Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Translation Thursday: What Really Matters

Good day to you all. It's time for another installment of "New Translation Thursday." Before I move into that, I want to tell you a little bit about my experience in the Diocese of Buffalo yesterday. Here's a photo of the good folks who were gathered there:

The diocese is working with a foundation that gives grants to parishes for faith formation initiatives. About 150 people—clergy and lay ecclesial ministers—gathered at the diocesan seminary for two days to listen to several speakers talk on a variety of topics. The initiative's aim is to address the needs of young adults in parishes. Those in attendance, working in parish teams, are beginning to formulate the kinds of programming that will address the spiritual needs of these young adults. Once the program or project is formulated, the parish team then begins the process for applying for the grant. It was very exciting to see such enthusiasm about ministry with young adults. I hope that my presentation—"Cultivating a Sacramental Spirituality"—was helpful for those in attendance. Kudos to the diocesan staff for their fine work.

As I was doing my presentation yesterday, I included a quote from the late John Paul II's apostolic letter that inaugurated the "Year of the Eucharist" late in his pontificate. This is the paragraph I quoted from Mane Nobiscum Domine:

 “Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in a particular way to responding with fraternal solicitude to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world? I think for example of the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships faced by the unemployed, the struggles of immigrants. These are evils which are present—albeit to a different degree—even in areas of immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.” (28)

When thinking about the new translation, I find myself constantly returning to this paragraph. The criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations will be judged are our mutual love and our concern for those in need. The hope, of course, is that the implementation of the new translation will—even with much contention—draw people closer to the eucharistic Lord. There is part of me that says things like this: "It matters little who pours the wine into the various cups; it matters little where extraordinary ministers of communion stand before they receive the eucharist; it matters little who does the purification and cleaning of the vessels after communion; it matters little who holds the key to the tabernacle." What really matters, what actually are the criterion for the authenticity of our eucharistic celebrations are our mutual love and our concern for those in need. Of course, some of you will think that this is a slippery slope I am describing here, a kind of "anything goes at Mass as long as we feed the poor" attitude. That is not what I am suggesting. As we await new words to pray, I just do not want us to lose sight of what makes our celebrations authentic. And I want people who have celebrated the Mass in latin before the Second Vatican Council, who prayed the words in English in the first translation, who prayed the current words for the last forty years, and who will pray new words in the coming years; I want them to know that no matter what set of words was or is prayed, what really matters was or is whether or not the Mass led to mutual love and care for those in need.

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Jerry....that was so beautifully put. I needed to hear it said just that way. I have been struggling with the whole idea of these new translations and you have given me just the lens I need to view them in a new way.--Margie G.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jerry - I was at the conference in Buffalo and I enjoyed all the you shared with us and now this insight today - God Bless-Roberta

FJH 3rd said...

I would suggest that attention should indeed be paid to the rubrics and "discipline" of how the Holy Mass is celebrated. A more reverent and dignified liturgy will better help us lift our hearts and minds to the Lord, encouraging the faithful toward greater concern for those in need. One does not somehow crowd out the other. The classic example of course, is Dorothy Day, a pre-eminent activist for social justice, and a devotee of the traditional form of Mass.

MB Coates said...

There is so much to think about and pray about. Doesn't it ultimately come down to how we will be motivated, inspired, compelled (whatever) to 'work-off' the eucharist we have consumed? The idea that we can become 'spiritually obese' if we are unable/unwilling/unaware of the importance of serving out in the world (taking that service entrance) that will trim us down, even deplete us, of our arrogance, self-centeredness, selfishness (whatever) - so that in order to survive, we are drawn to the eucharist - back to the living water (am I mixing images?) - to be filled again so that we can go out and serve the lord and one another. I hope I am not bothered by the 'how' it is said in the new translation - so that I can just be about 'what' is said and 'how' to live it. Thanks, Jerry, for sharing part of your story in the Diocese of Buffalo - what if we all approached the Table in the way some are compelled to go to the gym (I am speaking as a couch potato, myself - but the image is intrigues me!)

Anonymous said...

"It matters little who pours the wine into the various cups; it matters little where extraordinary ministers of communion stand before they receive the eucharist; it matters little who does the purification and cleaning of the vessels after communion; it matters little who holds the key to the tabernacle."

I know you later followed this up by making clear that you weren't suggesting an "anything goes" attitude, but I would have to say that at least some of those things do matter. Where EM's stand...who holds the key to the tabernacle...those aren't really issues of concern. But who pours the wine after consecration? Who cleans the vessels after communion? If you're saying that these things are less important than feeding the hungry (actual hungry out in the streets) or less important than caring for the refugees and injured in Haiti for instance... I would have to agree with you.

But we don't feed the actual hungry or give medical care to the wounded and house the homeless AT MASS, and when we are AT MASS worshiping God Almighty, who pours the wine and who purifies vessels is a matter of very great importance indeed. That's why I always reject the argument raised in relation to the new translation that claims "there are bigger things that the Church needs to be worrying about" Mass, there is no greater issue that needs to be addressed. The Mass is a specific facet of our life as is not a metaphoric analogy of our social theology.

But I digress...

Anonymous said...

I was also intrigued by the image of becoming "spiritually obese" which you spoke of in Buffalo. As a follower, but not always a truly faithful disciple, it hit a soft spot - maybe some of that fat that needs to be trimmed away.

I grew up with the Latin Mass, missed the preliminary translations, and returned to the fold while becoming familiar with the current English translation. There are some words I really love to be able to speak in worship, but there was a certain awe and majesty in the Latin that has not carried over. I am hopeful that we will find a balance as we move forward together as the People of God.
Theresa W.

Padre13 said...


Where is the resource, Prepare and Pray: Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, and IV, that you mentioned at the seminar in Louisville, KY. I've been looking on the WLP website, but can't find it anywhere. Blessings.

Fr. Jeff Hopper

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Sorry, Fr. Hopper. There is a glitch somewhere on the site. We are in the process of fixing it now. I'll let you know here.