Time to say ‘yes’ – sort of

Fr. Michael Ryan of “What If We Just Said Wait” fame is now saying that priests should implement the new missal in totality, without changes and improvements. It’s not quite because he supports the new missal, though – it’s because people should see what the new translation really is.

“We will best serve our people if we give them the new Missal just as it is. I doubt they will be slow to let us know what they think,” he writes.

Read the whole article in The Tablet here.


  1. This is quite a shrewd decision. I disagree with his motives, but he is right.

    When people ask me if I prefer the Extraordinary Form or the Novus Ordo, my reply is “I don’t really know…I’ve yet to take part in a Mass that actually uses the Novus Ordo”… a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but the point being that what we generally experience is a particular priest’s (or worship committee’s) modification/ “improvement” or interpretation of the Novus Ordo Mass…sometimes within the bounds, sometimes outside.

    When I visit Chicago, I attend the Novus Ordo Mass at St. John Cantius… about as close to what seems to have been intended in Paul Vi’s Missal as can be supposed. If more people had such an experience, they would maybe be better able to say honestly whether they prefer the Novus Ordo or not…which then comes back to the original point here. If we are able to hear the new translation as it is intended, rather than a begrudgingly allowed, modified, improved, improvised or otherwise sabotaged version, we will then be able to discern what people really think of it.

    1. “When people ask me if I prefer the Extraordinary Form or the Novus Ordo, my reply is ‘I don’t really know…I’ve yet to take part in a Mass that actually uses the Novus Ordo.'”

      Oh good grief, Jeffrey, what snootiness. I’ll bet that pretty much ends the “dialogue.”

      And I doubt you’ll “be able to discern what people really think of it.” The swishing of the pom-poms and the roar of the cheerleading mantras will drown out any voice but your own.

    2. What’s the alternative?

      Each celebration of the eucharist is an incarnation of the rite at a particular time and in a particular place, which makes it different from every other one and unrepeatable.

      There’s a continuum between wholescale improvisation and the rigidity of the control freak. Your posting makes it clear at which of those extremes you sit.

      Your use of emotive language to decry the practice would suggest an unhistorical myopia on your part, or perhaps a lack of awareness that in the early centuries the anaphora was improvised, and that their number included at least one example which has come down to us, without an institution narrative.

    3. If we are able to hear the new translation as it is intended, we will then be able to discern what people really think of it.

      How? Does any diocese have a concrete plan to get feedback other than anecdotal? For example, has any diocese directed parishes to keep precise tabs on attendance?

      ‘Discerning’ makes it sound as though it will happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. Are there not other ways to know what people think? Of course, one might ask: why should we care what people think?

  2. I think the celebrant has a higher obligation to his parishioners by correcting glaringly obvious bad sentence constructions when proclaiming or singing them from this missal.

    Those who might be concerned any of father’s creative adjustments to the texts might lead to deviations from “orthodoxy”, should be more concerned after reading some of the contributions from PT about the strong possibility heresy already exists in the missal as we have it now. In the hands of a gifted theologian/editor, the new missal may turn out to be a big improvement over the Vox Clara approved version.

    In any event, I don’t expect most people, other than the temple police, will even notice. If the pastor is accustomed to adding, deleting, or reconstructing the texts with impunity in the current missal, the chances of anyone detecting something questionable to report to the bishop in the new missal seems very remote.

    Yet, these are different times. The pope’s self-appointed snoops and spies are definitely on the prowl.

  3. I agree with Fr. Ryan’s recommendation for three reasons.

    First, I supported his petition because I thought it was important to get opinion and feedback from people in the pews on the New Missal. If priests don’t give the people the New Missal they are cutting the feedback of the people out of the picture and asking us to accept their opinions. While pastors on the ground might have better opinions than bishops and priests at a far distance, I think it is important to have actual feedback from the people.

    Secondly when social scientists evaluate a variable, e.g. a new therapy, there has to be a protocol that assures that it is administered relatively consistently in comparison to a different therapy or a placebo control group. This is a real problem for the evaluation of the Novus Ordo, since there are so many possibilities.

    Since much of the music is likely to change between the New Missal and the Current Missal it is going to be very difficult to evaluate whether people are influenced by the new text or the new music. Allowing the new music, e.g. Gloria, Sanctus, etc. to begin to be used in September may help to disentangle the effects of new music from the new texts prayed by the priest. People could well like the new music but hate the new texts, or vice versa.

    Third, the people need to compare the New Missal texts with the Current Missal text. Now I know many people who do not like the New Missal also do not like the Current Missal. However, since familiarity generally breeds liking, it is highly probable that people will like the Current Missal more than the New Missal.

    Finally I think we need to have competition among Missals for the approval of the people. Let the people experience the New Missal, but keep the Current Missal handy. If there are a lot of complaints then give the people their choice between the New Missal and the Current Missal.

    Or if we use Ryan’s version of competition, maybe there will be a surge of demand for retired priests who still use the Current Missal, or priests who decide to retire in order to use it.

  4. Jeffrey Herbert’s comments are not at all ‘snooty’. They may, as he himself admits, be a tad exaggerated – but not much. Relatively few are the parishes which have a mass that anywhere near approaches what the fathers of VII might actually have had in mind; which certainly couldn’t have been the pseudo-folksy and popster charades that we hear so much about and avoid.

    As for Fr Ryan’s opinion – it is spot on. Isn’t it time that priests stopped thinking that their flocks were so daft and bored that they needed to pepper the mass with their own options, remarks and side-shows, rubical or not? What impossible arrogance! Speak of ‘snootiness’! This is its condescending mirror image.

    By all means, give us precisely what the new ritual and its language prescribe. Nothing else is fair. Doing otherwise is to continue the variety show style that priests have made themselves comfortable with – themselves, I stress… not us. They do not need to apologise for the new translation. They need to give it to us as is. Its warts will be apparent, as will its virtues -even the BDW has its humourous moments… and we Anglican Use Catholics love them.

    Perhaps what frightens many of these upset priests is that they are being asked to celebrate a mass that is distinctively ecclesiastical with an aura other than that of a television variety show.

  5. Fr Ryan’s proposal is almost Leninist in its subversive radicalism.

    I wonder if I will be able to deliver the new missal unaltered to my various flocks of Japanese and Chinese nuns and Filipino and Nigerian immigrants in Japan. Maybe I will have to preface the Mass with some excuse along the lines of, “I know many of you may find the language of the new missal odd, but I think it is important that we hear it at least a few times before forming a definitive judgment on its merits.”

  6. Joe O’Leary ‘….I know you…may find the language…odd…’.

    With all due respect (and I am not being sarcastic), can you not see that any sort of remark like that is to label the new translation before it is even fairly experienced as in some way freakish? This is dishonest and insincere. Why not ascend the altar and proceed to say (sing) the mass in a demeanor of normalcy as if there wasn’t (because there isn’t) anything untoward about. it. Surely you are catechising your people about the approaching event, and preparing them for a more truthful presentation of the Latin prototype, a more fitting ecclesial language. Surely you are being honest
    and presenting it in the best light as a step forward in the Church’s worship. (When you say (sing) mass currently, do you apologise for the inadequate and inept ‘equivalency’ and its theological shortcomings? I would think that if awkwardness were felt, it would be on account of what we have been doing for 40 years… because it really IS ‘odd’.)

    1. Another great parody Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss M.J.O.! I mean who would think of judging another’s motives as you do Joe’s?

      What a loss such parodies must be to your Anglican roots!

      And what a gain for the RCC when you were received into full communion with us!

    2. “a more truthful presentation of the Latin prototype, a more fitting ecclesial language.”

      Every schoolboy knows that mechanical literalism is the wa to betray the Latin original, and thus not truthful.

      Translatese is never a fitting language for communication.

  7. Many thanks, Charles.
    It is a challenge of mine.
    What seems reasonable as it’s being written
    sometimes comes out strident or harsh when it’s done.

  8. Like Fr. Ryan, I hope that we will give our new style of liturgical speech time to bed in, as it were. However, I don’t believe that calls for obedience will altogether be heeded. May I offer one instance of this?

    Repeatedly, I have been asked by priests “what can I do?” with the new text of EP4 and the gender specific language of its post-sanctus section.

    It is clear to me that a significant number of priests do not want to lose this anaphora, yet judge that in their particular pastoral circumstances, they cannot in conscience employ it exactly as it is printed.

    Each time I tell them how ICEL attempted to remedy at least the worst aspects of this, and quote the line they were proposing to add to the text, pens and pencils come out and furious note taking ensues. I find it hard to believe that this is for merely academic purposes.

    Given that for the last 40 years priests and bishops have routinely altered the text of EP4 as they go along, this practice is likely to continue.

    I fear there is only a questionable obligation to obey bad law. There is certainly an obligation to work for its improvement or repeal. So if rumours of priests amending the text reach the Holy See, so much the better.

    I would be one of those who are persuaded that sooner or later, some substantial revision will have to be undertaken on this new Missal translation. It would be helpful to know what aspects of it are judged by clergy to be either awkward as English, or badly translated. Then something can be done about that.

    Alan Griffiths.

    1. Yes, I can personally attest that hybridisation has already occurred in those parts of the ordinary introduced over two years ago here in South Africa.

      A favourite of some priests is the ditching of the stuffy “informed by divine teaching and at our saviour’s command” introduction to the Our Father in favour of the previous translation’s freer approach. Another is “my sacrifice and yours” which has reverted to “our sacrifice”. And “Christ has died” remains by far and away the most universally used of the mystery of faith proclamations.

  9. Dear M. Osborn:

    The odd thing about your criticism to my ears is that you seem to have no appreciation for priests and parish communities whose quest for holiness has been nurtured by the way we have learned to pray together over these many years. We know little or nothing about the so-called liturgical abuses that some have suggested are endemic to the reformed roman rite. Nor did we ask for a new, more literal, more “sacral” translation with which to praise the Living and True God. Many of us have no idea what they were thinking in Rome when they determined to impose this on us. My guess is that the group that did this was comprised mostly of people who have scant experience with Mass as celebrated in ordinary parishes. I will teach about the richness of the sacred liturgy and inform them of the changed texts along the way. Time will tell.

  10. Jack (Fr?) Feehily –
    Thanks for your comment. I really have said some intemperate things, and I aplogise to all for any hurt feelings. If you are unfamiliar with the abuses which some of us have witnessed far too often, you must live in a unique area (and that’s not sarcasm!). God’s blessings upon you and your people in this time of change; and may the new translation be a blessing also. It isn’t perfect and has a few glaring ineptnesses, but I, for one, believe it will be a blessing as well as an improvement.

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