The New Roman Missal among people surviving poverty

I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Ruff, OSB in Pittsburgh, PA in July after I gave the keynote address for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. We struck up a conversation about the new translation of the Roman Missal in relationship to people surviving poverty. I told him that our parish had some unique reactions to aspects of the translation, and he asked if I share some of those experiences here at Pray Tell.

Let me first give you an idea of our parish ministry in downtown Portland, Oregon. Our parish mission is quite clear. We welcome people who are on the margins of life. Our hospitality center is open six days a week. We serve people who live on the streets and who are surviving long-term addictions and various forms of mental illness. Our young, vibrant staff creates a safe environment to build relationships. Our volunteers come from the parish and all around Portland. Students arrive during the year from nursing schools, colleges and seminaries from around the country. We serve an evening meal on Thursday and Friday evenings. We hand out 25 food bags on four weekday afternoons. The purpose of our parish is to simply to provide hospitality to people who live in isolation on the streets and in single-room occupancy hotels and to provide healing that only our faith can offer.

Our entire mission is based on the Eucharist and the sacramental life of the Church. We have just changed the name of the parish from “the Downtown Chapel” to Saint Andre Bessette Church. We are now named for the first member of the Congregation of Holy Cross (the religious community of which I am a member, and which serves the parish) to be canonized. Andre, a Holy Cross brother who lived in Canada, was known for his hospitality and for the healings he performed.  In the almost eleven years I have been at this parish, Saint Andre Bessette Church has really changed my life and experience of the Eucharist through creating a parish of the poor, not just a parish that serves the poor.

This background about our community provides some context about our struggles with the new translation of the Roman Missal. We started our parish discussions a year ago before people really had the texts in hand. Our small group conversations first raised much fear and anxiety in the parish.

If you do not have much experience with people who suffer mental illness, understand that for so many people in our community change itself is very difficult. Many people need a safe and stable place to be in life. Liturgy here is not just about worship, but it is also about a home. The streets are really brutal. People expect the parish to be a safe island of continuity and peace. Even as I write that I know it is so unrealistic to live that out. However, stability, consistency, reverence and calm are important to people who live with a great deal of instability in life.

Our Masses draw people from all walks of life. Our conversations first started with much anger about the change itself. Many community members were really angry that like so much for people in poverty, they are always being told what to do and how to do it. They cannot sit on the sidewalks in Portland or sleep on the park benches and now the one place where they thought would provide a little more continuity in their lives was also changing.

It is impossible to articulate how much so many people feel put down in life. Society, structures, organizations and even the Church put people down when it comes to fulfilling their basic needs. Several people really spoke up about this notion when we gathered to discuss the liturgy. Let me share a few examples that have really changed my thoughts and prayers.

People picked up immediately the thread of sinfulness in the text of the Roman Missal. So many of our people have been sexually abused as children. Many of them still blame themselves for their abuse. The constant thread of sin suggests that they will never be good enough for God no matter how many times they stand in a confessional line or come to Mass. They experience the authority of the Church restating their inadequacy with the constant language of not being worthy of God. In other words, some of the language of the new translation opens the past wounds of abuse.

The instructions of the Penitential Act are an example of how this happens. During that Act we say, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Many of our folks hear in these words the Church reinforcing their abuse, which what happened to them was, in fact, their fault. They never hear the end of the prayer of redemption. This Act is not prayer but violence for many people in our community. These words are toxic for people who have spent their lives striving to get out of the darkness of such pain.

Last Christmas a man came to confession with tears in his eyes and said to me that he read the Penitential Act before Mass and struggled to pray the words. I knew from my relationship with him outside the confessional that he had suffered severely in life trying to get over his childhood.  “I will never be good enough to pray this prayer. I am nothing but a failure. God will never love me.” I told him to never pray that prayer again.

The same people reacted to the striking of the breast. A woman from a wealthy suburb with breast cancer said that she could never strike her breast in public. She does not want to be reminded of the scar. A woman who has been in therapy for thirty years told me that she cannot be told how to manage her healing. She was so angry. Beating the scars is not what we want in the liturgy whether those disfigurements are physical or emotional.

The stilted language of much of the Mass is a real problem for many people in recovery from addictions. They feel many of the words are very clerical and not healing for people. Many people in recovery for alcohol, heroin and other substances need the liturgy for healing. When they cannot understand the language, healing seldom happens.

One example is the word, “chalice”.  We serve our community beverages from donated mugs in our hospitality center every day. On Sunday we sometimes use Styrofoam. People in recovery feel alienated from the Blood of Christ in the first place. The word chalice reminds them of this separation. It drives home the fact that priests drink from gold or silver chalices and alcoholics will always sip from Styrofoam.

One of our Eucharistic Ministers who is in recovery shared in a group that she is a minister because she cannot receive from the Blood of Christ. This is her way of participating in the liturgy. Even though she cannot receive the cup her ministry is to share it. She really opened up my perspective on what being a Eucharistic minister really means.

We also discussed the word, “roof.” One more time before receiving communion we say we are unworthy. Then we invite God under our roof. This is a very difficult phrase for people who do not have a roof under which they live. They do not have the opportunity to be hospitable. They cannot invite people around a table or share a meal or stay dry or to pray under a roof. This phrase has really been a new moment for me and for many people to pray just before communion among people who live outside. This word is still being talked about in our community and evokes much prayer and thought.

We have not resolved the movement from “We” to “I” in the Creed. Some of our people in recovery see that each person has to take responsibility for faith much like an addict for sobriety. “I” say the prayer, make the commitment and walk the talk. Other people are devastated that community is taken out of the Creed. In no other prayer, gesture or action of the Eucharist is the celebration about individuals. I also wait to see how this change in the Creed will form a new generation of clergy, especially in their understanding of their pastoral role in the community in which they serve.

Many people have disappeared from our community since the new translation began. I am sure that each and every one has an individual reason for moving on. I have spoken with some members of our LGBTQ community who told me the new translation of the Mass finally nudged them out of the Church. They long for real honesty in prayer. I have spoken with some women who also cannot take the male dominated language any more. They long for real equality in prayer.

Our discussions led into this year of actually praying the translation of the Mass. I have yet to learn the chants. We still make mistakes. I still lose my place in the massive new book. We still stumble over phrasing. We are still being formed by the integrity of the liturgical seasons. We are settling into prayer.

Our community of urban poverty realizes that the real translation of the Mass comes when the Mass is over. Our volunteers still prepare soup for the weekends. We wash feet every Wednesday and sort used clothing from donations. We distribute hotel-sized hygiene products and cut greasy hair. We teach art classes and offer flu shots. We sip coffee in old mugs with new strangers. Many volunteers attend daily Mass and I see others on Sundays. “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” This is the mission of the Eucharist, the translation that we will continue to pray and witness here in our parish for years to come.

Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC ministers among the vulnerable and marginalized of society and the Church. From his experiences in living the Gospel among the poor, he speaks and writes about prayer and service and knowing the love of God through our common poverty. He hosts On the Margins, a weekly radio scripture commentary on KBVM 88.3, Catholic Broadcasting Northwest. He is active as a retreat director, workshop presenter, blogger, and award-winning author. He contributes regularly to several liturgy magazines, including Ministry & Liturgy and Celebrate!. Fr. Ron serves as associate pastor at the Saint André Bessette Church in Portland, Oregon.

83 comments

  1. I missed your keynote at Pittsburgh, so I am glad to receive these reflections on the community you serve and your experience with the RM3. First of all, I need to tell you that I almost never use the first form of the penitential act, didn’t do so before and don’t know. My reason is that it contributes to the confusion about the proper role of the sacrament of penance. I think many people think of it as a general confession with absolution thus obviating the need to ever go to confession. I alternate between the other two forms, using one for a month or so and then the other.
    I don’t recognize any significant difference between RM2 and RM3 in the manner in which they deal with the theme of sin and repentance. In his great goodness, God gathers together the sheep of his flock knowing full well our failings and sins but he does so for the purpose of calling us to holiness–which will obviously involve some turning away from the old self.
    I do identify with the stilted form of the prayers. Some of them are prayable without having to alter a jot or a tittle, but most require at least some gentle massage if the people are going to be able to give an intentional Amen. Since I have memorized EPII and EPIII from the ’73 translation, I often start with the words of the new missal and find myself naturally slipping into the old. This includes the use of the words “cup” and “all”. After all, there should be consistency with the consecratory prayer and the people’s affirmation of the Mystery of Faith (when we drink this cup). The advocates of the new translation were very clear in telling us that the word “many” really means “all”. That being the case why not just say all?
    I use a great deal of the new missal, but I can’t be intellectually and spiritually honest and pray things I cannot pray. What I pray is absolutely what the church believes, and that’s what matters. The proscription against changing words is to safeguard the integrity of the principal: Lex orandi, lex credendi. I’m for that 100%.
    I…

  2. Simply stunning. I will never say “roof” again without thinking of your parish community. Thank you for giving us this perspective. Certainly makes the liturgy wars seem irrelevant in the face of people who really hunger for Eucharist—not just Communion, but all that Eucharist is meant to be.

  3. I am thrilled that Fr. Raab is contributing here – a potent, prophetic and authentically liturgical voice to guide all of us.
    I’m fortunate enough to have worked as an editor on two books with him, and don’t mind sharing that there were several times while working on the manuscripts I was moved to tears by the stories of his community and insights into our corporate prayer – those tears were a first in a 20+ yr. editorial career at WLP!
    I look forward to receiving much more inspiration from him at PTB.

  4. Thanks for posting this – what wonderful insights; and reflects what I have heard from students who now serve in Africa, Central America.

    Earle – sounds very much like your parish in St. Louis.

  5. In no other prayer, gesture or action of the Eucharist is the celebration about individuals.

    Fr. Raab, you may be overlooking individual element of the “I confess” and the “Lord, I am not worthy” prayers you’ve mentioned in the rest of your post.

    Many of our folks hear in these words the Church reinforcing their abuse, which what happened to them was, in fact, their fault.

    Can they be helped to see that this is not at all the intent of the words? I understand, like you said, that these people are suffering greatly in many ways, but is there any hope for healing in this matter? I am curious how comfortable they were with the earlier translation of the Confiteor, which still said that “I have sinned through my own fault” by, among other things, “what I have failed to do” (which might be painful for a victim of abuse to say, as if they sinned by not reporting their abuse out of fear).

    “I will never be good enough to pray this prayer. I am nothing but a failure. God will never love me.” I told him to never pray that prayer again.

    I trust you also told him that God does love him. 🙂 Could he be helped to understand that none of us are “good enough”, and that that’s what makes God so good? Grace might be the hardest thing to come to terms with, theologically… God doing something out of His own goodness, not because of ours.

    1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #5:
      I appreciate your comments, Jeffrey, and understand them to be well-intended. I do certainly hope there can be healing for those who have suffered so greatly at the hands of another.

      Yet I wonder if attempting to explain the intent of the words does any real good when the wounds those who suffer carry are emotional and at time, irrational—how could any child or powerless person think they are to blame for their abuser’s actions? And yet, that is exactly what most abuse victims believe, and it takes a whole ton of emotional work on the victim’s part to let go of that feeling. Sexual abuse cannot be healed rationally or intellectually. Often the pain that permeates an abuse victim’s psyche is triggered by the smallest of things—a word, a smell, a place. Abuse that breaks the norms of rational thinking and action, I believe, can only be healed over time by constant irrational love.

      1. @Diana Macalintal – comment #6:
        Abuse that breaks the norms of rational thinking and action, I believe, can only be healed over time by constant irrational love.

        The problem is that this is the whole point of all that focus on our sinfulness. If we remove the mention of our unworthiness from the liturgy, we can still express the constant love of God for us, but we can’t express the constant irrational love of God for us.

      2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #7:
        Thanks, Samuel. Wholeheartedly agree 100%. I certainly wasn’t arguing for removing the focus on our sinfulness from the language of the liturgy (I don’t think Fr. Raab was either). We absolutely have to come before God knowing that God is God and we are not.

        I think what I was trying to communicate is more of a sense of what it feels like for someone who sees themselves as already powerless, small, weak, and insignificant—not because of any theological understanding or spiritual act of humility or acknowledgement of one’s sinfulness before the Creator—but because they have already been brought low by life itself. I’m not talking about what I call “first-world problems,” but the kind of lowliness brought on by severe poverty, incurable sickness, and total and utter rejection by society. Those who have been victimized, especially by sexual abuse as children, at times feel that kind of lowliness.

        The solution is not to remove any kind of language in the liturgy that hints at our unworthiness. But one step in helping people heal is simply to recognize that they may hear the same words we do in a completely different way. Words that for us who have not suffered such humility in life may reveal to us the irrational mercy of God for us. But I think for others who live daily a life of despair, those words may be heard as yet more weight placed upon their already heavy burden.

        [more in a later comment to come]

      3. @Diana Macalintal – comment #6:
        Samuel responded in about the way I was going to: that it is our admission that we are unworthy, that we’re not good enough, that leads us to recognize God’s love as constant and irrational, from a human perspective. As St. Paul and St. John said, God’s love is shown in that He loves us first, even while we were (and still are, at times) His enemies.

        And the words of Jesus on the matter of the rich — or anyone, for that matter — entering the kingdom of heaven come into play here; so too the words of the angel to Mary. We wonder how it could be possible for anyone to love us so constantly and so staggeringly, when we are unworthy sinners and we know it. It’s true that for humans, this is impossible; but not so with God: for God, all things are possible.

      4. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #9:
        Count me suspicious about taking the moment before the reception of Communion as a time to utter our unworthiness. On the lips of some, such a proclamation might be narcissistic. Especially if some of us are willing, if not eager to acclaim others as more unworthy than we, by virtue of divorce, allegiance to Rome, or most any reason.

        I wonder if the focus during the Penitential Rite is appropriate there, but harping on it places us in a false-piety mode. Before Communion, might it not be better to keep the focus on Christ and get off ourselves?

        I also appreciate Fr Raab’s commentary here today.

  6. Fr. Ron,

    You wrote: “Many people have disappeared from our community since the new translation began”
    “We have not resolved the movement from “We” to “I” in the Creed.”

    After reading the above and your misgivings about this new translation of the words always present in the official Latin Roman Missal I wonder how closely celebrants at the parish have been following the rubrics and reciting the approved versions of the missal/sacramentary prior to the new translation? I don’t mean to sound combative in asking this but we all know that some parishes are more liturgically observant than are others. Honestly, has your parish always been a “say the black, do the red” kind of place or has the transition to the new translation accompanied a fresh awareness of the rubrics and adherance to the approved texts? If so, the people & celebrants may be reacting to more than the new words.

    Speaking of the “I” in the Credo you wrote: “In no other prayer, gesture or action of the Eucharist is the celebration about individuals …”. Father, what about the confiteor that you spoke about in the beginning of your essay? The “I” confess …, what about the “Dómine, non sum dignus”?
    You also mention that “I have spoken with some women who also cannot take the male dominated language any more.” I find this one difficult to place at the feet of the new translation. After all, the new translation is frequently more inclusive than the former one was.

    My parish always uses the first form of the P.A. and most typically uses EPs I or III. The new translation is in my mind a tremendous gift to the Church. Perhaps if the celebrants learn to appreciate the rich prayers themselves & communicate that to the parish as a whole their love for the liturgy will be contagious and spread throghout the congregation. Do we have any word how other religious have handled this issue in their apostolates? http://franciscanfriars.com/cfr-mission/work-with-the-poor/

  7. I know that various recovery programs, particularly 12-step ones, place a significant emphasis on acknowledging our inability to help ourselves, making a rigorous inventory of how we have harmed others, and taking individual responsibility for our actions. What I am wondering is why it is that people who (presumably) find such programs helpful seem to recoil from elements in the liturgy that seem to do the same thing.

    I am quite open to the idea that there is a difference, but I am wondering what it is.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #10:

      Fritz

      Well, while that is true, it’s also true that not all of the classic 12 steps work as well for people who are not of the the original personality type for which they were developed (basically, empowered but alcoholic businessmen). As you may be aware, the classic emphasis on powerlessness does not necessarily translate neatly to people who have for too long actually lived powerlessness or a tremendous lack of personal agency in most or all parts of their lives. Without going into feminist or other critiques, suffice it to say that the 12 steps are wonderful tools, but they are not Scripture, and the needs of real people have to be accounted for on a case by case basis. Owning powerlessness and unworthiness is a different thing for someone who has considered him/her self worthy and having considerable agency than it is for someone who largely has not done so. One even hears Scripture quite differently from those antipodal perspectives: I believe Christ understood this well, but not so much many of those who have taught in his name.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #12:
        Karl, you are going in the direction I was trying to express.

        I’m reminded of Eric Law’s classic text, The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb, in which he speaks about the role of power and powerlessness in language and relationships. His thesis is that in any given interaction between people, if there is to be mutual exchange, those with power (e.g., those perceived to have authority and a greater right to speak) are called to give up their power (e.g., listen more than they speak), while those without power (e.g., those who feel inadequate compared to the person they are relating with, those that social norms have determined should not speak up, etc.) are called to take up power (e.g., recognize their worth and speak up).

        Law transposes this into Gospel terms. For those with power, language that reinforces that power makes no sense. Law describes this as “resurrection” language—language about glory, victory, triumph. Those with power, then, are called to focus on the language of the cross and the empty tomb, to let go of control and submit themselves to the other.

        Law then goes on to say that language that asks those without power to pick up their cross and to be brought low neither makes sense, since they are already on the cross. For those powerless, the Gospel images of resurrection, hope, glory, and perseverance will help them take on the power (one might substitute here the phrase “God-given grace”) in order to find their rightful place in the world.

        I only just read his book, and I’m not sure that I have all his ideas clear. But his insight on power and language opened my eyes to how we hear the same words differently based on the power or lack of power we bring to the dialogue.

  8. I’d like to say that Fr Ron’s presentation at NPM was mind-blowing, and that his contribution to this thread is the same. I hope not too many mean-spirited people will fail to recognize not only his gifts to the Church but also the gifts of the people he ministers to. We can learn so much from them.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #11:
      Thank you, Paul! His ministry, presented to us at NPM so eloquently, is the very essence of the gospel. I can very easily see his point of view (I was silently cheering during his entire keynote!) about RM3. All the rational explanation in the world is not going to heal the (sometimes VERY) irrational fears and wounds that some people suffer!

  9. I wonder if the time spent changing “One in being” to “consubstantial” might have been better spent serving the poor or suffering ones. To me, it reflects the Church’s priorities. Control of every aspect of worship seems to have a higher priority than loving and serving and accepting one another.

  10. One observation from working with mental illness for 30+ years:

    – “preach the gospel or eucharist; use words if you have to”

    My point – these folks respond best to those who walk with them (rather than just talk). Liturgy and small community can be great healers but what touches them is not words or intellectual ideas but human touch, feelings, etc. Because of their mental illness, poverty, family of origin issues – talk or words are not the best avenue to either learn from them or to support them.

    Just saying.

  11. Thank you, Fr. Ron, for your ministry and witness.

    The Holy Cross Congregation of Montreal has preserved the early chapel of St. Joseph’s Oratory. Br. Andre’s loft room atop the chapel still has a window with a direct view onto the altar and tabernacle. Perhaps he, like many in your congregation and all of us at times, was at once both close and yet far from the Lord. Often I have been partitioned from his presence in some way but yet have still remained in sight of him.

    Those who have suffered greatly, both from illness and the abuse of others, have probably expressed in their hearts and minds, if not in words, a much more profound confiteor than is found in either the older or newer translation. Regardless, your account of the way in which the new translation has been received among those most in need further convinces me that an indult for the Sacramentary, at least at the discretion of an ordinary, is imperative. True contrition does not need to be expressed, and perhaps often can’t be expressed, in strict imitation of late Latin literary style.

  12. Diana

    Exactly. And we have a built-in problem with the those who hold magisterial teaching authority: by definition of their office, they experience a plenitude of agency. Of course, there are prelates who do, in fact, experience powerlessness (and by that I mean not only subjectively but objectively). But they are relatively rare on the ground, especially in places where Christianity has been the dominant culture for centuries.

    Preachers often preach to the part of the congregation with which they can most readily identify, and have a cognitive-spiritual blindspot about how their preaching may unintentionally do damage to people of a very different character. (The solution, btw, is not to avoid preaching that might do damage, but to become *much* more self-aware of cognitive-spiritual blindspots that one tends to rationalize away, and to diversify how one understand one’s congregation – particularly by straining to apprehend the worldview of the one lamb that seems different from the rest of the flock, as it were.)

  13. Fr. Raab, thank you for allowing us readers and attendees of NPM to get a glimpse of the liturgy through the eyes of those you serve in your community. This is immensely helpful.

    With the change from cup to chalice, my first thought was that it illuminates the fact that as the baptized, the royal priesthood, in God’s eyes we are royalty. The Eucharist is the sacred banquet, so we drink not just from any old cup, but from a chalice. It’s not only a vessel of the priest (unless you’re in Phoenix or Madison I guess), but for all of us who gather.

  14. Thank you for sharing, Father!

    Greetings from your “sister parish” in Seattle, Christ Our Hope Catholic Church.

  15. Just a couple observations, I have been living and working with people in recovery, homeless, prisoners, those in street gangs,and running programs for those trying to get back on their feet to independent living. I have worked in the west coast, east coast and in the south.
    Over the years I have worked with most age groups and racial and many ethnic backgrounds.

    I mention this only because my experience has been very different from Fr. Raab’s. So i do think the issue is more complex and not so black and white.

    it takes real discernment to welcome people, to accompany them on a path of healing, to challenge them to grow, and hopefully to open or encourage them to see more transcendent goals and values that will make life deeper and meaningful. And on this level, what is most important is the authenticity, sincerity and love that is present in the encounter and friendship.

    For most the people i work with and live with, many other “issues” just don’t come up. They are comfortable with the King James Bible, the dated language in the AA Big Book is not an issue for them, and those who are Catholic have never really mentioned the changes in the liturgy. What they do comment on is how open and hospitable the congregation is when they first attend the local parish. I have found when people are hurting, hungry to change and serious about moving on with their lives, what seems most important is on a more pragmatic level…….does it work. not to worry or focus too much on the container, but does the content work and contain the wisdom and guidance needed to find healing and change.

    this is off topic, but it is a point that needs more reflection.
    I think, especially catholics,we put way too much emphasis on the Mass.
    it is like we try to make 50 minutes on a Sunday the cure all for every problem. Of course the Mass, is the end all on one level, but pastorally it is a more complex issue. I am out of characters so will end and continue if this point surfaces in the future!

  16. Todd, thank you for setting the stage for a “loyal opposition” perspective:
    I wonder if the focus during the Penitential Rite is appropriate there, but harping on it places us in a false-piety mode. Before Communion, might it not be better to keep the focus on Christ and get off ourselves?
    That you wonder about the focus of “Non dignus sum” is hope for us all, in other words that you admit you’re not sure. But then, as expected you throw in the presumptious “harping….. false-piety mode” thingy, which I’m fairly sure you already regret having let go beyond the edit stage. My brother, you and I, Fr. Rob and his constituents, the Holy Father and Cdl. Burke (for good measure) are,
    in fact now and always until redemption and salvation, unworthy of God’s grace. And I believe, no intentional humor or derision based upon Fr. Raab’s exegesis of “Credo,” there is plenteous systematic theology as to why the penitential moments that are evidenced from the initial moments of the Mass and interspersed through the Gloria, the Credo, the EP, the Pater Noster, the Agnus Dei to the Nds are supremely necessary to the integrity of the whole rite.
    I have to, with profound respect for the author and his work which he then illustrates in the milieu of his account, beg the question if there is blurring of the distinctive differences that demarcate our actuosa and actuoso mandates as confessed Christians, whether 24/7 or for one hour on a Sunday. I’m typing this from San Francisco. The sociological dysfunction here isn’t much different than in my small city in the central valley of California, Poverty, aliention, marginalization are, as our Lord admitted about the poor, going to always be among us, part of the tableaux. That is not a reality that He likely uttered to give the rest of us pass, obviously He uttered much more to electrify us out of any complacency towards missio, as in the greatest exhortation towards His second command, Matt. 25.
    But, I think the good, truly good Father…

    1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #24:
      I think there’s a difference between an institution putting “I am not worthy” into people’s mouths and people honestly expressing it. It might be that such a statement it best reserved for moments of personal clarity and revelation. While it is certainly “true,” I wonder if sometimes it is prudent.

      “I’m fairly sure you already regret having let go beyond the edit stage.”

      Nope. I’m standing by what I wrote. But always happy to explore it further, or even be convinced I missed the point.

      I suspect some people wrap themselves in its mantle, a little too proudly, in contrast to those who appear, relatively, in need of it. Pharisee and publican territory, and all.

      There are two instances in which I can safely say “I am not worthy” applies. I can say it about myself. I can say that any human person can say it. But I cannot suggest any individual or group can say it. That strikes me as an offense against prudence.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #80:
        There are two instances in which I can safely say “I am not worthy” applies. I can say it about myself. I can say that any human person can say it. But I cannot suggest any individual or group can say it. That strikes me as an offense against prudence
        Hence my last sentence in #78, Todd..I don’t wish to further burden the discussion, but I thank everyone for focusing upon how our thoughts, words and deeds can point out how much we in “ministry” often need “ministering to” when we have strayed.

  17. submarined his own premise with his summation paragraph:

    Our community of urban poverty realizes that the real translation of the Mass comes when the Mass is over. Our volunteers still prepare soup for the weekends. We wash feet every Wednesday and sort used clothing from donations. We distribute hotel-sized hygiene products and cut greasy hair. We teach art classes and offer flu shots. We sip coffee in old mugs with new strangers. Many volunteers attend daily Mass and I see others on Sundays. “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” This is the mission of the Eucharist, the translation that we will continue to pray and witness here in our parish for years to come.

    It’s not sure if “our community” refers to both the servers and the served, but that isn’t relevant. Confusing the disciplines of “through my fault” or acquiring a fuller comprehension of “consubstantial” or “that You should enter under my roof” doesn’t help the disenfranchised to embrace the equally disciplinary comprehension that Jesus came that they might, might have life fulfilled.
    So, I would offer the suggestion that we not undermine Jesus’ response to the question of what is the greatest command: to love the Lord God with all our heart, mind and soul. That stands without need of clarification that our worship must be integrally Theocentric and that all of us, clerics/lay, alienated/affiliated, undereducated/sophists, et al can ill afford not to offer praise and submission as our traditions filter it down to us. Yes, I said “down to us.” Our community of urban poverty realizes that the real translation of the Mass comes when the Mass is over. Our volunteers still prepare soup for the weekends. We wash feet every Wednesday and sort used clothing from donations. We distribute hotel-sized hygiene products and cut greasy hair. We teach art classes and offer flu shots. We sip coffee in old mugs with new strangers. Many volunteers attend daily Mass and I see others on Sundays. “Go in…

  18. I apologize, as my pad hasn’t behaved well, and I can’t edit the too lengthy post which is still truncated by the inablity to edit. And I, in the process, lost my two line summation.
    The language of our woship will ever remain flawed and insufficient, for all of us, not just pro multis.

  19. I agree the language is stilted. That’s for sure. But isn’t it true that one way to look at this is, “The former English translation allowed us to ignore some things that now shock us because we didn’t know they were there?”

    I mean, don’t other languages say these things during the Mass, too? It has been given as an example so many times, yet I can’t get past it. Just comparing it to the Spanish Mass makes me think English has really been out of synch all these years. In Spanish it’s “Y con tu espíritu” and not Y con tu; “Creo” and not creemos; and “por mi culpa, por mi culpa, por mi gran culpa” and not simply Por me culpa mio.

    If this new English version is closer to the intended version, closer to a universal translation, and brings the English translation in line with the rest of the world, then essentially what we’re saying we don’t like is the Roman Catholic Mass — or those concepts in it — and the English used to express them is just a distraction from the fundamental issue.

    In short, don’t you think he is saying that the former translation allowed him to have a gentler, kinder version of Catholicism and that he’d like the rest of the world to change to “our” old Mass text?

  20. I am very blessed (and lucky) to be part of the St. Andre Bessette Church community that Fr. Ron is writing about. Three and a half years ago I was introduced to the “Downtown Chapel” community as an attendant of one of Fr. Ron’s Personal Poverty Retreats. As a recovering alcoholic, I know that being in service to others keeps me sober. In that retreat, I was introduced to a very rich opportunity to recognize my own spiritual poverty while being of service to others.

    I was also introduced to the Catholic Church that day — attending Mass for the first time ever. Of course I was not Catholic at the time. So the liturgy was foreign to me. But something that happened there was compelling.

    I started volunteering in the hospitality center regularly in the mornings and even though I was not particularly religious, I would attend daily noon Mass at the end of the shift. I understand what Fr. Ron means when he says, “our community of urban poverty realizes that the real translation of the Mass comes when the Mass is over.” Because, I experienced the sacrament of the Mass in tandem with the service work I was doing as a volunteer. I heard the words and eventually started saying them. I began to believe as I said over and over again “but only say the word and I shall be healed”. At the end of every mass, I would hear something like “nourished by the body and blood of Christ, we are fortified to go forth and be Christ to others. As I sat in Mass, listened to and said the words of the liturgy and then watched people who suffer with apparent physical and mental illness, who carry every worldly possession they own in a bag on their back or in a cart, get in line day after day with their hands held out to receive the Eucharist. I began to desire God.

    I go to Mass because I need God. And even though I experience God almost solely through the Holy Spirit working through people in many places outside of the sanctuary, I desire the Eucharist. I also need to be in communion with other believers. Being with people who demonstrate their gift of faith strengthens my own. I want to be be with people who are consciously seeking contact with God.

    I can’t say much about the “new translation” since I’d only been officially Catholic for about six months before things changed.

    What I can say is that I still can be a restless, irritable and discontent alcoholic. There is no doubt in my mind that I need Grace — and graceful ceremony. It’s really amazing how calming it is for me — living one day .. one hour… one moment at at time…. to BE HERE NOW in the safety and comfort of words and ritual that I have come to expect and trust. I listen, during the Mass, for the familiar words and abandon myself to the rhythm of changing my body postions, and speaking out the responses. I do these things not because I am superstitious — compulsive, perhaps…. but I think because when I focus on these small familiar things I am transformed into a meditative state where I am receptive to God.

    Sometimes the only thing I can cling to are these words and gestures that are outward signs of an inward grace I can not feel.

    1. @Julie Booth – comment #28:
      Thank you, Julie, for your words and witness. It is so easy to take for granted the calming power of grace (and graceful ceremony, as you said), and yet you give a wonderful perspective on how necessary and amazing it is, especially when you know you need it.

  21. HUBRIS ALERT!

    I confess to being staggered. even scandalized, by the way that a few posting in this thread feel able to tell others that they are unworthy, that they will always need’s God’s grace, that they need to get over being the cast-down members of society, or whatever.

    It shows a radical disconnect between a preconciliar and a postconciliar Church, to name but one manifestation, and it is clear that we do not all actually live in our own time. When I was growing up, yes, we thought of God as someone awesomely omnipotent before whom we should bend the knee, even a vengeful God, waiting to pounce on our least failing or peccadillo, and so we spent a lot of time saying “Lord, I am not worthy”. People justifiably talk about Catholic guilt, and guilt was what pervaded all our days.

    Since the Council we have moved into a different, healthier world, one where we see the still-omnipotent God not as a vengeful God but an all-loving God who wants to raise us up, not keep us crawling and begging for mercy, someone who wants to befriend us and come close to us and not remain a distant judgemental figure.

    This is where much of the debate about the language of the new Missal has come from. I believe that postconciliar Catholics instinctively understand and believe that God does not want us to grovel. The translators of RM3, however, want precisely that, whereas the translators of RM1/2 were wise enough to see that it was not good for us. Yes, we are sinners, and we can acknowledge that every day of our lives, but we are also resurrection people, and an extreme preoccupation with the negative rather than the positive is, as I said earlier, unhealthy from all sort of viewpoints.

    Josef Ratzinger and others have characterized this stance as the world having lost a sense of sin. I do not believe this to be true for one moment. We in our society are all too aware of our sinfulness, but perhaps in different and deeper ways than before, and we incorporate this into a spirituality

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
      Paul – the problem is that we simply do not see this rupture in VII. The “early medieval mindset” that you complain about have been in the post V2 Latin RM all along (and in other vernacular editions of it). You cannot say, therefore, that it is foreign to the post V2 liturgy.

      Paul: “Since the Council we have moved into a different, healthier world, one where we see the still-omnipotent God not as a vengeful God but an all-loving God who wants to raise us up, not keep us crawling and begging for mercy, someone who wants to befriend us and come close to us and not remain a distant judgmental figure.”

      Benedict XVI: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

      I’ve got to go with the pope on this one.

      There is also a certain ecumenical insensitivity contained in your words dealing with supplication and the like – consider the liturgies of the Eastern rites and the EO – all full of this same supplication language that we see in our own missal.

      1. @Shane Maher – comment #34:
        Shane Maher writes (replying to Paul Inwood), “the problem is that we simply do not see this rupture in VII.”

        I would dispute this claim. Even Pope Benedict speaks more of the “hermeneutic of reform” more than the “hermeneutic of continuity,” and he grants that there are discontinuities within greater continuities.

        The question, then, is how much rupture is in V2. Fr. John O’Malley, SJ, the best scholar I know of on this point, has convinced me (in his book “What Happened at Vatican II”) that there is a “spirit of Vatican II,” that there is real innovation and rupture, and it’s found in the council texts themselves. I used to believe otherwise, until I read O’Malley.

        I posted on this here:
        http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/08/09/the-spirit-of-the-vatican-ii/

        I’m aware that some authorities are now claiming that there is no rupture, only continutiy, in Vatican II. Claiming so does not make it so.

        awr

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #36:
        Not sure that O’Malley’s thesis that is the the last word on the subject. I’d point to Lamb’s “Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition” but Nehaus’ review of O’Malley’s work is telling: “(O’Malley’s) book has about it the feel of a last-ditch effort to defend the story line of the post-Vatican II Church vs. the pre-Vatican II Church that was popularized by Xavier Rynne all these many years ago. The final irony is that if, in the twenty-fifth century, the Second Vatican Council is remembered as a reform council that failed, it will be the result of the combined, if unintended, efforts of the likes of Marcel Lefebvre and John O’Malley in advancing the argument that the council was a radical break from the tradition that is Catholicism.”

      3. @Shane Maher – comment #40:
        O’Malley is a serous scholar of Vatican II who has don a ton of research on the history and development of the Council. Neuhaus is not. I used to side with Neuhaus because I liked his bias. But O’Malley convinced me to look at the sources. As I indicated in the post I linked to, I think O’Malley might overstate things a little – but only a little. He’s got the better part of the argument in my view.
        awr

      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #46:
        Anthony, I’d like to think that O’Malley and Neuhaus are not the only options out there for the interpretation of Vatican II.

        Also, as O’Malley himself states, historically it has take many decades for councils to be received into the life of the Church. So it seems to me that those who argue for reading Vatican II — whether we mean by this the documents or the “event” — as being in greater continuity with what came before are simply playing their part in that process of reception. Those who want to stress the novelty (if not the “rupture”) of the Council are similarly playing their part. The process is ongoing and I don’t think O’Malley has really settled anything, largely because it is too early for things to be settled. Probably the process only ends once we have another council.

    2. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
      Paul, I’m not sure how ironically to take your “hubris alert” but I do think some of what you say reflects a typically modern dismissal of the past. I became a Catholic thirty years ago in part because of the Catholic insistence that the past has much to teach us. While I do not take it as axiomatic that the tradition always has it right, I will admit a bias in thinking that a 3000-year-old tradition of reflection on God and the world is more likely to get it right than the lastest insight of the savant-of-the-moment. But as Gadamer pointed out, there is no thinking without bias, and a bias toward a vast and variegated tradition is more likely to be self-correcting than a bias toward, say, what people have been thinking for the last 40 years.

    3. @Paul Inwood – comment #30:
      a few posting in this thread feel able to tell others that they are unworthy, that they will always need’s God’s grace

      I do feel able to tell others that they are unworthy and will always need God’s grace. I also feel able to tell others that I am unworthy and will always need God’s grace; i.e. that we are all unworthy and always need God’s grace. I’m not sure when I’d tell a person he or she didn’t need God’s grace.

      that they need to get over being the cast-down members of society, or whatever.

      Who said that?

      It shows a radical disconnect between a preconciliar and a postconciliar Church, to name but one manifestation, and it is clear that we do not all actually live in our own time.

      On the contrary, there are many spiritualities in the Catholic Church, and just because someone aligns more with a “preconciliar” spirituality does not mean he or she is living in the past.

      God does not want us to grovel. The translators of RM3, however, want precisely that, whereas the translators of RM1/2 were wise enough to see that it was not good for us.

      So you are saying that the RM3 English translation has invented/inserted grovelling where it did not exist? I grant you that there are spurious “we pray”s added to prayers that did not have a “quaesumus”, but are you saying that phrases like “graciously grant” are grovelling terms that do not represent what is there in the Latin? Or… if the terms in the Latin are somewhat grovelly, why are they still there if post-conciliar Catholicism has moved beyond that language?

      … an extreme preoccupation with the negative rather than the positive is unhealthy from all sort of viewpoints.

      I don’t see an extreme preoccupation with the negative here or in the Missal.

      Josef Ratzinger and others have characterized this stance as the world having lost a sense of sin.

      What stance? The “post-conciliar” one? I do not think so. The post-conciliar one, you have said, is balanced. I do not think that is what is meant when people say the world has “lost a sense of sin”.

  22. which is in no way inferior to what we had before.

    I’d like to add, in response to Patrick Logsdon, that I do see people who are comfortable with the King James Bible and are not concerned with issues of language, but those are people who are already crushed and assume that the hieratic language is the norm — i.e. that they will always be crushed, and that this is how things are. What Fr Ron is pointing out to us is that there are many other people, and I also see those, who are highly uncomfortable with what they see as a deliberate effort on the part of the Church to keep them subservient and subjugated. They have no problem with owing devotion and submission to God, only with being compelled to maintain a subservient and subjugated posture before those who act as God’s agents. The use of language is a primary instrument in this behaviour. We should not decry it and say get over it, because language is an integral part of who we are.

    I mentioned in a much earlier thread that the translators of RM1/2 did the Church a service by glossing over the early mediaeval mindset that inhabited many of the Missal texts. If we had realized exactly what those texts were saying, kept from us by centuries of a Latin language that most did not understand, we would have risen up and said “We cannot pray like this. This is not how we think of God today.” And now, indeed, we are saying it, and the fact that this attempted imposition of the mediaeval mentality is happening 40 years on is even more shocking than it would have been back then. Those who have done the imposing are still living in the past, not the present.

    The underlying question, then, is not whether we need a translation that is faithful to the Latin but whether many of those early Latin texts should now be abandoned in favour of something which will feed our spirituality in a more appropriate manner, as Comme le prévoit wisely implied when it said that translated texts were insufficient and that new compositions were required.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #31:
      The translators of RM1/2 did the Church a service by glossing over the early mediaeval mindset that inhabited many of the Missal texts.

      Okay, that answers my question from my previous comment.

      not whether we need a translation that is faithful to the Latin but whether many of those early Latin texts should now be abandoned in favour of something which will feed our spirituality in a more appropriate manner

      And here I thought that “we have a Roman Rite, fully reformed and renewed” (Holy Communion and Celiac Disease, #70 by Todd Flowerday on August 4, 2012 – 8:27 am)

  23. Much food for contemplation, thank you for feeding us also Fr Ron.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the need to “recover a sense of sin”, which often used to defend the choice translations at the penitential rite, is merely an expression of the most profound doubt in the power of grace.

  24. Paul Inwood wrote: ” but those are people who are already crushed and assume that the hieratic language is the norm — i.e. that they will always be crushed, and that this is how things are.”

    Those are not the people i know and was thinking about in my comment.
    my point is the issue is more complex in real life, and not so easily stereotyped. Fr Raab has talked about the people he knows, your mentioned the ones you know…….i have shared the experiences of others, in real life these issues are more complex and rich than stereotype views allow us to see.

    I am sure there are some people who use the King James and use more traditional language and are caught in the just being “crushed”.
    but there are many I know where this just does not apply at all.

  25. Paul: “The underlying question, then, is not whether we need a translation that is faithful to the Latin but whether many of those early Latin texts should now be abandoned in favour of something (else)”

    This is precisely the unspoken goal that many Catholics feared was behind much if not most of the criticism directed toward the new English translation of the already existing Roman Missal.

  26. Before Communion, might it not be better to keep the focus on Christ and get off ourselves?

    Todd, might it not be better to do as the Gospel does, and keep the focus off the centurion, off of Christ, and on the absent ailing servant? Christ comes to me in Communion, but he comes for all. The change of “my servant” to “my soul” breaks the meaning of the whole passage. Who is worthy to take Christ to others? I am not worthy to allow Christ to be with me, but if he comes under my roof, he may touch those who are in my world. He may heal them, though I cannot.

  27. Anthony Ruff, OSBThe question, then, is how much rupture is in V2.

    Certainly there’s not been so much rupture that it’s arrogant (as Paul Inwood suggests) to say that all members of the Church militant are sinners in need of forgiveness. We’ve haven’t repuidiated the Council of Carthage:

    5.Without God’s grace it is not merely more difficult, but absolutely impossible to perform good works.
    6.Not out of humility, but in truth must we confess ourselves to be sinners.

  28. I think the word rupture is too strong in terms of pre and post Vatican II theology, but certainly “development” in terms of theology, pastoral and otherwise and a recovery of the more positive elements of the Church concerning salvation and mercy has occurred. A person imbued with the theology of Jansenism would find the pre-Vatican II Mass or the recovered “abasement” of the revised confiteor and prayers of the Mass rather confirming of their perspective, but those who are not into Jansenism or a more Lutheran or Calvinistic approach to everyone being like “worms” and approach the Mass and its emphasis on our unworthiness within Biblical contexts and the best of our Tradition should not be offended by it. I suspect proper catechesis, as best as one could do so, could help those who might be damaged by their life experiences of being abused, not to mention the medicine of the sacraments and healing in Christ offered them in the Holy Sacrifice.

  29. The heart of the matter might be how much of a human construct is our idea of God. Paul Inwood seems to suggest we should construct a new God based on the pastoral needs of our society. That seems to contradict the belief that God forms us through the liturgy, as it has been handed down and developed over the centuries. So, are we human beings smart enough to adapt God to our needs, or do we wrestle with a God who has been revealed in many different ways throughout time, not always as benevolent as we might like?

  30. Paul, it’s fairly obvious that you were referring to my post, and I profoundly regret that you felt scandalized by it. There was no intent whatsoever to impugn any believer’s integrity before any other and our Lord. And I would add that I made every effort not to demean either Fr. Raab personally, his testimony and the parishioners he serves so faithfully.
    But I wonder if your rebuke, whether to me or not, was unduly as high-handed and judgmental as the sentiment and presumption of intent you ascribed to an alternate perspective. I often wonder if the underlying culture that promotes self-defined “victimization” and the need that individuals express that “S/he disrespected ME,” actually derails honest and humble communication among both individuals and entire “communities.”
    I don’t feel as if you wish to suppress dialogue and opinion that may be contrary to your deeply held values and convictions, but ironically that message you advanced, and how you prefaced your remarks certainly don’t encourage a free exchange.
    In any case, I meant no disrespect and wasn’t a all interested in portraying myself as a potentate of salvivic worthiness. With respect, C

  31. are we human beings smart enough to adapt God to our needs, or do we wrestle with a God who has been revealed in many different ways throughout time, not always as benevolent as we might like?

    Are we stuck with how others have adapted God to their needs? Or do we wrestle with adressing a God who is more benevolent than we can imagine and who seeks to bless us today?

  32. I worked at the Dowtown Chapel for a couples of years in the 70s. I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear that such good things are happening for the people in that area. There was much goodness there, needing only someone to open the door for it to come out.

  33. Deacon Fritz and Fr. Anthony – from earlier PTB posts – might help this discussion:

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/09/27/in-praise-of-rupture/

    (Rita ends with a beautiful image)

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/06/01/was-vatican-ii-a-rupture-with-tradition/

    Thoughts from Fr. McBrien:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/pope-benedict-vatican-ii

    Points:
    – Komonchak notes that some undoubtedly expected the pope to call the position he favors the “hermeneutics of continuity,” in contrast to the “hermeneutics of discontinuity.” Instead, he called it the “hermeneutics of reform” and devoted the greater part of his address to explaining what he meant by that phrase.
    He did not mean that the council changed nothing. “After all,” Komonchak writes, “if there is no discontinuity, one can hardly speak of reform.”
    On the eve of the council, Pope Benedict pointed out, three “circles of questions” had formed, all of which challenged the church to a new way of thinking and acting: about the relationships between faith and modern science, the church and the modern state, and the church and other religions.
    In each area, the pope insisted, “some kind of discontinuity might emerge and in fact did emerge,” but it was “a discontinuity that did not require the abandonment of traditional principles.”
    Many on this blog have tried to say this – borrowed these words: “On the other hand, growth in Christ means that we don’t simply march in place. Without necessarily rejecting the articulations and formulations of the past, eternal truths are understood with greater clarity and with renewed vigor and meaning in varying historical and cultural contexts. Truth doesn’t change, but our finite minds grow in ever greater appreciation of the same Truth. In II Peter 3:18 we read: “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” In the very life of the disciples, those closest to him grew in their understanding of Christ, Christ’s nature, and Christ’s mission on this earth. They went from followers hoping in the overthrow of Rome to fishers of men.”
    http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11375

    • One additional comment: B16′s UE declaration; etc. it would seem that whatever camp you find yourself in (1,2, or 3) actual Roman/curial decisions seem to impact where the church hierarchy leans in terms of the hermeneutical model followed.
    Some of the last 18 month decisions by B16 appear to confuse this hermeneutical approach. Examples:
    – UE (declares that we have two forms of one Western rite – this seems more like a rupture?)
    – Kasper and Ecumenism (numerous curial/papal statements that seem to go back on the original VII direction (realize that one of the overwhelming foci of VII in all of its documents is ecumenism – feels like we have moved backwards on that)
    – Collegiality (would agree with a recent Gaillerdetz presentation that tracks/interprets US Church history since 1965 into two camps – followers of VII and followers of JPII) – there is definitely a turn back to centralization
    – Subsidiarity (contradictions abound – latest sexual abuse document looks to each bishop/conference to respond but then you look at the new liturgy translation and all authority lies with Rome or the statement by Cardinal Koch)

    Allow me to finish with a concern – what happens when 50 years later we re-interpret Vatican II and this re-interpretation is driven by the current pope, curial officials, etc. and at a time period impacted by SSPX; abuse scandal; increasing liturgical polarizations, etc. Is that really a fair and balanced approach – would the “ivory tower” experts, historians bless these attempts?

  34. It would seem to me that the problem ever since Vatican II has been interpreting what the heck the “spirit” of Pope John XXIII is, as if one could do that, or the “spirit of the Council” which in both instances goes way beyond the documents of Vatican II, whether or not one would consider the documents themselves as a rupture with Tradition, which many people simply don’t accept including well-informed scholars. The rupture comes with the various takes on the “spirit.” The “spirit” is not Vatican II or its documents, but something else altogether contrived.

  35. We serve people who live on the streets and who are surviving long-term addictions and various forms of mental illness It is impossible to articulate how much so many people feel put down in life.

    #5 Pinyan “Could he be helped to understand that none of us are “good enough

    #10 Bauershmidt “I know that various recovery programs, particularly 12-step ones, place a significant emphasis on acknowledging our inability to help ourselves, making a rigorous inventory of how we have harmed others, and taking individual responsibility for our actions”

    #12 Karl “it’s also true that not all of the classic 12 steps work as well for people who are not of the the original personality type for which they were developed (basically, empowered but alcoholic businessmen)… the classic emphasis on powerlessness does not necessarily translate neatly to people who have for too long actually lived powerlessness …in most or all parts of their lives.”

    #16 DeHass “One observation from working with mental illness for 30+ years: My point – these folks respond best to those who walk with them (rather than just talk).”

    I. The public mental health system has changed the treatment focus from the client’s problems (medical approach) to building their strengths (educational model), e.g. volunteering, sheltered work, part-time work, social support systems, etc. Key to this working is focusing on the strengths and giving them a better environment that allows their strengths to develop.

    II. The recovery model has come into mental heath mainly in terms of accepting that their mental illness as a long term problem, seeking the support of others, taking responsibility for their own treatment.

    III. Many mental ill people become substance abusers because they self-medicate. They are among the most expensive and difficult to treat.

    IV. Most people, even many therapists, don’t treat the mentally ill, especially those with severe illness, as fellow human beings rather than as a clients or objects of charity. Amen, Bill.

  36. There were modes of thinking that can be identified with the time before Vatican II, and modes of thinking that arise from the documents of that council. We didn’t speak of “models of the church” prior to Vatican II, but did afterwards. Can anyone doubt that while the church has always been a sacrament, herald, servant, institution, communion, and community of disciples, we didn’t highlight those terms until after the promulgation of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes? Those who continue to stress to the neglect of other models the institutional character of the church may rightly be referred to as “pre-conciliar” in their thinking. While those who would dismiss the institutional character may be described as “post-conciliar”. The models made popular by Avery Dulles are obviously rooted in biblical imagery. Can that be said of a strictly “institutionalist” viewpoint. Did giving the power of the keys to Peter (and the apostles) really establish a church primarily as an institution as structured as the Roman Empire?
    Of course there was a “spirit of Vatican II”, but perhaps only for those of us who were old enough to have experienced enough of the “old” church to notice that there were remarkable differences that were birthed by the council documents and the spirit generated by them. But this only makes sense, I think, for those who understand from serving in pastoral settings over many years, that the activities of the baptized as well as the ordained are not primarily dictated or determined by theological and ecclesiological (or even biblical) articles, books, or papal encyclicals. Those who think otherwise are frightened and disturbed that everyone isn’t adhering to the same beliefs and practices, or saying the same words. Can anyone suggest that things were more neatly ordered and faith more uniformly practiced during the age of martyrdom or during the late middle ages? We are living in a new era beset by good and bad. The last thing we want to do is to turn the clock back. It isn’t going to…

  37. Always enjoy your insights, Fr. Jack. This comes from Conciliaria this week celebrating 50 years of VII:

    http://conciliaria.com/

    From the August 4, 1962 issue of America by Robert A. Graham, S.J

    Money quote:

    – “It is almost rudimentary—though it needs repeating in order to quiet susceptibilities on both sides—that the presence of non-Catholic delegate-observers at an ecumenical council presided over by the Pope does not imply any doctrinal or other concessions on either side. What good, therefore, will come of such a meeting? Perhaps the best answer to this difficult question was expressed by an outside observer who, reversing an old and familiar French bon mot, commented: “Both sides talk as if nothing at all is changed, whereas in reality everything is changed.”

  38. Shane Maher (# 34):

    Benedict XVI: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

    I’ve got to go with the pope on this one.

    This is a typical out-of-context quote. B XVI was referring to a liturgical form, not an ecclesial mindset.

    Fritz (# 35):

    I am not advocating dumping the past. I am simply pointing out the fact that those of us who have been Catholic for many years have changed and developed. It is difficult, if not unreasonable, to expect us to ditch our development and return to our babyhood before the Council. I accept that those who have come into the Church since the Council did not live through what we lived through and therefore have a different perspective on things.

    Shane (# 37):

    Paul: “The underlying question, then, is not whether we need a translation that is faithful to the Latin but whether many of those early Latin texts should now be abandoned in favour of something (else)”

    This is precisely the unspoken goal that many Catholics feared was behind much if not most of the criticism directed toward the new English translation of the already existing Roman Missal.

    No, it was not many Catholics that feared it. It was some Catholics (and a minority at that). And it was Catholics who did not (and still do not) understand that the Church is a living organism that cannot stand still but which must grow and develop. My underlying question remains there. The Church in 2012 is very different from the Church in 612, and the mindset of its members is similarly different. We have moved on. “Get with the program!” or remain in a stagnant pool.

    Samuel (#41):

    I never talked about rupture. I talked about change. The two are very different things. I often talk to people about the Church at Trent which went into the deep freeze. Vatican II came along and microwaved it, and many are still unable to cope with that.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #58:
      Rupture, change, whatever. The point is not to quibble about the terminology. It would be more useful for you to respond to the substance of my point.

      I’m responding to your claim that it is somehow “hubris[tic]” to repeat the Christian truth that we are all sinners who need the grace of God. We are “able to tell others that they are unworthy” because everyone receives the mercy of God not from merit, but through grace. This is a basic truth so fundamental to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ (and not just by Catholics) that it’s surprising to hear you cast doubt upon it. This teaching of the Church has not changed after Vatican II.

      That need to confess our unworthiness doesn’t change after we’re baptized and become members of the Church. As the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification puts it:

      12. The justified live by faith that comes from the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17) and is active through love (Gal 5:6), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f). But since the justified are assailed from within and without by powers and desires (Rom 8:35-39; Gal 5:16-21) and fall into sin (1 Jn 1:8,10), they must constantly hear God’s promises anew, confess their sins (1 Jn 1:9), participate in Christ’s body and blood, and be exhorted to live righteously in accord with the will of God.

      That that document exists at all reflects the tremendous change in the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council. But what hasn’t changed is that we’re all sinners in need of God redemptive grace, which we can’t merit by our own actions.

    2. @Paul Inwood – comment #58:

      I accept that those who have come into the Church since the Council did not live through what we lived through and therefore have a different perspective on things.

      So… what are you saying? What does “different” mean? That our perspective is unimportant? Less valid? Less useful? Plain wrong?

      In various discussions with those who “lived through” the council, I find that the phrase “I lived through the council” acts as a device to shut down discussion and debate. Okay, you lived through the council. That doesn’t mean you understand it any better (or worse). It does mean that you have a certain amount of emotional bias to your particular version of the council and what it meant for liturgical reform, etc., especially given your life’s work.

      Hey, our Pope lived through the council as well, yet he seems to have an almost entirely different view of it than you do (as did his predecessor, and incidentally as your bishop-elect seems to). Like Shane said above, I think I’ll stick with the Rock here.

    3. @Paul Inwood – comment #58:
      Paul wrote: “And it was Catholics who did not (and still do not) understand that the Church is a living organism that cannot stand still but which must grow and develop. My underlying question remains there. The Church in 2012 is very different from the Church in 612, and the mindset of its members is similarly different. We have moved on. “Get with the program!” or remain in a stagnant pool.”

      Paul:

      * suggesting the translation can be improved is very different thing than to advocate discarding or changing the received words and terms in our normative post V2 Latin liturgy as you do above.

      * supporters of the new translation would agree that the Church must not be stagnent and must grow. The Church of today is not the Church of 1975 or 1985. Many would say that we have seen this growth both with SP and the new/improved (to many) English translation.

      * Agree that the mindset of today’s Church is different from that of believers in 612, 1965 or 1985.

      * Have you ever thought that the “stagnant pool” might be found in the pastoral practices of the 1970’s/80’s? Others might remark that “getting with the program” is to welcome today’s Church with SP, with the new translation, that is, the Church is growing now with the reform of the reform. Be not afraid, these are the “signs of the times” as it were.

      The perspective of those who were brought up after the implemented liturgical reform and the pastoral practices that accompanied them through the 1980’s to the 1990’s is more interesting to me than those who were formed in the faith prior to 1970. It is among the Gen Xers that we see the success or failure of the post V2 pastoral practices because by the 1990’s we could no longer fall back on to those formed through the strong pastoral work carried out in the 1950’s and 1960’s as seen in the baby boomers formed before the council. The question is – do we have the resolve to look at the results forthrightly? I think most…

  39. Jeff Rice (#47):

    Paul Inwood seems to suggest we should construct a new God based on the pastoral needs of our society. That seems to contradict the belief that God forms us through the liturgy, as it has been handed down and developed over the centuries.

    I suggest nothing of the sort. What I do suggest is sacramenta propter homines, not the other way round. The liturgy needs to speak to us as we are, not pretend that we are something different. Certainly the liturgy forms us, but not if it comes across as irrelevant. This is the problem facing those of us who wrestle with the fact that the language of the new Missal has alienated young people and young families in a big way.

    Charles (#49):

    I was not talking about any one person but about several. I certainly do not wish to suppress dialogue. Dialogue is the reason this forum exists, and we have had success in dialoging with each other. I am really grateful for your clarification.

  40. Samuel (#60): I don’t disagree with your point. What I think is hubristic is the way in which some on this thread made the point.

    Matthew (#61): It’s not about shutting down discussion, it’s about making a factual point. Someone who was baptized 65 years ago will have lived through more change in the Church than someone who only came into the Church 10 years ago and therefore does not know from first-hand knowledge what it was like to be living in it 60 years ago, nor what the journey was like as the Church once again started to grow and develop after 400 years of artificial stagnation. So yes, a different viewpoint. You’re the one who is afraid that ‘different’ means ‘wrong’ or ‘less valid’, not me.

    And yes, Benedict XVI does seem to have a different viewpoint, one which appears to be hankering after the days of his youth. He had moved on by the time of the Council, but then took fright subsequently and went backwards. I don’t think I’d call that a Rock.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #62:

      Believe me, I’ve been in plenty of conversations where the phrase “I lived through the council” has been used to shut down discussion. This has happened so often to me that I’m generally suspicious of the phrase, even if it is just a factual observation.

      Which leads me to my original question: so… what are you saying? What does it ultimately matter if you lived through the council and I did not? Why even bring it up? What difference do these “different viewpoints” make to anything?

      If you’re merely making a factual point, then, I confess, I have a certain confusion about how you’re using “difference” in the context you used it (i.e. the “I lived through the Council” meme). I got the impression you were being dismissive of those of us with “different perspective[s]”, since we didn’t live through the council and therefore lack a certain understanding of it.

      If you didn’t really mean this, then why bother making the point in the first place? And why surround the point with words such as “babyhood”, used pejoratively to describe your attitudes to the faith pre-Vatican II?

      I suppose I’m just trying to get to the heart of your rhetoric here.

      And re. the Pope’s viewpoints in the late 1960s – what you call “taking fright” others may call a “maturation”. Why would a disagreement with your version of the council involve fear?

  41. Our conversations first started with much anger about the change itself. Many community members were really angry that like so much for people in poverty, they are always being told what to do and how to do it. Society, structures, organizations and even the Church put people down when it comes to fulfilling their basic needs

    A consumer representative told us what he wanted in the mental heath system: “I don’t want the most expensive system, or the one with best practices. I want a system that I have helped to shape and I know it will be there when I need it.” I want the same in my parish.

    Everyone wants human dignity: As an academic colleague once said about the medical profession “every time I get pregnant, I lose a hundred points off my IQ!.”

    The poor use bureaucratic programs as a last resort. They choose local congregational programs. Better to get housing, food and dignity from your friends and neighbors.

    Getting dignity can be very simple. A very kind and gentle woman volunteer at our mental health board office came in when she was able, shredded paper, reformatted floppy disks. When feeling really well she brought baked cookies. The mental health board gave her its first “Consumer Achievement Award.”

    At the annual mental health board dinner, a ritual which celebrates who we are, I had the honor of reading the Board Resolution giving its reasons, followed by the County Commissioner, the State Representative, the Congressional Representative reading their resolutions honoring her.

    Father Raab’s parish gave the poor dignity and the opportunity to shape the parish by asking their opinions. He has given them the dignity of honestly relating to them by not hiding his thoughts and feelings behind a professional mask, and is now bringing their conversations to this blog to give them a voice in shaping the national discussion.

    Would that not only the poor but most Catholics be given such dignity and such opportunities in our parishes and on this blog!

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #64:
      Jack, interesting closure to this post-

      Father Raab’s parish gave the poor dignity and the opportunity to shape the parish by asking their opinions. He has given them the dignity of honestly relating to them by not hiding his thoughts and feelings behind a professional mask, and is now bringing their conversations to this blog to give them a voice in shaping the national discussion. Yes, absolutely

      Would that not only the poor but most Catholics be given such dignity and such opportunities in our parishes and on this blog! Uh, huh?

      Maybe the coda jab wasn’t necessary?

      1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #66:

        If your comment had been made by KLS it would have been very valuable because in drawing the analogy between the poor and everyone, I wondered how strong to make the point.

        I think professionalism as indicated by my academic colleague’s comment about the medical profession is just as important a social sin in contemporary as American as racism and sexism, but most people don’t recognize this yet.

        The comment coming from you is not helpful since your intention is not clear. Karl’s intentions would have been clear since he has a track record that he wants to help both writers and readers.

        Your comment even if made with the best of intentions would likely intimidate new and less frequent commenters.

        Most of them need to know that people are not going to jump in even a helpful comment that implies they need to be more careful about their post.

        Most of them share my interest in not being a part of food fights by competitive males. In fact when I made one of my first comments after arriving here, and was puzzled by a response, Karl gave me the heads up that it was not about me. Many might interpret your comment as evidence that even an experienced person like myself has difficulty in avoiding the food fights.

        Mental health professionals value people expressing their thoughts and emotions as long as they do not intimidate others from expressing their thoughts and emotions. As one fellow manager from a computer science background said: “Every body talks and talks in management meetings and they seem to be disagreeing but no body calls attention to it, finally they all seem to come to a consensus but not body does anything about it “ (We like talking and insight so much we think the job is done at that point.)

        I am very thankful for having lived most of my professional life in the public mental health system where listening and supportiveness abounds rather than in the much more critical and competitive world of academia.

      2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #68:
        Btw, thank you for understanding where I try (most of the time) to come from here. Apologies for the many times I fail my own goal on that score.

  42. The author writes:

    “So many of our people have been sexually abused as children. Many of them still blame themselves for their abuse [. . .] During that Act we say, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Many of our folks hear in these words the Church reinforcing their abuse, which what happened to them was, in fact, their fault.”

    I am curious why, given the particular circumstances of this community that he describes, the celebrant opts for the “I confess” version of the Penitential Act in the first place. There are two other options that do not contain this language or prescribe striking the breast. The author’s wording suggests however that this is the version they have used and are still using (“we say”). Perhaps I am reading this incorrectly though.

  43. Isn’t it odd how mere appendages cause problems for some souls? We should remember that the prayers at the foot of the altar were private prayers which ++Bugnini transformed into public prayers. The same applies to the so-called offertory prayers and the last blessing too.

    Oh for a return to the truly antiquior ritus Romanus!

  44. Gentlemen,

    How quickly we have lost what I think is the point of the original post—to give us a bigger context of these words we use in liturgy by showing us how people who are experiencing great suffering are struggling to pray authentically with the words they have been given. And from Fr. Raab’s account, it seems the most important way they help this community to pray authentically is by helping them live authentically, that is, live with dignity as God’s children, even when daily life treats them otherwise.

    And here, in response to this post about a community striving to live the Gospel of Jesus and be faithful to this Church of ours, we fall into a pit of using our words to do just the opposite, rarely giving others the benefit of the doubt, maybe too quickly responding emotionally, defensively, correcting harshly, imputing motive, causing suspicion of others.

    In my time of public discussion, online and off, I have certainly be guilty of these too, and for this, I am sorry. It is just sad to see it here as a result of such a beautiful post.

    Of the currently 69 comments made to this post, eight were made by women, three of those comments mine. I see the women have left the discussion long ago. For me, that is usually a sign that the discussion has moved in a different direction than is helpful for the topic.

    Last Friday’s liturgy of the hours gave us this passage from Ephesians. A good reminder for us all and a way of life that I believe the parish of Saint Andre Bessette and so many others like it try to live.

    No foul language should come out of your mouths,
    but only such as is good for needed edification,
    that it may impart grace to those who hear.

    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
    with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
    All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
    must be removed from you, along with all malice.

    And be kind to one another, compassionate,
    forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

    1. @Diana Macalintal – comment #70:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      As a frequent male commenter, I have been aching to make this comment, biting my lip and trying to bring it back to its focus on the parish and the poor by my comments/

      We have all (well maybe only many) certainly gone astray and it is really a tragedy to do it on this most lovely of posts.

    2. @Diana Macalintal – comment #70:

      Thank you, Sister.

      Yes, as Diana says, the point is “to give us a bigger context of these words we use in liturgy by showing us how people who are experiencing great suffering are struggling to pray authentically with the words they have been given. And from Fr. Raab’s account, it seems the most important way they help this community to pray authentically is by helping them live authentically, that is, live with dignity as God’s children, even when daily life treats them otherwise.”

      Word.

  45. Wonderful post–I just come in on a detail.

    I read somewhere that the rationale for “I believe’ was that the Church prays the creed as one person–in other words ‘I believe’ means ‘we believe’. If that is so, then if ‘a new generation of clergy’ understands the statement as made by discrete individuals may–encouraged by the arrant idiocy that is the new translation and its being foisted upon us–be making a serious theological mistake.

  46. I’m afraid that my wish expressed three days ago when I saw how some had already misunderstood this post — “I hope not too many mean-spirited people will fail to recognize not only his gifts to the Church but also the gifts of the people he ministers to. We can learn so much from them” — has proved in vain. A lack of compassion and a desire for self-justification have, as Diana implied, prevailed. Guys, your insecurities are showing!

    1. @Julie Booth – comment #76:
      Wow, thanks for sharing this link, Julie. I could imagine that Fr. Ron’s podcast for this Sunday was partly directed to us here. Thanks for chiming in!

      1. @Diana Macalintal – comment #82:
        I’m certain that he recorded it long before this conversation started, Diana — but it sure seems that way, doesn’t it? The important thing: “sit with the promise that in our murmurings this week, Jesus is listening.”

  47. One theme in this thread is that human beings are fundamentally, constitutively, “unworthy of God’s grace” (as Charles Culbreth put it). I’d be interested in hearing from catechists out there: how do you teach/convey this aspect of Christian anthropology – our essential unworthiness as human beings – to adult catechumens, and to children preparing for first Eucharist?

  48. Trying to be neither proud nor insecure, I’ll simply admit, “I’m lost.” At this point I am speaking about my bearings within this thread. And perhaps, in lesser and greater areas in my realtionships with my fellow pilgrims here and in my confession and commission, I’m lost. But I know I desire to find the way. So, I submit to God’s grace and wisdom, and the charity of others who will see that we all need the helping hand and the encouraging word. So, I will to risk anything that props me up temporarily, so that if to fall and fail is required, I may do so while in service to others.
    Fr. Raab has heard the call: Feed my lambs, tend my sheep. I regret it that my comments may have diminished the significance of that within the light of the topical focus, whether our ritual language obscures that call.

  49. My understanding of Calvinistic theology is that in his view (which I believe many Presbyterians and Southern Baptists hold) that we are worm-like creatures who on our own cannot merit anything and if we are poor and miserable we deserve it. Wealth is a sign of blessings and salvation, those who poor deserve to be and deserve this punishment from God. (This is a simplification, but held by many Protestants in my neck of the woods). Salvation for the Calvinist means that Christ in an unmerited act of love “literally covers or hides the sinner He redeems” so that when God the Father looks at us, He sees not us and our sins and imperfections which are anathema to Him, but rather the perfection of His Son! He sees Him as He created male and female in the first instance prior to the fall, and not the despicable clump of humanity after the fall. In that sense, Christ redeems us and once redeemed by “our acceptance of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior in a private act of confession” we are saved period, can’t lose it. We are assured of our salvation. In fact many Protestants of this tradition are quite secure or smug in their salvation which has some merit to it in terms of alleviating the despair that some Catholics have in terms of their own personal salvation.
    Obviously our Catholic theology isn’t Calvinistic but we have our own form of it in Jansenism but it lacks the assurance of salvation once we know by our definitive act that we are saved which the Calvinists do have.
    I don’t minister to the “anawim” in the same way that Father Raab and the majority of the people in our community in this category are not Catholic, but we have ecumenical ministries to them, especially downtown and Sister Elizabeth, a Daughter of Charity in our parish has formed a coalition of Interfaith institutions to create a day shelter to do precisely what Fr. Raab does but in an interfaith way, so there isn’t Mass. This ministry is a part of DePaul USA.
    But I do have street people coming to Mass, visiting the open Church daily for prayer and respite and many regular parishioners experience a dramatic brokenness, some of them find great solace in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as well as daily Mass in the Ordinary form and at least the external sense of community they find here even if it is superficial. I have never found prayers of “abasement” in any fashion to be of concern to these people. And given our Protestant culture most who are immersed in it (including all Catholics here) know that we need redemption and find it in Christ, whether in the Catholic Church or the Protestant expressions of it, which in many fundamentalist churches does not require membership in any church to be saved–it is highly personal and individualistic. So what I am saying is to use the poor or the anawim to denigrate the corrected translation of the Mass and of our theology, piety and spirituality is a red herring.

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