New missal can heal divided church

So argues Sister of St. Joseph Carmel Pilcher from Sydney in “New missal can heal divided church.”

47 comments

  1. “using words that we consider beautiful and worthy of the divine. ”

    The trouble is that, for many not all, the words are not beautiful; rather it is an ugly form of bad English.
    How do we overcome this problem?

  2. Sister’s article is disappointing. For the following reasons: it make no reference to the quality of the new translations, especially the inferior quality of English that has been produced.

    Secondly, in good old-fashioned catholic tradition, it attempts to morally blackmail those who do not see things the way the article does, that is, who recognise the new translations for what they are: a travesty of the language required for public prayer. That is the real scandal.

    And thirdly, it tries to spiritualise the situation that we find ourselves in, now that we are presented with a hybrid of English words and Latin syntax and all brought about by unscrupulous political restorationism.

    1. I think like many Sr. is trying to put a positive spin on the new translation. I was struck by her position that the living of the liturgical reforms have been “decades of experimentation and interpretation” and now we are ready to enter into what the council fathers intended. She does not elaborate nor give examples of what she means. However, it is disingenous to claim that we needed a new translation because the years of experimentation and interpretation warranted it. It is dynamic equvalence vs. formal equivalence that demanded a new translation. I wonder if not allowing episcopal conferences a say in their final prayer texts was in the mind of the council fathers?

      1. Quite so. There was a new translation produced according to dynamic equivalence (which does NOT mean inaccurate) in 1998, after decades of work and thought. But the only reason for 2008/10 texts is to vindicate the translation-theory of Liturgiam Authenticam. There is very little thought, experimentation or interpretation behind them.

        As to spiritual blackmail, we are seeing it again and again in this debate. It is very revealing of a mentality that says, in response to every problem “just say your prayers.”

  3. Decades of experimentation and interpretation should have resulted in refinements of what has been the working text, not a wholesale substitution. What this does is go back to the beginning of the cycle of decades of experimentation and interpretation because the experimental subject has been changed. That seems to be the opposite direction.

    1. We did not have decades of experimentation and interpretation. We had the reformed Liturgy of Vatican II. Sr. is terribly off base.

  4. Her arguments:
    – in general, it’s good to have a chance to revisit our understanding of the Mass
    – praying the new missal is not insurmontable
    – in general, divisions are scandalous
    – “we” consider, or might consider, the words of the new missal beautiful (but it’s not clear who “we” refers to).

    Not a strong endorsement. It wouldn’t surprise me if she personally disliked the new missal.

  5. The diocese of Broome (bishop: Saunders) serves the vibrant and diverse community of the Kimberley in remote north west Australia. The Diocese covers an area of over 770,000 square kilometers (much larger than California) and the region has a population of approximately 33,500. Farmers, pearl fishermen, diamond miners, indigenous artists.One third of the population in that region is of aboriginal descent. The diocese has 11 priests plus 1 bishop.

    English is not the native tongue of most of the priests. […] Bishop Saunders urged his priests to spend many hours each week praying the new texts aloud

    I can’t help but wonder. Did they feel a longing for new translations? What will they NOT spend time on while they struggle to learn the new texts? What activity will be sacrificed to make room for that?

    Such a major, disruptive undertaking, all over the world. It had better be worth it.

    1. Is it a “major, disruptive undertaking”? Perhaps people are not spending much time on it at all. They will just look on passively as the clergy sort out the mess.

      1. I wonder also how many clergy are taking notice of the disruption being visited on them. Only a month ago I spoke to an Irish priest who has done advanced theological studies, and he had no idea of the forthcoming changes. I suspect that priests are very good at dumping bureaucratic mateiral in their waste paper baskets. They will play it by ear on the day.

  6. “using words that we consider beautiful and worthy of the divine. ”

    The trouble is that, for many not all, the words are not beautiful; rather it is an ugly form of bad English.
    How do we overcome this problem?

    If you truly believe that the new translation is THAT wretched, then no amount of attempting to convince you otherwise will do so. There are many who believe that the new translation IS beautiful… saying that it is ugly mangled nonsense makes as much sense to them as calling it beautiful and elegant does to you.

    You overcome the problem through faith. That and some humility expressed through an appropriate degree of submission and obedience. Catholicism is sometimes a tough row to hoe my friends….

    1. Oh for Christ’s sake (and yes I mean that literally) Jeffrey, what absolute rubbish.

      Bad English and bad translations are bad English and bad translations and both God and God’s people deserve better.

      Of course parts of it are better than what we’ve had: they’ve been working on it since 1975, and spent millions of dollars (most of it in the past ten years) so they’d want to get SOME things better – but why not ALL of it?!

      Carmel Pilcher’s on-again, off-again (off-again, off-even-more) relationship with Cardinal Pell is legend in Australia. She played a minor role in the recent Australian celebrations in Rome for the canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross but claimed in her blog writings to have been the major mover and shaker.

      She souldn’t even get 20 of her sisters to sort out Communion properly at the thanksgiving Mass.

      She has now sold out to the dark side and I’ll be interested to see what new song she sings when the penny drops and everyone realises the Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal needs revising a few months after it’s imposed.

    2. I would have to echo Chris; “You overcome the problem through faith.” One doesn’t overcome science, lack of ethics, bad theology, mis-represented history, lack of care for the poor, or in the case of just plain bad English grammar, with “faith.” How many situations the church and its teaching and praxis have lost credibility with outlandish appeals to “faith.” The church’s condemnation of Galileo’s heliocentricity was to be accepted on faith, the abuse of children in Irish industrial schools was exported via the “faith” pronouncements of abusers, evolution was condemned as anti-faith, historical biblical criticism condemned on the account of faith, the quality of this English translation of the Roman Sacramentary accepted on faith (?). Lumen Gentium 34 & Gaudium et Spes 36 enshrined a wonderful principle: “the rightful autonomy of earthly realities.” Some things are not a matter of “faith.” They have independent, verifiable characteristics and qualities free from matters of faith. The Latin and English language are surely one. As a commenter above pointed out: assertions that something like a new translation be accepted on faith are a form of creeping spiritualism.

    3. You have still given no POSITIVE defense of the new translation, with quotations to back it up. Now you say “overcome the problem through faith” or pray it away. Putting lipstick on a pig and trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear can be a lovely demonstration of humility and obedience, like the saint who planted cabbages upside down. But the point of the new translations is not to demonstrate the obedience and humility of model clergymen. It is to proved a prayable text for the People of God. Do not mock them with clerical games.

    4. There are many who believe that the new translation IS beautiful… saying that it is ugly mangled nonsense makes as much sense to them as calling it beautiful and elegant does to you.

      I don’t think that beauty is simply in the eye of the beholder. There are texts around which a large consensus builds: “this poem is beautiful”. It’s hard to define but much easier to see. Beauty, as one of the transcendentals, exists outside of ourselves. Focusing on it being primarily a matter of taste is relativistic.

      Are the texts of the new missal beautiful? By and large, I believe that the answer is no. They will be an obstacle to seeing a manifestation of Jesus at the Mass. They will be, not uplifting but depressing. The ugly, like the false and the bad, is holding us down. And that will be realized gradually, in the same way that ugly church architecture can get in the way of our perceiving the divine.

      Saying that prayer solves everything is true of course. You can worship with off-tune music in a cinderblock building, and still overcome those obstacles with the help of prayer. But why? Why do we have to go through this?

      I wonder what good can possibly come out of this. Maybe it will serve to purify the church: it will weaken the curia by exposing its incompetence and carelessness, help take down the totalitarian structures, and pave the way towards a renewal of collegiality.

    5. You overcome the problem through faith. That and some humility expressed through an appropriate degree of submission and obedience. Catholicism is sometimes a tough row to hoe my friends….

      What kind of humility?

      The faith and humility that copies the example we have been given? That is what we are trying to do — reject the proposed translation and demand different rules for translation, imitating the example we were given in 1998.

      Maybe we should adopt the behavior of those who complain about the current translation, and have spent 20, 40 years detailing its deficiencies? Who still bemoan its ‘banality’ while promoting submission and obedience for those who disagree with them?

      These appear to be the behaviors that effective servants of the Church adopt. Shouldn’t the rest of us do these things as well?

    6. Thank you all for your comments, most of which simply proved my point about “no amount of attempting to convince you otherwise”. For a group that objects to seeing things in “black and white” (or “Black and Red”) , statements such as “Bad English and bad translations are bad English and bad translations and both God and God’s people deserve better” are quite black-and-white, aren’t they? But that’s not really my point. I just find it humorous that so many are willing to dismiss so many others as being deceived, bought off, cowed into submission or afraid for their jobs rather than the much simpler explanation that they might just have different taste in liturgical style than you do. Those who object to the new translation are not idiots, however neither are the many supporters. We already know that there were many who initially objected to the new translation, but who have since become advocates after reading them. Is that what is meant by “drinking the Kool-Aid”? Is that the case for anyone who decides that the new translation is a good idea, or maybe even that it’s not as horrible as it has been described by some? Remember that it’s also possible to oversell the negatives, and when the reality doesn’t match the hype, the objection as a whole suffers.

      As for humility and submission, they can’t be explained really, but are acquired through practice. Not exactly academic-intellectual concepts.

      1. The inquisitors told Galileo he was stubborn because no matter now they huffed and puffed he would not change his mind. Produce POSITIVE evidence of the alleged beauty of the new liturgy — at least make an attempt to convince us — instead of resorting to dialectical pirouettes and an epistemology that when it runs out of steam resorts to the imperative mood of “believe, pray, obey.”

        As to people fearing for their jobs, we had people on this very site who told us exactly what job pressure they were under because of the new translation.

  7. The headline does not correspond to what she actually says–experience suggests that it may have been put in by a positively spinning editor. Once you discount the headline, it feels like damnation with faint praise.

  8. “Catholicism is sometimes a tough row to hoe, my friends . . . ”

    You mean apart from doctrine, right, Jeffrey? You mean like when ambitious clerical climbers hijack an approved translation and twist it into torturous sentences replete with grammatical errors and mistranslations? And the Curial Office in charge does absolutely nothing to correct the errors but stamps “approved” and sends it out . . . followed in swift succession by, at last count, seven reams of “Errata.”

    So your recommendation would be that, a la the Hare Krishnas, we take another swig of Vox Clara Kool-Aid, grab the tambourines and start circle dancing around the 2010 Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal chanting (get it?): “Krishna Krishna, Hare Krishna, Rama Rama, Hare Krishna.” Or maybe: “Bending slightly, hear us graciously, send your dewfall, my most grievous fault . . . ”

    Yeah, that should do it!

    1. It really is Kool-Aid thinking. It is all right to use this kind of spiritual blackmail on priests, who are used to it from their seminary days. But to use it on the People of God as well — telling them “like it, or lump it!” is really wicked.

      1. I also think a revolution unlikely — rather a further diminution of the vitality of our liturgy, with a further drift into non-attendance.

      2. Unlike the clergy, the people also have recourse by
        voting with their feet ,or by ceasing to add to the
        bishop’s supply of loot.

    2. I don’t foresee tambourines in this instance, but yes, you somewhat have the idea down by the end. I don’t understand why you think this requires some kind of cult behavior though.

      I do wonder what will happen when the new translation comes into use and there is no resutling revolution from the people in the pews…will you simply dismiss everyone as drinking Kool-Aid?

      1. Jeffrey, what will you do when several weeks or, as one CONSERVATIVE bishop predicted “about a liturgical year and a half” into the new translation’s use, a compilation of all the grammatical errors (for starters) comes out and we have to start penciling in the corrections on the pages of our “Regal Editions”? Will you say, as Monsignor Moroney says now at workshops, “Of course there are some grammatical errors. When you have 7000 people working on a project this size, there are bound to be mistakes made!” As someone posting on here said, what a whole new way of spinning a slipshod job: many consultants results in more errors not fewer.

  9. At the end of our days together Bishop Saunders urged his priests to spend many hours each week praying the new texts aloud so that when the time comes they will proclaim them well.

    This is the wrong way round. They should be proclaiming the texts aloud so that they can truly pray them when the time comes, and lead their people into prayer through them.

    However, I doubt whether they have actually seen more than a tiny number of the texts they will need to pray, apart from the Order of Mass. A US publisher told me only two days ago of more long lists of errata going back and forth between ICEL/BCDW and the Missal publishers, the latest list only a week previously. How on earth will all this be ready in time?

    1. Paul,

      One can pray most fervently that the answer to your last question is “They won’t.”

  10. Take it from Janet…. This new missal ain’t healing anything at all. To be sure, it will contribute to smaller congregations and even more disgruntled clergy whispering the the word “dew” as to say they are embarrassed to be even saying it aloud lest anyone question their sexual preference….

    The unsinkable liturgy WILL go down with great loss of life…it will be most ugly.

  11. Actually, the word is now “dewfall” — I don’t know how anyone can use it with a straight face, yet it was singled out as a gem of biblical allusion by one bishop.

  12. Janet stands corrected….”dewfall” is the LATEST version, God knows what will appear in print!

    You know, this may all just be a conspiracy to get the guys to move away from the second Eucharistic Prayer …. Its a new technique: to embarrass them away from it!

    Joe, sadly, this ship will have to set sail, or Catholic Book Publishing, the “GM” of American Catholic publishing houses will have a ton of these babies to start the new fire with. But, once it sets sail for parts unknown, but outcome certain, an ominous black cloud will follow it, while the boys simply keep their well worn copy of old faithful nearby at the ready. Take it from Janet…it will be quite ugly.

    1. Does “dewfall” have some connotation I am totally unaware of? I really am puzzled by why it is considered embarrassing or “gay” in the context of liturgical prayer (where everyone I’ve asked considers it to be poetic more than anything else).

      I’m not saying this because I think the new translation is wonderful (better than what we have now, with a better ordinary than the 1998, but not the best it could be) – but because it strikes me as grasping at straws to find fault with it.

      1. Other than a lyric from Cat Stevens, the expression has next to zero English usage. Great company for the second Eucharistic Prayer.

      2. Msgr Bruce Harbert dislikes dewfall — he wanted “dew” and like Bp Roche cited the “Mountain Dew” adds as evidence that dew is not only biblical but also contemporary.

        No, Jack, the faults of the new translation are not a matter of straws — there is a general broken-backed quality to it all that is disheartening — this is what makes it unprayable. 

      1. Excuse the possible irreverence, but I giggled when he fiddled with the pages, and smiled gently when he bowed at the name of the BVM.

  13. Joe O’Leary :

    Quite so. There was a new translation produced according to dynamic equivalence (which does NOT mean inaccurate) in 1998, after decades of work and thought. But the only reason for 2008/10 texts is to vindicate the translation-theory of Liturgiam Authenticam. There is very little thought, experimentation or interpretation behind them.
    As to spiritual blackmail, we are seeing it again and again in this debate. It is very revealing of a mentality that says, in response to every problem “just say your prayers.”

    If you keep saying it it might just happen? I don’t think so. The 1998 translation is not the one which is being implemented in Advent 2011. Perhaps the time has now come to let go?

    1. I don’t like to let go of a juicy argument when all opposing arguments collapse so comically like one house of cards after another. In practice, few people have gripped the issue enough to let it go. The new translations will be accepted listlessly, as we are used to. Don’t try to make a virtue of this passive conformity; it is no sign of vital spiritual or liturgical life.

  14. Janet Darcy :
    Great company for the second Eucharistic Prayer.

    Janet: We all know the Vox Clara translation of the second Eucharistic Prayer in the coming Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal is a mess, but despite the travesty it turned out to be, I still think what our mutual friend said one night over a particularly good medium-rare bistecca at Da Roberto in the Borgo Pio remains true: “The only thing that will eclipse EPII as the most used anaphora is if Rome approves one shorter than it.”

  15. Wish I could join you in those Roman restaurants!

    Australia priests seem to be giving some tremendously spirited of pushback just now.

  16. Jeffrey Herbert :
    “Bad English and bad translations are bad English and bad translations and both God and God’s people deserve better”

    Jeffrey: Which part of this statement, which you’ve quoted, do you disagree with?

    (For the record, that’s my quote, and I am not a “member of a group” on this blog or anywhere else: I speak for myself.)

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