Monday, May 25—Memorial Day this year—marked the 51st anniversary of my baptism. At Mass on Sunday I recalled once again how grateful I am for this greatest gift. You might want to pause for a moment right now and lift a prayer of thanksgiving yourself for this gift.
There have been several comments posted related to the upcoming release of the new translation of the Missale Romanum. I know there are many of you out there who read this blog for a number of reasons. Many are looking for some ways to connect the sacramental life to daily living. Others are curious about what a publisher might have to say regarding matters liturgical and musical. Others are simply curious. Others have told me how stunned and surprised they are that there seems to be so much contentious debate about liturgical and musical issues in the Church. I have suggested that the issues raised with respect to the new translation will ultimately be ecclesiological ones. I believe many of the comments posted reflect this sentiment. For those of us so directly involved in Church life, whether as composers, clergy, religious, publishers, music directors, liturgists, catechists, etc., there is something fundamental that we share in common: we celebrate together at Mass. I hope that for each of us, Sunday Mass is the "source and summit" of our lives. When something occurs that strikes at the heart of what is our "source and summit," it's natural for us to expect lots of debate.
One liturgical scholar—in her early forties—recently shared a metaphor with a group of us at a national meeting. She told us that the current translation of the Missale Romanum has been her only experience of the liturgy. She said that these texts she has prayed all her life are "in her bones." Then she said that she felt that the upcoming new translation will be like a "bone transplant" for her. This image elicited a visceral reaction from me, but the more I thought about it, the more I started to concur. When I read the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers, for instance, my bones began to ache. Consider the new translation from Eucharistic Prayer III.
Here's the current translation of one section:
Look with favor on your Church's offering,
and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself.
Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood,
may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.
I don't know about you, but this is a prayer that is "in my bones."
This is the new translation of the same section:
Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church
and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death
you willed to reconcile us to yourself,
grant that we, who are nourished
by the Body and Blood of your Son
and filled with his Holy Spirit,
may become one body, one spirit in Christ.
It's going to take some time—for this set of ears and this praying heart at least—to appropriate these words. I wonder if each and every time I hear them in the future I will be distracted rather than being drawn into the prayer. I hope for the latter, but I am not sure.
We are going to need lots of good help to move through this transition. I hope that we here at WLP will provide some of that help. In this time of change, we gotta sing and we gotta pray.