New York Times on the missal controversy

In today’s New York Times, Laurie Goodstein reports on the missal controversy: “For New Mass, Closer to Latin, Critics Voice a Plain Objection.” Many people you know are quoted.

Share:

54 comments

  1. Okay, when you finally get past the stories about the two groups that objected, and the interview with Fr. Ruff, the overall message seems to be that the initial objections have either been overcome by catechesis or, in the case of the oft cited situation in South Africa, they have become a non-issue.

    I am particularly surprised to hear about the two groups in New York that have withdrawn their petitions objecting to the new translation. I read here (PT) about the initial petitions, but I never had the chance to read the stories that you ran about their withdrawal. I will have to go back and find those to see what the reason was.

    1. I just learned of the withdrawl this morning when I read it in the NYT. The priest who had sent me news of the resolutions had not sent me the more recent news. Now we know.
      awr

    2. The new texts are not a non-issue for this South African, at least.

      What I can tell you is that anger is simmering below the surface among educated, English-speaking laity. As an example and, in large part, a reaction to the new texts, a South African chapter of We Are Church was recently formed, fuelled in no-small part, I am told, by the impression of a retracement to clericalism and undoing of the reforms of Vatican II.

      We’ve only been using the people’s parts for the last two and a half years, but, I think, when the whole of the new missal is taken into use, the texts themselves may well prove to be a lightning rod for discontent among priests as well, forced to pray the unprayable and defend the indefensible.

      Just a thought… Let’s wait and see…

  2. Ahh… so this was something very recent? I found the December 20th story about the initial petitions.

    We just completed another session this past Saturday in our Diocese with our Music Directors and Cantors, introducing the new texts for the Ordinary and the people’s responses. There were some initial questions, particularly about the “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof”, but after it was explained that this was a scriptural reference and that it was what the actual text says (in Latin), that seemed to answer the question. We have many multi-lingual Catholics down here (mostly Spanish-English, but some French – English as well), so the “and with your Spirit” response was met with some wonderment as to why the English translation was the only one that DIDN’T translate it that way up to now. There were a few chuckles as we tripped on some of the “almost the same but slightly different” passages of the Credo… but they were chuckles, not angry objections. Most felt that the use of the pew cards for a year or so would probably be the best way to go.

    And so, at risk of drawing the ire of the ubiquitous Anonymous commenters for the umpteenth time… I see a lot of questions, but very little in the way of “opposition” from the people who are getting to know the new translation. The three Priests that I work closely with are all working with the new texts and practicing the chants of the dialogues and prefaces… more concerned about which Edition to purchase for the parish than anything else. And now, the Priests in New York who initially objected have come around AFTER looking at the texts. Perhaps there’s something there worth considering… getting to know the texts overcomes objections. Strange that!

    1. “Getting to know the texts overcomes objections.”

      Yes, and practicing Vox Clara’s fractured syntax, finding misplaced phrases, identifying lost antecedents, and – as batch after endless batch of Errata stream forth from the Mother House (or is the Mother Ship) – fixing up the galley proofs so that “upheld up” gets corrected before the Regal Edition hits the altar – all this helps . . . but WHY?

      All the beloved cheerleaders of the Vox Clara/Moroney/Pell Missal have never yet explained to me WHY THIS:

      For when sin had scattered your children afar,
      
you chose to gather them again to yourself

      through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,

      so that a people made one from the unity of the Trinity
      
might be revealed as your Church,

      the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Spirit,

      to the praise of your manifold wisdom (2008)

      had to be butchered into this:

      For when your children were scattered afar by sin,

      through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
      
you gathered them again to yourself,

      that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity,
      
made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit,
      
might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom,

      be manifest as the Church (2010).

      or why this perfectly accurate and literate translation:
      Raised up by your right hand,

      let your faithful people rejoice,

      O Lord, we pray,

      and, progressing in the Christian life,

      may they delight in good things
      
both now and in the time to come.

      Through Christ our Lord (2008)

      had to be mutilated into this:
      May your faithful people rejoice, we pray, O Lord,
      
to be upheld [up!] by your right hand,

      and, progressing in the Christian life,

      may they delight in good things

      both now and in the time to come.

      Through Christ our Lord.

      Getting to know what we almost got . . . may not raise objections, but some questions, surely, Jeffrey?

    2. My experience is that musicians have a quite different set of priorities and interests from liturgists. New texts are no matter to them. New music is food on the plate.

      I wonder if among the 300 priests in StL we have even three who work closely with a music director.

  3. So if I’m counting right, that’s five critics quoted and one supporter (who is described as initially critical). No Stravinskas, no Rutler, no Tucker, no Moroney, no Zuhlsdorf.

    Three organized campaigns against the new missal are cited, but none of the groups organized in support of it.

  4. “In the current Mass, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the congregation responds, “And also with you.” Come November, the congregation will respond, “And with your spirit.”

    Church leaders say that this new choice of words is not only less casual, as befits a greeting to a priest,”

    “less casual, as befits a greeting to a priest”

    So a casual greeting to the People of God is OK?

    Not that I consider “the Lord be with you” a casual greeting, but someone let the cat out of the bag. At least in part, this new translation is about shoring up the prestige of a hierarchy that continues to fail us, day after day after day.

    1. Are you suggesting that, for the sake of symmetry, priests should say to the congregation: “The Lord be with your spirit”?

      [That’s meant to be a joke]

      1. Quite seriously, why couldn’t the priest say “The Lord be with your spirit?” Don’t the members of the congregation have spirits? Is the priest’s spirit somehow worthy of special recognition? It may be closer to the Latin to say “and with your spirit”, but that doesn’t mean the original Latin actually makes sense.

      2. Currently I am taking a course on the Book of Ruth from a Rabbi. In Ruth we have the greeting of Boas, the wealthy kinsman of Naomi to all the workers in his field:

        Chapter 2:4 “The Lord be with you. And they answered him: The Lord bless thee.”

        If one looks at all the highly similar expressions to the Lord be with you in the OT, the fundamental idea underneath all of them is the covenant, i.e. we are the Lord’s people, a covenant people.

        If one looks at all the similar expressions to The Lord bless thee, they are the priestly blessing or some near variant”

        In the first couple of centuries when the Eucharist was celebrated in a house church and when often the leaders of the community where the rich men who owned the houses. it would have been natural for them to give the Boas greeting as the rich overseer of the community.

        What would have been more natural in those days before any one person was seen as more priestly than the rest, to respond to that greeting (the affirmation of the covenant bond) with the priestly blessing by the priestly people upon what they were about to do together.

        Of course these were the days when everything was still in Greek. But analyzing everything from either Greek or Hebrew seems to come to the same conclusion.

        The Rabbi calls the Book of Ruth The Ripest Fruit of Biblical Religion because underneath its simple narrative are reminders of all the fundamental ideas of the OT.

      3. “n the first couple of centuries when the Eucharist was celebrated in a house church and when often the leaders of the community where the rich men who owned the houses.” J.R.

        And in some cases the houses would have been owned by rich women, – who would have moved seamlessly from the role of hosting the gathering to the role of presiding at the eucharist.

    2. This is not in direct quotation marks – while we all know that there are priests and bishops who think this way, this could also be a a bad paraphrase by the Times author of a statement less clericalist in tone – or perhaps simply an expression of what she imagines was the motive.

  5. It seems we live in an age when a goodly number of people expect perfection from the hierarchy and the baptized and because of that false expectation, they get all bent out of shaped when perfection eludes them and the Church. Wanting a perfect Church, a perfect translation etc. has led to the theology of dissent, the theology of fomenting dissent and number large and small schisms both on the left and the right and maybe even in the middle. The Church is what the Church is, not just a collection of sinners, but also a body of sinners united to the one who is her head, the Lord, Jesus who alone is perfect.
    On a previous blog there was a slight discussion of fundamentalism in the Church when it comes to adhering to the Magisterium and that this somehow brings division by being fundamentalist about it. And yet there is no discussion on how dissent and fomenting dissent brings about unity as though these are virtues that will lead to perfection.

    1. Fr. Allan, no one expects perfection of the hierarchy and you know it. Furthermore, those calling for reforms are talking about structures, not just the (inevitable) failings and mistakes of those fallible humans within the structures.

      If you disagree with the calls for reform, fine. But please try to state the reformers’ position with some minimal accuracy. The reforms want the gifts of all the members to be used, good collaboration between all levels of authority, good consulting with theologians and experts (though the magisterium has the final say), and perhaps re-introduction of quasi-democratic features the Church had in the past. The reformers want collegiality. The reformers critique structures that are top-down, abusive, disrespectful, absolutist.

      The issue is structures. The goal is greater faithfulness to our Lord’s injunction that we love one another.

      P.S. Since translation is not a doctrinal issue, the term “dissent” does not apply.

      awr

      1. Perfection with structures? I don’t deny that anyone isn’t in need of reform, a person or a structure. Nothing is Utopia on this side of the heavenly kingdom. It seems that this is what the Church is all about, calling to God’s reforming grace, first persons and then where it might be needed structures that allow persons to be unjust to someone else.
        Translations are not doctrinal, but the implementation of them are canonical. I don’t think we’re free not to implement the new translation come Advent. Why create a false hope that some internet process of democratization of the Church will lead to the new but imperfect translation being delayed or changed? That mentality might need some reforming too.

      2. Do we have reason to believe that the reformers that Fr. Ruff alludes to here are of one mind? The reform groups to which I’m aware seem to be all over the place as to which and what “structures” they want to change.

        They also typically fail to seriously consider the wishes of those who are generally happy with the structures as they exist. I wonder how they would accommodate the rest of us if they ever got their way? Perhaps we would get a “flying bishop”.

    2. Father, what about those of us who do not expect a perfect translation, but who sure would have liked one with accurate translations, fidelity to the Holy See’s own documents (too much to expect of a translation that has the Holy See’s “confirmatio”?), and correct English grammar and syntax?

      I still don’t see that as being too much to ask – after 40 years, THOUSANDS of consultants (Moroney) – and who knows how much $$$!

      1. Ahem: I don’t call every “more traditional” Catholic “fundamentalist” because those two things aren’t the same thing and it’s not true of all of those “more traditional.” I use the term “fundamentalist” to mean a tendency toward black-and-white thinking which ignores the facts of history and is unaware of the complexity of an issue. I stand by that working definition and my application of it – but I don’t expect others to agree with me on this point.

        In my experience, alas, the term “fundamentalist” does apply to all too many of the “more traditional” Catholics, on this blog and elsewhere. I regret this. In general, conversations are enriched by thoughtful, intelligent, scholarly conservative contributions, but they’re not enriched by fundamentalist contributions.

        Here’s an example of what I consider fundamentalism: when someone says that Church teaching in doctrine and morals has never changed.

        Here’s another example: when someone says of another comment that it’s “simply modernism.” (I don’t recall who said that here recently.)This shows that the person doesn’t know that “modernism” is complex, not simple, or how much variety there was within modernism, or the extent to which virtually no modernist held some of the positions condemned by Pius X, or how much at least some of the condemned modernists’ positions have since been affirmed by Vatican II or the Holy See. And this especially when it comes to admitting the facts of history, such as how the New Testament gradually came to be written and was influenced by the era of composition and not simply by what happened historically.

        awr

  6. The issue is structures. The goal is greater faithfulness to our Lord’s injunction that we love one another.

    P.S. Since translation is not a doctrinal issue, the term “dissent” does not apply.

    But if we’re “talking about structures, not just the (inevitable) failings and mistakes of those fallible humans within the structures” then we’re not just talking about translation and potentially, the term dissent does apply (though in pointing this out, I’m not accusing anyone in particular of dissent).

  7. The term ‘dissent’ is a stick used by traditionalists to beat those members of the people of God who exercise their baptismal right, as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim God’s praises, when they withold reception to a text that is as fundamentally flawed as the 2010 translation is.

    To deny reception to such a text is in fact to do a service to the church. When the history of the text’s reception is written, it will be seen that the egregious flaws in both the product and the process were not allowed to go unchallenged. The exercise of determining the sensus fidelium will have been made easier as a result.

    It appears that Father A.MacD. and S.J. H. would both like a return to a more totalitarian model of church, which labels legitimate comment ‘dissent.’ As if the absolute in ‘absolute monarchy’ were not becoming more absolute by the day! And they are entitled to that view. However, I do not find the rhetoric of either persuasive.

    1. Gerard, you’re assuming that the text won’t be received by the Church, something that’s still very much up in the air.

      It appears that Father A.MacD. and S.J. H. would both like a return to a more totalitarian model of church, which labels legitimate comment ‘dissent.’

      Why does it appear that way? I haven’t labeled all objection to the current translation dissent. I have said that objections to the current translation could be motivated by dissent. For instance, if you object to the change in translation from “all” to “many” in the canon because you are a universalist, your motivation could be based on doctrinal dissent. But there are other possible motivations as well.

      I have also said that objections to the structure of the Church could be dissent. Do you disagree? If, e.g., I maintained that it was wrong to have a Pope, then I’d be a dissenter. Right? Not all people who want structural change in the Church are dissenters, but surely some of them are.

      You’ve complaied that I use too many “should” statements in my comments. I’d point out that you frequently compare those who disagree with you with oppresive political leaders “totalitarian” “dictats” etc., which is not very polite.

      1. Samuel,

        According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,

        It is a dogmatic teaching of the Church that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women (cf. John 11:52; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Titus 2:11; 1 John 2:2).

        How can objecting to the change from “all” to “many” be a dissenting position if it is dogma that Christ died for “all”?

        Check it out:
        http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/translating_sixquestions.shtml

      2. That Christ died for all men is not the same as universalism.

        I wrote: For instance, if you object to the change in translation from “all” to “many” in the canon because you are a universalist, your motivation could be based on doctrinal dissent.

        The fact that Christ died for all men doesn’t mean universalism is true, because the teaching of the Church is that his death is not definitely efficacious for all men. We can hope that all men are saved, but we can’t teach the definitive knowledge that all men will be saved (which is part of the doctrine of universalism.)

      3. Samuel,

        Perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote. Can you clarify “universalist” and “doctrinal dissent”?
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
        I see that you have. Now I get your point. Thanks.

      4. “Could be motivated by dissent” is to raise a red herring, to disparage by association, in effect, more name calling. I would appreciate it if you spent more time developing logical points instead of implying disloyalty or heterodoxy and defending your right to do so.

      5. “Could be motivated by dissent” is to raise a red herring, to disparage by association,

        No, it’s to respond to a specific comment by Fr. Ruff:

        P.S. Since translation is not a doctrinal issue, the term “dissent” does not apply.

        I sought to illustrate that disagreement with a translation can be doctrinally motivated and that therefore Fr. Ruff’s statement that “‘dissent’ does not apply” when discussing translations is overbroad. I stand by this point. It doesn’t disparage anyone, by association or otherwise.

      6. “The fact that Christ died for all men doesn’t mean universalism is true, because the teaching of the Church is that his death is not definitely efficacious for all men. We can hope that all men are saved, but we can’t teach the definitive knowledge that all men will be saved (which is part of the doctrine of universalism.)” S.J.H.

        It is not because Christ did not die for them, that the people you refer in the expression ‘not definitely efficatious for all men,’ may not be saved. Christ died for all those people, if such there be, too.

      7. It is not because Christ did not die for them, that the people you refer in the expression ‘not definitely efficatious for all men,’ may not be saved. Christ died for all those people, if such there be, too.

        I know that and it doesn’t contradict what I wrote. I’m not sure what your point is.

    2. Gerard, totalitarian model? Hyperbole? I don’t see a totalitarian model of church as perfect by a long shot! And who of us isn’t free to leave the Church or a parish or a religious order if we wanted to do so? The Church isn’t a cult either.

  8. Samuel J. Howard :

    “Could be motivated by dissent” is to raise a red herring, to disparage by association,
    No, it’s to respond to a specific comment by Fr. Ruff:

    Just because it is a response does not save it from being a red herring and a disparagement.
    It has nothing about it of logical argument or factual point.

  9. Samuel J. Howard :

    P.S. Since translation is not a doctrinal issue, the term “dissent” does not apply.
    I sought to illustrate that disagreement with a translation can be doctrinally motivated and that therefore Fr. Ruff’s statement that “‘dissent’ does not apply” when discussing translations is overbroad. I stand by this point. It doesn’t disparage anyone, by association or otherwise.

    It is your introduction of the term “dissent” as a mere possibility which is overbroad. It contributes nothing clarifying about your position or his and merely introduces negative terminology about the persons with whom you disagree. Introducing negative terminology is to disparage.

    1. I didn’t introduce it. Fr. MacDonald did and Fr. Ruff continued the discussion in a way that invited further comment by not merely contradicting Fr. MacDonald’s point but, excluding the possibilty that dissent could be related to opposition to a translation. If you’re upset with the introduction of the term, your problem is with them, not me.

  10. Anyone is free to comment on any post! The moderators (me today, Rita again as of tomorrow) will do our best to eliminate disrespectful comments, and to end any discussion if it gets too hostile or off-track.

    Personally I think it’s not a good idea to use “dissent” too freely, especially when it’s a non-doctrinal issue is on the table. The nondoctrinal issue could be tied to a doctrinal issue. But unless if the original comment makes the connection, or you are very confident you can make the connection, it simply isn’t appropriate.

    Clearly, one can be critical of the coming translation and the process that produced it – even very critical – without necessarily stating anything like “dissent.”

    Of course it’s possible to be critical of product/process and also state dissent from a doctrinal position. But if the original comment does not do this, I don’t think you should do it in their stead.

    awr

  11. The specter of the new missal’s manipulation by very real false prophets of imminent 12/21/2012 Armeggedon must be a more conscious and grave choice, consubstantial with its current provision of opaque and arcane verse subject to heretical re-presentation by errant or malevolent interpreters.

    If all else were perfection, which it is not, this alone would be cause to shepard the new missal and its flock away from the moral hazards presented by premature imposition.

  12. How lucky you are that the Catholic Church has the resources to undertake a universal Missal translation, even though some of you might find it wanting.

    On the other hand, as someone who prays for the union of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, “Cosubstantial,” and “With your Spirit” is good! That is the translation used in our churches as well.

    But while the Creed, Our Father, and the Liturgy are standardized, the same cannot be said of the glorious hymns of the Eastern Church. For example, in traveling across the country, I find it hard to find the same English version — let alone chant — the Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen, Orthodoxy’s triumphal hymn of The Resurrection).

    The reason for this is twofold: the text — in hymnals sold to parishes by priests whose gifts might not include that of poetic translation — is a literal, some may say pedestrian, rendering of the glorious Greek. Trying to fit this non-rhythmic English translation to the Byzantine melody of the original Greek is an exercise in frustration.

    Then there’s the anathema, in some editions, of eliminating notes in age-old Byzantine melodies — notes suited to the polysyllabic Greek — to suit the shorter words in English! Next time you sing the National Anthem, try leaving out six, seven, or eight notes, and you’ll get the idea of what I’m talking about.

    Add to this the fact that the beautiful liturgical Greek is on the wane across the U.S., and you can see that things could be a lot worse.

    1. Now there’s an idea Alexis, let’s put the Latin liturgy into
      “beautiful liturgical Greek”, for those who don’t know it,
      provide a Greek-English missal, and dump all the English and
      Latin missals.

  13. The challenge will not be the Order of Mass so much as the euchological texts of the full Missal, especially the collects. That is where clergy will have significant problems, and neither they nor the bishops are aware of it yet. I think a lot of hand-holding is going to be required as priests realize that these texts are awkward to proclaim, let alone pray, and therefore much more difficult as a means of leading their people into prayer than what we have at present.

    Presiders can and do certainly use the current so-called “bland”, “lame duck” texts as ways of drawing their people into prayer by the way in which they proclaim them. (Of course, some do not bother.) The new texts will be a different matter, since the starting-place will be quite alien.

    1. Are we forgetting that priests and people are doing quite well with the formal language and sometimes challenging texts found in the English language translations used by the various Catholic Eastern rite parishes?
      I continue to believe that the pastoral concerns expressed about the translation sometimes masks a more profound difficulty that some find with the theology contained within the prayers. .

      1. I continue to believe that the pastoral concerns expressed about the translation sometimes masks a more profound difficulty that some find with the theology contained within the prayers.

        Daniel,

        You are certainly free to believe what you want to believe, but, in my case, I think the forthcoming translation ranges from OK to awful, yet I find my heart strangely warmed when I read Thomas Aquinas’ account of Eucharistic presence or the Council of Trent’s decree on Justification.

    2. I just finished a phone call with a priest who was up to his ears in the preparation of the new Missal (until 2008 anyway) and who’s been using the Ward-Moroney-Pell Missal on the weekdays of Lent (yes, unapproved texts!) and he told me the following things:
      . the people adjusted quite quickly to their parts
      . he has given up trying EPI – just will not use it with all its convoluted language
      . EP2 is still the best, and will probably become the ‘English Canon’
      . EP3 is manageable once you get past the first enormous sentence
      . EP4 is impossible (not that he used it in Lent, of course)
      . he just cannot bring himself to use Lent Preface II (“disordered affections”)
      . the other prefaces and many of the orations are so all over the place he often didn’t know what he was praying about till the last line, by which time the first line is forgotten.

      He thinks, not surprisingly, that the surprise of priests and bishops at the awkwardness of the new translation will be so great that its reform (revision) will begin as soon as it hits the altars in Advent!

  14. I am sorry to hear that (one at least finds) EP4 is impossible. I note it relative lack of use at all in the Roman Church. Yet I find it a great part of the Episcopalian 1979 BCP- and the Enlgish there is fine though – due to the original St Basil text- it is different than much of our normal talk today.

    Mark Miller

    1. I love EP4 and prefer it to the quasi-legalistic museum piece, the Roman canon any day. I was reading that the late
      Fr. Cypriano Vagnozzi, the author, had composed
      a much fuller form of what was finally approved as
      EP4, but it was sharply curtailed by the liturgy police
      lobbying archbishop Bugnini and Pope Paul VI as way too “Byzantine”. What a pity.
      I think it’s the best of the eucharistic prayers we have.

  15. After I read the NYT article, I wanted to do a little more research. Thanks for the back story and substantive comments here. I am the mom of an 11 year old boy who has an auditory-based dyslexia. This year is the first year (thanks to his catechism teachers) that he has picked up the missal and started to read along. Why must we have this crazy syntax imposed on all of us?

    My son has a 142 IQ and an expansive vocabulary – he’ll get the meaning of consubstantial quickly enough, but I can already imagine he’ll be asking me, “what did they say? what did they mean?” It won’t be long before he stops reading AND listening. And it won’t be just kids with dyslexia tuning out – there will be many of us, without learning disabilities, who will be scratching our heads trying to “get it”!

  16. We’ll have to wait until the next revision-5 years? 10 years or 40 years? who knows? And then who knows what God will have wrought?
    ———————————————–
    Fr.McDonald, The point is, why should we have to wait another 5 or more years? We have the opportunity now without spending additional millions later to correct what we have the power to change now?

    Your attitude is comparable to what Federal bureaucrats are fond of saying when initiatives costing millions barely meet with the voters’ approval, “it’s good enough for Government”. For you and others like you, it isn’t good enough any more.

    I’m hoping clergy and people will reject the missal, start to burn copies of it, and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking any more of this”

      1. Father, I had the late actor Peter Finch in mind. Of course, we’re not clairvoyant. I have no fear the 2010 missal will be
        implemented no matter what any of us say about it
        one way or the other. I think that’s very unfortunate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *