Over the weekend I had a chance to talk about the new missal with some priests and sisters in parish ministry in the New Ulm diocese in southern Minnesota. This is farming country. The towns and parishes are small. Priests have care of three or four parishes.
I was in my hometown for the annual Catfish Days celebration. Alas, the parish wasn’t able to secure a polka band for the Mass this year. Usually the timing is just right: I teach a Gregorian Chant class at Saint John’s School of Theology·Seminary summer session, right after which I go to Franklin to celebrate the Polka Mass!
I asked about the new translation. Will the people accept it? Of course, what else would they do? It’s what the Church says. Will any priests resist or refuse to use the new missal? Heavens no, what priest would pull a thing like that? A while back there was one loose cannon priest who might have rebelled, but he’s retired by now. And it’d be hard to tell which missal he’s using or refusing anyway, since he made up his own Eucharistic Prayer and orations.
Not everyone likes the change, not by any means. I noted that my friendly interlocutors were rolling their eyes at “new translation” even before my question was fully formed. They’re disappointed in Church leadership and frustrated at the poor pastoral sense of the Vatican and the bishops. The US bishops don’t stand up for anything – maybe the Canadian bishops can still stop this thing?
Priests and ministers will do their very best, but the whole thing is a mistake. It’s a waste of time and money. There’s no good reason for it. Will farmers and town folk struggle to pronounce “consubstantial,” much less make some sense of it? Will they get less out of the Eucharistic Prayer? Then this from a priest: The orations such as the collect won’t be a problem because people don’t pay attention to them anyway.
Will any folks make a connection to the scandals? (“The pope should take care of his real problems and not waste time on this.”) Oh yes, some might come around to that, especially at first when they’re frustrated by the unfamiliar responses. But it won’t last, especially among the older, more traditional folks. (As I heard my father say maybe a thousand times when growing up, “We’re not ones to go against what the Church says.”) Not a lot of philosophizing about the exercise of authority or the meaning of Vatican II from these people. It will be a practical issue: this is a hassle and we don’t like, but we’ll get used to it. And that will be that.