An Implementation Vignette and Reflection

Vignette

The New Missal began to emerge from its cocoon recently in a parish with a strong liturgical, scriptural and social justice orientation.

“And with your spirit.”

That was the subject three weeks ago of the first of two bulletin articles that announced the parish would begin implementation with the Preface Dialogs, the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation at the end of the month.

The first article emphasized both the literal and scriptural reasons for the choice of the word “spirit.” Paul frequently ended his letters wishing that the grace of Christ be with the spirit of the community, e.g. “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters” (Galatians 6:18).

Last week, the second article emphasized “God of hosts” (think angels not bread) and the choice of “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again.” for the Memorial Acclamation because of its similarity to “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” For both changes a detailed scriptural background was given.

This parish has a sung Eucharistic Prayer at each Weekend Liturgy. The implementation clearly focuses upon the changes in the people’s parts relevant to the Eucharistic Prayer.

The priest came to the lectern before Mass for the usual announcements, and then invited the music director to join him. Together they practiced the Preface Dialog followed by the people. The priest made a mistake in his singing the first time around! Then the pastor went to get vested while the music director practiced us with the new Haugen Mass of Creation Hosanna, and the new Acclamation. Took eight minutes altogether. All the relevant texts and music were in the bulletin.

About 75% of the people gave the correct “and with your spirit” at the opening greeting. The priest said “let’s try that again.” At the Gospel, the choir came in quickly and strongly cueing me (and every one else) to the correct response. Everyone did the Preface Dialog and Hosanna well. The new Acclamation was less loud than the usual one. The priest stumbled over the “peace” greeting; everyone laughed but got the correct response. Many people in my section enjoyed using “and with your spirit” as their response in the mutual greeting. Before the dismissal, the priest congratulated us before saying, “and one last time”

On my way out after Mass I waved to the pastor “And the Lord be with your spirit the whole week long!”

The implementation was never mentioned in any homily. No distractions anywhere with the history of the translation, translation issues or principles of translation, or church bureaucracies: just a constant appeal to scripture, and focus upon the practical aspects of the implementation that we might be able to worship better. There were links in the bulletin to the NCCB website for those who wanted more information.

Reflection

Brief mention of spirit of community in the bulletin reminded me of the excellent presentation on the multiple meanings of spirit by Saint Paul in Gustavo Gutiérrez’s We Drink from Our Own Wells, the Spiritual Journey of a People; the 20th anniversary edition, 2003. Here are some quotes:

In many passages of Saint Paul “spirit” designates… the human person looked upon as a totality but from the perspective of its dynamism…(p.61)

Love is the source of dynamic activity and life. Filiation and fellowship are the two dimensions of a life centered on the Spirit. (p.63)

The dominion of the Spirit as the source of life is so powerful in Saint Paul that in many passages it is impossible to decide whether “spirit” refers to the human person under grace or to the Holy Spirit. (p. 64)

The body (soma) is rather to be regarded as the field upon which the flesh as death dealing power operates but the Spirit, the power that gives life, is also active. The word soma likewise implies a dimension of union among human beings… a basis for speaking of the church as the body of Christ. (p.65)

This spiritual potential that the body has permits Paul to say of it that it is the temple of God. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Rom.12:1. (p.67).

From Gutiérrez’s preface to the Anniversary Edition:

The peak of the spire of theological reflection is the classic sequella Christi, the following of Jesus which, especially since the seventeenth century, we often call spirituality. M.D. Chenu in one of his first works said “Clearly theological systems are nothing but the expression of spiritualities….a theology worthy of the name is a spirituality that has found the appropriate rational instruments for its religious experience.”

Our methodology is our spirituality. Everything begins with silence; that is the first step in speaking of God; that is the moment of listening and prayer; later the language engendered in that quiet will come. The deepest sense of the encounter with the poor is the encounter with Christ. That… is the source of a spirituality, of a …communitarian… journey to God. That is what we meant, when referring to a phrase from Bernard of Clairvaux, we said it is necessary “to drink from our own wells” not only as individuals but also as members of a people.

In the vignette above I tried to express not only my spiritual experience but also this particular community’s spirituality.

Jack Rakosky, a regular commenter at Pray Tell, has an interdisciplinary doctorate in sociology and psychology and a master’s degree in spirituality. His main interest is spirituality in relation to voluntarism in both church and society.

20 comments

  1. Jack – thanks for the sharing this. Given your parish’s emphasis on social justice and familiarity with Guiterrez, what a great way of introducing at least one of the changes.

    But, I wonder – again, given the focus on social justice ad extra, does this parish also focus on justice ad intra – see Fr. Endean’s post i.e. letter from the religious sister in Ireland. What happens when nothing is said about the process of the new translation? Is this “silence” just ignored?

    Don’t get me wrong – the example you use is very appealing but is it short-lived; does it cover up a boat load of sins? Is it just a “cute” way of “not fighting city hall”?

    Sorry, it reminds me of what is happening in our diocese where the bishop has stated that only a few of the people’s responses are changing – so what is the big deal? Each pastor has the standard USCCB resources to quote from and then each pastor can choose how to elaborate, introduce, etc. – some will be creative (like your example), others will just go on as if very little is changing; others will try to shift and make this about “learning more about our liturgy” (but without any attempt to explain the process of change).

    1. When I described this parish as having “a strong liturgical, scriptural and social justice orientation” the word order was deliberate. The strong liturgical orientation existed before this pastor; his primary contribution has been the scriptural orientation. During his tenure a greater social justice orientation has grown mostly at the initiative of parish members but with the pastor’s encouragement and support.

      So the implementation so far has been in strong continuity with this description of the parish’s “spirituality.” The strongest continuity is with the liturgy as before. The pastor is using his charism for scripture to provide the ideological understanding of the changes, more in continuity with scripture than with any liturgical or social justice orientation. I suspect his argument would be that over the long run scripture is far more important than the “New” Missal.

      My use of Gutiérrez is a good example of where the social justice spirituality of this parish might be stronger among some of its members.

      I suspect that most parishes are going to be implementing the New Missal in strong continuity with their parish “spirituality” or “culture” with some shaping by their pastoral staff’s interests.

    2. This is another shorter vignette which I posted earlier from a different parish, in this case one with a vibrant parish school, and younger population of Soccer Moms and Dads whose busy lives are navigated around workplace, school and parish memos

      At today’s Mass the priest read a brief statement on the New Missal, which was also printed in the bulletin. Looked and sounded like a press release. Then he told us what we really needed to know

      No, the Mass will NOT be longer.

      At least we are all agreed on our basic values. There is continuity. The really important things do not change.

  2. Whilst I don’t have much of a problem with “And with your spirit” beyond it being a rather odd thing to say in English, I get annoyed with all the catechesis based around the scriptural and theological roots of the new words, whilst totally failing to address the shoddiness of the translation. I have always been confident that the Episcopal colleges and the Vatican, are able to produce theologically and scripturally sound words for the Mass; my problem is that the quality of the English produced is very low, and nobody seems willing to address that.

    It’s all very well to hear a thousand rationalisations of “And with your spirit”, I am yet to hear anybody defend, as an example, the opening sentence of Eucharistic Prayer 3, which is ten lines long and leaves priest and people gasping for breath. This, to me, is the elephant in the room, dressed in the emperor’s new clothes.

    To us, Lord, grant, we humbly beseech, that your humble servants will, having learnt of their error, that we humbly perceive, in their ways will, having discovered it, admit their fault, their fault, their most grievous fault and, thenceforth, seek, swiftly, to amend the text into something that can, by people who understand English, be understood and, with joy and unanimity, be proclaimed.

    I am the child in the corner asking what that elephant is doing there. I am the child shouting “the emperor is indecently exposed!”. Maybe most of us here are…

  3. Jack, nice comments and reflections. Are you sure you don’t attend my parish? We’ve done it the same way (and thanks to the Daughters of Charity we have a strong outreach to the poor in our community). We’ve been doing the revised English sung and spoken since the First Sunday of September and by yesterday everyone except our visitors are doing their parts by heart, except for the Credo. Singing helps I think to cement it in the psyche. I wouldn’t repeat anything that was said or sung wrong at Mass, but after the prayer after Communion during the announcements I’d poke some fun at any mistakes in a light-hearted way. We’ve been preparing for this outside of Mass for about three years, went to the Latin greetings two years ago and never used homily time to explain anything not even Mass time except maybe at the announcements. The first Sunday of September I spoke prior to all of the Masses to call people’s attention to the World Library’s small green booklet we’ve made available in the hymnal racks, said the most difficult thing would be “And with your spirit” and practiced the preface dialogue, spoken and sung–that was it. The five Sundays since have been the best experience of implementing without comment. The first two Sundays at the announcements I gave a penance to those who said “and also with you” to say the new 100 times each day until the next Sunday. They laughed. Yesterday I had to give myself the same penance when the deacon at the Gospel said, “the Lord be with you” and I responded loudly and over the microphone unfortunately, “And also with you.” And yes I was ribbed after Mass!

    1. Fr. Allan, this pastor has a very, very strong scripture orientation. Are you able to proclaim the Gospel from memory?

      Priests may have to work a hard to elimination a lot of mistakes especially when their parts change. I don’t think the idea of “they will never notice” is true. It is hard not give expression to the fact that you have made a mistake.

      1. This priest also had the collects, etc. memorized. Recently he has begun to read them from the book; I guess because they will not be used anymore. Probably memorizes his homily too. Of course he sang the EPs from memory.

        I have never been able to memorize much of anything, even my arithmetic tables in grade school Got C’s until I blossomed with algebra and geometry in high school. I find learning languages very difficult, too.

  4. I am reading with great interest these tales of implementation. Thank you for sharing. Our priests have their annual meeting this week and we’re using two of the new Mass settings. The question in my mind now is: how would blogs have read in 1964-1970 during the Latin to vernacular shift?

    1. Kyle, although certainly some folk were deeply distressed when the Latin liturgy was changed, many people in very many locations were delighted with the straightforward approved English translation – something we all understood without need of papers and books. It was in language that we spoke every day.

      That is a very considerable difference from the present situation of a modification to a style of English which we do not use. It is a style so alien to our speech that it cannot be considered a translation, merely a version. Some would say a linguistic perversion.

      Methinks it would not be taking the Lord’s name in vain to respond “Oh my God . . .”

      1. Keep in mind though, that the initial English translation in this country was closer to what we are now getting. The first English translation was very well accepted including “And with your spirit.”
        It was the changing of the Gloria and Credo, not to mention the Sanctus that was a bit disconcerting for those of us who had memorized the initial English translation. I think there were plenty of academics who were none to pleased with the second English translation but they had no blogs to complain. Most of us thought that we were getting a “literal” translation of the Latin and that the reformed Latin Mass had been changed in these parts too, meaning if you did a literal translation of the English back to the Latin you’d get what is the official Latin text for the reformed Mass. Of course that is not true, you’d get an altogether different Latin text from the official one. At any rate, no one told the persons in the pews that the second English translation was based upon “equivalency.” At the time, that would have helped the person in the pew to have known that.

  5. Please, Fr. Allan. You make it sound like an overwhelming number of folks –
    – memorized the very first english translation?
    – plenty of academics? (plenty – pains me to say that you are really stretching the reality here)
    – many of us really do not remember (as you) two different english translations (an earlier version and then a later version) – in fact, doubt this happened the way you describe for most of us
    – your comment….”most of us thought that we were getting a literal translation” (most of us did not believe that)
    – your explanation of literal translation of the english back to latin would give you the official latin text for the reformed mass (not sure that this was much of a concern for many of us) and you do realize that earlier posted articles detail how VC/ICEL had to use the english translation of the third edition to realize that they had made mistakes in their literal translation of the “original” latin
    – no one told anyone in the pews about equivalency….that may be your opinion but it is not fact – many of us were taught, explained, described the process including the consilium’s translation theory document – CLP

    You really do exaggerate at times so it fits your current revision of history.

    1. Good points Bill, of course not all of which I would agree, but I’ll support your right to your opinion. The primary point that I’m making is that there was great support for the initial English translation of the Mass in the mid 1960’s. It was the 1970’s that brought about a greater crisis of confidence in the Mass with groups splintering and a desire for the return of the older form of the Mass by some and a push for even greater and more radical reforms by others.

      1. your statement…..”greater crisis of confidence in the Mass…splintering, return”

        Like Jack’s comment below, was in college and graduate school in the 70’s and very involved in implementing the liturgy, communion under both forms, RCIA, training/educating EMs, lectors, music directors. Given that and the vast majority of teachers/experts that I met or trained under in terms of liturgy, with one exception I do not recall any “crisis of confidence; groups splintering; or even a desire to return”. It was only in the 1980’s that I experienced folks who were outspoken in their efforts to splinter; etc.

        Not sure I can even find any recognized professional and expert thinkers/writers in the 1970’s that seriously questionned the liturgy. What I recall are very isolated individuals that created polarization; were outspoken in their rejection of the liturgy of VII. By the 1980’s, some of this had become more organized. We have posted on some of this development and opposition before – ICEL cast a broad net to engage liturgical ideas, thoughts and, yes, history does record isolated individuals who rejected ICEL.
        Would suggest that this is where the “camps” came from…a choice & decision to reject, to polarize, and to actively subvert VII and SC rather than collaborate and impact from within. If one were to write a history of that period, would suggest that events such as Humanae Vitae; the election of JPII; his indult to permit the TLM would be part of a larger explanation for what began to emerge.

        Excellent article by Rev. Robert Taft – http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Mass+instruction%3A+opponents+of+the+modern+liturgy+could+use+a+history…-a0213

        Key: “Some complain that Vatican II’s reform wasn’t done by the council but by post-conciliar commissions, but the same is true of the liturgical reform of the Council of Trent. Trent, like Vatican II, left it to the pope at the time, Plus V, to implement changes in the liturgy. He naturally appointed others to do the actual work.

        Why aren’t they complaining about the way things were done at the Council of Trent? This is all foolishness as far as I’m concerned, foolishness of people who don’t really know the true story.

        When Pope John Paul II canvassed the Catholic hierarchy concerning the desire for the pre-Vatican II liturgy early in his pontificate, less than 1.5 percent of the bishops said that their priests and people were in favor of it, so there was no great outcry for its return. The rest of the episcopate said to leave it alone.”

      2. I recall absolutely no critical comments about the 1973 translation. That was the year I was ordained and remember that period well. I’m talking about the people that really count….Christ’s faithful. This new translation represents a great offense to the countless priests and lay faithful upon whom it is being imposed. Many of the prayers are unprayable. I am blessed to have been given the charism to lead the people in prayer and I will continue to exercise that gift. I will, of course, pray as the church believes.

  6. The ND study of parish life done in the early 1980s provides little evidence for dissatisfaction with anything about the liturgical reforms other than music! While almost everyone approved of congregational singing, 40% disapproved of the music in their parish. Besides the random sample survey, they also observed Masses in parishes. The study did document the disappearance of the classical sung Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Creed) and the sung Preface and the emphasis upon the four hymn Mass.

    In the early 1980s I was a member of a voluntary parish staff; we spent a lot of time studying the liturgy because the bishops were collecting some information. We did discuss some things like moving the Kiss of Peace. There was not any concern about the language of the Mass

    During the seventies I was in graduate school. My only concern was finding a parish where I liked the music. Disputes and dissatisfaction about music were there from day one when Mass began in English. There were those who wanted to use “A Mighty Fortress is a God” and those who wanted “Kumbaya.” Everyone seemed to assume Latin and Chant were out of date. I never hear anyone advocating them.

    Even in the nineties I never hear any concern about the text of the Mass in the various groups in which I participated. The whole issue of text, whether it should be more poetic, or more accurate seems to me to be the concern only of a very small number of people. I have heard concern from women about inclusiveness of language.

    Maybe the concern about language was there in clerical and pastoral staff (e.g. musician) circles, but not beyond.

    1. I recognize that accuracy and beauty can go together in a translation and that many decry the lack of beauty in the English of a literal translation of the Latin. My contention, nonetheless is that most laity had no idea that the 1970 or whatever year it was translation was not a verbatim or accurate translation of the original Latin reformed Mass. It wasn’t until a goodly number of people saw a side by side comparison of the 1970 translation of the Mass to a 1970 Latin version that there was a recognition that the English version veered considerably from the Latin version. I was in major seminary from 76 to 80 and know first hand of a push to go way beyond the original reforms to a more radical way of celebrating the Mass and experienced it first hand. Priests must have had some dissatisfaction with the 1970 English because there was (and still is) a great deal of improvisation and changing of the words depending on the priest celebrating. It was that more radical pushing of the boundaries that created more of a push back in the 1980’s by more conservative elements in the Church. But I would agree that most people, except those who were annoyed with having to learn two different English translation in about 4 years in the 1960’s would not have complained too much about the 1970 English because for the most part they were unaware that it could be better or it could be worse depending on one’s opinion and expertise.

  7. Jack Feehily :

    I recall absolutely no critical comments about the 1973 translation. That was the year I was ordained and remember that period well. I’m talking about the people that really count….Christ’s faithful. This new translation represents a great offense to the countless priests and lay faithful upon whom it is being imposed. Many of the prayers are unprayable. I am blessed to have been given the charism to lead the people in prayer and I will continue to exercise that gift. I will, of course, pray as the church believes.

    And with hope, the faithful will pray as they believe, not as they are being ordered to pray.

  8. ANOTHER WEEKEND, ANOTHER PARISH #3

    This very large parish with school took a baby step toward the New Missal by introducing a new Gloria this weekend. This is a rather unmusical parish; most people just don’t sing much of anything (hymns, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). Hard to explain why. The pastor has many excellent virtues; the choir is a decent choir.

    About five minutes before Mass the choir director asked people to take out their missalette where the new setting of the Mass was pasted into the back cover. Not many people were in church; a steady stream of them would come into the church not only in the next five minutes but also in the first five minutes of the Mass. Not many opened their books.

    She and the choir sing through the Gloria. Then she practiced the Gloria with us phrase by phrase with the choir singing first, then us. Except few people were singing and many people were entering and seating themselves (obviously not knowing what was going on).

    At the end of the Gloria she announced that we would NOT sing the new Gloria this week but would next week. I guess she felt further practice was necessary. This week we would sing the “familiar” Gloria.

    We might as well have sung the new Gloria. Looking all around myself (I was seated with a good view of two large sections of the congregation) only one person’s lips were moving. No one was using a music book since there was no indication of where the old Gloria might be found. Fortunately I knew it.

    As many business have found, attention to detail is essential. Notice that in this parish the practice began before Mass rather than as above using regular Mass time to practice. The pastor did not join the music director for the event. The music director did not move out of her position in the choir to a more central position in front of the assembly. These things reinforce rather than challenge this congregation’s habit of not singing. You can join the choir in singing if you want.

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