Happy Friday. I am writing this entry while flying to Los Angeles. I departed Chicago on a 6:30 A.M. flight and, after a meeting in L.A., will return to Chicago on a flight later this afternoon. Even though I travel quite extensively throughout the United States and Canada, I am still in awe at the speed with which we can move around on this continent and beyond. I’m also grateful for the technology that has developed to make this all happen.
Last night I attended a fundraiser for Mundelein Seminary here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Funds raised during the event will enable seminarians to travel for an extended period of study in the Holy Land. I was able to catch a brief conversation with Chicago’s shepherd, Cardinal Francis George. I talked with him about WLP’s plans for assisting in the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal. As on previous occasions, he became quite impassioned about this issue. He feels strongly that this particular juncture in the history of the reform of the liturgy presents us with enormous possibilities and responsibilities. He said, “We’ve got to get this thing right.” From my previous conversations with him, I know that he feels that this moment of transition will provide Catholics in the English-speaking world a unique opportunity for good liturgical catechesis.
You may know that the bishops in South African jumped the gun on releasing the translation of the Order of Mass and mandated that the new translation be immediately implemented in their parishes. Reaction was swift and, in a word, brutal. People were not prepared and their negative reactions were certainly understandable. Even with preparatory catechesis in other countries, I firmly believe that Catholics will tend to react negatively to the new translation. Change is not easy and people will not be satisfied with reasoning that goes like this: “The English translation of the Latin we have been praying was constructed using one set of rules for translation. The new English translation soon to be put into effect uses a different set of rules that mandated that the translation be more faithful to the original Latin.” I know that many Catholics will find this reasoning hard to swallow. While I resonate with this sentiment, I believe that any opportunity to provide liturgical catechesis is an one that we must seize. All you need do is read the previous posts on this blog about the power of the sacramental life. My central question is this: Do Catholics really believe in the power and potential of baptism? Confirmation? Eucharist? Perhaps I am naïve, but I have been called worse. I am going to move through the transition to a new translation with a careful optimism. We will need to deal with the negativity head on, but my hope is that leaders—on the national, diocesan, and local levels—will help people move beyond the negativity to a deeper understanding of the work Christ does every time we gather at liturgy. Folks, when these things unfold, we gotta sing and we gotta pray more than ever! A little bit of J. Michael Thompson's Exultet. Enjoy.