Some English-speaking countries are gradually introducing parts of the new Catholic Missal already. How is it going?
The letters to The Tablet are critical of the new translation, as noted in Philip Endean’s post.
What do you suppose is indicated by all these negative letters to the editor? Is this indicative of widespread discontent? Or merely representative of that slice of UK Catholicism which reads The Tablet, is well-informed about the problems with the missal project, and also left-leaning in liturgical and ecclesial matters? I don’t know.
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I had my first real-live experience (I’m not counting trial liturgies with ICEL folks) with the new translation on Sunday. I was at the very reverent and beautiful conventual Mass with my brother Benedictines at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland. (I was in Ireland to be external examiner for chant exams at the University of Limerick – we’ll see whether this coming week brings a Pray Tell post about that.)
In Ireland they’re introducing only the people’s parts, spoken and sung, at this point. Not the entire Order of Mass yet – the Eucharistic prayer, for example, is unchanged. And not yet the biggest problem in the whole thing, the proper prayers of the priest (collect, prayer over the offerings, prayer after communion).
It went very well, I’d say. The Glenstal Benedictines helpfully give everyone a leaflet with the order of worship for the day and all the people’s sung and spoken parts right in place. Any time a line of text has a changed wording, the people are helpfully (if inelegantly) alerted with a big icon in the margins, a sort of road sign with an exclamation mark.
I couldn’t hear the whole congregation in the nave since I was up in the choir stalls, and the Irish aren’t exactly known for shouting out their active participation at high volume. Near as I could tell, the people seemed to be reading their texts from the leaflet and getting it right. Maybe the mumbles in the back were otherwise, but I didn’t hear that. The missteps I heard were from the concelebrants standing around the altar without leaflets – several And also with you’s at the Sign of Peace, a few not worthy to receive you’s, that sort of thing. It’ll come.
At Glenstal the Creed is chanted in Latin alternating between small schola and everyone (which sounded very much like everyone in the sanctuary plus about 3 people in the nave). So all the Creed problems – “men,” “consubstantial,” etc. – are handily avoided.
The Benedictine hospitality was great. At scones and tea (coffee for the Ami) after Mass, the monks very much wondered what will happen when the convoluted and stilted proper texts come in – that’ll be the real test. I volunteered that perhaps the people don’t really pay attention to them so it won’t be a problem. They appreciated my optimism and seemed to agree that this thing just might work. Maybe not for the priests who have to say the weird texts, not for those whose piety is particularly liturgical or who are particularly invested in the life of their Church including its political machinations. But for the rest?
As long as the authorities in our Church know how to play the odds and who to ignore, they’ll do OK.
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A priest friend from another part of the English-speaking world with another timetable for implementation just wrote this to me:
We’re into the third week now of using this new hybrid translation and people have started to talk to me about it. The reaction, to be honest, is universally negative. Strange language, sentences that seem awkward and hard to pronounce, words no one has ever heard before (no points for guessing they mean consubstantial, but a number of people have also asked me what oblation means). I said the first Eucharistic Prayer today because it was in the weekly missalette we use and people really didn’t like it – “long and verbose” was the reaction.
Having said that, they’re soldiering on and making the responses. But no one likes it very much. In another parish, in another diocese, the priest was explaining that this was the new translation that had been provided and someone shouted out “what for?”
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It’s a change of topic but perhaps of interest to our readers. While in Ireland I made it my business to strike up conversation with “regular people” not in church ministry – taxi drivers, hotel clerks – about the dispute between the Irish government and the Holy See. “I hear there’s some sort of row between the Prime Minister and the Vatican,” I’d begin innocently. Without exception, my conversation partners expressed agreement with the prime minister, more often than not followed by an angry rant against the Vatican. Then I’d say, “I wonder what the devout church-goers, or older people, think.” I was told that even the grandmothers with their rosaries have had it up to here with the Pope and the Vatican. No one wants to believe what the Vatican says anymore.
If wonder (and honestly don’t know) whether they take many polls in Ireland. I’d be interested in a survey of Irish clergy and Irish church-going laity about things ecclesial, including liturgical changes. Where is sentiment really at? How can it be improved?
Say a prayer for the Irish Catholic Church. I certainly will be.