Over at First Things, George Weigel has a well-written discussion of the new English Missal. He begins:
It was just about a year ago that U.S. parishes began using the new translations of the third edition of the Roman Missal—an implementation process that seems to have gone far more smoothly than some anticipated. Wrinkles remain to be ironed out: There are precious few decent musical settings for the revised Ordinary of the Mass; the occasional celebrant (not infrequently with “S.J.” after his name) feels compelled to share his winsome personality with the congregation by ad-libbing the priestly greetings and prayers of the Mass. Some of the new texts themselves could have used another editorial rinsing, in my judgment. But in the main, the new translations are an immense improvement and seem to have been received as such.
Drawing on Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Weigel says that
liturgical language—the language of the Church at its formal public prayer—has always been understood to be different: different from the language of the marketplace or public square; different from the language of the home. Liturgical language, at its best, is multivalent; it does many things at once.
Though I’m more critical of the new translation than Weigel, and he surely doesn’t share my critique of the process and the power structure that produced the new Missal, I agree with much that Weigel writes. The implementation has gone more smoothly than expected. Liturgical language should be different – how much, and in what way, of course, are the key questions. And even Weigel acknowledges that some of the texts are in need of editorial improvement.
Our Sunday Visitor recently asked me what I thought of the new Missal, a year later. I emailed them two statements and said they could only quote me if they included both of them. (I know a thing or two about how media twist one’s words to fit their story.) The OSV piece “Reflecting on the Roman Missal translation” is very laudatory of the new Missal, except for the part where I appear:
A year later, Father Ruff, who is an associate professor of theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., said that the transition among the faithful has been better than expected. “The new texts are a step forward in that they are more serious and dignified,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.
However, he cautioned that from a pastoral perspective, he feels that people are tuning out the new texts due to their “awkward and difficult collects that do not proclaim well.”
Next week National Catholic Reporter will run my essay on the new missal. There, you’ll see my critical side come out again.
BTW, who are these people with “S.J.” after their name? Is this something I should know about?