For this to happen on schedule the national liturgy offices need to receive the final text real soon. “Mid-June” came and went. Last Friday came and went. Now it’s “next week.” We shall see.
The national liturgy offices may support the final text, and all goes forward. Or, they may not support the final text but believe they have no other options, and all goes forward. Or they may point to the final text’s inaccuracies and paraphrases and inconsistencies and oddities: they consider the final text unpublishable and unusable.
In the latter case, the conference presidents will face a tricky decision. The presidents may, in consultation with the Holy See, set the implementation date anyway, and all goes forward. Or the presidents may judge that this can’t work, they don’t want to face a PR disaster at a time when Church authority is already destabilized by you-know-what. (The presidents might also have a few thoughts about how the conferences were treated in the final round of text revision.) The conference presidents may seek “dialogue” with the Holy See. This technical term is best translated as “long delays” – not least because the Romans take off in August. But I suppose it could still be settled later this fall in time for 2011 implementation.
When the implementation date is announced, there are plans to put the entire missal text online immediately. The idea is that the quality of the text will speak for itself, with enthusiastic acclamation (or is it laud?) arising on all sides. The more likely scenario is an online dogfight. Someone will publish a list of mistranslations of Latin in the final text (that could be a long post). Someone will point out, no doubt with examples, how the last round of revisions made the text more contorted and harder to understand. Someone will point out, no doubt with examples, how the final text violates Liturgiam authenticam. Someone could start a “can you top this?” website, with examples from the new missal submitted in succession, to general derision.
Many will rise up to defend the text – folks at the Mundelein Liturgical Institute, for example. They will have their work cut out for them. (I very much enjoyed being with old friends at Mundelein this week. Before setting out I put up a note on the monastery bulletin board that I would be at Mundelein for a ‘ten-year celebration.’ A confrere was surprised that I was back already in 3 days – he didn’t expect me until 2020. Good thing I’m not involved in developing comprehensible English for the new missal.) I was quite struck by the rapid growth of the Mundelein Liturgical Institute and, with such a large number of students, its potential influence on the Church. A recurring refrain throughout the anniversary festivities was that “we don’t question the liturgy of the Church, we implement it. We don’t critique the translation, we accept it gratefully.” I leave it to others to judge whether this is being done critically or uncritically.
Maybe all this won’t matter that much to the people in the pews. Maybe they’ll see the change the way they see each new version of Microsoft Word – a hassle for a few weeks until you get used to it, nothing more. The greatest opposition will surely arise from (some) clergy and (some) liturgical scholars and (some) lay liturgical ministers. Let us pray for them in their difficulties. Let us pray for the bishops who will lead us through this. Oh – and pray for the poor publishers. They must be wondering what is going on as they nervously look at their tight budget projections.
I’m sure God has something to teach his Church through all this. We just don’t know what it is yet. I’m trying to open my heart for any and all surprises.