Warning: Deconstruction Zone Ahead

A number of my colleagues, good pastoral people, have been preparing the way for the new translation of the Roman Missal. They are doing this in good faith, despite the fact that they have misgivings about the product they are promoting and the process that produced it. The situation is actually quite common. We can all think of examples of people in diocesan offices and parishes who are unhappy with the new translation, but have done their best to implement it.

The focus has been on the Missal. The pressure has been to get this done. All other concerns have been set aside. The hope is: If we can get through this, everything will be alright.

What must eventually be faced, however, is that this is only the beginning. If Missal implementation is judged a success, it will give the green light to the rest of the translation project.

It is time to consider what awaits us if the current regime continues the policy followed with the Missal. I’ve put together a partial list (not exhaustive), from three ritual books, of what we can expect to see changed in our ritual repertoire beyond the Missal. I’ve chosen three books published during the 1980s: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, The Pastoral Care of the Sick, and the Order of Christian Funerals, because they exemplify the sort of pastoral adaptation likely to be suppressed if current policy continues.


The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has enjoyed great success in its implementation not only because of its innate genius but also because it has been adaptable. Many people have invested countless hours of labor to make a vigorous catechumenate experience part of the Church’s ordinary life and ministry, especially in North America.

In the United States, because of the culture in which we live, about two-thirds of the adult participants in the initiatory process are baptized candidates. Their needs are different but related to those of catechumens. In 1988, an entire set of rituals adapted for this population received approval from the U.S. bishops and from Rome and was implemented. These ritual adaptations have not been above criticism. Many pastoral leaders would like to see them revised in light of the experience of the past 22 years. Yet few would want to abandon the field altogether. The great majority believe there is a place for ministry—and for appropriate rites—suited to the journey of baptized candidates.

If the RCIA is retranslated according to the restrictive norms that were followed with the Missal, however, all the adapted rites for baptized candidates (Part II, chapter 4, sections A–D, and Appendix I, 1–4) will disappear. Why? Not because they have been tried and found wanting, but simply because they are not in the Latin text. The Rite of Welcome, The Call to Continuing Conversion, the Penitential Rite for Candidates, the Combined Rite for the Easter Vigil—all will be gone. The only rite for the baptized will be the Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church.

The RCIA for children will also be affected. Children of catechetical age will no longer be allowed to celebrate the Rite of Election, for example (RCIA 277–290). Including children in election is an American adaptation, the fruit of much work and striving on the part of pastoral practitioners. Out it goes.

So too will go the Rite of Sending (RCIA 106–117, 434–445, and 530–546), an American adaptation designed to be celebrated in the parish as a complement to the Rite of Election when Election takes place in a diocesan setting.

The titles of several of the rites will change. The arrangement of the notes will change. Inclusive language will be eliminated from all the prayer texts. And, of course, we can expect a translation with the same awkwardness of expression we’ve seen in the Missal.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of unbaptized catechumens since 2005. What has kept our initiation numbers up has been the baptized candidates. With the decline in catechumens and the elimination of rites for the baptized adults who normally would be included somehow in the ritual processes of initiation, the size and scope of the RCIA will be dramatically reduced. I expect that it will actually disappear in some parishes altogether, because fewer resources will be given to it. Certainly, the impact of the RCIA on parish liturgy will diminish greatly.

The rites for the unbaptized, although they will be retranslated, will remain the same in structure. This is the good news.


The Foreword to the 1983 edition of these rites states that “The texts in this volume have been arranged ‘in a format that will be as suitable as possible for pastoral use’ (General Introduction, 38f).” New texts also were added to the particular edition, according to the provisions of no. 39. Relevant references from other ritual books were added wherever helpful. These include texts from the RCIA, Penance, Funerals and Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass. The result has been a well-designed and very practical ritual book.

On the left hand side of each page is found the new numbering system necessitated by the rearrangement of texts and the insertion of additional texts. The Latin numbering system remains visible in the right hand column. A look down the right hand column shows that return to the original numbering, and removal of all texts from the particular edition that are not in the Latin, will result in numerous alterations and – yes – a book more difficult to use.

Some very fine pastoral material will be deleted. Here are a few examples of what will disappear: visits to a sick child (PCS 47–50, 62–70); care of a dying child (PCS 168–174, 280); passages concerning the link between the sick person and the eucharistic community (PCS 51, 73); pastoral notes on the anointing (PCS 104–107), and a note on emergency rooms or casualty wards (PCS 152). The 1983 edition also makes a distinction between prayers for the sick and prayers for the dying, something not so well marked in the Latin edition yet important to their appropriate use.

It is strange to think that, for example, attention to the needs of children would be looked upon as an attack on authentic liturgy rather than a permissible extension of its benefits, but the terms of Liturgiam Authenticam are clear. Anything not in conformity with the Latin text is an intrusion to be eliminated.


The arrangement of the texts for the 1989 Order of Christian Funerals, like the Pastoral Care of the Sick, has made the book much easier to use without flipping pages. These adjustments have been well-accepted. In fact, one is hard-pressed to think of a single complaint raised against them. They will be undone however, because the Latin edition must be followed in all its particulars.

All the introductory material (OCF 1–68), which sets out beautifully what is important to note about the ministries and the liturgical elements of each of the rites, is particular to the American edition. It will therefore be deleted.

Entire sections from Related Rites and Prayers, including introductory material and texts for Prayers After Death (OCF 98–106), for the Gathering in the Presence of the Body (OCF 109–116), and for the order for the Transfer of the Body to the Church or to the Place of Committal (OCF 119–124) will be gone.

The notes for the Funeral Liturgy (OCF 128–158) and the Introductory Rites (OCF 159–163) of that liturgy as well as texts for the General Intercessions (OCF 167) and the Final Commendation (OCF 170) are not in the Latin original. The introductory rites include such well-loved items as the placing of the pall and Christian symbols on the casket, and the blessing of the casket with holy water. Will any of these elements be permitted to remain? The bishops can ask, of course. But given our experience with the Missal, it seems unlikely that they will receive a favorable answer.

Finally, the notes on the Rite of Committal (OCF 204–215), as well as some of its texts (cf OCF 216, 218B and C, 219B, and 223), will also be taken out.

Again, one faces the heartbreaking fact that what blossomed into an entire section of  notes and prayers pertaining to the funeral of a child (OCF 234ff) will probably be rejected simply because there is no word-for-word equivalent for it in Latin.

Many original prayers for individuals (bishops, priests, deacons, religious, married persons, the young, the elderly, several persons), sadly, will be lost. More painful still is the thought that prayers for those who died accidentally or violently (OCF 43), or by suicide (OCF 44, 45), will be deleted. Our current text even includes a prayer for a deceased non-Christian married to a Catholic (OCF 36). Presumably it won’t in the future.


As one steps back and considers the big picture, things look bleak. The example of these three rites shows that, if current policy continues, pastoral care through the liturgy will be made smaller in scope and less effective. This is not an outcome in keeping with the Church’s mission. Nor is it likely to result in more effective evangelization and witness in the world.

As anyone who has worked in pastoral ministry can attest, the moments of the Church’s ministry surrounding sickness and death are some of the most critical. Likewise, the initiation of adults is a matter of fundamental concern, and also an occasion for outreach to the unchurched and non-believers. Scaling back our liturgical rites, making them less accessible and less adaptable, is surely the wrong way to go.

Yet here we are. In service to the ideology which says our English text must adhere so closely to Latin that even the arrangement of notes is identical, we are poised to pursue outcomes that will hurt and diminish the Church.


I began by saying that many well-intentioned, loyal servants of the Church have put their shoulder to the wheel of this “new translation” machine, perhaps not fully realizing where it would take them. Indeed, I doubt very much they are itching to get rid of prayers for dying children and the like. Yet the jettisoning of rites for two-thirds of the participants in the RCIA, the exclusion of special prayers for children who are sick, dying, and deceased, and all the rest of the changes outlined above, are foreseeable results of the self-same project. If we can foresee it, we bear responsibility for what we do — to support it, or to oppose it.


  1. what about the Ceremonies/Ritual of the Sacrament of Marriage? There is already an edition available in practically every European Language except English. There are considerable good improvements and additions but also a rearrangement of the ceremony which is generally ‘retrograde’.

  2. Deconstruction would certainly fit the agenda of those who want to eliminate lay ministries and focus upon very brief ceremonies by an ever smaller number of priests.

    Recently I was hospitalized and a priest whom I do not know visited me very briefly. After asking why I was there, he asked me if I wanted to received the anointing of the sick. When I said yes, he smiled very gratefully and said “they” want “us” to provide services.

    As he quickly went though the ceremony I realized that it was the absolution, plenary indulgence, anointing of the sick formula, and vaguely remembered something from long ago about not having actually to confess sins when in danger of death (I guess they did it back then as long as you were still living perhaps not even conscious, was surprised that this still exists). Anyway the priest was quickly gone. I guess to put some marks on a chart somewhere for the benefit of the mysterious “they.”

    When my mother was in the hospital and was asked by the nurse whether she wanted to go to communion she always asked whether it would be the “quickie” priest or the “pastoral” deacon before she gave her answer.

    I was thinking that if the priest showed up for communion I might ask him to pray one of hours of the Divine Office first.

    Perhaps the next time I am in the hospital I will carefully consider whether of not to sign the “consent for religious notification.” I was very pleased that hospitals now allow you a great choice about what and when to eat, etc. And with the abundant availability of phones and cell phones, I see no reason why one should not arrange one’s own religious support system rather than relying upon the “their” agenda.

    1. The epistle of St James is usually taken as the model for the anointing of the sick, and it describes forgiveness without confession:

      Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

      Perhaps you should suggest one of the Divine Hours before receiving the anointing as well as before Communion. Surely some scripture is appropriate, and the Office is a good way to accomplish that.

      1. Jim,

        I think the traditional thinking was that the Sacrament of the Sick forgave venial sins but not mortal sins. Given this priest’s age I assumed this was his way of “super” sizing the sacrament and covering all cases. Having never received the Sacrament of the Sick outside of a communal setting, I had no idea of what he might do. Next time I will suggest we pray first.

        I wondered (and in some ways worried) more about what might be done if I were offered Communion.

        This was my first hospital stay. I was surprised at how well this hospital handled meals. I liked calling up on the phone whenever I wanted, choosing my meals, and having everything delivered within twenty minutes. I also enjoyed all the phone service, being able to talk to friends locally, and my family which spans the country.

        Within that context I could see daily Communion, if it were property done e.g. a visit by parish members, especially if they were also to partake of the Sacrament, as a practical way of Communion becoming a sacrament of sick, too.

        However I don’t go to daily Mass largely because I believe a 30 minute Mass is too minimalist. I have a lot of concerns in the future I might be offered communion as a homebound person in a minimalist service. It will be interesting to see what happens if I say that we have to celebrate Vespers first.

        A large part of what Rita has covered in this post are ways that we have developed the rites to get beyond a bare minimum. I think it would be tragic if those developments were thrown out for whatever reasons.

  3. I think part of the issue that needs to be discussed is that of inculturation and enculturation.

    In sociological terms, there is a negotiation that goes on between the dominant culture that is the “holder of the norm” and the sub dominant culture that is trying to be included in the dominant culture. These negotiations refer to cultural piety and religious practices and what is consonant with the Tradition and what is not. In my opinion, we are making a mistake in the identification of the dominant culture. We assume that it is the Anglo male that is the dominant cultural force.

    I submit it is something different – the ordained male in Vatican City, that has no concept of what riches the sub dominant cultures bring to the table, and quite frankly, appears to not really care.

    While the cultural dialogs going on in the US (and I assume in other countries, but have no experience with which to refer to), between the various cultural expressions of the Catholic Church are vitally important, maybe we need to evaluate and reevaluate who is doing the negotiation and with whom. Also, if there is a lack of dialog and negotiation taking place, how do we engage in that dialog.

    I would like to think that the Holy Father has not had the opportunity to examine the new translation of the RM3 closely and is blissfully unaware of the weaknesses of the texts we are being handed. Instead, he is relying on the work of his minions in the Curia to ensure that we are being given the best possible texts. (I’m trying to be generous here.)

    I am not trying to say that we need to negotiate like we would in purchasing a new car or home, but we do need to work our way through the cultural malaise we bring to the table. Just because it is not Roman does not mean it is not Catholic, nor heretical, nor in conflict with the Tradition. Some traditions can be accommodated and others cannot. Who is making these decisions and who is talking about this?

  4. Also, don’t read this as being critical of the Tradition or the Magisterium. I love the Tradition we have in the Church, which is why I chose to be Catholic. I also realize that the vision of Vatican 2 has yet to be fully realized and long for that day.

    Another mistake we make is an either/or approach. I submit that the Paschal mystery is greater than all of this and is a both/and solution in most cases.

  5. Brent – wise commentary with lots of insight. Would suggest that even in the US you have ethnic and cultural differences in “visiting the sick” – Hispanic families, for the most part, would not want some type of brief and rushed “visit” and they would want the family spiritual experience as part of any “visit”. With exceptions, would suggest that most chaplains probably do not do well incorporating cultural and spiritual and family experiences into brief visits. Why not?

    Would love to know more about why this minister made those comments to Jack? Wonder if the chancery views chaplain work as less than valuable in the face of parish staffs? Wonder if the diocese has a tension between longstanding chaplain positions and parish staff openings – whether pastors have pushed back on “visiting” the sick and expect chaplains to do that?

    This issue often times creates a good deal of tension in some dioceses – coverage for ER rooms late at nite, emergencies on week-ends, etc. Tension between families that expect their pastor to be there no matter who the chaplain is.

    1. Bill,

      My impression is that the chaplain is a retired priest, or a priest close to retirement. I think that they had a hard time finding someone for the position. His ritual habits could have been a holdover from before Vatican II. It is possible that this might either be a way to make a little extra money in retirement or maybe a way of easing into retirement. I don’t think this guy has a parish appointment, but he may cover more than one institution.

      I do think parishes in the area, or at least priests and deacons, have pulled back from hospital ministry. My impression was that finding someone for this job was a big relief to them.

      On the other hand, I am sure that if I had called the parish office, someone would have come, and that most of the people who would have responded would have done better. Perhaps the next time I won’t check the consent for notifying the chaplain, just call the office or some friends in ministry and let them know what the situation is.

      However we do have a tradition in the Church of minimal rites. That can sometimes work out to the good. I got to be baptized on the day that I was born because they were concerned my mother might die. The “ceremonies” were supplied some weeks later.

  6. Those who are strongly attached to the Sacramentary should able to maintain the older translations of the pastoral offices without restriction, even after the introduction of the new translation of Mass. No new translations should be made. This is especially important because many of the ill or bereaved might not have had contact with the Church in many years. Forcing a re-translation of the pastoral offices would only open a new front in the internecine strife.

    Even so, many bishops still attempt to forbid the extraordinary form faithful from praying for their dead with Tridentine requiems. Let us be comforted by the old Rituale Romanum and mourn according to our customs.

    Bishops would be wise to permit liturgical variety, including indults for the Sacramentary. The acts of uniformity over the past fifty years have sown nothing but heartache. It’s time for an amicable separation.

  7. This post prompts me to comment after lurking at this blog for a long time. These prayers matter to people in their lives… I have been comforted by the Order of Christian Funerals in the face of personal loss, and I have worked as pastoral musician with families who have taken solace in these rites. I am incredibly saddened at the idea that the Church could lose the treasury that is the OCF (not to mention the RCIA and Sacraments of the Sick).

    What can be done?

  8. Be assured that priests who are old enough to have had rich and fruitful use of these rites will continue to use them. Old ritual books never die or even fade away. They sit on shelves in sacristies and in priests’ offices and cars ever ready to be used by those who know well that sacraments are for people and not the other way around.

    The problem of translation has everything to do–I submit–with the folks who are entrusted with the authority. For the most part they are cardinals, bishops, and priests who have had very little hands on parish experience. You can’t interact regularly with a myriad of people with a host of different circumstances and not know that rites have to be adapted–often on the spot. The American adaptations reflect this important understanding which is why they will continue to be valid–even should they be declared illicit.

    My bet is that there will be many priests who will continue to depend–at least in part–on the prayers long since learned from the sacramentary. They make lovely ceremonial folders into which all kinds of texts can be placed. BTW, are you all aware that the CDW refused to permit the publication of a Book at the Chair containing the Opening and Thanksgiving prayers from the Missal? So the servers will have to risk dropping those huge new missals while attempting to hold them for the priests.
    Pastoral considerations apparently is an unwelcome expression at HQ.

  9. Michael Cedrone, thank you for stepping out and for sharing your comment which expresses well your concern. I share that concern.

    Many people have asked me “What can be done?” — about the Missal. For me, the question is compounded by the knowledge that further pastoral losses are looming if the translation process continues beyond the Missal.

    What to do? I do not know. Petitions have been ineffective. Letters have been ineffective. Organizations have protested and received no response. Individuals have been stonewalled. No dialogue is being permitted.

    The only thing left under these circumstances is to oppose this movement on the ground. Priests are not going to be able to stop it. It will be the laity. And it will be at the level of this first stage — the implementation of the Missal.

    If the Missal fails, or is fraught with so many problems at the ground level that it becomes impractical, the rest of the plan will wither on the vine. In the end, the hierarchy is pragmatic. It will bend to facts on the ground.

    To those of my colleagues who have toiled to make the Missal project succeed, I say, for the sake of the greater good, let it fail. It will fail of its own cumbersome nature and its insufficiency, and because there is no overriding reason why it should succeed. It will fail because it is being imposed, rather than responding to a genuine need. Stop supplying artificial life support.

    Let it go. Buy the new books, but keep the old ones. Be tactful but don’t lie. It will die a natural death. It would already have died except for the fact that so many ambivalent conscripts have been drafted into supporting it. When it shows signs of failing, be ready with Plan B, and do not regret it. Because it means you may eventually have the funeral you always wanted…

    1. To that I say, Amen!

      The people of the church are the only ones who can take a stand.

      If the new translation ultimately fails, I will take no happiness in the fact that the people who desire it become truly hurt. I would actually hope that they they have the option of using that translation should they wish.

      I pray that we get past this hurdle, hurting as few people as possible.

    2. Rita: It [the new translation] will fail of its own cumbersome nature and its insufficiency, and because there is no overriding reason why it should succeed. It will fail because it is being imposed, rather than responding to a genuine need. Stop supplying artificial life support. (my addition)

      I am convinced that the Sacramentary is best suited for many Catholics, and certainly for the Catholics who support PTB‘s general positions. I have no say, but I would lend sympathy to a movement for an episcopal conference indult or even a motu for an optional use of the 1973 translation. Nevertheless, the new Missal should be made available for the minority who value its greater, if sometimes obtuse, correspondence with Latin semantics and syntax. If the proponents of the new translation wish to translate the pastoral offices according to the guidelines of the new Missal, let that take place as parallel option to the older preconciliar translations. Perhaps the Anglican Use funeral rites or a requiem might serve some traditional communities better.

      Your statement “[s]top supplying artificial life support” (my amendment) ignores those who indeed welcome this new translation. We tradtionalists will happily keep the heart-lung machine running in the progressive absence. Perhaps it is time for progressive Catholics to focus on securing indults rather than trying to prevent the new Missal from taking hold in the parishes which desire its use. Remember, the absolute rule of conformity which followed the 1970 missal resulted in grave discord. Now, let’s coexist in liturgical diversity.

      1. Thanks, Jordan. I know where you are coming from. Unfortunately, the idea of having the new translation available for those who want it, but not for those who don’t, has already been turned down by the bishops who have spoken on the question, such as Cardinal George, I believe. I should have noted this in the paragraph where I outlined what options are not available at present. Also it is important to note that a significant part of the whole direction of LA is toward liturgical uniformity. If the project succeeds, it will fuel the drive for uniformity. If it doesn’t succeed, other options then begin to be open for consideration, and one of them would be the one you outline. Thanks for your comment.

      2. Rita,
        The sad part is that if the church determines the success of the new missal simply by counting heads or by the lack of negative comments, it may not be a true gauge of how the people really feel.

        The church as a benefit in that many people will continue to attend mass, and some may even mouth the new words, even if they don’t mean them, just because they believe that if they don’t, they’ll end up in Hell.

        Unfortunately, the church doesn’t have a device that can measure whether a person’s spiritual closeness to God has been increased, diminished, or destroyed.

      3. re: #15 by Rita Ferrone on November 2, 2011 – 9:40 am

        You’re welcome, Rita. Cdl. George’s refusal to countenance a “dual circulation” of the two translations confirms my deepest fear that we will plunge again into the acrimony experienced at the last major liturgical change.

        I pray and hope that the Roman Rite can become a rite of Catholic orthodoxy within the diversity of western Christian liturgical history. The EF, the typical Latin OF, the two OF English translations, and the Anglican Use are all children of western Christian liturgy. All are also orthodox. I might not like the Sacramentary at all, but it is certainly orthodox worship. A hierarchical institution might fear liturgical diversity in theological unity as challenge to political power. Even so, a falsely imposed orthopraxis depresses all legitimate manifestations of diversity. In acts of uniformity, the naturally different and even complementary are crushed under acrimony.

        All this can be avoided. Hierarchical power must yield to the unknown for the sake of a long-sought peace.

    3. Rita, how about a third path: perhaps more positive. Let’s give this translation some time and see how it works out. “A bad tree cannot bear good fruit”, as our Lord said. I’m convinced that if these translation principles turn out to be “duds”, then the pendulum will once again swing to something progressives will be more pleased (or at least content) with. I can’t imagine there are many who rather like the 2010 over the 2008 original, but we are dealing with it: why can’t everyone?

      Perhaps we should all be cursing Trent, since that is where the “centralization” of the liturgy started. Once you start… 😉

    4. What astonishing, blatant, bare-faced, and near-nefarious negativity runs through these comments. Yes, nefarious: some in and out of holy orders shamelessly work, incite, and pray for failure. Where is God’s gift of good will, conditional for that ‘peace to people of good will’? Yet one witnesses no diatribes against the indemic ‘howlers’ of the current translation, which will be given a well deserved consignment to history’s poorly conceived experiments very, very soon. Yes, the silence about the failings of what we have yet for a little while is most curious.

      There is an air of unseemly arrogance, of thanklessness and obstruction. It is unseemly all the more-so when expressed by genuinely literate people – not to mention others – in such wise as to make it appear that the language of the new translation is grammatical gibberish. It isn’t, of course, though it does, indeed, seem to have a few serious bloopers. But, as the major portion, which has an admirable ecclesiasticle and worshipful substance, is a thing of literary wealth and imagery, solid and compelling biblical allusions, it far surpasses the colourless and casual language that all should be thrilled to be getting rid of. Even with its few acknowledged warts, the new is a noble and fitting language for Divine Worship. A greater treasure by far than what we are leaving behind. Catholics should be glad that they are to be given it. It is a blessing. It will become our heritage – and, perhaps, be tweaked of its less than literate constructions along the way. — Pax Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis

  10. Rita said The only thing left under these circumstances is to oppose this movement on the ground. Priests are not going to be able to stop it. It will be the laity.

    Yes, it will be laity, especially the laity who have neither paid jobs nor volunteer positions in the parishes to risk; there are many such highly talented people.

    The key model historically for church reform has been religious orders. They reformed effectively because they were “parallel organizations,” i.e. they worked both within dioceses and parishes and independently.

    A voluntary network that is run by talented lay volunteers (rather than priests and lay employees) and which does not use church facilities is necessary for independence. Like religious orders it also needs its own authentic spirituality (e.g. the Divine Office) to attract and support reformers outside the parish/diocesan structures. But it also needs a collaborative network of priests, lay employees (and maybe an occasional bishop) within parish and diocesan structures.

    I was disappointed that whatifwejustsaywait identified a network but failed to empower it. Never gave the more that 200 people in my own diocese an opportunity to gather and network within and outside parishes.

    On January 10th, CTA/FutureChurch will call people in this diocese to hear Father Anthony, (and probably write letters) and of course give more money to CTA/FutureChurch to have more such “liberal” pep rallies but otherwise do nothing.

    What is very unlikely to happen on January 10th is the formation of a network of people across the diocese who will make networking for the improvement of liturgy as the sole reason for their existence, and who will make the Divine Office and the documents of Vatican II as the center of their spirituality.

    The Divine Office is so promising because of its role in parallel organizations, its current neglect by parishes, and the abundant resources now available on the internet.

  11. Just wondering, as a long time fan of Fr Reginald Foster, does anyone know of any article or release of his views on the Missal translation? If there’s not any, it would be a great topic for a Pray Tell contributor to cover!

  12. Earlier posts on PrayTell:


    From the Tablet – quote from Foster: “has been one of the Pope’s Latinists since the 1960s. No one knows Latin like Reggie, but he doesn’t favor a return to Latin liturgy. Whether Latin is a sacred language?

    “A sacred language? In the first century every prostitute in Rome spoke it fluently – and better than most people in the Roman Curia.”

    – Robert Mickens, “Letter from Rome,” this week’s Tablet.

  13. My apologies to Fr. Foster – as Twain would say; …the rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.

    He was flown back to Wisconsin in poor health in 2009. My brain is playing tricks with my memory.

  14. This is sorry news, Rita. A point of ecclesial history may serve as a precedent, and correct me along with the other liturgists and liturgiologists in this space if I am mistaken. Didn’t Gregory VII (+1085) try to impose a liturgical uniformity in France and Spain and didn’t those churches simply ignore it and continued using their sacramentaries?

  15. The prospect of seeing more of the prayers we English speakers use removed or rendered into torturous “sacral” language pains me greatly. Leaving the 1973 translation behind does not disturb me…it is the 2010 translation we get in its place (and the process that produced it) that leaves me seeing red.

    I had almost decided to replace Mass in my weekly schedule with a picketing of my diocese’s Cathedral, but then had a flash of insight for which I would like to credit the Holy Spirit and my wife: I will attend Mass starting on the 27th of November and in my pocket I will bring a red card measuring 3″x4.25″. Not only will I refuse to say the most egregious parts of the new translation, I intend to hold this card over my head as I do so. I will tell my pastor (who is sympathetic on this issue) ahead of time that this is criticism of the translation of the Missal, not of him. I will also have extra cards to provide to others upon request. I invite any reading here and of like mind to join me in this.

    It is no longer enough to quietly and politely say that this translation is unacceptable; the elite have already ignored that. This translation needs to crash and burn quite visibly to prevent further damage to the Church (that is to say, the People of God). The abuse of authority has gone far enough.

  16. Some have asked about Reginald Foster. I have been collaborating with him to produce study texts (translations of the Latin prayers made for study purposes that are really close to the Latin to help people have easier access to the Latin) with commentary on the Latin. These have appeared in The Tablet of London for over the past two years. I run an occasional blog in his name and with his permission: http://web.mac.com/danielmccarthyosb/Latin/Reggies_blog/Reggies_blog.html
    Reginald and I are working on a book that presents his method for teaching Latin.

  17. Elite?!
    Who are the the elite in question?
    (As if ‘elite’ were a negative category.)

    To some they would seem to be those responsible for this more ‘sacral’ (understand, of course, that ‘sacral’ is here deemed ipso facto to be a pejorative) translation with which we are about to be blessed (warts and all). Also among this elite are those quite-a-few misguided souls who are pleased.

    To others, the elite would seem to be the self-appointed varieties of chic and trendy folk to whom the ‘non-sacral’, chatty and banally casual language (warts and all) which we are currently using seems to be the gift of the ages; and who believe themselves to be above all authority: indeed, the true voice of the Church. These are the ones who, if they had got what they preferred, would be amongst the first to champion obedience to the voice of (their) wisdom. Not having got what they wanted, they instead would fain have us believe the Church to be cruelly oppressive and deceitful, and probably (unlike themselves) deaf to the Holy Spirit. The result?

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