Cardinal George: “Let’s get ready”

“We begin now a time of preparation, together. It should be a joyful time, preparing us to sing a joyful song to the Lord, together as his people,” writes Cardinal George, president of the US bishops’ conference, in a column about the new missal titled “Liturgy: translation and much more” in his archdiocesan newspaper. “The text will sound somewhat different than what we have become used to in praying. … The English vocabulary will be richer, and the tone will be more expressive of our humility before a God who is so merciful that he gives us the power to address him in prayer.”

But this is curious: the Cardinal claims that “the translations have been made with singing them in mind.” Really? Wouldn’t you think that he knows how the texts got completely changed at the last minute, after the Bishops submitted them? He writes, “[I]nformation about the new translation will have to be given in a systematic way, because much of the information found so far in various articles and new stories has been incomplete and sometimes erroneous.” Indeed. For example, in The Cardinal’s Column of the Chicago archdiocesan paper.

In good time, the full story of how we got this translation will probably leak out. For now, be discriminating  consumers of anything you read on the web. Some of it is incomplete and erroneous. And also for now, enjoy your period of joyful preparation. I hope and pray that by I Advent 2011, we’ll all be ready for a joyful song, whatever translation we’re using.



  1. “It should be a joyful time”

    I so agree, but it’s sometime very difficult to become enthusiastic about others’ pet enthusiasms.

    Here’s a question: does the absence of a widespread joyful reception mean anything theologically and liturgically? Look at South Africa, which has been using some of the ordinary since Advent 2008, where the translation has been received with no joy at all by most clergy and laity. In fact, some have actually rejected it. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that the translation has had zero impact on improving the quality of the liturgy in English because to many Catholics in South Africa, especially priests, this is an alien solution to an unrecognised problem.

  2. The absence of widespread joyful reception is probably because a majority of Catholics in the US don’t know a thing about this yet. It hasn’t exactly made the nightly news. Once the catechesis gets rolling, the joy will be palpable!

      1. I’m sure these nuns are lovely ladies and devout Christians.

        But I know of some ‘traditional’ or ‘conservative’ Catholics whose love is for the hierarchy, not the Church. Some of these people have a haughty disdain for most of the rest of the Church, using derogatory terms like, eg. “Amchurch.” Hierarchy or Church – there is a difference.

        (No, I don’t deny the legitimate place of the hierarchy. Yes, I affirm the ideal of unity between faithful and their shepherds in Christ.)


      2. We don’t want to stereotype anything so dynamic and diverse as Catholic traditionalists. Are you even certain that their love is for the “hierarchy” per se? Many if not nearly all of the traditionalists that figure publicly (or who are seen here:
        are willing to criticize bishops, albeit reluctantly, constructively, and (in many cases) deservedly. I think Pope Benedict said it well when he pointed out that these people suffered in the post-conciliar period because they loved the Church and the Church’s liturgy.

  3. Yeah right. Those who DO know about it are, for the most part, skeptical or upset. Some, but very few, are joyful. And you think it will magically be different for the vast masses of Catholics?

    I really have no problem with your holding a minority position on the coming translation. At this blog we try (however unsuccessfully) to foster respect for a wide variety of positions. I do have a problem with your presumtion that your minority position is about to become the majority position of the whole church. It makes me wonder how firm a grasp on reality you have.


    1. Why don’t we slow this down and look at a couple things?

      First, Father, both you and Mr. Drake recognize that a select group of the Catholic faithful (we might say “a minority”) have had a look at some of the new Missal translations coming our way. The next question is sociological and becomes, “What characterizes this population?” The answer, I believe, is, “a self-selecting quality.” Whether by professional responsibility, or self-motivated personal interest, those who know about the new translations at this point do so because they have sought it out. Because of that, I think it’s impossible right now to accurately extrapolate what will happen on the large scale of 60 million plus Catholics in the USA come Advent 2011.

      That said, you take Mr. Drake’s comment (which I read as rhetorical), and you lay the worst intentionality possible on it as though he is making a substantive argument. You accuse him of “magical” thinking, and then proceed to protest your own open- and fair-mindedness before taking the very low blow of “wonder[ing]” that the commenter doesn’t have all his marbles. And frankly, Father, that stinks and is unfair.

    2. Fr. Ruff,

      I’m curious as to the survey or other quantitative approach you have consulted to determine which is the minority view.

      I just took a look at a site which tracks traffic to websites. It revealed that PrayTell is the 905,966th most visited site on the internet. On the other hand (perhaps it is the right hand) Fr. Z’s blog is the 126,772nd most visited. Looks to me that, at least in the small world of blog-following liturgy enthusiasts, the majority may support the new translation.



      1. Wow – Fr. Z. was only 905,972nd in the 8th month of his blog – we’ve already surpassed him for this point in our history! But who’s counting?

        I just don’t know what the views are of everyone who visits Fr. Z. I visit his site at least twice a day, but I’m not saying now what my views are on anything liturgical.

        As to predicting the future: I’ll hold back. Time will tell. Omnia revelabuntur.


  4. OK, I overstated my position and I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean he’s lost his grip psychologically. I only meant to say that I think his view of this issue is not at all accurate.

    I’d be curious what everyone else thinks. Will there be palpable joy from lots of the faithful over the new translation? I doubt it, but maybe I’m wrong.



    1. A prediction.

      Overall, 10 percent will get the point that the boys in Rome are trying to make. They will be more than pleased.

      10-15 percent will not notice anything has changed, except for “And with your spirit”.

      The 5 percent who appreciate well-spoken English will be aghast and will wonder out loud what happened. The 1/5 percent of this group — 1 percent of the total — will discover that nothing that they can argue or demonstrate will change a thing.

      The .00001 percent who have been following and commenting on discussion groups will look for evidence to prove their point of view to be correct – and ignore all the counterfactuals. They will then loudly proclaim their rightness, here and elsewhere.

      The remainder — a majority — will shrug and go along, just because it’s not worth the trouble. They’ve been singing “Gather Us In” for so long that what the words say don’t matter.

      1. I agree mostly in this perspective. I think that this will matter less to more people – in either direction – than people who care (in either direction) about this tend now to think.

        The opportunities for confirmation bias from both directions will be rife, of course.

        It will likely take 3-5 years to digest – by which I mean the point at which for most people it no longer feels new or strange and mostly conscious – since that seems to be what it has taken in various reforms over the years, most recently things like standing up during the Pray Brethren, et cet.

        It will be disruptively musically, and that is not entirely a bad thing. While I do not subscribe to the view that virtually all the service music currently being used is unworthy of liturgy, a good deal of it is at best so-so. I am getting the sense that new compositions are trying harder to learn from past experience (which we did not have as much to go in the first couple of generations).

        This will be an opportunity – and a big one at that -for musicians and celebrants to devote more effort to service music, rather than treating is as the boring or rote in-fill between the juicy bits (usually hymns, sometimes anthems, less sometimes propers), a dynamic especially prevalent in places that deploy service music settings on a seasonal basis.

        One rather hoary sentiment I would like to see extirpated is that it is necessarily a bad/inauthentic/[insert other negative adjective of choice] thing for people to be reading the Missal(ette), and that any change that encourages such a practice is necessarily [insert negative adjective of choice]. This particular understanding of what active participation is *not* retains a lot of currency in certain quarters, and it needs to be allowed to die. Instead, there needs to be greater understanding of, and hospitality shown towards, the different ways people learn and participate: some people are primarily aural (they will learn most readily through the new musical settings, for example), others more visual (they will want texts to follow), and many others a mix that varies over time and exposure. Respect that, please, instead of denigrating it explicitly or implicitly.

      2. @Karl Liam Saur:

        I totally agree with this, and don’t want it buried at the end of your long comment:

        “…there needs to be greater understanding of, and hospitality shown towards, the different ways people learn and participate: some people are primarily aural (they will learn most readily through the new musical settings, for example), others more visual (they will want texts to follow), and many others a mix that varies over time and exposure. Respect that, please, instead of denigrating it explicitly or implicitly.”

        In general, respect and love for one another’s preferences will get us a long way from the current lamentable church polarization!

      3. +JMJ+

        I agree with you, Kimberly and Karl, on being generous in allowing people to participate in different ways. It might be believed that the vernacular translation can (or must?) be an “equalizer” in the realm of participation, such that no one should need to read along or, heaven forbid, need explanation. (cf. Sac. Conc. 34)

        Pope Pius XII expressed his desire for liberality in this regard in Mediator Dei:

        “Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men’s talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.” (108)

        Such a concept is implicitly (and explicitly, cf. Marialis Cultus 48) discouraged in the Ordinary Form.

      4. +JMJ+

        An excerpt from Marialis Cultus 48, for those interested:

        [T]he Rosary is a practice of piety which easily harmonizes with the liturgy. … The commemoration in the liturgy and the contemplative remembrance proper to the Rosary, although existing on essentially different planes of reality, have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ. The former presents new, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our Redemption. The latter, by means of devout contemplation, recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying and stimulates the will to draw from them the norms of living. Once this substantial difference has been established, it is not difficult to understand that the Rosary is an exercise of piety that draws its motivating force from the liturgy and leads naturally back to it, if practiced in conformity with its original inspiration. It does not, however, become part of the liturgy. In fact, meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiarizing the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the creation of those same mysteries in the liturgical action and an also become a continuing echo thereof. However, it is a mistake to recite the Rosary during the celebration of the liturgy, though unfortunately this practice still persists here and there.

    2. No, I think you are correct.
      I introduced this topic at our staff
      meeting on Monday. The pastor, the deacon and
      I were the only ones even aware of the coming
      new Missal.
      The rest of the staff was appalled.
      I explained the underlying premise of the
      translation process and they responded, “Why do we want to be closer to the Latin?
      English is so different from Latin.
      Don’t they want us to understand anymore? Why is this so important with all the other issues with which the Vatican has to deal?” Their words…..
      I have also had opportunity to speak to some
      of our parishioners – they, too, are perplexed by
      the “need” for a new Missal. They thought we were praying just fine with our current Missal.
      I see no palpable joy here.

      1. I am stilll amazed at how many people here don’t know what the missal is let alone that we’re getting a new translation. I have been writing about it for almost a year in our diocesan paper and write bulletin inserts for our parishes and yet our pastors aren’t helping tell or prepare their congregations. As a diocesan director of liturgy, it’s very frustrating to not have the support of the pastoral teams in parishes.

  5. Palpable joy? Unlikely. More likely slight to moderate annoyance at having something that has become ingrained in their muscle memory thrown out and at having to learn new responses. But after five years people will have adapted and probably won’t think about it much.

  6. Fr. Ruff,

    I suspect you and Mr. Drake likely are both correct for the different populations you’re extrapolating from. No doubt, you are correct in that only a minority of those in the “liturgical establishment” view the new translation with joy.

    Whereas, based on my experience with a fairly large number of parishes, I’m quite confident that a quiet large number of ordinary Catholics will receive it with joy. It’s too early to say whether this will be a majority, this depending to some extent on the catechesis and preparation. (A huge majority of the folks I know personally will accept it eagerly, but these are the “serious Catholics” typically seen in church at times other than just Sunday morning Mass.)

    And this will differ somewhat from parish to parish. I am a registered member of two parishes. In one of them, a large majority of the parishioners already know about the new translation, and are looking forward to it. In the other, a lot of folks will like it, but the majority — if it is that — will be smaller. Among the various other parishes I’m pretty familiar with, I think of one where a majority probably won’t be all that excited.

  7. (continued) However, I often think (and do believe) that in regard to any given liturgical innovation it tends–in a parish of 1110 (for instance) Sunday Mass attenders–to break down like this. … Ten people will oppose it vocally. A hundred will favor it, most of them quietly. The remaining thousand either won’t even notice it, or won’t care much one way or another.

    I suspect the new translation will start out something like this, and that whether it leads to a “new springtime” will depend on what we make of it.

  8. There’s not going to be joy or excitement about this. Most people would prefer not to be bothered with any new text, whether good, bad or ugly. I was preparing my former parish back in 1996 to be ready for the 1998 translation thinking we would get it. They weren’t excited about it but were prepared for it, but it never came! I’ve done the same with the current new translation for the past six years. Are they excited? No, just prepared. Most really would like to keep the status quo I think.
    But, you know what, we are asked to implement this and we’re trying to do so in the most positive and optimistic way possible. Unlike the 1960’s when there really was a lot of enthusiasm for the Mass facing the people and in English, that’s not the case today for a new translation. English is not novel, although a more sacral English during Mass will be. However, I do remember grumbling in the 1960’s when a better translation of the English in 1965 was replaced with ICEL’s less than glorious translation we got around 1968-69 and the dumbing down of the Mass and architecture by following “dogma” not of Vatican II but of progressive liturgists when their agenda began to take hold like a pit bull attacking its victim.

  9. I doubt most people will be joyful, but I doubt most people will be all angry and dismayed either. I predict it will be a lot like the Y2K scare, where nothing bad ended up happening despite the near hysterics and doomsday predictions of a small minority.

  10. I think most people won’t really notice that we have a new translation, although it might be puzzling to some that ‘ … power and might’ has been excised from the Sanctus.

    People will probably carry in saying ‘We believe’.

    Are priests going to forbid the singing / reciting of ‘Christ has died … ‘ ?

  11. John Quinn :

    People will probably carry in saying ‘We believe’.

    I wouldn’t doubt that where there are small differences that the old translation will continue to be used popularly. It’s sort of like how “Glory to You, O Lord” never died out (I’ve never heard anyone at Mass leave the “O” out, despite it not being in the current translation).

    In my experience, the first couple words of the creed are usually just said by the priest, though, so “We believe” might die out pretty quickly if the priest uses the new version.

    1. Jack that’s interesting about the “O” because I’ve always said it and so do my parishioners and when I checked the current translation I wondered why we all are doing it when its not there. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t there! Glad it is now in the new translation, must be “sensus fidelium?”

      1. I think this is very dangerous – a slippery slope. If we let the faithful, influenced by secular culture, to dissent on this phraise, then contraception will follow, and papal infallibility will fall, and then the divinity of Christ. 🙂

        The problem is the the two accents in a row. In such cases it is better to put an “O” before the vocative (God, Lord, etc.). I believe ICEL was attentive to this – it will be interesting to see if the Vox Clara revisions are.


      2. Anthony,

        If Vox Clara were so concerned about two accents following one another, they’d never had allowed the Gloria to say “and on EARTH PEACE”, which is extremely awkward.

        Why on earth they didn’t go for “and peace on earth to people of good will”, heaven only knows. The rationale seems to be following the Latin word-order as closely as possible. On that basis, they should have said “full are the heavens and the earth of your glory, but they didn’t.

        You and I both agree that neither common sense nor consistency have prevailed in this translation.

      3. Perhaps they used “and on earth peace” because that’s how it was rendered in the translation used in 1965-1970.

  12. The reality is that we will never know what impact the New Missal has on people because no one will ever invest in really good sociological studies that might disentangle changes in the words from changes in the music, etc.

    After this is over, all sides will point to their anecdotal and usually very biased evidence in favor of their viewpoints.

    It will take a major conversion of the heart for most of the people preoccupied with ideology on both sides to focus upon understanding and serving people. Just the level of uncharitableness in many of the comments indicates this.

    My prediction is that if both liberals and conservatives had good data, and decided to serve people, that both would have to make some major changes in their ideologies. In my experience with public mental health data, about half the really important things going on are not on anyone’s radar screens.

  13. A view from the 70-75% of the rest of us (as per R P Burke’s prediction): he/she is correct. We will grumble for awhile, and then go along. Most people are averse to change. We choose a parish based on many factors, including location, programs and missions, education/school, and finally, personality. The parochial and lay leadership will deliver the Mass in the manner that they feel comfortable, and if we like it, or don’t actively dislike it, we will attend Mass at that particular church.

    There will be many parishes with a more casual worship style where the new translation will not be received well at all, without a lot of catechesis and positive attitudes from their leadership (I’m thinking of many of my relatives here). At parishes with a more formal style, most will be more accepting, and may not even notice much of a change. As a cantor, I’m not looking forward to learning a bunch of new musical settings!

  14. IMHO, I really don’t see a vast majority caring one way or the other. The changes they will be experiencing will be minor, a tweak here and there, but most won’t care. The priests texts, where most of the changes occur, are where the people tune out. Some of the most common responses I have heard from choir members, liturgy commission members and others that I have discussed the texts with come back with something along the lines of: “Isn’t that the text we used to use? No big deal!”

    I’m not saying I agree with this dismissive nature of response, nor do I like it, but you asked what I thought the majority response would be, and so I say, “Most won’t care enough to leave the Church or return to the Church.” Their faith issues are deeper than that.

  15. Brent, you bring up a good point – a sad one. “The priests texts, where most of the changes occur, are where the people tune out…” People do tune out, especially during the eucharistic prayer. At one parish, they would sing additional acclamations during the prayer, similar to the Children’s Eucharistic Prayer. It helped the assembly (in a big way) stay focused and take part in the prayer which we’re told is the core of the mass. The additional acclamations help. I’m glad to join those parshes on Sunday that use them and hope they continue to.

    1. +JMJ+

      I find it sad that people tune out during the presidential texts as well, but I think there’s a tendency to tune out during any part where a person doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything. This can happen during the readings, too, or during the Preparation of the Gifts if there’s no sung being sung and the priest says those prayers quietly. (What do people in that parish do during long readings, I wonder.)

      I would put effort into finding ways to correct the tuning-out problem without changing the liturgy first, simply because I think the tuning-out is indicative of a wider problem among people today. Shorter attention spans, less interest in certain sorts of activity, etc.

  16. I once sat (stood, and kneeled) through a mass where the priest made up the Eucharistic prayer as he went along. It was like watching that scene from “Sister Act” where they ask Whoopi Goldberg’s character to say Grace. I think I was the only person who noticed.

  17. Given the thread and projections about how this will be received – from the South African experience last year by Bishop Dowling:


    ” With reference to the letters concerning the new translation of the Order of the Mass, I feel as a pastor that I needed to express my deep concern at the distress of the people who wrote in.

    The critical letters only confirm what I have heard from other priests, religious and lay faithful. It was especially sad to read the comment of one correspondent, quoted in the editorial of December 24: “I hate you, hierarchy”. I share the pain and frustration felt by people who wrote to The Southern Cross. Their concerns about the new translation are similar to my own.

    When the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) received the new texts from the Vatican, my reaction to many of the proposed changes was that it was a purely arbitrary decision to demand that the English text had to faithfully represent the Latin in the first place, that many of the changes made no sense, and that some of the formulations were simply bad English. I therefore agree with the analysis provided by Fr John Converset MCCJ in his letter in the same issue.

    In passing, at the moment we are discussing only the English translation. What is going to be done when it comes to our African indigenous languages, and openness to diverse cultural and linguistic expressions of…

    1. Bill,

      Bishop Dowling seems less disturbed by the new English language Mass than Archbishop Dwyer was by the (now still) existing ICEL translation back in the early 1970s. I wonder if you are as sympathetic to ++Dwyer as you appear to be to +Dowling?

      1. As many of us have said repeatedly, comparing the VII liturgical changes to this MR3 is comparing apples to oranges. VII had the support of over 2,140 bishops with less than 10 opposing. Yes, you repeatedly say that how VII was liturgically implemented led to issues but you continue to overstate that; you can not document that; and the documentation we do have via bishops conferences requesting vernacular, additional liturgical changes, etc. put your arguments in a less than flattering light. Dowling speaks for his people based on their responses because, primarily, the manner in which the MR3 was imposed. Early objections by some resisted liturgical growth, evolution, and tried to turn the clock back by imposing the hermeneutic of disruption – undoing collegiality; ignoring the tradition that missals are replaced and suppressed; gutting ICEL which VII set up and Paul VI confirmed; setting up a second rite (EF) over the objections of every bishops’ conferences (true disruption) and not for liturgies sake but because of fear of schism, etc.

        The key reason your comparison of Dwyer and Dowling limps – VII set very high expectations in a very short timeline on a never before attempted project – taking a 300+ year missal and translating it into the vernaculars and expecting this to be done within a few years. Everyone agrees that this led to poor translations at times; led to poor implementations at time. Dwyer’s comments (do you want to give some examples so all here can respond – some of them are very telling in a negative sense) were later used by the ICEL and by the late 1980’s they begain work on the 1998 missal which was approved overwhelming by all conferences. It appears that this new MR3 is repeating history when its goal is much less ambitious, had twice as long to translate, and really only needs to improve/finetune what existed. Instead, we seem to have lost 13 years (1998-2012) and have a missal that most agree continues to have translation issues, arbitrary principles, approved before the final product was known, and last minute changes that probably rival the issues some surfaced in the early 1970s for a much more ambitious goal.

      2. Bill,

        The ICEL translation of the 1970 missal was implemented after v2 was over. MR 3 & the new translation will also be issued after V2’s been over. The comparison between the two bishops stands. Your issue may be that you agree with
        one bishop and disagree with the other bishop.

      3. Well sure, the comparison can stand, as long as we realize that “compare” means “look at what is similar and what is different.” The problem is that JF keeps overstating the similarity, “It’s the same thing, heavy-handed imposition in both cases,” “it’s the same thing, one minority bishop objecting in both cases,” no matter how often people point out to him all the differences – eg, in what the people thought and how they received the changes. How many people are sympathetic to each of these two dissident bishops? There are other large differences between then and now as well.

  18. Two comments.
    First, I find it disturbing (revealing?) that our brother Francis made no mention in his message of that pre-eminent publishing house in his own diocese, Liturgy Training Publications, either to faintly praise its educational work over the years or to commit it to the current preparation process. Given the pre-eminent role that LTP has played in guiding homilists, lectors, catechists and other liturgical ministers from every diocese in the country, I would think that its resources would be mobilized for a similar role now. There is more here than meets the eye, of course, but I will leave it at that. By the way, I’m also surprised that there is very little input to this blog from people at LTP.
    Second, I predict that more of us will have our eyes fastened on booklets and leaflets than on the fullness of God’s work made present among us. Just as we once followed along with our “little missals” the actions of the priest celebrant and the Latin words, we will be dealing again with language that everyone admits will be unfamiliar. Our current priest presiders can barely utter even the unchanging institution narrative without peeking at the words in their own missal. And now this. Those promoting the latest reform admit that it will take time. How about a full generation?

    1. +JMJ+

      Paul, your second comment could be taken to mean, “we shouldn’t change the words at all,” since any change to the words spoken will make them different and thus unfamiliar to some degree, and that will probably require the use of booklets or leaflets for some time. And some people still use those resources today, even after having said the words for 10, 20, 30, or 40 years.

      I have yet to see a priest who, in celebrating the Ordinary Form, needed to look in the Missal for the words of institution.

      1. Also, I honestly doubt that people are going to have so much trouble remembering their parts (save maybe the Credo) that they will need to follow along in the missal for more than a few months.

        The first year will probably be a *little* awkward, as some people will likely slip and say “and also with you,” but that’ll probably pass. If people could adapt to the ICEL translation when it replaced the more literal translation used in 65-70, then they can probably adjust to this.

  19. Jack,

    At least an extemporaneous EP–which, thankfully, I’ve never witnessed–might make you actually listen attentively (if only to hear what he’s going to say next).

    As would, I believe, a beautifully chanted EP (which also I’ve never witnessed).

    But simply listening to the celebrant drone through it seems (to me) a lot like couch-watching a Mass on TV. I wonder how many can stay focused through the EP while watching a Mass on EWTN.

    One local priest, whom I suspect actually favors the silent canon, recites it so quietly that you have to concentrate to hear what he’s saying. Paradoxically, I find that this actually deepens my attention.

  20. Paul – agree with your comments completely and think I understand the politics and what you left unsaid between the lines. Face it – George effectively dismantled LTP just as Estevez dismantled ICEL.

    If you look at the earlier thread about upcoming liturgical presentations, Fr. Anthony is part of a group that includes a liturgy professor from Mundelein – pretty sure that he would not have been involved in the earlier LTP. We also had a blog about the summer Mundelein liturgy conference headlined by AB Chaput – what does that tell you.

  21. A reply to Sean Whalen.

    The “Gather Us In” problem, in this context, is the text and how the song’s nearly continuous use in many, many parishes has desensitized us to the value of text. G.U.I.’s humanist text occasionally skirts the edges of Christianity, but it fits far better among, say, the Unitarians who paid my salary years ago. Who cares about the text? I say pastors and music directors/ministers ought to, but they don’t.

    Much the same will hold true for the forthcoming new Mass text, which occasionally skirts the edges of formal spoken English but is otherwise a tangled mess. The people, by and large, will say “So what?” and trudge through as they have ever since the late 1960s when they were told, for the first time in centuries (except for the schools like mine that sponsored Dialogue Masses) they had to speak in church.

    1. What’s wrong with “Gather Us In”? We just sang it last weekend for the first time in awhile and people sang it quite well. It’s in the hymnals of many other denominations also. It’s not an issue at our place…or many of the churches in our area.

  22. I plan to use the forms that were in effect the last Sunday of the previous liturgical year, only quieter, so as not to unduly disturb anyone. I suspect I won’t be alone.

    1. I’ve got to say that I really don’t see the point of this approach. I am not crazy about the new translations, but this makes it sound as if resisting them is a matter of conscience. Maybe my conscience it not finely-tuned enough, but I just don’t see it.

      (Of course I also usually try to sing songs that I think are an aesthetic disaster.)

  23. I know I am opening up a can of worms… but I tire of the ongoing berating of “Gather Us In.” I believe that this hymn (regardless of any minutiae arguments about a phrase here or there) truly pushed an important formational concern about how the assembly sees it self not only at the opening ritual moments of any given liturgy, but also in helping the gathered community understand it role throughout the entire worship event, and beyond toward discipleship. The phrases that some people object to, when taken out of context, are often missing the point in my view – just like we do, when we take biblical passages and look at a phrase or a word, without looking at context. I am not an exegete – but I am perplexed by a continual bashing of what I considered then, and still do now – to be a prophetic text. Does it raise some theological issues? Yes. But does it also help us to celebrate who we are, what we are called to, and yes, help us all to embrace a stance of surrender to the one who has called us to become kingdom – right here and right now? I equally shout out YES to this as well. Read the whole text – in context. Maybe for some it is dated – but I think it is a stance of denial to not agree that this piece helped us years ago, to usher in a conversation and debate about the presence of Christ in the baptized, the gathered assembly.

    I know that this will open the flood gates of disagreement…but what the heck!

    1. I love Gather Us In, but long ago gave up on seeing eye to eye on liturgical music with the Lit Music people on this blog (and elsewhere). Sometimes I think I might just have bad taste, but I’m glad to see that I’m in good company on this one.

      I’m actually rather grateful for the disparaging comments a week ago and Fr. Anthony’s hilarious post of “Congrega nos” because I’ve been quietly humming Gather Us In rather constantly and singing it to my kids ever since. (They like it too.)

      So I stand with you in the flood gates, awaiting the backlash.

      1. Kimberly,

        It’s not a matter of “taste,” but liturgical and musical judgment. Don’t get me started on the poor musical quality of the sing-song with nearly no harmonic rhythm: musically, you’d have to take it at a tempo of a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song like “I am the very model of a modern Major General …” The text is most appropriate for humanists like Unitarians, or for the feast of St. Narcissus (yes, there is a St. Narcissus).

        Partisans of this weak stuff such as liturgy directors are notorious for blowing off criticism by saying, “That’s just your personal taste.” Translated into English, this means “Shut up and go away — the only taste that matters here is mine.”

        Whether someone loves the song is really irrelevant to the liturgical and musical judgments that G.U.I. fails. Whoever brought it to you at Mass, for you to learn to love it, wasn’t doing her or his job properly.

      2. @RP Burke

        I don’t find your comments hateful, but I do find them a bit puzzling. I’m not a musician, but I am a liturgical theologian. Thus, I can’t answer your objection about the harmonic rhythm, but I can see that almost every line of the song carries at least one Biblical allusion:

        1. Isaiah 60
        2. Psalm 139 and others
        3-4. Basic sacramental theology, also consonant with some Psalms

        5. Good shepherd image
        6. Luke 4:18, quoting Is 58, 60; also healing miracles from Synoptics
        7-8. Ezekiel 37

        9-10. Joel 2:28
        11-12. Abrahamic covenant as read in Hebrews; parable of the virgins and the light under the bushel parable

        Verse 4: Entirely a creative appropriation of the concepts of the Magnificat (themes also found in 1 Samuel 2)

        17-18. Eucharist, with a reference to Johannine baptism (Jn 3)
        19. Is. 43
        20. Salt of the earth parable

        21-22. Eucharist.
        23-24. Eucharistic prayer for lives of holiness.

        So I guess, if you want to musically criticize it I won’t say a word (though David might). I don’t think it’s the only gathering song that should ever be sung at mass, but I don’t understand the implicit argument (re. Unitarians) that it’s theologically vacuous.

        As for your St. Narcissus quip, it seems to me that some people are just remarkably oversensitive that the idea that the assembly might sing something in the first person plural for the gather? And I’m sorry, but that is a matter of taste, not judgment. Otherwise, I’m stumped.

    2. David,

      I think the proper point of comparison is with such texts as the traditional one to “We Gather Together” — not the one your fellow Minnesotan Fr. Mike Joncas once skewered as a hymn about rubrics — or to the great start-of-worship Psalm 100. They direct our attention to God, not to ourselves. Isn’t that the whole point of worship? The contrast is so stark that I remain amazed that few partisans of G.U.I. acknowledge it.

      1. RP Burke, you haunt almost every internet message board regarding liturgy and music with your caustic comments that are almost hateful. Get over it already and move on. Find a place to worship that suits your style and be happy. Nobody is forcing you to sing or do anything you don’t want to. Be happy.

      2. Gregg,

        “Almost hateful”? It is to laugh. Let me introduce you some time to some music-and-liturgy folks who are really “almost hateful.” And also show you some of the times I’ve backed up Todd and David and other advocates of nonclassical music for worship against “almost hateful” commenters.

    3. I don’t personally like the hymn (I’m surprised it has so many fans – I’ve never heard anyone praise it until now), but I don’t think it is heretical or evil or anything. I dislike it because it makes me think of something you would force a group of fifth graders to sing at a school assembly. It shouldn’t be as over-used as it currently is and maybe limited to devotional settings.

      It’s not like “Gather Us In” is in the same league of awfulness as “All Are Welcome.” Now there’s a hymn that should only be sung by gnomes in a bad 1980’s cartoon special.

      1. Now, by contrast, All Are Welcome is at least stronger in musical terms than GUI. The words are the greater weakness in that piece.

    4. David,

      I have no agenda against contemporary hymnody, but I find Gather Us In a poorly written piece of music in musical terms; I have a bit less of a problem with the text (though it could use improvement). I just go to my special place when I find it programmed, which seems to be less and less these days.

      It’s not the worst of the “popular” pieces of contemporary hymnody (Anthem is my usual nominee for that slot (and I have nominees on the traditional side of things too)).

      I do think “prophetic” has become cliche through overuse. Which is sad. I would like the word to be used less so that it regains its former power.

  24. My view of the debate is this: Those that enjoy it and use it GET it. Those that insist that the song has a different meaning than it does imply that those who DO get it have poor taste, are not theologically advanced as others and well, whatever else you want to add. READ THE TEXT – it is NOT about US alone, it is petitionary – it is using scriptural references asking GOD to gather us in.

    If you don’t like the text, or wish to continue imposing your own (incorrect) belief of what is going on in the text, fine. But don’t sit there and berate those of us who find value in it’s message.

    “””” The text is most appropriate for humanists like Unitarians, or for the feast of St. Narcissus (yes, there is a St. Narcissus).
    Partisans of this weak stuff such as liturgy directors are notorious for blowing off criticism by saying, “That’s just your personal taste.” Translated into English, this means “Shut up and go away — the only taste that matters here is mine.”
    Whether someone loves the song is really irrelevant to the liturgical and musical judgments that G.U.I. fails. Whoever brought it to you at Mass, for you to learn to love it, wasn’t doing her or his job properly.””””


    1. When GUI came out in the 1980s, and a copy or two found its way across the Atlantic, I admired it, and I still think the tune is a good one. My instinct from a couple of recent longer visits is that in the US it’s now overused. It’s got too much content to be a default entrance song for ordinary time. The words are in places a bit fruity and empty– ‘we are the young–our lives are a mystery’; and the genre of a gathering song probably needs the same refrain in every verse (in particular, the balancing of ‘Gather us in, the rich and the haughty’, with ‘Gather us in, the lost and forsaken’ doesn’t work when you are singing, rather than reading it as a poem).

      1. That’s funny, the balancing of “the rich and the haughty” with “the lost and forsaken” has always been particularly moving for me. But I’m not claiming (esp. given the above) that I don’t overanalyze music.

    2. Sean, I most certainly have “READ THE TEXT”, and I even said that the text “skirts the edges of Christianity.” I do not have a theology degree, either. It is not a matter of taste, as I have said many times previously. Please read more carefully.

  25. The very fact that “Gather Us In” inspires so much detraction (and vigorous defense) suggests it’s far more important than its critics think.

    From a musical perspective, I find the “sing-song” criticism to be limp. Are there church musicians out there who can’t handle three beats? Sure there are. The problem is then with musicianship. The melody is the best aspect of the piece. And if the accompaniment has faults, well, that’s changed easily enough. And maybe Unitarians can sing verse three or maybe not. (I do think there are better criticisms than “skirting.”) But if you’re not singing all four verses, I don’t know why you would bother with it at all.

    I would agree some places still overuse it. But it is widely known, therefore people will sing it. I find slotting entrance songs is the most difficult part of programming. The proper texts aren’t always helpful or even set to pieces in my parish’s hymnal. I will use it 2-3 times a year when I don’t have a better alternative.

    For its critics, I suggest you write a better text and come back to demonstrate. If GUI will have worthy successors, they will have to do less telling and more showing–in my mind the weakest part of the text.

  26. Karl Liam Saur :

    Now, by contrast, All Are Welcome is at least stronger in musical terms than GUI. The words are the greater weakness in that piece.

    True, but sometimes bad lyrics can cancel out a decent hymn tune, just as good lyrics can make up for a not-so-good tune. The words in All Are Welcome are just so awful and embarrassing. Another example would be “Sing A New Church” – the tune is beautiful, but the lyrics are horrible. I was happy to discover “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which uses the same tune as “Sing a New Church,” because it combines the beautiful melody with stirring lyrics that actually have relevance to most Christians. A shame we never sing that one.

    1. Slight word shifts make a difference: Sing of Christ’s Church, in one Body, one in faith and love and praise….

      1. Sorry if I don’t just mindlessly like every hymn thrown at me.

        EDIT: I do apologize if my remarks were too harsh, but I think I should be allowed to dislike one or two hymns.

  27. It MIGHT be a joyful time, if it ever gets here! W a i t i n g, w a i t i n g . . .

    I sometimes wonder if the spirited criticizing of GUI and similar songs is some sort of jealousy or disappointment because it is so incredibly popular compared to “Ad te levavi animam meam.”

  28. The text of “Sing A New Church” is far from horrible. As with the other hymn, it’s significant that it bothers a number of people. At the risk of taking this thread still farther from topic, anything deeper than “new?”

    Also, just for the heck of discussion, I’ll add that I don’t think as much of Nettleton as a sung tune. I love to play it. But the repeated high notes on the refrain have always felt awkward to me–but maybe that’s just my singing voice.

    1. “new” is the song’s fundamental error that denies one of the four marks of the church. We are not members of nor trying to bring into being by song or any other way a “new” church — we are Apostolic, the very oldest church (in a tie for first place with the Orthodox). I’d fix the refrain. Otherwise, I agree with Todd that the text is “far from horrible.”

    2. I think you’re giving the two hymns a significance they don’t merit (as if it’s all about having a backwards ideology). People dislike them because they aren’t particularly good songs even though they were trotted out practically every other Sunday at some parishes. I found “Sing A New Church” embarrassing back when I was a teenager and it’s singled out as “worst hymn ever” whenever the subject comes up amongst my peers (people in their 20s)

      1. If the Church is not continually new as we gather from week to week, then something is wrong.

      2. +JMJ+

        Sean, can you explain how the Church is “continually new” from week to week? Does it have to do with personal conversion in her members? Or is the “continually new” Church simply sung into being by us?

      3. Personal/Corporate conversion – yes. That is why we gather week to week – to be nourished and brought into closer relationship with God and one another. It is the reality of being a pilgrim people.

  29. Boy, have we gone off track, and I’m afraid I’m the one who dropped the puck by naming a specific song that I believe has contributed to a deadened sensitivity of the people to the quality of texts, and my prediction of how that deadened sensitivity will cause a majority of them merely to shrug when presented with the new Mass texts in a year’s time. My apologies to Fr. Anthony for the sidetracking.

  30. That we petition God for a “new” church does not in any way deny it is one, holy, catholic, or apostolic. It’s a multivalent thing, not fundamentalism. I had a pastor who “banned” Laurence Rosania’s “Supper of the Lord” because of the line “here in bread and wine.” Forget the adjective “precious.” Not to mention the context.

    Baptism and penance are sacraments that make people new, and renewal is part of the experience of sacrifice and metanoia.

    Jeffrey, the significance is that one, people are missing the forest for the trees, and two, something about being “new” or being “gathered” may be more of a problem for some of the critics than I’d really want to get into in a public forum. Otherwise, I take some pokes on my own blog today.

  31. Let’s just look at this in the expenses involved…music (as any real music director knows) is not cheap…accompaniments, bound books (for choir or pew sitters), individual pieces of music for each choir member…where is a parish supposed to get the $$$ to suddenly buy all this new music?

    We used to have a full-time choir director who had adult choir, “contemporary” choir, & youth choir, funeral choir…we now (due to budget concerns) have a part-time adult choir director…and that’s it! No youth choir, no other choir, just ONE SINGLE SOLITARY CHOIR!

    Do the bishops have some source of $$$ to give to each and every parish (and I’m thinking small rural parishes, if they still actually exist, will be even more hard hit financially) the money to purchase new music and to pay for extra hours of a parish music director or to hire an additional music director?

    No…I don’t think these men in silk & satin have given any thought to the real costs in $$$, let alone the cost to people for whom this is absolutely the last straw of power plays by the hierarchy. When people leave the church, they don’t suddenly contribute more in the Sunday collection…they don’t contribute anything.

    1. +JMJ+

      The same place they’ve been finding money to buy new music year after year? I realize not ALL the musical resources in parishes need to be replenished one or more times a year, but some of them do, right?

      And it also bears pointing out that this expense would be necessary no matter how good or awful the translation is.

      1. We just bought all our new music last year…we buy music about once every 10 years…we can’t meet our budget…where is the money to come from?

      2. +JMJ+

        There’s free music too. Probably available through Maybe the Corpus Christ Watershed project.

        I would suggest asking the folks at the forum, or at the Chant Cafe.

      3. Charitably…buying new music in the last couple of years, knowing this new translation was forthcoming, may not have been the wisest stewardship of resources.

  32. Sean Whelan :

    If the Church is not continually new as we gather from week to week, then something is wrong.

    Did I disagree with that sentiment? Apparently not liking a song means you hate the sentiments of the lyrics.

    I should note that the part that turned me off to that hymn wasn’t the refrain, but rather the rest of the lyrics. The sentiment of diverse people coming together isn’t bad, but the hymn sure makes it sound corny.

    I will also note that those who I have encountered who dislike the song for its refrain don’t interpret it the way its defenders here do – their dislike has nothing to do with not wanting to be reborn into a life in Christ or anything. The common joke I’ve heard is “A new church? No thanks, I like the one Jesus founded just fine.”

      1. I guess I can’t other than to say it sounds corny to me. I find it more interesting that I apparently am not allowed to dislike this song – as if that really means something about me or my beliefs. It’s not like I storm out of Mass in a huff whenever I have to listen to it.

  33. For those who have not yet made their way to the end of the book, there is a passage that says:
    The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”
    Rev 21:5

  34. I don’t even know where to begin in response to all of this, what I predicted would be a can of worms. Fr. Gelineau’s wonderful quote comes to mind: “there are two kinds of music – music I like, and music I don’t like. So many here are saying they “like” this piece or find it to be “horrible” often without really saying why.. the deep reason – there are just some pieces we like, and some we do not like.

    A few thoughts: By “prophetic” I was not speaking of its textual and musical longevity or uniqueness of itself as a composition. I was speaking about how with this piece, Marty provided a fresh and formational conversation regarding the role of the assembly, especially in the introductory rites. Secondly, when we criticize it for being too horizontal, and not centered enough on God… then we have really not read through the text carefully. But staying in this thread of thought – the stance of worship as being “the glorification of God and the sanctification of the faithful” – if we believe this, then Marty provided with this piece a source of the faithful reflecting upon who we are, and WHOSE we are. The GIRM also states that the opening rites are to help form community, and to prepare the community to hear and celebrate the Word of God. Look again at the text – it is a formational call to reflect upon itself.

    It is perfect? No. Might it be as many compositions that we have written, be a bit dated? Perhaps. (con’t)

  35. (con’t from #96)

    But let’s get over ourselves and recognize that what this piece did provide for many worshipping communities, and at the time for many contemporary liturgical music ensembles and ministers – a source of reflection of what we are called to be, and a good strong foundational understanding of what we do when we gather, hear the Word, break the bread, and our reliance upon God to “make us your own.”

    And the objections to “All Are Welcome.” O my gosh, I cannot believe why people are going after this piece. Unless that we really do not want to exercise any ministry of hospitality in the liturgy, and that we really do NOT want to welcome everyone “in this place” of God’s presence. I am aghast at the negative reaction to this piece…

    In both of these cases – what is our real problem here? It is hard not to think that it is an issue of musical style preference, or as someone else suggested.. some jealousy, perhaps. Why is it that pieces that become “popular” and loved and prayed by the folks in the pews is so looked down upon?

    O boy, another can of worms… I have done it again.

    1. Not liking a song with a theme of welcoming doesn’t mean you “do not want to exercise any ministry of hospitality in the liturgy.” I don’t understand how you get that notion.

      Do you honestly believe that the people who don’t really like that song (probably a lot more people than you think) dislike it because they “really do NOT want to welcome everyone ‘in this place’ of God’s presence?”

    2. Whoa, Jack, hang in there. David said there are pieces we like and those we don’t like. He’s talking here about the people who attack the song by saying it’s improperly liturgical or theological, I think, not people who just (as you said you do) don’t like it.

  36. David, when any song becomes popular, inside or outside the church, it is overdone. This in turn leads to leads to criticism (familiarity and contempt, you see). Standing back from it, one might understand that the songs you mention do their jobs too well. IOW they celebrate the gathering without sufficient reflection on the purpose of the gathering. This is especially true in many parishes where the short procession allows only 2 verses at the most. For those of us who really want to bring back the Propers, the employment of such songs IN PLACE of the Introit, simply becomes more distressing over time. The songs themselves are fine and have some merit as songs, but for many have not held up well over time. Perhaps they were never meant to last as long as they did?

    1. Gather Us In is the same age as me and it shows no sign of slowing down in this region.

      Conversely, couldn’t one say the propers have not held up over time?

      1. Is it really that popular? I’m asking because while I’ve heard some people say they don’t like it very much, I’ve never heard anyone praise it and haven’t ever noticed any extra excitement amongst my fellow pew-sitters when it comes up. Compare that to “Eagles Wings” – a song that has garnered much hatred, but which I’ve noticed is immensely popular. People who won’t usually sing will actually pick up the hymnal for that one. I’m sure people would ask about it if that one vanished (I should note that I’m not bashing “Eagles Wings” or judging it as good or bad).

      2. It’s in about every major hymnal printed. Just look at the suggestions printed from the companies (I think it’s mentioned less by GIA than the others). Look at websites that show music selections from parishes across the US – the St. Louis website is a good example. It pops up very frequently. It is indeed a popular song.

  37. Sean Whelan :
    It’s in about every major hymnal printed…….It is indeed a popular song.

    I know it’s widely used – I just wasn’t aware that the song was beloved by people. I’d just assumed, based on my own observations, that it was used so frequently because of its “gathering” theme rather than because it was popular with the people.

    EDIT: I’ll add real quick that I guess this thread has proved that idea wrong – apparently it is a deeply cherished hymn in some Catholic circles. It’s not really my cup of tea, but I suppose I wouldn’t deprive others of it. I know what it’s like to never get to hear your favorite hymns.

  38. I have often noticed that songs that I, and many other “non-musical” (or less-musical-but-more-musical-than-I) folks love are often roundhoused by liturgical musicians. I have always wondered if it might be part of the school band member’s “Pomp and Circumstance” deal — the liturgical musician is inevitably exposed to these “overplayed” songs much, much more often than the average weekly massgoer. Over time, every flaw in the song becomes more and more noticeable, and they start to grate. The more you are asked to play them, the more you are frustrated with the necessity of playing something that you can’t put your heart into.

    Is this hypothetical construction part of the explanation? (NB: I did not say it was all of the explanation.)

    1. You may have a good point, though I don’t think you need to be a liturgical musician.

      I think some parishes really do overplay some of these pieces to the point that it breeds contempt with those who perhaps didn’t care for, or were indifferent to these particular songs. The church I currently attend uses a wider variety of music now than it used to use, but it was a big deal when The Mass of Creation was replaced by another Mass setting since it had been used continuously for almost twenty years regardless of liturgical season or feast day. While the backlash from the change had to be dealt with in the bulletin, I’d bet that there were other people who were happy to *finally* use something else. When I was growing up, you could count on “Eagles Wings” being used at least once a month for Mass, so I could easily understand why it is so reviled.

      You can find this “familiarity breeds contempt” mentality even with traditionalists. I was surprised at how many people dislike Mass VIII (Mass of the Angels). Turns out it has “Mass of Creation” status in most Latin Mass churches.

    2. Kimberly,

      There are a number of related psychological principles. One is that repetition usually leads to liking, at least initially. Much repetition leads to “habituation” and boredom. If we are habituated to something generally we can revive our liking for it by not experiencing it for a while. Also related are that we have a preference for slight to moderate novelty and slight to modern complexity, but are generally repelled by greater novelty and greater complexity.

      A key problem for both liturgy and music is that the mental template against which liturgists and musicians process all the above is very different (more complex) from the mental templates against which people in the pew process things.

      About the time that the person in the pew has just begun to learn to sing and like a new song, the choir has practiced and done it so much that they are tired of it.

      The slight to moderately novelty and complexity attractive to the large complex templates of liturgists and musicians may easily be extreme novelty and complexity to the people.

      The above model says that liturgists and musicians should be able by small steps to move a congregation from where ever the congregation is to where ever the liturgist and musicians want them to be, but they have to start with knowing exactly where the congregation is (very difficult to find out) and go by relatively small steps.

      1. Thanks, Jack. Interesting, both in its theory and in the implications for practice.

      2. This is part of why I, who plan music, try to be a little bit quantitative and intentional about the planning process. Like keeping track of how many times we sing each hymn each year, how frequently we teach a new one, how many times we repeat new hymns when they are introduced, etc. It means even keeping spreadsheets sometimes — which I have to keep secret from my more “intuitive” colleagues so they don’t laugh at me for “coming from business.” 🙂 All in good fun, of course.

      3. Terri, what a great idea. Maybe we need more businesspersons in liturgical music!

    3. Kimberly, I think you’re on to something here. One story I have heard is that church musicians tire of using certain music, even if they find it to be noble and worthy for worship, long before the people in the pews do.

      1. This is quite far from being a new concept, it is simply a part of the ministry we are in. Which is why we must be very careful to always keep the good of the assembly above our personal likes and dislikes.

  39. “The priests texts, where most of the changes occur, are where the people tune out. Some of the most common responses I have heard from choir members, liturgy commission members and others that I have discussed the texts with come back with something along the lines of: “Isn’t that the text we used to use? No big deal!””

    The US Bishops’ website has cultivated this disjunction between the priest’s part and the people’s part and most defenders of the new translation seem happy with the idea that the people don’t even notice what the priest says anyway. This is liturgical decadence, a betrayal of Catholic Christianity. Are the people expected to sleep through readings too?

    1. +JMJ+

      “most defenders of the new translation seem happy with the idea that the people don’t even notice what the priest says anyway”

      Who are those defenders?

      I am staunchly opposed to the people not noticing what the priest’s prayers are. I’ve got a catechesis specifically on the priest’s prayers in the Order of the Mass so that the people in the pews know what the priest is saying (especially in those prayers which are said quietly) and can interiorize them and make them their own.

      For example, the two options for the priest’s private preparation before receiving Communion are suitable preparatory prayers for the lay faithful as well.

    2. +JMJ+

      Fr. Joseph, could you please back up your claim that “most defenders of the new translation seem happy with the idea that the people don’t even notice what the priest says anyway”?

  40. Well, thanks to everyone for a fascinating discussion.

    But, my question still stands largely unanswered, and I continue to be intrigued by the meaning of a widespread reluctant reception or rejection of the new translation.

    1. It comes down to this…the people who don’t participate, who don’t listen, who just show up for liturgy because it’s expected will have no reaction…they’re not receiving, but they’re also not actual participants.

      The people (and their numbers are few) who treasure their participation in the liturgy, who show up because of their love of God and of community will be the ones who will be alienated by the language (and, yes, studies have been done that show language has a definite psychological effect on its listeners and users) and who will be hurt, who will leave, who will protest with every fiber of their being.

      So, if we want to play with numbers, the overall effect will be low…but consideration should be taken of who is negatively affected by these language changes…they are the people who most care, who participate most in the life of the Church community, who have developed a real & deep spiritual life…do we really want to lose our active minority??

      1. I ditto Fr. McDonald’s sentiment. Dang.

        I’ve encountered a lot of people who don’t visibly participate at the level some here would want, but who are deeply involved in the prayer and mystery of the Mass. Some of the most “serious” Catholics I know never crack open the hymnal. You can argue that that is unfortunate, but it’s simply a fact of American Catholicism that people don’t feel obligated to sing along or volunteer for liturgical ministries and that outward participation is no real way to judge interior participation.

        Also, I find it very presumptive of you to think that the only people who will be okay with the new missal are the ones who sit like lumps and don’t care about liturgy or their own spiritual life.

    2. To try to answer your question: the absence of joy (insofar as this can be measured empirically) is an ambiguous indicator in the short term: I would argue that, even if the new text were perfect, shouts of joy would not be required or expected.

      The real test will be in the middle to long term (if it lasts that long): does it help us pray the liturgy? Does it serve (better than the old one) as an instrument of God’s grace? IOW, is it a genuine reform? If so, then a bit more joy should probably be discernable somehow (and a lot more besides).

      Now, if the absence of joy in the short term is accompanied by the widespread presence of resentment, confusion and anger, at all levels, that constitutes an ecclesiological problem.

      1. another answer to the question: the lack of enthusiasm for the new translation (and my guess is that once congregations see the whole new text, the protests in S Africa so far will seem very tame) shows that episcopal initiative may sometimes be necessary for significant change–but never sufficient..

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