Changing the conversation: five assertions

If we consider the bimillenary history of God’s Church, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we can gratefully admire the orderly development of the ritual forms in which we commemorate the event of our salvation. From the varied forms of the early centuries, still resplendent in the rites of the Ancient Churches of the East, up to the spread of the Roman rite; from the clear indications of the Council of Trent and the Missal of Saint Pius V to the liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council: in every age of the Church’s history the eucharistic celebration, as the source and summit of her life and mission, shines forth in the liturgical rite in all its richness and variety. … The difficulties and even the occasional abuses … cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored.

Discussion about the new translation of the Roman Missal has become sterile. The same points are repeated, tit-for-tat, in blog after blog and post after post. If we are to learn anything, we need a different conversation. Here are five assertions that might help move toward that.

1. The new translation will be with us for a good while.

It has the support of power and authority in the Church, right up to the Pope. Some of us see this as a bad thing, others as a positive. But it is here and we have to deal with it. Some celebrants may improvise or quietly change prayers or ordinary parts of the Mass. A few may try to stick with 1973 or even try 1998. Every priest I know has adopted the new translation either because he likes it better than the previous one or as a matter of obedience. Perhaps changes will be forthcoming but given the massive logistical challenge of getting new material published and distributed, I doubt that these will appear soon.

A more productive conversation might be about how best to use the new translation in a parish – musical settings and its consequences for liturgies other than the Mass.

2. Many of the arguments about the new translation will be difficult to resolve and therefore may not be worth more time.

Let me give just two examples:

  • Aesthetics. To my mind, the new translation is simply bad writing – verbose, sloppy in its usage, and filled with errors of syntax. Large parts of it can’t be recognised as English of any known period or style. Many priests, academics and laypeople agree with this assessment. Many others, including theologians and a professor of English have called it “splendid,” “muscular,” “poetic,” etc. And, as noted above, we have no choice but to use it. I have concluded that the argument from aesthetics is largely a waste of time. Those disposed to like the new translation will call it “sacral” and “elevated”; those disposed to dislike it see it as “stilted,” “clumsy” and the like.

This isn’t to argue for relativism. It may someday be possible to hold a discussion about the quality of prose in the various translations. It isn’t possible now. We should agree to disagree about this and stop the bickering.

  • Vatican II and the “hermeneutic of continuity.” The fruitless argument here revolves around whether we can somehow discern the mind of the Church – not just the hierarchy, but the whole body of Christ – around developments in the liturgy. Do we rely strictly on the letter of conciliar documents? Or is there a broader trend, a “spirit of Vatican II” that needs to be taken into account? I am inclined to the latter view, primarily because the developments that led to the Ordinary form of the Mass didn’t start at the Council, or after it, but at least 100 years earlier, with the likes of Dom Guéranger and Pope Pius X. Nonetheless, discussions about whether the spirit of the Council was upheld or betrayed or whether Consilium strayed from its brief will be as unproductive as the argument around aesthetics.

The “hermeneutic of continuity” slogan is of no help here. Depending on your preconceptions, “hermeneutic of continuity” seems to mean either that nothing changed at Vatican II or that everything changed. The latter is the view of the Lefebvrists, who were the original target of Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” idea. It has now been turned on the progressives. “Hermeneutic of continuity” doesn’t provide a lens for interpretation. At best it is a slogan; not a hermeneutic at all.


3. We can expect continued ambiguity from the Vatican.

Official and less official communications on the liturgy have been hard to interpret, in a way that upsets conservatives and progressives alike. Some claim that Pope Benedict has a secret master plan to roll back liturgical reform, that his view of today’s Mass was set out in his preface (written as Cdl. Ratzinger) to Klaus Gamber’s book:

We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it – as in a manufacturing process – with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.

And yet Pope Benedict continues to celebrate the Novus Ordo; as far as I know, he has yet to celebrate the Tridentine Mass either as cardinal or as Pope. The quote that opened this essay is not from some lefty liberal, but from Pope Benedict’s post-synodal exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis.

This ambiguity is unlikely to go away. We can all speculate about the pope’s plan to implement a new, hybrid rite, or to make further changes to the prayers of either form of Mass, but I doubt we will see any clear direction from the Vatican, other than to allow a multiplicity of forms.

4. We can expect liturgical pluralism.

A single, uniform liturgy for the Latin or Western Rite Church seems increasingly unlikely. Operating completely within the rules of the game we already have the Novus Ordo (in Latin and in the vernacular and in various combinations thereof), the Tridentine form and various forms of Anglican use. At a lower level, there are further choices, and once we go beyond the strict letter of the law then not only the Novus Ordo but also the Tridentine Mass contains further options. And then there are many options for the celebrant: facing the people or not, communion in one kind or both, choices about candles and bells and incense. This variety multiplies, of course, if you go outside the Latin rite.

We can expect continued pluralism and argument about what these rites are called. Some traditionalists object to the term “Tridentine Mass,” even though it has been used for decades and shows up on the title page of the Missal. I dislike the term they have arrogated, “Traditional Latin Mass” (TLM), since the Novus Ordo is also celebrated in Latin and is every bit as “traditional.” Even worse are terms like “Mass of Ages” and “Mass of All Time,” but let’s not dwell on those.

My Anglican and Episcopalian friends say that they have been living with this kind of pluralism for a long time. It requires parishes to find ways to identify themselves, so that a new punter knows whether to expect “smells and bells” or Morning Prayer. Like it or not, we are already there: Catholic parishes in central London, for example, vary hugely in their liturgical style.

5. A critical issue for those who cherish the Novus Ordo is its celebration in Latin.

There are many reasons for this. Celebrating in Latin completely sidesteps the new translation. In our parish, we have a beautifully designed “Latin Mass book” for the people with the Latin in one column, with notated chant where appropriate, and an English translation in the other. The English is not strictly the English of the 1973, but a translation done many years ago by our Jesuit parish priest. This was done not for liturgical use, though it reads clearly and easily, but to help people understand the Latin. Any parish could do this, perhaps using the 1998 for the English, as long as it was labelled something like “Translation for reading purposes only.”

Latin also works well in a multilingual community, one with a constant flow of visitors from distant countries.

More important, though: with the translation problem”‘solved,” the traditionalists’ next line of attack is on the Novus Ordo itself, including the Latin. It is “watered down,” it misrepresents the offertory or the sacrifice, it doesn’t say enough about sin – etc. Those who believe that the Novus Ordo represents a significant improvement on the Tridentine rite should focus on this Mass in Latin, not on any vernacular translation.


What would be fruitful to discuss about the liturgy? Lots of things, many of them very practical: how to operate a parish that celebrates the ordinary and extraordinary forms of Mass, especially after the unfortunate decisions in Universae Ecclesiae? How to develop a liturgical sense in children, not only for the Mass but also for other liturgies and for devotional practices? How to sing the Mass in the new translation? How to help the Church thrive in a liturgically plural environment?

The time may come when we can have a calm and reasoned conversation about the aesthetics of the new translation, but I don’t think that time is now. We are either reduced to squabbling on blog pages, or, as Anthony Ruff put it in a recent post, “de gustibus and all that.” Perhaps better to set the issue aside for awhile.

Jonathan Day is a consultant and writer; he is also a member of the parish council of the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception (Farm Street) in central London.

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119 comments

    1. Well said – we cannot ignore this misogynist liturgy and its implications. If the priest have no guts maybe we have to start an “occupy the church” movement and remind the priests that the pope and his pedophile bishops do not speak for WE THE PEOPLE of God!

  1. “Discussion about the new translation of the Roman Missal has become sterile.”

    No spit. More than that, it has sucked the life out of professional liturgy gatherings for the past few years. There was hardly any offering to be found that *didn’t* address MR3. Honestly, I was glad to be a campus minister looking for continuing formation because pretty much nobody in liturgy was offering anything worthwhile.

    When my colleagues queried about my absence from diocesan gatherings dedicated to MR3, I told them there wasn’t anything I hadn’t already read or seen criticized on the net, that I wasn’t interested in either pious apologetics defending the new translations or half-a**ed mewlings about resistance, and besides, I wanted a day without digestive upset. I was going to implement. I was going to be on point for adult formation in my parish. Time to move on.

    My suggestion to my liturgy colleagues would be to consider these fine points above, but also ponder an expansion of ministry. I think we need to be on the forefront of counteracting this antigospel being promoted from within the Church. I plan to spend more energy in evangelization and figuring out how liturgy supports seekers who enter our doors despite the b****y infighting and nonsense. I want to dedicate myself to improving my musical craft. I’d like to help my brothers in the clergy be better homilists. My parish church is just twelve-years expanded and renovated, and maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at art and architecture. What can we do to refine the visual impact of liturgy?

    And lastly, I’m hoping for a deeper exploration into the mystical life. Every Catholic should be a disciple and a mystic. The Church’s mission apostolate and spiritual traditions managed fairly well for centuries despite an unintelligible Mass with barnacle accretions. Somehow, I think we can muddle through with MR3 for a decade or two.

    1. I find it ironic AND humorous that in response to an article about changing the conversation, most comments see fit to just continue the conversation…. #62 by Jeffrey Herbert on December 9, 2011 – 12:48 pm

      This proposal fails to provide a constructive alternative to the present “Missal Translation” framework that tends to dominate this blog

      Todd identifies one important dimension of an alternative framework, supporting seekers who enter our doors.

      I think we need to be on the forefront of counteracting this antigospel being promoted from within the Church I plan to spend more energy in evangelization and figuring out how liturgy supports seekers who enter our doors #4 by Todd Flowerday on December 9, 2011 – 8:37 am

      Brigid identifies a second important dimension, the boredom of many Catholics who do go to Mass

      Of course – that brings us to an entirely different set of questions – why do so many Catholics feel that Mass is something to be endured? #12 by Brigid Rauch on December 9, 2011 – 11:29 am

      Lynne identified a third major dimension, a focus upon real people in the pew

      Perhaps you’re missing the vision from the real “people in the pew”…most don’t care. However, among those of us who do, there is real pain. #64 by Lynne Gonzales on December 9, 2011 – 2:12 pm

      And Crystal and Brigid bring us to the heart of the matter, that so many Catholics for so long have had no way to express their frustrations that they have given up.

      I haven’t been a Catholic for all that long, so let me ask – is there nothing that is so unacceptable that it will make the average Catholic say ‘enough’ #100 by crystal watson on December 9, 2011 – 9:47 pm

      Is it that the people in the pew don’t care, or that they realize no one in authority cares about what they think or feel? I think most Catholics in the US have learned it’s better for their blood pressure just to ignore some ofsome of the goings on #66 by Brigid Rauch on December 9, 2011 – 4:07 pm

  2. Oh, and one more thought. At least we have a Lectionary and some vernacular song texts in decent English. Maybe we can do something about refining and improving our efforts in the latter category. And making sure the dunces don’t get their claws into the former.

  3. Thank you, Jonathan! Your observations and suggestions are just what we need right now. Cooler heads must prevail at this moment in time but that doesn’t mean we are about to ignore any elephants. Taking a step back to breath and reflect can do us a lot of good. All the bickering serves is to divide an already divided church. Let’s let the Holy Spirit do what needs to be done for now. I’m sure we’ll all get our marching orders soon enough.

  4. I think Pope Benedict has celebrated the EF Mass as a cardinal, but not as pope and yes that is telling (the latter). Todd’s assertion that we have a good lectionary in decent English was certainly contested in 1998. There were many who wanted to keep the old one and saw it as better, but we don’t hear from them anymore.
    I still like the idea of showing were the flaws are in the revised translation, although some of the nitpicking is a bit obsessive, as a constructive way to promote refinement of the revised English translation in the future. As yes, there is a diversity of views concerning the revised translation and we’ll have to live with it and neither side should be slammed as neanderthals.

    1. Actually, Fr Allan, I don’t know anybody who wanted to keep the old Lectionary. I think many thoughtful liturgists had issues with many aspects of it.

      I think what we have now is decent. But not excellent.

      In most places, the laity will be alienated from the Missal texts. We should focus instead on better homiletics, improved proclamation, and the adaptation of Scriptural texts for song.

    2. A new lectionary for the US is in preparation, and has been for some time. The bishops have recognized the deficiencies of 1998. As well, there is a need to incorporate the revised NAB Old Testament, a work of considerable scholarship that required nearly two decades to complete. No date for the new Lectionary has been set. Certainly within the next five years.

      I have had long experience in training lectors. When I arrived at Mass yesterday evening, the lector assigned to read the second reading, Paul to the Ephesians, asked me what to do about all the run-on sentences. “Go slowly,” I advised. He tried, poor man. Phrases here and there stood out, but for the most part it was a jumble.

      The celebrant, a very good presider and excellent homilist, had trouble with all the orations, though he had clearly prepared them. Even more with the preface. The solemn blessings were an utter disaster. And the new dismissal formulas trail off so at the end that no one knows when to say “Thanks be to God.” Time will only slightly remedy that.

      The four priests of the large and vibrant parish so far seem willing to try only EP II. It is at least somewhat manageable compared to I, III, IV. “Like the dewfall” is comical. The prayer ends up in a formless heap, like someone tumbling down the stairs. –“Remember also our brothers and sisters/who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection,/and all who have died in your mercy:/ welcome them into the light of your face./Have mercy on us all, we pray,/that with the blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God,/with the blessed Apostles/and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages,/we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life,/and may praise and glorify you/through your Son, Jesus Christ.” And, and, and. It reads like a list of things to do!

      The texts may be more theologically precise (for those in the assembly who have STDs), but they are neither memorable nor beautiful. As English prayer they fail. Words, words, words; commas, commas, commas. It will be awhile, but when the day comes for their replacement, there will be few mourners at the bier.

      1. It is bothersome to me that despite faithful attendance at Mass, I know very little of St. Paul’s letters. One problem is that all too often, we are given a fragment of a larger statement. The other is that the run-on sentences are difficult to comprehend when read out loud. This problem is aggravated by all the lectors who feel required to deliver the reading in a monotone.
        I’d like to see a better handling of Paul’s letters, even if the reading takes a few more minutes.

        Of course – that brings us to an entirely different set of questions – why do so many Catholics feel that Mass is something to be endured? The strongest praise I here in some quarters is”Father X is great – he says Mass in 40 minutes! ” Then there is the associated problem of priests determined to bring Mass in at 60 minutes, not a second more or less. I know one priest who actually prided himself on getting the Easter Vigil in at 75 minutes!

  5. I think that changing the conversation may be premature. I’ve only been to three Masses with the new missal so far, and the sound of the new words is still quite novel. We need more time to take it all in. At each Mass I hear something that I had not noticed before. This blog has been discussing this for a long time, but it’s only been actually happening for less than 10 days: the experience itself is quite new, and we need time to absorb it, embrace it, reject it, tolerate it, or ignore it. I agree that blog discussions are mostly sterile, but now might be a good time for discussions in parishes.

    1. I agree — the comment on Eucharistic Prayer II above and in Fergus Kerr’s article show that aesthetic critique of the new trans in just now likely to be fresh and stimulating, as its failures dawn in wave after wave on priests and people.

    2. I strongly agree with Claire that it is far too early to “change the conversation,” though I can agree that for those of us who have been focused on this for months or years because we had the task of helping prepare our communities, many of the issues might feel stale, or old-hat, or things we have just had to let go of in order to do the work of aiding the transition.

      But it is only in the trying to pray this text that some things are becoming clearer, particularly what people will have problems adapting to (it had never occured to me that people might have difficulty knowing to say “Thanks be to God” because the dismissals sound different!) …

      And also, for those who haven’t been engrossed in the blog conversation, it is still time to mourn (or I suppose for others, depending on the taste thing, be pleasantly surprised — though my guess is that most folks who are pleasantly surprised have been in the advance cheer-leading vanguard).

      The saddest thing I noticed in the third go (two Sundays plus the Solemnity), is how subdued the responses are in general, even in parts that haven’t been changed, because people in the assembly aren’t even sure any more what is and isn’t the same.

    3. The saddest thing I noticed in the third go (two Sundays plus the Solemnity), is how subdued the responses are in general, even in parts that haven’t been changed, because people in the assembly aren’t even sure any more what is and isn’t the same.

      Or maybe some are simply refusing to say anything as a means of showing that they don’t accept the new missal.

      1. Oh, yes, that is definitely happening too in a few cases. But we are a relatively small community, and we sit antiphonally, so those who remain adamantly silent really stick out … eventually I hope those who are clearly just “on strike” will relent and find other ways to express their lack of acceptance (struggled to find the right word there, because I have great sympathy with what all they find objectionable, both in the final product and in the dreadful process). I will count this new missal an even greater disaster if because of it we lose communal prayer itself, because many can’t get past their particular reservations and angst (a place where “many” rather than “all” is just the right way to phrase it!).

  6. Thank you Jonathan. This is a well balanced survey of the field at the moment.

    […] how to operate a parish that celebrates the ordinary and extraordinary forms of Mass, especially after the unfortunate decisions in Universae Ecclesiae?

    What do you think is unfortunate about Universae Ecclesiae? The Instruction did not change the overall message of Summorum Pontificum, save to bolster the Tridentine faithful’s access to the old liturgy as well as priests’ right to say the old Mass more often. Are you concerned that bishops have less say over where and when the EF will be celebrated in their dioceses?

    Plurality works, at least where I live. I suspect that in many dioceses the probability of a new pastor charging into an “average” parish, flipping the altar around, and chanting asperges me soon after arrival are not that great. In my diocese, Tridentines stay to their own parishes. Priests who ardently wish to celebrate the EF regularly are sent to minister to the Tridentine faithful or (in one case) depart the secular clergy for a licit Tridentine order.

  7. “1. The new translation will be with us for a good while.”
    All things being equal, yes it will be with us for awhile. However, the changing of the guard can change things quickly. The last conclave should have been a slam dunk considering a somewhat successful pontificate but even after almost 25 yrs of conservative leaning appointments by JPII it took about 5 days to finally get B16 elected. The more progressive Martini was in the running the first several votes. So things can change in a heartbeat, or more accurately, the lack of a heartbeat.

    1. I’d give the new trans 2 years. The necessary pluralism in commonsense pastoral responses to it will ensure its loss of authority.

  8. I would echo Claire’s comment above.

    “Moving on” from the translation is premature. Ten days into the “great experiment” is hardly time to stop thinking about it or talking about it. Most people are only beginning to know what is happening.

    Having arrived at a standoff in blog conversations does not mean anything with respect to the larger conversation, into which the people of the church are only now being introduced.

    Pray Tell regulars have talked this thing over ad nauseam, but before the first Sunday of Advent, at least in the United States, more than 70% of the people didn’t even know there was going to be a change, according to CARA.

    1. Yes, I think Jonathan is too impressed by the blog diehards, whose ability to put up serried ranks of memes, talking points, straw men, red herrings in the service of ideological entrenchment doesn’t at all represent the gutsy reactions that the people of God will variously display. Don’t forget the NZ bishop who got 83% negative reactions from the people or the similar reports from South Africa.

      1. Actually, Joe, if it were only for the bloggers I would be more optimistic about seeing change. Once you screen out the posts that do nothing but parrot Fr Z there isn’t a lot left.

        What has swayed my view, more than anything else, is the number of good, learned priests I know who are painfully aware of the flaws of the new trans, but who have implemented it because the hierarchy has commanded them to do so. Not saying that this is A Good Thing.

        I hope I am wrong. But I see little evidence ‘on the ground’ that there are strong forces for change.

  9. Also, “moving on” to defend the Novus Ordo in Latin is a move designed to leave out 99% of the church, in order to focus on a fight with a few. It will move the conversation entirely into disputes carried out in Latin. Nice way to clear the room, but hardly what the Church needs to be doing in today’s world.

    If we have sunk to that level, we really have become a dysfunctional family. The “elephant in the narthex” that Elaine mentions will not go away because we’ve changed the subject.

    1. Also, “moving on” to defend the Novus Ordo in Latin is a move designed to leave out 99% of the church, in order to focus on a fight with a few.

      But it’s not just about that fight. As the article notes, “Latin also works well in a multilingual community, one with a constant flow of visitors from distant countries.”

      The number of parishes in the United States that are not a multilingual community is few and getting fewer.

      As I understand it, this is also increasingly the case in the UK (Eastern European migration) and Israel (with English, Tagalog (and other Asian languages), and Hebrew becoming more common and the proportion of Arabic speaking Catholics declining).

      1. I live in a very ‘multi-lingual’ country and in a city which is the very multicultural capital of Europe. The new ‘lingua franca’ is definitely not Latin but rather English (the second spoken language used in Brussels the capital also of Flanders is not Dutch/Flemish but English). Each Sunday in the parishes I serve (and the other two English-speaking parishes too) we have people from all the continents, and from all over Europe (North, South, East and West), including a number of Belgians who are ‘disgusted with their language wars’. However, at the Cathedral, (and other similar occasions), when we have a Mass in which both Flemish and French are used, we give Communion using Latin (so as to not ‘enter’ into the ‘language wars’ at that moment. The Ordinary, and the Our Father are sung on these occasions in Latin (including the usual Greek and Hebrew texts). The ‘linguistic question’ is not solved by using Latin, but it does please the ‘musicians’ and those who ‘love the Chant and the polyphonic heritage of the Church’ (which I do also), but it does not produce a more participatory liturgy (even with a wholly interiorized understanding of participation.)

      2. Again, it’s not a positive (descriptive) but a normative question: “Does Latin work in this way?” And not: “What is the most commonly used language for this purpose?” Saying that English is more commonly used in this way doesn’t at all detract from the point.

      3. No, I’m afraid this “solution” (using Latin to bridge communities) is like the slippers they give out in some Asian restaurants — called jocularly “one size-fits nobody.”

        Latin is an equalizer, because nobody has it as their own language. But “fits nobody” is not a recommendation for Christian worship. It’s at best a compromise that will only serve on limited occasions.

      4. O.K. … so now we get to something that can be judged descriptively. Is it not working in our communities where it is used that way, Rita?

        To an extent, of course it will be a compromise. The ideal is that we all speak the same language… but then the fall happened, etc. Surely using English only would also be a compromise, as would switching amongst languages in one liturgy.

      5. Thanks, Sam. I’ve commented on this below.

        I think the principle of self-selection accounts for some places where unity is heightened by one or another aspect of the service, especially in large metropolitan areas.

        Enthusiasts for liturgical dance are united in their enthusiasm for it, despite their other differences. But that doesn’t make it the vehicle of unity for everybody.

      6. Sam, speaking of compromise, I’m not opposed to using some Latin in the liturgy. I like to think we can do with a certain “both/and” approach.

        We already have several languages included in some way in the Liturgy, after all: Greek (kyrie eleison), Hebrew (alleluia, amen), Aramaic (ephphetha).

        But they are not the bulk of the service, or the continually changing parts, and they don’t demand that we learn the language itself, only that we master a few words the meaning of which is well known to us in our native language.

      7. We should translate everything into Greek and use Greek as the common liturgical language.

        It is of course the language of the NT, and the language of the OT texts that were used by early Christians and the language of the Roman Church before Latin.

        So actually we should recompose the Roman Liturgy in Greek to make it more biblical.

        If Christians are to learn to use one language in order to be more Christian and communicate with fellow Christians it should be Greek not Latin.

        Even B16 has suggested that there was something providential about Greek.

        Greek has a far better claim to being a universal language for Christians; Latin, Slavonic, Coptic, etc. are just regional languages. All the excessive love for Latin is not different than excessive love for Slavonic, etc.

  10. I’m reluctant to move on, too–the trouble with that advice is that it forces us to accept the unacceptable.

    That said, I was pleased to note yesterday, the first solemnity or Sunday on which I’ve experienced the new text without presiding, that neither the ludicrous excesses of the orations, nor my first exposure to the dreadful ‘through my fault x 3’ and to the Nicene Creed, managed completely to extinguish the grace of the feast. It may have helped that the acoustics of the Church were such that I could say ‘and also with you’ loudly without disturbing others.

  11. I understand that you dislike what the Novus Ordo actually says in the Confiteor, etc., but of what benefit is to you or anyone else to be so recalcitrant about finally having to say it in English?

  12. it’s a Latinate rhetoric which sounds perfectly acceptable in the language of Verdi opera. In plain English, we say things once and mean it. Repetition devalues rather than reinforces.

      1. Do we have to be consistent? Is being consistent a value? Why be consistent?

        If the repeats are represented in the Lamb of God and the Holy, Holy, Holy the element of repetition is covered, don’t you think? Right? Correct?

        Frankly, I didn’t realize quite how irritating it can be until now.

      2. Of course we know that repetition is not unknown in English rhetoric, but normally the florid repetitions of opera or Roman liturgy come across as insincere posturings in English. Hebrew parallelism does better; there has never been any complaint about the Psalms. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei (and Gloria and Kyrie) have a different status from other prayers — closer to a musical mantra than to standard prayer-language. Were such repetition introduced into the Pater, for example, it would be catastrophic.

      3. The repeats in the Agnus Dei actually have a function — they are to last as long as it takes to break all the bread in the fraction rite. And in a community that uses real bread, that is a genuine concern.

  13. I would also agree that it’s too early to move on because several deeper issues have not been discussed or dealt with:

    1. Liturgical ethics: is it acceptable to use a legislated form of liturgical language to manipulate the piety and loyalty of the people in the pews? To influence their personal operative theology? To generate fear and distanciation from God? To artificially elevate the position of the clergy?

    2. The increasingly shameless use of propaganda, half-truths and occasional blatant falsehoods by those who have been entrusted with leadership on various levels in the Church. We saw it coming over the past ten years regarding the sex abuse coverups. We’ve seen it again in much of the catechetical material produced to persuade the people to adapt to the new language style.

    3. The illegal curtailing of the rights of national conferences of Catholic bishops in regard to decision-making concerning the liturgy in their own regions.

    I agree, we would do much better to ratchet down the level of violent verbal anger. But one principle I learned in ministry twenty years ago was, “When you see anger, look for fear.” The real challenge might be to gently and compassionately slip behind individuals’ angry behavior and find ways to help heal their fear.

    1. Susan, thank you for highlighting some of the issues that cannot and should not be laid aside, which are integral to the translation story as we have lived it. If we do not address these issues, they will come back to haunt us no matter what the next area of conflict may be.

      I would add something to the ethical and legal issues however. Beneath many of the controversial points, istm, there is an “argument” implicit — concerning (a) the right relationship of the Church to history and change, and concerning (b) the demands of unity and the actual contours of catholicity in the 21st Century. Perhaps if we had a go at these fundamental issues more directly, the translation problems would be more properly adumbrated. During the nineteenth century, a high degree of centralization and attempts at the supression of historical consciousness did for (a). As for (b), a practical imperialism, centered in Rome but mirroring the empires of Europe, carried the day. These worn-out and discredited solutions need desperately to be revised. What I am afraid we are seeing instead is a re-tread of them, with minor concessions here and there but with retrenchment as well.

    2. Ethics — this is a serious issue. Can a celebrant utter prayers he believes to be spiritually deleterious?

      Abuse.

      Anti-Conciliar illegality.

      These are also serious issues.

  14. I don’t find it persuasive to speak of a distaste for repetition in one language but not another. Plus, consider MLK, Jr. — his most famous speech repeated a particular phrase quite a few times, and no one said, “Oooh, you’re acting Italian.”

    Besides, “and with your spirit” isn’t a repetition of anything — it’s the first time the Latin response has been translated into English on the same terms as it was translated into every other similar language. Even if you don’t like the accurate translation, again, what purpose other than venting sour grapes does it serve to be recalcitrant?

    1. As a linguist I would define an accurate translation as one that conveys the meaning of the source text in a way that makes sense in the target language. By that definition, “and with your spirit” (among a number of other things) misses the mark. To modern anglophone ears it sounds disembodied.

      And I don’t buy the appeal to Romance languages, which naturally will tend to follow Latin syntax and cognates more directly. It makes no sense to use them as models for accuracy; comparing one language family to another is just apples and oranges. Although, to your credit, Stuart, at least you used the word “similar”, acknowledging the existence of other languages outside Europe. This makes me wonder what kind of translations other Germanic languages have.

  15. Overall, this is a good article.

    The latter is the view of the Lefebvrists, who were the original target of Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” idea. It has now been turned on the progressives.

    “Hermenutic of continuity” is a gloss on Pope Benedict’s “Hermenutic of Reform” from the
    2005 Christmas address to the Curia
    .

    Well, all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its correct hermeneutic, on the right key to interpretation and application.

    The problems of reception have arisen from a struggle between two conflicting forms of interpretation. One of these has caused confusion; the other, in a silent but increasingly visible way, has brought results, and continues to bring them.

    On one hand, there is an interpretation that I would like to call “hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture”. It was frequently able to find favour among mass media, and also a certain sector of modern theology.

    On the other hand, there is the “hermeneutics of reform”, of the renewal of the continuity of the single Church-subject, which the Lord has given us.

    [My emphasis]

    Given that “a certain sector of modern theology” was mentioned in the speech establishing the concept, I think it’s wrong to see it has having been “turned on the progressives.” It seems to be applicable from the first broadly to all across the spectrum who seek to read the Second Vatican Council with a hermenutic of rupture.

    1. SLH – you reference a biased web opinion piece by Sandro Magister on Dec. 5th, 2005 which was clarified and challenged if not negatively footnoted by Rev. J. Komonchak as deliberately misinterpreting B16’s hermeneutic (Note, it is reform; not continuity)

      The context for B16’s comments is laid out by Fr. Komonchak:

      http://jakomonchak.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/jak-on-benedict1.pdf

      Keys:
      – As the fortieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican
      Council approached, rumors began to spread that Pope Benedict XVI would use the occasion to address the question of the interpretation of the Council. The rumor was particularly promoted by Sandro Magister, columnist of L’Espresso and author of a widely read weekly newsletter on the Internet. For some time Magister had used this
      newsletter to criticize the five-volume History of Vatican II that had been published under the general editorship of Giuseppe Alberigo.
      When the last volume of this History appeared, Magister’s newsletter called it a «non-neutral history» (9 Nov. 2001). The role of Giuseppe Dossetti at the Council and the reform-proposals of the Istituto per le Scienze Religiose that he founded were the objects of three separate newsletters (1 Dec. 2003; 3 Jan 2005; 30 Aug. 2005).
      In a web-article on 22 June 2005, under the title: «Vatican II: The True History Not Yet Told», Magister gave great prominence to the launching of a book presented as a «counterweight» to the Alberigo History. For several years, its author, Agostino Marchetto, had been publishing severely critical reviews of the successive volumes of that History and of several auxiliary volumes generated in the course of
      the project sponsored by the Bologna Institute.”
      – “In a web-article on 5 December 2005, Magister indicated that he
      expected Pope Benedict soon to address the issue of the interpretation
      of the Council. In anticipation he reprinted an essay by Walter Brandmüller, president of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Studies.
      Brandmüller’s essay, first published in the November 29th issue of the
      Italian bishops’ conference’s daily newspaper Avvenire, preferred
      theological platitudes to historical interpretation of the Council,
      which he distinguished from other ecumenical councils because it
      was pastoral rather than dogmatic in character, an option of which
      Brandmüller did not seem to approve.
      – “Magister considered this essay «the perfect preface» to what the
      Pope would say in his homily on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Clearly, he himself «eagerly awaited» the speech in which he expected the Pope to declare himself against «the Bologna school»
      and its view of Vatican II as «a new beginning» in Church history.
      The Pope’s homily on December 8th, it turned out, at least with respect to Vatican II, was a simple ferverino offering Our Lady as the key to understanding the Council. There were no references to mistaken interpretations of the Council.
      – The Pope’s Christmas Address to the Roman Curia
      The much-anticipated remarks of the new Pope finally appeared
      as a part of his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005.

      .#14 by Bill deHaas on December 5, 2011 – The Lifespan of MR2010

      F/U from Fr. Komonchak: “The sentence quoted above is from a footnote to Pope Benedict’s Sacramentum caritatis. You are correct that in his speech to the Roman Curia, he does not use the phrase “hermeneutics of continuity” and avoids it deliberately, I believe, because “the hermeneutic of reform” that he espouses means both “continuity and discontinuity at different levels.”

      Would just state that your post is a good example of what Jonathan Day is referencing.

      1. SLH

        Please note that my initials are “SJH” not as you have written them.

        I just linked to Magister because it excerpted the relevant of the curial address. My argument has nothing to do with what Magister wrote.

        Would just state that your post is a good example of what Jonathan Day is referencing.

        You haven’t addressed my argument at all, which has nothing to do with the Immaculate Conception homily.

  16. And yet Pope Benedict continues to celebrate the Novus Ordo; as far as I know, he has yet to celebrate the Tridentine Mass either as cardinal or as Pope.

    As a Cardinal, Pope Benedict celebrated the Tridentine Mass in 1990 in Wigratzbad, Germany, at least once and possibly twice in the 90’s at the Le Barroux Abbey in France, in 1999 in Weimer, Germany, and in 2001 at Fontgombault in France. This may not be a complete list.

  17. SJH:

    But it’s not just about that fight. As the article notes, “Latin also works well in a multilingual community, one with a constant flow of visitors from distant countries.”

    You will find that in multilingual communities with a constant flow of visitors from other countries, the lingua franca for celebration is not Latin but English. Inspect the English-speaking parishes in Switzerland and the Netherlands if you do not believe me. The last time I worked at the John XXIII Centre in Geneva, no less than 83 different nationalities were finding a spiritual home there through the medium of the English language, and the make-up of the community changed every week. The same is true in Basel and Lausanne, even with a smaller number of nationalities represented. English is the language of their liturgical prayer-life. Even at Taizé in France, where simple Latin is used in some of the chants, multiple languages are used during the Eucharist (always a minimum of three during the Eucharistic Prayer itself) and the language used in the international discussion groups tends to be English.

    Stuart Buck:

    the Latin response has been translated into English on the same terms as it was translated into every other similar language

    Not accurate. Have a look at the Portugese translation, just for a start. Not exactly a minority language (think of Brazil and its huge Catholic population from which, some say, our next pope will come). Then ask the Japanese whether they are able to use “spirit”. And so on and on, through many lesser-known languages, tribal dialects, etc. While many of the major languages may use an equivalent of “spirit”, to say every other language does so is patently false.

    1. You will find that in multilingual communities with a constant flow of visitors from other countries, the lingua franca for celebration is not Latin but English. You will find that in multilingual communities with a constant flow of visitors from other countries, the lingua franca for celebration is not Latin but English. Inspect the English-speaking parishes in Switzerland and the Netherlands if you do not believe me.

      It’s unclear how this contradicts what I wrote. So some places English is used this way? That doesn’t mean that Latin would be bad for this purpose.

      If you inspect parishes in New York City and it metro area, you’ll find a number where Latin is succesfully used in this way. You’ll also find a number where the community is fragmented and segregated based on language. In other places, there is terrible and confusing multilingual liturgy where, for instance, the Our Father is recited simultaneously in different languages, or the incipits given in one language and then continued in another… where the elements of the liturgy change from one language to another without warning or announcement from week to week.

      English isn’t the answer here for many people, because it’s not a neutral ground, but the dominant lanuage of the nation, something that is not the case in Switzerland or France.

      1. I live in the metro New York area, and every parish I’ve known or even know of that uses Latin does not “successfully” unite multiple language groups by so doing. Rather, they self-select from a much larger population the very few who are interested in Latin or in a particular “style.”

        Phil Sandstrom’s point is well taken, and would apply here as well.

      2. Rita, my point isn’t that there’s some sort of all-Latin utopia out there already existing, but I’ve seen this work in concrete examples: a First Mass in Peekskill, a Parish Feast Day in the Bronx, Vespers for a Festival at an old Italian Parish in Harlem where there is now a large Haitian Community. Those are special occasions, but I think I’m also on pretty firm ground that some of the parishes in NYC–that have congregations to a larger or greater degree self-selected–use Latin (in the ordinary form) in a way that universalizes the liturgies they celebrate partly or mostly in English and thereby expand the diversity of their communities in a way that is less liturgically difficult and less potentially alienating to the English speaking communities around those parishes than some alternatives would be.

        I’ve also seen Latin used succesfully at Benediction in Midtown and Bronx parishes, where the prayers are standardized and invariable and the language of the congregants is diverse and that seems to me to be a no-brainer.

    1. What is so ironic? Jonathan expressed his view, most of us begged to differ. Had we rather agreed with Jonathan and then fallen back into what we had thus resolved to relinquish, that would have been ironic. I suspect you also mean “comical” rather than “humorous”.

  18. Perhaps you’re missing the vision from the real “people in the pew”…most don’t care. However, among those of us who do, there is real pain. I have read the translation and find two of the new dismissals quite good; however, the remainder of the translation is so bad I have not gone to “hear” it…afraid I would embarrass someone by laughing, giggling, or having to rush out of the church to avoid audible laughing or giggling (or weeping).

    1. I have been mostly saddened and dispirited by this “translation.” “With your spirit” I don’t mind. Some of the clear biblical image I enjoy – but I was raised and Evangelical and memorized scripture so I “recognize” the one-off word allusion. “Chalice” I loathe to the point that it I must shut down during the Eucharist prayer – the antithesis to liturgical action. So much for translating biblical images according to the biblical usage, thus saith LA.

      What I sincerely find most troubling is that the prefaces and collects are often audibly unintelligible. Today, for example, I simply came away with an image of the wise and foolish virgins. Laudable, but I have no idea what the intention was of the prayer. I can ponder the facts afterwards, think of the biblical passage, think to art historical references. But I have three concerns:

      1. I’m not convinced liturgical prayer is for my private contemplation after the fact, rather than propelling me to immediate doxological praise in the very moment of the liturgical action.

      2. I’m not sure that liturgical prayer is meant to be a pastiche of images, and theologically coded phrases I must attempt to mentally paste together.

      3. Most of all, liturgy has become the primary mode of evangelization for our church. In reality, the lay faithful, beyond tuning out for syntactical reasons, will not recognize a brief biblical, patristic, or art-historical reference during the liturgy in order to be edified by a prayer who’s meaning was not immediately clear. Theobabble – as Rita Ferrone so rightly put it.

      In fact, I judge the presence of these intrigues to be an indication of the overall failure of a lingual system, and by extension, this “translation”.

    2. Is it that the people in the pew don’t care, or that they realize no one in authority cares about what they think or feel? I think most Catholics in the US have learned it’s better for their blood pressure just to ignore some of the goings on, whether it’s a poorly thought out homily or a pastor,(conservative, liberal or anywhere in between), imposing his concept of an ideal liturgy on a parish regardless of what the parishioners might prefer.

  19. Samuel J. Howard :

    Again, it’s not a positive (descriptive) but a normative question: “Does Latin work in this way?” And not: “What is the most commonly used language for this purpose?” Saying that English is more commonly used in this way doesn’t at all detract from the point.

    </blockq. I think it is safe to say that in general Latin no longer 'works' as a working 'universal language' even in the Roman Rite of the Church. For most people 'going to Mass in Latin' is about the same experientially as going to an Opera in Czech (those of Janachek for example). The music can be beautiful and the story interesting — but one has almost no immediate contact with the language. At best it is like going with a libretto, or with 'sur-titres' (as often happens in Opera Houses nowadays.

  20. For most people — even well educated people — going to Mass in Latin, etc is like going to the Opera. One can enjoy the music and maybe follow the story (more or less) but to ‘really follow’ you need a libretto &/or ‘sur-titres’ — which are definitely a ‘second-hand experience’ even for musicians. Why should any group be forced to partake in a ‘second-hand’ experience in their corporate worship of the Holy Trinity? Even the Eastern Christians both Catholic and Orthodox are beginning to realize this problem for their ‘diaspora’ — those living outside the traditional homeland for the language and the form of worship. And both the Slavs and the Greeks are realizing that the use of the ‘antique versions’ of their languages for worship is depriving the laity of the profundity of what is involved. For example for the Greeks: the rite of the Sacrament of Marriage is full of wonderful relevatory theology — but it is incomprehensible to those who do not have ‘Church Greek’. I have had the pleasure of providing these texts in English and French for Greeks, so I have seen the eye-opening experience of even very well educated people. The same is true for all the Sacramental Rituals. My point is that in the Roman Rite we have had the ‘general removal of the need for a second-hand experience’ in worship for some 40 years (a mere drop in time) and can ask ‘why should we give up on this gift or proceed to make it more complex &/or difficult’? A more exact translation is a good ideal, but it must also pass the ‘euphony text’ — that is, be comprehensible to the listeners, whether the Holy Trinity or the ‘people of God’.

    1. The “noble simplicity” of the vernacular liturgy is far from teh unintelligibility of opera in a language one does not know. The idea that the ghastly new trans introduces valuable theological subtleties does not hold water. In the preces, yes, but these were better handled in the 1998 versions.

      1. Nor is the Latin of the NO particularly richer theologically than the vernacular versions. It could even be claimed that EP III and IV in the 1973 English and French translations are richer than in the Latin.

  21. Dear Philip S., evidence please for your contention analoguing participation at an EF as like appreciating opera in a language other than one’s vernacular? Your whole premise is faulty and silly actually. I may not be Xavier Rindfleisch, but I matriculated post graduate degrees with distinction, and I can be reduced to tears at both a beautifully prayed EF and a wonderfully performed Italian grand opera for distinctly different reasons of cognition.
    As for Fr. Philip’s assertion about repetition having no intrinsic virtue and his repugnance over the “mea culpas.” Well, the Hallelujah Chorus of MESSIAH is not my favorite chorus of the oratorio, indeed I don’t require ever singing or hearing it again in my life. But there’s a supreme merit to Handel’s intent. Yours is a pedantic opinion, speaking only to the intellect. I’m also not a huge fan of Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” but I sure as heck get his gestalt in plumbing the depths of all that word offers.
    Why is it always so black and white with you folks, especially those across the pond? And, lastly, to put a cherry on top, sometimes succinct sucks.

    1. Charles – I may have matriculated a number of post graduate degrees with distinctions, but have to agree with Philip that, in many ways, the resemblance and comparison to opera is fitting.

      It isn’t black and white – it is personal taste…..the same goes for Fr. Endean’s point about repitition. The original ICEL recorded and explained why no repeated “mea culpas”….you can disagree but their reasons were just as valid or more so than a literal translation that may or may not capture the “original” latin meaning. Sometimes succint does suck – but sometimes it is very appropriate…..compare the 1998 collects to the 2010 collects.

      1. Yeah, Bill, I got the taste thing. But my problem with Phil S’s contention is the same as when AWR challenges someone’s premise advanced only by personal or anecdotal evidence. Phil has no basis for demographic surety, it’s merely his philosophical assertion.What’s for what’s good for AWR’s goose should apply for Charles’ gander in a just world. Am I in a just world, Bill?
        Regarding our favorite Jebbie’s point about repetition, Bill, your refute is not well taken. Fr. Endean did not qualify the detriment or virtue of repetition according to dynamic v. literal equivilence vis a vis ICEL’s explanation back in the day. He just debunked “repetition” out of hand. Neither he nor you have commented upon my contention that context, craft and inspriation mitigate what was demeaned as bald-faced uselessness, such as the aesthetic exploration of “al le lu ia” by Thompson and a host of others. That’s just, prima facie, dishonest and dumb (as in mute.) I won’t even mention the larger implications for devotions and rites themselves, as they are by nature, repetitive
        My comment about being succinct wasn’t addresssed to your point, which was both right and well taken. Its origin came from a visceral abhorance for the arrogance unrelentingly demonstrated, like a mantra, from among the many experts who seem to live to demean the Christian integrity of others here with whom they disagrees. Funny that his ire never surfaces when many of his fellow travellers use the edit feature to repost their dissertations. Not so funny is that AWR and the editorial staff herein pretend not to notice this disparity, if not outright hypocrisy. Done for now.

    2. In response to your questioning about the resemblance between attending an Opera performance and the Latin Liturgy : when I was first ordained a priest, just before Vatican II I was privileged to preside at two ‘concert Masses’ — one by Mozart and the other by Schubert. (With all the ministers etc, it was at least as well staged as most Operas). I celebrated the liturgy (according to the 1962 Missal) ‘in between the music’ (the music was beautifully sung and very pleasing), but I came out of that experience realizing that what ever else it might be — the important part of this celebration was not the texts of the liturgy, but rather the music. It was a ‘concert’ first and foremost. I love the music, but I do question how one can call this worship of the Divine in any true sense. I am also aware of the ‘musicians saying’ that ‘the angels sing Bach for God and Mozart for themselves’ — which does ring true as a generalization. But how is that worship of the Holy Trinity for an average and even well-educated congregation? (and I would add the further question: how is it true worship for the clergy involved?)

      1. Thank you for clarifying your perspective as a clergyman, Father Sandstrom. Your experience and concerns regarding those two particular concert Mass experiences, however, shifts the focus of your original assertion that comprehension and intelligibility at Latin EF’s and operas have common issues to a completely different, more specific concern-the appropriate aesthetic medium that accompanies the texts of the rite. In that specific concern, I’m on record even among my CMAA colleagues, that the performance or spectacle Mass is deficient and a detriment to the humility required of worship music. In that I defer to the wisdom of “the church” and magisterium that “first place” for that humble vehicle is chant (in many and diverse forms, languages and performance practices.) And a suitable polyphonic setting of an Ordinary or proper is not antithetical to the rites as we agree the “classical/Vienna” orchestral/choral has a modicum of self-consciousness that intrudes. I would still prefer to lead the singing of a particular setting by Bob Hurd or Michael Joncas every Sunday as opposed to a 52 weekends of rotating the Haydns, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Amadeus as the standard for the celebration of an EF or OF, every time if so challenged.
        So, back to the original focus: though I cannot literally translate every audible Latin word at a properly sung EF Mass, the contextual aspects other than that informs my base of knowledge so humbly, easily and worthily that I have no doubt as to “what just happened?” I cannot always say the same for each and every opera I’ve encountered.
        Thank you for engaging me in this discussion. It is always a profitable outcome when clergy share alike, rather than to opt for condescension towards their intellectual inferiors, such as I am.

  22. This big-picture, long-view perspective is helpful, and very Catholic. A worthy effort at getting us unstuck, even if (in all probability) it’s going to take us awhile longer. I’m afraid I’m still at least partly in a state of disbelief – “They don’t really expect us to say ‘and with your spirit’ for the rest of our lives, do they?” I haven’t quite managed to get it out yet, but not for lack of trying. And it hasn’t been repugnant enough to deter me from Mass, even daily, and that’s something … maybe 50 years from now it won’t seem like such a big deal, but I’m still hoping we’ll have something better by then.

  23. The call to move on is interesting but premature. This has to be worked through carefully on many levels–emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. When the first Sunday of Advent arrived I was physically under the weather and couldn’t summon the energy to just say the black and do the red. Let’s just say it was kind of a hybrid. We followed the Ordinary, of course, and I perceived that most of us made a good faith effort not to let the new translation deter us from our usual vibrant experience of worship. By now, I’ve actually used some of the orations word for word and got through them fairly well. I do not plan, however, to adhere slavishly to word or constructions that simply don’t make sense in prayer texts directed to God but which seek the Amen of the worshipping assembly.
    We never use Form A of the penitential act, and we have now successfully memorized the Apostles Creed. No problem with consubstantial here. In the EP we’ve been using the “when we eat…and drink this cup” acclamation so I keep the use of cup so that it doesn’t contrast. I guess the Vox Clara folks couldn’t bring themselves to tamper with the familiar Pauline wording. We’re even using the mind twisting new intro before communion somewhat successfully.
    Here’s my bottom line: I can still worship the Lord despite the efforts of the translators to complicate it. The folks seem to be reflecting the leadership I am offering

  24. Brigid Rauch :
    This is what happens when the whole Church forgets that she is on kairos time, especially at her worship.

    It is bothersome to me that despite faithful attendance at Mass, I know very little of St. Paul’s letters. One problem is that all too often, we are given a fragment of a larger statement. The other is that the run-on sentences are difficult to comprehend when read out loud. This problem is aggravated by all the lectors who feel required to deliver the reading in a monotone.
    I’d like to see a better handling of Paul’s letters, even if the reading takes a few more minutes.
    Of course – that brings us to an entirely different set of questions – why do so many Catholics feel that Mass is something to be endured? The strongest praise I here in some quarters is”Father X is great – he says Mass in 40 minutes! ” Then there is the associated problem of priests determined to bring Mass in at 60 minutes, not a second more or less. I know one priest who actually prided himself on getting the Easter Vigil in at 75 minutes!

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  25. An interesting point, Brigid. This is what tends to happen when the Church forgets that she is on kairos time, especially when she is at her worship.

    Brigid, forgive me for addending my statement at the beginning of your quote. I am still clumsy with some parts of this site.

    1. Bryon Gordon :

      An interesting point, Brigid. This is what tends to happen when the Church forgets that she is on kairos time, especially when she is at her worship.
      Brigid, forgive me for addending my statement at the beginning of your quote. I am still clumsy with some parts of this site.

      Only comments with a full name will be approved.

      ME, too!

      1. Concerning your other point on Scripture, the pericopes we hear proclaimed at Mass are just that–pericopes, selections. The Epistles most times have little thematic connection to what was proclaimed from the Hebrew Testament and Gospel on Sundays. They [the Epistles] are usually instructions in how to live the Christian life and also contain some weighty theological import, such as in sections of the Epistle to the Romans. In the hands of a well prepared and gifted homilist, he or she could briefly give more context to whatever precedes or comes after that particular pericope.

        Since you indicate that you are not that familiar with Pauline literature, may I recommend a Bible study at your parish or other neighboring parishes, or some diocesan center, if that’s feasible? You could also invest in good biblical commentaries or go to the library’s reference section and pull down the weighty Jerome Biblical Commentary.

        In preparation for the Sunday lections[readings], locate those citations in your own Bible that way you could read what comes before and after each of those pericopes. It could prove to be a fruitful experience of God’s living Word.

  26. To Fritz’s and Jordan’s points way upthread: my main problem with Universae Ecclesiae is that it deepens the divide between ‘trads’ and ‘non-trads’ and has the potential for splitting parishes and other groups. The error, I think, was the decision that

    by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

    How do you manage this in a parish where both forms are celebrated? “Suzie can be an altar server at the 10 am Ordinary Form Mass but at the 12 noon Extraordinary Form she’s not even allowed within the sanctuary.” It makes no sense, and I think one outcome will be that parish priests who use the EF and the OF will start to impose the more restrictive provisions of the EF on all their Masses – no female servers, communion in one kind only, etc.

    Similarly for seminaries: some can confer the minor orders and the subdiaconate, some can’t. I thought these orders had been suppressed. And now they aren’t, or at least they aren’t in some parts of the Church?

    I have other worries about Universae Ecclesiae, but those are the big ones.

    1. re: Jonathan Day on December 9, 2011 – 6:15 pm

      Jonathan, while I agree with and respect your concerns about divisions within parishes which celebrate the OF and EF, I have mentioned in this thread that in many dioceses parishes sift according to liturgical allegiance, with the more conservative or traditional parishes often exercising a degree of diocesan autonomy. In our diocese, the parishes which celebrate both forms do not permit girls or women to serve at the altar for either form. Women often read the lesson and epistle during the OF in these parishes, however. I respect those who disagree with this semi-exclusionary policy, but this is the compromise sometimes struck in more conservative circles.

      In your article, you stress that Roman Catholics might consider accepting the liturgical and theological pluralism as found in Anglicanism. This pluralism also requires respect for the policies of parishes who differ from what some might consider an optimal level of inclusion. Diversity requires a managed discomfort among adherents of all persuasions. Heck, if for example the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany, the “Prussian Union”) can maintain a diverse theological spectrum of Lutheran, Reformed, and Lutheran-Reformed heritage churches in a political union, then we Roman Catholics of one theology can manage a diversity of parishes within a diocese.

    2. Jonathan:

      Similarly for seminaries: some can confer the minor orders and the subdiaconate, some can’t. I thought these orders had been suppressed. And now they aren’t, or at least they aren’t in some parts of the Church?

      I don’t think this is right. The subdiaconate has been definitively abolished, and seminaries do not ordain subdeacons.

      Those undertaking this role in the EF are not ordained subdeacons either, since these no longer exist. They are deacons or priests. Canonically, we are told, lay acolytes wearing albs (but not the tunicle) may undertake the role too, but I’m not aware of any celebrations where this has happened.

      The only “ordained subdeacons” to be found are those in the schismatic movements, such as the Lefebvrists.

      1. Paul, the relevant part of Universae Ecclesiae is §§ 30 – 31:

        30. As regards tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum does not introduce any change in the discipline of the Code of Canon Law of 1983; consequently, in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, one who has made solemn profession or who has been definitively incorporated into a clerical institute of apostolic life, becomes incardinated as a cleric in the institute or society upon ordination to the diaconate, in accordance with canon 266 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

        31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

        FSSP (the non-schismatic traditionalist group, not to be confused with SSPX) has been ordaining porters, exorcists, subdeacons, etc. for several years – see here for an example.

        I guess §30 says that they are ‘not clerics’ until they are made deacons, but they are ordained to the minor orders nonetheless.

      2. FSSP (the non-schismatic traditionalist group, not to be confused with SSPX) has been ordaining porters, exorcists, subdeacons, etc. for several years – see here for an example.

        Try more like 20 years. UE actually clarified an ongoing situation. (Carried out with Vatican approval.) So I guess you could blame it for not restricting the practice, but it didn’t introduce it.

        The only “ordained subdeacons” to be found are those in the schismatic movements, such as the Lefebvrists.

        Ah, yes, those schismatic Melkite Catholics. Oh wait…

      3. Jonathan,

        Thank you for this. I did not know that the FSSP was doing this, still less that Bishop Bruskewitz was involved.

        My reading of §§ 30 – 31 of Universae Ecclesiae is more radical than yours.

        As regards tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum does not introduce any change in the discipline of the Code of Canon Law of 1983

        In other words, the suppressed minor orders remain suppressed, as does the subdiaconate.

        one who has made solemn profession or who has been definitively incorporated into a clerical institute of apostolic life, becomes incardinated as a cleric in the institute or society upon ordination to the diaconate, in accordance with canon 266 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

        Like you, I think this means that a man does not become a cleric until he is ordained deacon. But surely, also, if § 31 included the subdiaconate as a major clerical order, it would been mentioned here as the first step in incardination as a cleric.

        31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

        I think this is not be interpreted as saying that all the former minor orders and the subdiaconate are permitted. Rather, it is clearly stating that only those bodies which are subject to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are allowed to confer minor orders (i.e. lector and acolyte) and major orders (diaconate, priesthood), as provided for in Canon Law, using the 1962 Pontifical.

        It seems that the purpose of this paragraph is to maintain that other bodies not in communion with Rome (e.g. SSPX) are prohibited from conferring minor and major orders, not to reintroduce the suppressed minor orders and subdiaconate.

        In other words, I think that Bishop Bruskewitz and any others doing the same thing are clearly in breach of liturgical law and Canon Law.

      4. Rather, it is clearly stating that only those bodies which are subject to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are allowed to confer minor orders (i.e. lector and acolyte) and major orders (diaconate, priesthood), as provided for in Canon Law, using the 1962 Pontifical.

        Except that lector and acolyte under Ministeria Quaedam are not minor orders at all, but ministries. Since it uses the language of minor orders, I’d expect it’s talking about minor orders.

        There’s zero reason to think that this paragraph is trying to forbid the SSPX from doing something. Its bishops are already forbidden from celebrating the sacraments and exercising ministry in the Church by virtue of their continued suspension. It seems clear that the point is to forbid diocesan ordinaries from conferring the minor orders or using the ’62 Roman pontifical to confer major orders, as at least one did in the period between SP and UE.

    3. How do you manage this in a parish where both forms are celebrated? “Suzie can be an altar server at the 10 am Ordinary Form Mass but at the 12 noon Extraordinary Form she’s not even allowed within the sanctuary.” It makes no sense, and I think one outcome will be that parish priests who use the EF and the OF will start to impose the more restrictive provisions of the EF on all their Masses – no female servers, communion in one kind only, etc.

      Everyone admits that this is not the ideal situation, but there’s good reason behind it. If a large part of the reason for Ecclesia Dei and its progeny is to reconcile people who’d otherwise go into the SSPX, to give them a Mass with female servers makes no sense. UE clarifies the situation and at least causes pastors to think twice about the bad pastoral practice that has in the past led to situations like the one at Cardiff Cathedral in 2008.

      1. In other words, the tail wags the dog. Let them go to SSPX. It would counterbalance the disgruntled Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the RCC. To sacrifice equality in order to keep a rump happy is too high a price.

      2. Equality of role is an essential part of the Gospel? In case you didn’t notice, there are a number of roles in the Church only open to men or only open to women. Sorry that offends you.

  27. I certainly think that it’s worth pointing out when the new, botched translation is deeply inaccurate or even heretical, as at yesterday’s Mass of the Immaculate Conception. These issues aren’t matters of aesthetics but of Latin grammar. I don’t propose to move on from them at all.

    The aesthetic questions are harder. And, by the way, I’m not suggesting that we abandon them forever, just that we give ourselves a cooling off period until we can have a better discussion than “It’s ugly … no, it’s beautiful and sacral … no, it’s prolix and stilted .. no, it makes me feel more Catholic.”

    Rita, to your point earlier, I don’t think we would be better off with all Masses celebrated in Latin. But since the English Mass now comes across as a foreign language, hardly understandable unless you have the text in front of you, then I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say it in Latin, again providing people with a text.

    My strong preference, of course, would be to have the Latin OF available in certain situations, with most Masses said in an English that people can understand — not just the words but where the verbs and nouns are in the sentences. We had that until a few days ago.

    1. The aesthetic questions are harder. And, by the way, I’m not suggesting that we abandon them forever, just that we give ourselves a cooling off period until we can have a better discussion than “It’s ugly … no, it’s beautiful

      The “evaluation” of the prayers of the Missal should not be dismissed by calling it a mere matter of “aesthetics”. If 80% percent of the people think the prayer is ugly; or even just 20% think the prayer is ugly, there is a problem unless a substantial number who think it is beautiful are bringing their friends and neighbors back to church.

      I still like the idea of showing were the flaws are in the revised translation, although some of the nitpicking is a bit obsessive, as a constructive way to promote refinement of the revised English translation in the future #9 by Fr. Allan J. McDonald on December 9, 2011 – 8:55 am

      This blog needs now, for a least a year (maybe two or three) to collect concrete data about the good and the bad in specific prayers.

      I strongly agree with Claire that it is far too early to “change the conversation,” … it is only in the trying to pray this text that some things are becoming clearer, #15 by Julie Heath Elliott on December 10, 2011 – 12:07 am

      I suggest some feedback posts, e.g. on the new prayers for a feast or Sunday be limited to one comment per person. These descriptive comments could specify what is ugly, beautiful, unintelligible, funny, etc. Encourage many people to comment even if repetitious.

      The call to move on is interesting but premature. This has to be worked through carefully on many levels–emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually #79 by Jack Feehily on December 9, 2011 – 5:51 pm

      The catechesis should have been finished; it is time for the parish and diocesan leadership to listen to the feedback. Make notes about what you like and dislike each Sunday. Put your “contribution” in the collection envelope the next Sunday! Periordically send a summary to your bishop, especially if your pastor does not contact you about your “contributions”

  28. Brigid Rauch :
    Of course – that brings us to an entirely different set of questions – why do so many Catholics feel that Mass is something to be endured? The strongest praise I here in some quarters is”Father X is great – he says Mass in 40 minutes! ” Then there is the associated problem of priests determined to bring Mass in at 60 minutes, not a second more or less. I know one priest who actually prided himself on getting the Easter Vigil in at 75 minutes!

    Well of course that’s the other elephant in the narthex 🙂 The Mass is almost as bad as going to the dentist! I’m so embarrassed that these guys still wear the silly outfits that I used to call “clown suits” when I was a little girl. I make it through Mass trying my best to ignor it while talking to God and chatting with my friends. I like Communion cuz I can meditate. Only one in 3 of the priests in my parish knows anything about social justice or liberation theology, thus only one in 3 sermons are bearable. If I want to hear stuff like I heard in college with the Jesuits, like Bonhoeffer or Kierkegaard, I have to go to my BF’s Presbyterian service! Whodathunk?

    1. Not everyone is ready for Bonhoeffer or Kierkegaard, but I think a lot of people would be very happy if for one hour a week they could be comforted and at peace.

      It helps a lot if the celebrant is really in love with God. The worst Masses I have attended were led by a priest who seemed more interested in fire insurance than anything else!

      1. Reference to Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard reminded me of a monk friend who declared at dinner, “No one has ever loved God as much as I, since Dostoevsky”, drawing from his hostess the comment, “Well we certainly don’t want people like Dostoevsky around here!”

    2. Marci Blue on December 9, 2011 – 6:37 pm

      I’m so embarrassed that these guys still wear the silly outfits that I used to call “clown suits” when I was a little girl.

      I suspect that your reference to a “clown suit” refers to the chasuble and other vestments associated both with the priestly office and the theology of the Mass. While I do not wish to argue the point, it is important to note that these vestments are not gender-exclusive or Roman Catholic only. Rather, distinctive eucharistic vestments are directly tied to the celebration of the Eucharist in our tradition as well as many Anglicans and Lutherans.

      By contrast, I would often attend Sunday worship at an evangelical church while on vacation with Protestant friends. All the pastors that I had seen preside at that church would wear business attire on most Sundays. The “usual” pastor would wear a Geneva gown (similar to a judge’s frock) on communion Sundays. I suspect that he did this to visually signify that a unique liturgy was to take place. He could well have served the communion in his usual business suit.

      Evangelical reformed theology does not attach any significance to vestment in liturgy. Our beliefs do, and not for arbitrary but rather for significant historical reasons.

    3. If I want to hear stuff like I heard in college with the Jesuits, like Bonhoeffer or Kierkegaard, I have to go to my BF’s Presbyterian service! Whodathunk?
      ——————–
      Not only are you likely to hear the types of sermons in a Presbyterian service you formerly heard from the Jesuits, you might be fortunate enough to find a United Methodist or Reformed Church service where the minister is wearing more traditional Mass vestments, complete with smells and bells, than you’ll find in a church of his Catholic counterpart.
      The music is often more pleasing too.

  29. The idea that it’s unproductive to go on whinging about the bad translation raises so many feelings. I haven’t been a Catholic for all that long, so let me ask – is there nothing that is so unacceptable that it will make the average Catholic say ‘enough’ … not sex abuse and cover-ups, not unfairness to women, not unfairness to gays/lesbians, not un-ecumenism, not a foisted translation? Are the only alternatives to leave the church or to accept whatever is dished out? The argument that we should go along to get along, that our feelings don’t matter, that we can and will eat every injustice and simply endure, is the argument used by oppressed groups that face hopeless odds in order to convince themselves that doing nothing is ok. It’s not ok.

    Sorry – I sound like I’m running for office 🙂

  30. Luckily for me, the Richmond, Virginia Diocese doesn’t concern itself with following all of the dictates from Rome. My Virginia Beach parish enjoys creativity in the liturgy. For example, we still sing “Prince of peace” and “Bread of Life” during the fracture(Agnus Dei). We don’t have to follow everything in the Roman Missal. I’m still purifying the vessels for my priest. I know for a fact that this is the practice at almost every parish in Va. Beach. Moral of this testimony: Just ignore the parts of the Roman Missal that you don’t like and do the parts that you can tolerate. We Celebrate! We Believe!

    1. It seems to be a far cry different approach from the diocese to your north. Where the bishop of Arlington continues the policy of his predecessor. By permitting his priests to deny girls the chance to serve as acolytes. As I recall, the former bishop of Richmond, Walter Sullivan, gave permission for girls to become acolytes.

  31. Brigid Rauch:

    I know one priest who actually prided himself on getting the Easter Vigil in at 75 minutes!

    The late and great Pierre Jounel tells us that one of the abuses that prompted the 1988 circular letter Paschae Solemnitatis on the celebration of Easter was Italian priests who were getting through the Easter Vigil in under an hour…. 🙁

    1. Reminds me of young Father Luther while visiting Rome observed priests all lined up in the basilica racing to complete their private masses.

      An abomination then and seems to have spread to other public rites almost 500 years later.

  32. What is up with the site? I am finding that on pages with a multitude of responses, the boxes start stacking on top of each other and I’m losing bits and pieces from the conversations. Am I doing something wrong or as a lay person do I not have the fullness of the revelation yet?

  33. The “move on” language didn’t come from me. I am not proposing an end to discussion of the new translation, only a cease-fire on some issues until we can find a better way to hold the conversation.

    My proposal was of limited scope. The aesthetics of liturgy are difficult to debate. The ethics of the process – in particular the last-minute intervention from on high – seem much more discussable to me.

    If we are to continue debating the aesthetics of the new translation, how do we get away from conversations like the following:

    A: The collect for … is terrible, it’s stilted and pretentious.

    B: What are you talking about? For the first time we are talking to God as though he is the king of the universe, not a guy we’ve met at a football match.

    A: We don’t use words like graciously grant … and deign … and fount … they sound like a teenager aping Cranmer’s prayer book.

    B: We should use words like that. They sound so majestic, so sacral, so … Catholic.

    A: Professor Higginbotham teaches English at Snozzwanger University. He says the new translation is terrible.

    B: Professor Dillworth teaches English at Winterbottom University. She says it is beautiful and poetic.

    A: You’re only saying that because you are a pretentious reactionary conservative. You probably bought Fr Z a heated birdbath for Christmas.

    B: You’re only saying that because you are an aging lefty liberal. You probably read The Tablet every morning before you put in your false teeth.

    And on it goes. If we are to discuss the aesthetics of the new translation, then please tell me how we can do so without repeating the exchange above.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I think the prose of the new translation is truly and objectively horrid. With very few exceptions, it is a botch, a robotic job that fails even to satisfy the demands of the badly-named Liturgiam Authenticam. I could be discussant “A”.

    I still think the conversation is a waste of time!

    1. I agree. The conversation that needs to continue, though is this one:

      A: The collect for …. is heretical, because it says …

      B: Oh. Um…….

      and also, I think, this one:

      A: The collect for …. is ambiguous. This clause should clearly relate to that antecedent, five lines previously, but it sounds when listened to as if it relates to that other antecedent in the previous line, or the previous line but one.

      B: I disagree. I didn’t hear it like that at all.

      A: You may not have done, but you have no right to claim that because you didn’t everyone else must have heard it the same way as you.

      By gradually compiling a databank of such instances of heresy, ambiguity, etc, we will provide a resource for the eventual repeal of this translation and substitution of another, better one, founded on principles that are less childish than formal equivalence.

  34. Brigid Rauch :
    It is bothersome to me that despite faithful attendance at Mass, I know very little of St. Paul’s letters. One problem is that all too often, we are given a fragment of a larger statement. The other is that the run-on sentences are difficult to comprehend when read out loud. This problem is aggravated by all the lectors who feel required to deliver the reading in a monotone.I’d like to see a better handling of Paul’s letters, even if the reading takes a few more minutes.

    In addition to Bryon Gordon’s helpful suggestions above about trying to find a good Bible study, you might also want to seek out a very good set of resources called “Breaking Open the Lectionary,” published by Paulist Press, with Margaret Nutting Ralph as the lead author. Each of the three volumes (for Years A, B, and C) was designed for RCIA dismissal preparation, but I use them when I prepare to serve as a lector (from which I am playing hookie right now!). The discussions place the Gospel, and other readings, in context, so you can see how the passages and themes chosen for the Lectionary fit into the rest of the biblical book from which they were taken.

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