterae sociati, regnum mereantur possidere caeleste.

    1975 ICEL:
    All-powerful God,
    increase our strength of will for doing good
    that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
    and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.

    1998 ICEL:
    Almighty God,
    strengthen the resolve of your faithful people
    to prepare for the coming of your Christ
    by works of justice and mercy,
    so that when we go forth to meet him
    he may call us to sit at his right hand
    and possess the kingdom of heaven.

    2008 ICEL “Grey Book”
    Grant, we pray, almighty God,
    that your faithful may resolve to run forth with righteous deeds,
    to meet your Christ who is coming,
    so that gathered at his right hand
    they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

    APRIL: BCDW (hitherto unseen, it would seem)
    Almighty God, grant, we pray
    to your faithful people
    the will to run
    to meet Christ with good deeds at his coming,
    so that, gathered at his right hand,
    they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

    2010 (aka Missale Moronicum: as presently on the USCCB website):
    Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
    the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
    with righteous deeds at his coming,
    so that, gathered at his right hand,
    they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

    While different versions get different things more or less right, my vote goes to 2008 for accuracy, sonority, comprehensibility, “proclaim-ability”. By saying in ITS first line what the Latin says in ITS first line, 2008 flows naturally and easily, on tongue and ear. Ditto maintenance of Latin/English construction Christo veniente. 2010 with its elliptical dative, reversion to the old 1973 ICEL “at his coming” (NOT in the Latin) trips all over itself, and on tongue and ear. Vox obscura?

    1. You don’t mention the 1998 trans. Of course we ALL agree that the 1973 preces are junk. That’s a no-brainer. But the 1998 versions are consistently better than the new translation.

  6. It might be telling that “Obedience as a Virtue” is the bridge from proximate preparation to the fourth and final stage of speaking of the new translation per se. You know when “obedience” is trotted out in the current cultural context desperation is in the air. Its also tone deaf to major problems in the English speaking churches that have often taken place under the abuse of “obedience.” Obedience is due when its deserved. This is not translation implementation by Divine Command Theory.

    1. Yes, that weird appeal to obedience struck me too. I think that disobedience is a virtue too, especially if it spares us from horrid language like the following: “Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen.

    2. Monsignor Clay offered three possible ways to consider “the processing of change.” Some found the reference to E Kubler-Ross that anger was an acceptable part of the process of grieving change to be an important and much needed validation of their present feelings. Other found that section not simply superfluous but entirely disharmonious with the rest of the day. The second and third portions, using kenosis and obedience respectively as lenses through which we might have some meaning to changes, focused not so much as obedience might be heard in a contemporary North American setting as “it has been commanded, therefore you must obey” but rather on the authentic Christian (one might even suggest Benedictine) virtue of first listening then praying as the structure of every liturgy itself unfolds by first opening our heart in attentive listening then subsequently responding in love—even when that response may be at variance with that of someone else who heard the same word.

      1. I appreciate trying to place “obedience” in a spiritual/Benedictine framework. Yet, I am skeptical of a role-out that requires so much psychologizing to begin with. It smacks of grooming, so when the texts are presented there is a response of docility – the abuse of “obedience.” I think the process would be more honest if it just handed out the translation rationale and texts and let the discussion begin. Don’t put goal posts on how one is supposed to understand, or how one is to respond emotionally within the process, and then congratulate ourselves that workshop attendees lined up with our desired goals.

  7. Thanks for sharing your approach and response Andrew. I experienced a similar response from the litrugical ministers at the two parishes where I’ve presented sessions on the Missal in the past week. After only three sessions, I’ve found that once people have an answer to “why” texts are changing, they seem to more easily accept “what” is changing.

    Our sessions start with a look at change itself. I lead a discussion about the many changes we go through in life and have people talk about how they handle change, both changes we intiate (new job, wedding, children) and those initated by others that we must deal with(unemployment, divorce, a new translation of the mass). Most people focus in on two things that help them accept these latter changes: going through the change with someone else to support them and focusing on what will remain constant through the change, which in this case includes the ritual action, lay ministries, and mass in the vernacular (despite what people tell me they’ve heard as rumors).

    Then we look at “why” things are changing from two aspects: “reasons” (new edition, new translation theory) and anticipated “results” (linguistic unity, biblical & traditional grounding, a liturgical vocabulary & grammar, a vocal register focused on whom we are speaking to). We use examples from the new translation for each area. Only then do we look at the changes side by side, and talk specifics, always answering questions.

    I am honest about specific lines I don’t particularly like, while giving a straight answer about why they were translated that way. But I try to stay focused on what I honestly find good in the translation, without being a cheerleader or spin doctor. People can spot a phony approach.

    This may be the “lipstick on a pig” that Joe O’Leary referred to, or it could be a positive approach (like Andrew’s) to helping our parishes receive this new translation.

  8. “Our sessions start with a look at change itself. I lead a discussion about the many changes we go through in life and have people talk about how they handle change, both changes we intiate (new job, wedding, children) and those initated by others that we must deal with(unemployment, divorce, a new translation of the mass). ”

    But should it be so complicated? Only something really obscure and problematic requires such recourse to transcendental hermeneutical principles.

    1. And to think, in this pedagogy a new translation of the mass ranks with unemployment and divorce! Inflictions at the hands of others…

  9. Test market some of these materials on the people in the pews; they may tell you they appreciate the liturgy and the pastoral staff but still have some major problems with the presentation. Let me give an example.

    In one parish the overall results for the Vibrant Parish Life study were true at the parish level except for one item “An annual stewardship appeal, asking for time, talent, and treasure” While people in diocese ranked this in the bottom ten in being well done, the people of this particular parish put it close to the top ten in being well done. However, the very good job the pastoral staff had done did not change their opinions of the importance of stewardship at all. They ranked stewardship among the bottom ten in importance like the rest of the diocese.

    Some people of the parish who did not know the results of the survey were asked what they liked and disliked about the stewardship appeals. They admired all the work put into the appeal by staff, and it’s overall themes (e.g. everything belongs to God), and purpose. However when it came to details, they thought it sounded too much like tithing. They had horror stories about tithing. As one person said “just tell us what the money is for, and we will raise it. Forget about asking us to figure out how much money we should be giving.” People do not come to presentations as a blank slate. Find out how they are going to interpret things.

    Test market. People may come out of the presentations appreciating the liturgy more and the pastoral staff but still be very upset about how the material dealt with matters such as inclusive language. What effects such complex reactions have on future behavior is unknown.

  10. I appreciate what is happening slightly north of us. It is a good model to present the Liturgy as it is meant to be experienced and what it is intended to do from a doctrinal and practical point of view. I think the laity will have some issues with some of their changes and they need a good rationale for why these are changing and why the Eucharistic prayers are changing, which they would be more sensitive to in terms of hearing them.
    The clergy will have more issues with the orations and prefaces since these are certainly in a different idiom than the current ones and the older ones are ingrained in us. I’ve prayed some of the retranslated ones and even though I’m looking at the words, my ingrained memory of the “current” translation causes me to say (in the old way) what I’m not reading (in the new). I think that will occur frequently for priests, especially if they don’t study their new text, i.e. collects and prefaces, not to mention Eucharistic prayers and pray these aloud before celebrating the Mass publicly.

  11. I was privileged to attend the larger of the workshops hosted by Andrew. Msgr. Clay’s first two presentations are outstanding, and when they become available we’ll certainly be using them in our catechesis in anticipation of the implementation of the new translation. Andrew’s presentation specifically on the text changes was equally outstanding. At several points he divided the room in half, having one side speak aloud a response from the current translation, then the other side speak aloud the revised translation. It was very reassuring to hear these spoken aloud. Andrew was asked all the tough questions, as you might expect, and gave very honest, thoughtful answers. The elephant in the room was acknowledged and addressed, good and bad freely discussed. The day wasn’t so much a promotion of the new translation, but a promotion of sacramental theology in general, and how this chapter of the life of the Church fits into the larger picture. The result was overwhelmingly positive.

    Quite to the contrary of Fr. Endean’s comment above, to not use this time of heightened awareness and interest in liturgy as an opportunity for broad liturgical catechesis is ethically dubious. Why not take advantage of every opportunity to further liturgical renewal?

  12. “Quite to the contrary of Fr. Endean’s comment above, to not use this time of heightened awareness and interest in liturgy as an opportunity for broad liturgical catechesis is ethically dubious. Why not take advantage of every opportunity to further liturgical renewal?”

    Of course the catechesis is good. What is ethically dubious is that it is being used as “grooming” to prepare acceptance of a bad translation. Compris?
    .

    1. How do you believe catechesis “groomed” the participants to accept the translation? I was there, and quite the opposite, it elevated the conversation from uninformed complaining to a discussion of issues actually at the heart of the matter. What could have been an unproductive grumbling session was an honest, more nuanced discussion.

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