The elusive presence of God

The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, founded a little over a decade ago in Chicago, say that they are dedicated to “the restoration of the sacred.” I recall a conservative friend in Chicago commenting that, as much as he’s rooting for them and praying for their success, it concerns him that they talk about “the sacred” as if it’s a thing hidden away somewhere in Fort Knox which they’re out to liberate.

In fact the good canons are representative of an important strand of contemporary reformist thought. One of the main criticisms of the postconciliar Catholic liturgy from traditionalist quarters is that it fails to be truly sacred. This oftentimes includes the accusation that secular elements have wrongly been admitted into the postconciliar liturgy. One of the main themes of traditionalist music reformers is that we must distinguish more sharply between sacred and secular music – to foster the former and eliminate the latter. (See this, for example.)

But just where is the holiness of God to be found? How clearly are we able to identify and define and locate God’s sacred presence? It’s tempting to claim certainty about such things, but it might be spiritually wise to resist the temptation. To locate God’s presence in this building, this piece of Gregorian chant, this statuary, this vesture carries with it the illusory certainty that God is not present elsewhere. God’s presence is probably more mysterious than that.

I had thoughts such as these in mind as I read the explosive “Amen Corner” by Nathan Mitchell in the latest issue of Worship (September 2010). Mitchell takes up the issue of “a God who is elusive yet explosive, hidden yet revealed, absent yet accessible.” Mitchell notes that our Jewish forebears have struggled with this very issue throughout their history. By wanting God to be present – tangibly present – in an accessible and comprehensible way, our forbears couldn’t help but limit God. And God repeatedly reminded them what folly this is. Mitchell, drawing on the work of Walter Brueggemann, recalls the case of Moses, who asked to see God’s face (Exodus 33), but ended up seeing only a back. Mitchell writes of this, “So at root, the problem of presence is a cultic problem — a ‘liturgical’ problem. The question is not simply how is God present? — or why? — but where? And for what reasons, and what purposes? God’s refusal to show Moses the divine face is, in effect, a refusal to restrict the divine presence to a particular spot, shrine or location.”

Or again, when David, and later Solomon, attempted to build a temple (2 Samuel 7), God was almost insulted at the very idea of a house to live in. No matter how majestic such a house is – and Solomon and his workers certainly did their best – it can’t help but be a limitation. The notion of a place of glory and majesty as a site of God’s presence was to become problematic for the Jewish people. The awe-inspiring temple that so many labored so hard to build was destroyed and the Israelites sent into exile. Do we then say that God’s house became enemy territory? Or that God was no longer present to the Chosen People? Not at all; the people who could no longer worship at a particular place were forced to make necessary adaptations. As Mitchell puts it, their land became a text. Their experience became a story. The Israelites became a people who connected to the divine not though any physical temple, but through sacred story – the story that continues to inspire us today.

We Christians, too, are people of story before we are people of place. The meaning of God’s presence is transformed in the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Mitchell quotes Brueggemann, “The thorny conflict foreshadowed in the crisis of presence that shaped Exodus 33 reaches a searing climax in the great ‘liturgy’ of the cross. There, we are invited to perceive and ponder God’s presence as powerlessness, as absence, as brokenness, as a human howl of dereliction at history’s ragged edge. The divine epiphany becomes an execution. God’s ‘face’ turns to failure; it is no longer ‘the triumphant face from above but the suffering face from below’.”

We Christians have the tradition of “liturgical East,” but this is not obligatory or universal. We honor the earthly Jerusalem, Canterbury, or Rome, but we do not need to call to mind these physical locations when we pray. Instead, we are focused on the Risen Christ who transcends time and place. This Christ is present, as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states, in four ways – in the Eucharistic species, in the person of the priest, in the word (the story) and in the gathered people of God. As Mitchell notes (and I’m summarizing him all too briefly), God’s presence is not only on the Eucharistic table, but at and around it. Sacred space is not just a place – it is a community. “Christians redefine sacred space and time as a Person who is Risen — and as a people who will rise. Sacred space and time are no longer temple or text, but companionship in care and cult.”

In this face of these very challenging assertions, I would want to uphold that we Catholics are a sacramental people. We believe that God’s presence is mediated through tangible, perceptible things – bread, wine, oil, water, icon, anthem, procession. God is revealed, however brokenly, in the liturgical life of the Church. We do well to look for God’s sacred presence in our temples and rites and sights and sounds. But Mitchell warns us of the ancient temptation to limit our elusive God to any of these things.

The present day reformists calls for a greater sense of the sacred and the holy are perhaps a salutary warning that something has gone wrong which needs fixing. But some of the proposed solutions appear to be not much more than the ancient temptation of idolatry. Warning: the Catholic Church stands before the very real possibility of a huge step backwards spiritually.

This post was written with substantial assistance in draft writing by Pray Tell Assistant to the Editor Chris Ángel, who is a liturgy student at Saint John’s School of Theology·Seminary in Collegeville.


  1. Thank you awr and Nathan Mitchell for this article.
    Those of us involved in the preparation of liturgy
    can all to easily make place, style, music, homily content,
    silence/fellowship etc into an idol. Thus we limit God to our own little, narrow vision!

  2. +JMJ+

    By “Restore the Sacred”, they mean “rediscover a profound sense of the Sacred.” There is a difference, and I think they err a bit in using the former phrase (although they also use the latter). And perhaps we should define what we the word “sacred” means, to be sure we’re on the same terminological grounds.

    As for the Temple (and before it, the tabernacle), God did order their construction and did manifest Himself in a special way there; of course, it was the Ark of the Covenant which was the particular locale where God manifested Himself. And, lest we forget, Sac. Conc. (like the documents before and after it) distinguished between the mode or manner of Jesus’ presence in those various ways in which He is present. He is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I can’t say that about my priest, nor about the spoken Word, nor about a group of the faithful.

    I would guard against too hastily dismissing things deemed not obligatory or universal (e.g. ad orientem, admitting the laity to the Chalice). There’s danger of a slippery-slope mentality taking over.

    Finally, boundaries are not inherently bad. (cf. Job 38:11) This blog employs them in its comments policy. Points of policy 2 through 4 draw boundaries on what it means to be “on topic”, where charity and respect are present, and what is intelligent and constructive.

    Perhaps some of the Church’s boundaries and guidelines concerning what is “sacred” are worth heeding.

    1. Sac. Conc. (like the documents before and after it) distinguished between the mode or manner of Jesus’ presence in those various ways in which He is present. He is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I can’t say that about my priest, nor about the spoken Word, nor about a group of the faithful.

      In that case, you’d better go away and read Paul VI’s Mysterium Fidei (1965), paras 35-39.

    2. “He is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I can’t say that about my priest, nor about the spoken Word, nor about a group of the faithful.”

      – Christ is most certainly present in the spoken Word, the Priest, and in any group gathered in his name!

    3. +JMJ+

      Paul and John, I think you misread those two sentences. I did not say Jesus is not present in the priest, in the Scriptures, and where two or three are gathered. I said He’s present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, and that I can’t say that — i.e. that He is present in that same way, to that same degree — about my priest, the spoken Word, or a group of the faithful.*

      God is not present in a rock or tree or my toenail in the same manner and to the same degree as He is present in the Eucharist. This is why I do not worship rocks or trees or toenails, or even God-in-the-rock. I praise and thank and adore God for having made the rock or tree — I don’t think I have yet done so for my toenails, which I would be careful to ascribe to His workmanship. 😉

      * Plainly put, His real and substantial presence in the Eucharist is unique and is “presence par excellence.” (Mysterium Fidei 39: “This presence is called ‘real’ not to exclude the idea that the others are ‘real’ too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man.”)

      1. “I can’t say that — i.e. that He is present in that same way, to that same degree — about my priest, the spoken Word, or a group of the faithful.*

        – Christ is certainly present in a different ways in the above, but to no lesser degree!

      2. “I can’t say that — i.e. that He is present in that same way, to that same degree”

        So you are saying that Christ is present, but not fully present? How is that possible? Like a teen texting at the dinner table?

      3. I think we’re at the limits of what our language can express, and it’s rather foolhardy to explain such nuances with precision. Pope Paul VI said that the Christ is present in the Eucharistic species “par excellence,” though the other presences are also real. I challenge anyone to explain that satisfactorily! I suppose we can say that the presence in the species, unlike the others, is substantial. But this is slightly misleading because our age tends to thnk of substance as something physical. But the faith of the church is NOT that it’s a physical presence.

        Maybe we could hold off on attempts at explaining all this, and simply affirm that all the presences are real, and this doesn’t mean that the Church’s unique devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is being lessened.


      4. +JMJ+

        Maybe “degree” isn’t the right word to use. But although Christ is present in you and me, it would be absolutely wrong to worship you or me… but the Church does worship Christ in the Eucharist, and that means there’s some important difference there.

        Put another way… if Jesus is present in me really, truly, and substantially, in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, what makes me different from the Eucharist?

        Fr. Anthony, I agree that it is hard to explain. Christ is wholly, entirely, corporeally present in the Eucharist in His physical “reality”, but not in a way we would describe as “physical.” He’s not present as we know bodies are in a place. The key is to understand it as “substantial”, as you have said, and to know that “substance” is not a physical thing.

      5. The reason why the Real Presence in the Eucharist is special for us is because we can consume it. We can’t drink the Scriptures or eat the priest or the assembly. But Paul VI makes it quite clear that all the other “modes of presence” (to use the correct terminology) are equal. No one of them is greater or more real than any other. It is simply that one of them is more special for us, not more real than the others. If only Catholics could get their head around this, we’d all be in a much better place.

        Next time you watch a cantor handling the Real Presence in the sung Word of God, marvel, and then respond.

      6. +JMJ+

        Paul, I’m not saying I’ve never encountered Christ in a very real way in the Scriptures or in a person. I am often struck to my soul by particular passages from the Bible (in and out of Mass), and once I was moved to tears while lectoring. (It was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and as I was reading the First Readings from Acts I was made painfully aware of the sort of conversion Saul was being called to, and there were tears rolling down my face by the time I finished it. God played a dirty trick on me, though, because in the Second Reading, St. Paul told those who were weeping to go about as if not weeping!) So I can assure you, I do listen, marvel, and respond!

        Your explanation of the Eucharist’s specialness — that we can consume it — still seems wanting to me. One could ask, what makes eating more special for us than hearing?

        As for the differences between presences, Sac. Conc. says Praesens adest in Missae Sacrificio … tum maxime sub speciebus eucharisticis (7).

        Paul VI says Insuper, et sublimiore quidem modo… when speaking of the Church’s offering of the sacrifice of the Mass in Christ’s name. (MF 38) And then he says Sed alia est ratio, praestantissima quidem, qua Christus praesens adest Ecclesiae suae in sacramento Eucharistiae (ibid) regarding His presence in the Eucharist. Paul VI explains why: per excellentiam, quia est substantialis, qua nimirum totus atque integer Christus, Deus et homo, fit praesens.

        It sounds to me like he’s making a case for the Real and Substantial (that being the key word) Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as the most sublime, surpassing the others… just like the Eucharist surpasses the other sacraments, because while we receive grace through all the sacraments, the Eucharist contains the Author of grace before (and regardless of whether) we receive It.

      7. Jeffrey, you already quoted Mysterium Fidei 39:

        This presence is called “real” not to exclude the idea that the others are “real” too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man.

        but you evidently failed to understand what Paul VI is making very clear:

        (a) this Real Presence does not exclude the other forms of Real Presence mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, which are just as real;

        (b) it is substantial in nature — i.e. a substance that is tangible and can be consumed. The other forms of Real Presence are intangible and cannot be consumed.

        What makes consuming something different? It becomes physically part of you in a way that the other modes of presence cannot.

      8. +JMJ+

        Paul, I have not failed to understand that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist means the other presences are not also “real”. I read those very words, and I’m not a dunce. I also understand, and said, that the Real Presence in the Eucharist is substantial. What makes you think I fail to understand those two things?

        You said “Paul VI makes it quite clear that all the other ‘modes of presence’ … are equal. No one of them is greater or more real than any other.” I do not disagree with him or you regarding their “realness”. I do disagree with you about them being “equal” and no one of them being “greater” than another. Their “realness” is equal, but that is not the only factor to consider. Paul VI draws attention to levels of sublimity and excellence.

        I agree with you about consuming being different from, say, hearing, because when you consume something it physically becomes part of you. (Please don’t think is some misunderstanding on my part. I’m trying [and failing?] to approach this issue systematically.)

      9. +JMJ+

        Paul, you said that Paul VI is saying that Christ’s presence in the Eucharist “is substantial in nature — i.e. a substance that is tangible and can be consumed.”

        Now, I don’t see Paul VI using the word “tangible.” He says “it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man.” How do you propose we speak of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “tangible” while avoiding calling it “physical”?

  3. I think the article makes some very good points about not limiting God to a particular place or “type” of presence. However I’ve been to St John’s (and their little parish in Volo, St Peter), and their efforts seem very much geared towards “rediscover[ing] a profound sense of the Sacred,” to quote Jeffrey, not of limiting God to a particular place or ritual. I really wouldn’t worry about them falling into some form of idolatry.

  4. I just read this post after having made a comment on the sacrifice/meal post which ties into this somewhat. I had an email from a religious sister who attended our EF Mass for the first time ever and I posted that comment on my blog. Of all the comments I receive from new comers to the EF Mass, the most profound, apart from any confusion they experience, is that the Mass is more reverent. That’s an opinion, but I have to agree that it has a “reverent” quality that seems to have been diminished in the OF through a “misguided?” attempt at noble simplicity.

  5. It seems to me that, behind any discussion of presence, as behind any discussion of revelation, is an unexpressed notion that God is present in different ways at different times or that God reveals bits and pieces of the divine presence and the divine plan to various people in various ages. If we begin with the notion that God is present–a presence that transcends time and space and is, indeed, a-historical (as we understand history)–if, indeed, we describe God as “divine presence,” then we can perhaps re-imagine various forms of that presence in terms of our own awareness. So, for example, Christian believers experience (are aware of) the divine presence “in Christ” in the sacraments, the Word, the worshiping assembly, and the ordained minister. These are, for believers, the best ways to be aware of that divine presence, and our awareness should then spill over as we look to be aware of God in every action, in every word, in every person, in everyone who provides service. Similarly, for believers, the Jewish Scriptures and their Christian appendix (New Testament) do not reveal God in bits and pieces but reveal, instead, a growing, developing, changing awareness of the divine presence that is not limited by place, race, time, history, space, or any other limits we would (and do) place on God. We need to begin with our own understanding and not processes of revelation or presence that we presume of God.

  6. A couple of points in response to the continued banal comments about EF being more reverent…..
    – Fr., using your method of quoting one individual, your stress is on a solitary, individual response disconnected from education, experience, etc. One of the greatest obstacles to worship these days is the secular concept of individualism – the individual is the end and goal. Not long ago, Eugene Kennedy wrote an interesting article about how this whole re-translation project seems to highlight individualism rather than the community, the community’s right and responsiblity to evolve and participate in liturgy, the sacramental nature of liturgy which starts with the human action not an imaginery original latin, etc. It is a reflection that makes it appear that we worshippers put on some type of sacred outer shell when we enter the church. This is the opposite of any grounded sacramental theology. It continues the old heresy that divides soul and body, that diminishes or finds the body to be evil, etc. Joseph Campbell called this type of approach – “mythic dissociation.”
    – your response misses completely the points that Nathan Mitchell is making about “elevating” accidents i.e. original latin, ad orientam, chant, propers, etc. Any time the liturgical and sacramental action is frozen in time and space, you have diminished sacramental theology. This “misguided” attempt (to use your phrase) replaces the sacramental liturgy with an imposed authority museum piece.

    1. All sacramental actions, in whatever forms there are, and there are many more forms than just the OF and EF are never frozen in time or space, but in fact are a part of eternity not bound by time or place. A simulated sacrament is frozen in time and place. I’ve never celebrated any simulated sacrament in either the OF or EF except maybe when I was in training in the seminary and in training to learn how to celebrate the EF Mass.

  7. awr: “…I would want to uphold that we Catholics are a sacramental people.” This is most significant. Some one, a Jesuit I think, said the world is charged with the grandeur of God. In this regard, our focal point for meaning comes from the incarnation – the clue to all reality can be found here. In our time, a sacramental imagination needs to be retrieved. Such an imagination has a sense of time as real presence. In other words, all life ought to be eucharistic.
    Dare I say, if we don’t experience God in all creation, we just may not experience God in bread and wine.

    I don’t think Fr. Anthony or Nathan Mitchell intended their words to provoke a debate about real presence. I am often amazed at how so many tend to look at real presence in a reductionist way. Talking about the grandeur of God in all things certainly does not take away from the presence of Christ in the eucharistic species.

    1. The poet you are thinking of is Gerard Manley Hopkins.
      Here are the opening lines of that poem:

      The world is charged with the grandeur of God,
      It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
      It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil…

      (I apologize; the combox evidently doesn’t keep formatting. The second and third lines should be indented.)

      1. Fr. Allan, your comment below about Hopkins is silly. There was no other liturgy at that time. Please get off your hobby horse.

      2. I think Fr. Allan made a good point that bears repeating often – that the perspectives on theology expressed in many of the articles that are popping up on Pray Tell (and that tend to be used to criticize or downgrade those who feel the liturgy needs to be renewed with tradition) are not new, are not exclusive to the new Mass or post-Vatican II period, and do not exclude traditional forms of worship and piety like what you would find at St. John Cantius.

      3. Jack, I see your point. Here is what I meant. The fact that there were Catholic priests and poets who recognized the presence of God in the world during the 400 years of the Tridentine era is not per se an argument for the Tridentine Mass. It just doesn’t follow logically, any more than it would follow to say, for instance, that because Josef Stalin was an altar boy, therefore the Russian Church is the gateway to hell. More to the point, it’s wrong to use as a tool of advocacy for something which is now an option the fact that good people did it during the era when it was the only way possible to do something. How do you know that Gerard Manley Hopkins wouldn’t have been a HUGE advocate of the reforms of Vatican II, outstripping even Nathan Mitchell? You don’t. It’s cheating to use dead people to pronounce on a point they never had a chance even to consider during their lifetime. I mean, it might be fun to ask “How would C.S. Lewis feel about text messaging?” or “Would Cyril of Jerusalem have preached differently if he wore a wristwatch?” but to make a “Gotcha!” moment out of noticing that Gerard Manley Hopkins worshipped according to the rites of his times is, well, silly.
        Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      4. Rita, the point of my statement is not an argument for the exclusive use of the Tridentine Mass, but that this Mass led him to a profound sacramental principle and has led many others to it as well. I really don’t see anything silly in that. I’m sure the OF does and will do this for others now and in the future.

      5. I don’t think anyone was speculating that Hopkins would have preferred the Tridentine Mass. But it seems to me that if he (and many many others) could recognize that God was present in the world, then that would seem to blow out of the water the persistent notion that the Tridentine Mass (or traditional music, language, and ritual) *can’t* lead people to that conclusion.

      6. Fr. Allan, thanks for clarifying what you wanted to say. Jack, it may be that the liturgy Hopkins knew led him to see God in all the world around him, but is this something we know for sure? The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius end with “finding God in all things.” It seems likely that Hopkins, a Jesuit, came to this awareness through the Exercises. True, that too is an assumption, but I think it’s a strong one.

        There are a number of different arguments that people make in this area. One, which Jack mentions, is that the older liturgy can’t or doesn’t allow people to apprehend the truth of God’s presence in the world because it emphasizes God’s presence in holy things. I am NOT making that argument at all. Another, however, is that because holy people in former ages celebrated the older rites, their very holiness proves the older rites didn’t need reform. THAT is the argument I would challenge.

  8. “I don’t think Fr. Anthony or Nathan Mitchell intended their words to provoke a debate about real presence.”

    For Nathan, it’s exactly the opposite. The real presence of Christ in the eucharist provokes (like Jesus’ parables) a moment of recognition that allows us to see Christ’s presence in the world in the places we would not expect it to be — and therefore would not have seen it at all without the sacramental witness.

    So without the sacramental witness of God we would not expect the almighty to deign to be present in humble physical things for our salvation, but because of the sacramental witness we can see all the ways the Lord has humbled himself for us.

    1. Kimberly,
      I think you misunderstood my comment. I was affirming Fr. Anthony’s comment above:

      “Maybe we could hold off on attempts at explaining all this, and simply affirm that all the presences are real, and this doesn’t mean that the Church’s unique devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is being lessened”.

  9. Rita – this is more than silly. Here is Fr. MacDonald’s parish bulletin this Sunday:

    “Dear parishioners,
    I continue this week with the discussion of the
    new English translation of the Mass which is to be
    completely implemented by Advent of 2011, a little
    more than a year from now. Last week I wrote about
    the manner in which the Ordinary Mass in Latin was
    translated into English by 1970 in a very poor manner.
    Those translating the Mass into English wanted the
    English to be like the way most of us speak everyday to
    one another. Unfortunately there was also an agenda at
    wo r k t o mo d i f y s o me o f t h e C h u r c h ’ s
    teachings about the Mass as it pertains to “sacrifice”
    and superlatives used to modify the saints and the
    various sacred descriptions of what the Mass actually
    is. In other words, in the period of time in which the
    current English Mass was translated, between 1965—
    1969, Vatican II was already being misinterpreted and
    an agenda for a post-modern Catholic Church based
    upon the revised and simplified Mass was taking hold.”

    This is crude and embarrassing….it consists of statements that are generalizations and incorrect at best; down right lies in another sense.

    This type of ax grinding has no place by a pastor and is uncalled for.

    I may have overstepped by characterizing the Wanderer/EWTN as heretical but my frustration with these types of comments/media outlets really do fall into a serious and significant “misguided” and…

    1. +JMJ+

      “I may have overstepped by characterizing the Wanderer/EWTN as heretical…”

      Did you, or didn’t you? As others requested, could you list some examples of heresy? When us conservatives make blanket statements and generalizations, we’re told to show concrete examples or recant. Would you mind doing the same?

  10. condescending leadership style. Again, I am embarrassed for our church and for your parish. Talk about a priest needing to be in the spotlight!

    1. Bill, I guess it takes an ax grinder to know an ax grinder and I am flattered that you think enough to go to our bulletin and quote it. When you are in town, please be sure to visit, especially during our first Sunday of the month EF High Mass. We’ll show you fine southern hospitality. No brag, just fact!

      1. No, Fr. Allan, he’s not grinding an ax – he is pointing out that what you wrote is crude, embarassing, and dishonest. If he says it 5 more times, then he’s grinding an ax. But this time, the first time around, he has stated a painful truth, and that smarts.

        You may well display fine southern hospitality, which is a good thing, but this is quite irrelevant to the charges on the table. Don’t distract us or change the subject. Answer the charges. Why did you write such absurd and inaccurate statements??


  11. Fr. Anthony, Are you baiting me? I’m not the first to write this about the 1970 English Mass. Criticism has been voiced over and over again. I think if you google the 1970 translation of the Mass to look for articles on it, you will find many that will be in agreement with my hijacked bulletin article. I’ve been reading about how poorly the English Mass was translated since the 1970’s. However, you may wish to read the following which I came across with a simple internet search just now. You’ll have to point out the inaccuracies of what I wrote as well as the inaccuracies what the British writers critique. This article was written in 2000:

    1. The Catholic Writers’ Guild is a small splinter group of British conservative and mostly uninformed Catholics. You’ll notice that, though the article dates from 2004, they were ignorant of the existence of the ICEL 1998 Missal which would have more than satisfied all their complaints.

      The same rejoinder applies, mutatis mutandis, to many other criticisms of the 1973 Missal. In the 1998 text we had something which combined increased fidelity to the Latin with literary value. The 2010 Missal only has the first of those two attributes. Those who persist in pillorying the 1973 Missal do nothing more than demonstrate how out of the loop they are. We all know that the 1970 Order of Mass and 1973 Missal were deficient in some regards. What we are looking for is an improvement, not a step backwards.

      I have to say that I fail to find the elusive presence of God in the proposed texts of many of the prayers of the new Missal. The elusive presence of a Google or Babelfish translation perhaps, but not something that will uplift spiritually.

      1. Your claim that my bulletin article which I did not post is absurd and inaccurate is disproved by the two links that I have posted. Did I state something “indelicately?” Perhaps and I will plead guilty. But I won’t retreat from the basic premise of what I wrote as there are others who support it and with a somewhat accurate and a more delicate approach to telling the history. So to recap, what I wrote which someone else posted, I wrote from reading the history of this and living through it beginning in my seminary days, Fall of 1976. But thanks for dropping it!

    1. How horrifying and regretable that you would be so openly hostile of the initial efforts of the good people involved with implementing the reforms of V2. Where is your charity, sir? Forget southern hospitality, how does this open hostility further the kingdom?

      I have only known the ordinary form. It is beautiful. The language is gorgeous. I’m positive I speak for the majority of Catholics – especially those of my age. If I were wrong, you would see this EF ballooning world wide. It’s not. Is it time for a new translation? Sure, we should always be updating. But to outright trash what those good folk did with the first and second edition of the Missal is shameful.

      Places such as have little sway with me. Constructive, spirited debate is fine, but there, one finds hatred, vitriol, and disgusting attitudes that are polar opposites of what is expected of Christians. Ubit caritas? Not there.

    2. A spare, clean translation such as 1970/73, without any of the rococo ornamentation of the Latin original that obscures the structure and gets in the way of the perception of the underlying message of the text, was the aim of the first generation of translators. The fact is that they did not totally succeed in this aim, working as hastily as they did.

      It is quite another thing, and completely out of order, to accuse them of having an agenda to modify the Church’s teachings. That is nothing less than libellous to a generation of people who can longer defend themselves, and we can say (as others already have) that the author should be ashamed.

      But then, if he has been supping at the superficial and inaccurate but highly vitriolic wells of Benofy and her like, perhaps we should not be surprised that the author has lost a sense of perspective. I can well understand that anyone immersing themselves in that kind of writing over a period of time may lose the ability to stand back and discern the truth. It breeds viciousness and a lack of charity in its readers. I suspect that Allan simply cannot help himself; and I, for one, feel sorry for him and am ready to forgive the lapsus in his parish bulletin. I hope that he may be able to broaden his reading to redress the lack of balance that we see at present.

  12. Fr McDonald, I think you’re going to have to do better than Adoremus. Forty-six footnotes admittedly gives a sheen of scholarship, but too much of the article is devoted to random personal attacks pieced together to discredit individuals, rather than ideas.

    It’s curious you would take umbrage at “attacking the messengers” then tout as a reference an article that criticizes the personal life of an adversary. And of all things, the charismatic movement. Just to make a silly point that you can’t trust Notre Dame thirtysomethings who were once baptized in the Spirit. Sheesh.

    It’s typical of Adoremus’ brand of journalism: while they footnote pretty well, they have to go pretty far afield to attempt to discredit those with whom they disagree.

    The bulletin piece, as quoted by Mr deHaas is downright embarrassing, especially: “Unfortunately there was also an agenda at work to modify some of the Church’s
    teachings about the Mass as it pertains to ‘sacrifice’ …”

    As a southern gentleman, you, sir, are honor-bound to retract such a statement and apologize for something you cannot prove. Please, Fr McDonald, give this some intellectual consideration and don’t dig yourself deeper.

    1. Indeed.

      For a pastor to engage in such an unnecessary and misleading argument in a bulletin does not serve well the cause of implementing the new translation. Zeal for souls does not excuse it. It’s embarrassing. It’s exactly the kind of thing that would raise the hackles of someone like my father (whose tastes in litrugy are conservative, albeit not traditional, but he has a gimlet eye for situations where people pull rhetorical stunts like this – what can I say, he’s an engineer who cares about careful, limited argument).

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