Mass of Reparation for a Miscarriage or Stillbirth?!

The announcement below came across my desk a few days ago. I have taken out the personal information, but I will say that the parish is in a southern state.

It is very clear from the Spanish poster that the Mass is for those who have had an unintended miscarriage or stillbirth.

Am I missing something? A Mass of Reparation for a miscarriage or stillbirth?!

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Mass of Reparation

 

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18 comments

  1. I agree. The word, “reparation” doesn’t sit well with me either. Sounds like something got lost in the translation.

  2. Nope, I believe it means what it says – “they believe being abandon by God” and that the Mass is meant to “help them return fully into communion with God and His Church”, the sin, apparently, is their feeling abandoned by God, not the loss of the pregnancy. Where to begin about how wrong this is?

  3. Clumsy and imprudent. Even a traditionalist leaning parish (given the letterhead unchanged from the 50’s) might realize that what the missal says to call it and it is called in public might be two different things.

    But yes, people beating themselves up over misfortune and the suggestion that it is their fault–that borders on a crime. Recycle bin for these posters. My parish could do a better job on ten minute’s notice.

  4. My translation app gives “repair” “mend” “reparation” for “reparacion”. Could be a bad translation.

  5. I am reminded of Byzantine rituals after the loss of an unborn child, which do NOT distinguish between involuntary loss and abortion. This is very foreign to contemporary culture, but I have a hunch that earlier cultures marked as a terrible loss the loss of an unborn whether it was accidental/involuntary or forced. They also seem to have understood such loss as a negative for the mother, at worst as “defiling,” and harming the father no less. But at their best, these rituals suggest that the loss of an unborn is a loss, period, and always in need of a mending.”

  6. The grammatical difficulties in the rest of the letter suggest ‘reparation’ was incorrectly chosen instead of word with connotations of healing and support. The context of the entire message gets this point across. I’m not sure why other commentors have rushed to assume the parish is implying sin on the part of the grieving parents.

  7. Yes, but the preceding clause about feeling abandoned (or ‘abandon,’ in this poorly-written case) suggests that line’s another example of ill-informed word choice. Ultimately none of us, myself included, can really understand fully what’s going on without knowing the author in person.

    1. @Michael Skaggs – comment #11:
      Indeed. Which is why this announcement would not pass muster in my parish and would be discarded. Communication is a skill, if not an art, and is about a good bit more than the undetermined intentions of a writer.

  8. Looking at some of the word choices and the mention of this Mass being in Spanish, I wonder if this is a situation of a Hispanic or foreign-born priest with limited English skills who is sending out a letter in his second language in an effort to be inclusive.

    To the editor – that’s a western state.

    1. @Jeff Rexhausen – comment #13:

      Yes, I think so. I worked with a bilingual publication some years ago, and the rule of thumb was always to get a mother tongue reader to take a look, no matter how fluent you thought you were. Such a resource may not have been easily available to the writer.

  9. There’s also the part about mothers and fathers who have lost children needing “reconciliation…from God.” To say people need to be reconciled with God is to say that they done something to separate themselves from God. What it should say, if all our charitable assumptions about the intent are correct, is that the Mass is being offered so that the parish community can comfort these parents in their grief and turn with them to God in prayer — but BECAUSE they are part of the community, not because they need to be restored to it.

  10. The awkwardness of language masks the awkwardness of the situation. There are many parents who become angry with God at the death of a child, and very few who react as David did:

    “But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”2 Sam 12:23

    Maybe reparations are needed. Maybe not. But there is a terrible rupture when a parent loses a child that needs to be addressed. I’d avoid assigning blame as best I could, but the impetus behind the service is great desolation. It is hard, even with our faith centered on a Father losing His Son.

  11. An additional thought here … The organizers may well be earnest and well-meaning. But if they can’t communicate in a flyer, what inspires any confidence the homily, rituals, or other aspects will actually help people? If I had someone ask me about it, I would have to counsel them not to attend. Especially if the loss was still an open wound.

  12. I’m w/ Teresa Berger on this. It reads eerily like the “Book of the Needs” most recently published, I think by ROCOR? There’s actually an interesting pastoral note in the praenotanda. I’ll see if I can find it…

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