Sitting at my editor’s desk recently, working on permissions for an upcoming project, I noted that the copyright year for the English translation of the Roman Missal, third edition, is 2010. When you’re an editor in liturgical publishing, there’s a good chance you’ll look at that copyright notice a lot. For some reason, though, this was the first time that the passage of the ten-year mark struck me. Though the translation’s implementation came later, it occurred to me that reaching this milestone meant that I had been working with this translation for one-third of my ministry in publishing. Definitely time for me to stop calling it the “new” translation!
A few weeks after this occurrence, I was serving as guest organist for a wedding. While looking around the loft’s music storage area for some tape, I happened across a ten-year-old catalog of “new” Mass settings from World Library Publications. (Note: I am not criticizing the presence of an old catalog in that storage room—my own organizational house is definitely made of glass!)
Inevitably, memories came flooding back into the midst of my 2020, a year that has been described—humorously and seriously—with a wide range of adjectives. Memories returned of the turmoil surrounding the translation and its implementation. I recalled that there were some who were certain the translation would drive people from the pews in droves, while others were filled with an equal amount of certitude that its language would bring numerous members back. As we know, neither prediction really came true.
Let me state clearly at this point that I am NOT seeking to re-agitate or re-litigate anything from ten years ago (or more) regarding the 2010 translation. At this anniversary point, this was more of an occasion to reflect, and an object lesson in how our work as liturgists always stands within the flow of time, not outside of it, and definitely not above it.
A number of internet wags have observed that all of our “where do you see yourself in five years” answers from 2015 would definitely end up being incredibly off-base. Same as if you had asked me, in 2010, what the ten-year status of the translation would be.
Along with my memories came an awareness of how incredibly changed is the sense of scale about liturgical matters, particularly in the contexts of racial tensions, further accounts of abuse in the church, divisions in church and society—and especially the in the context of celebrating liturgy in a pandemic.
My walk down memory lane caused me to do some digging back into various articles and workshops I’d done surrounding the “new” translation. I found an examination of conscience I’d made for myself at the time, based on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23): “ . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Once again, I noted that Paul writes of a single fruit, not multiple fruits; perhaps a fruit with segments, like citrus. I’m finding that this examination of conscience serves me again, these ten years later:
• Am I always dealing with others in a spirit of Christian love?
• Do I temper everything—even sadness or anger—with joy?
• Can I find peace in striving to do God’s work?
• Will I be patient with others and myself through this time?
• Will kindness characterize all my communication?
• Does any goodness manifest itself as sharing my time and gifts to help?
• Do I remain faithful to Christ in Word and Sacrament?
• Am I meeting harshness or criticism with gentleness?
• Do I control my emotions when they might impede the prayer of others?
As we move through these days and the days to come, let us call on the power of the Spirit to bear fruit in our lives again and again. Through the power of the Spirit we will continue to grow as disciples. Remember that, at some point, we’ll likely be looking back at this point in time from another ten years down the road.