"To change indicates that one is alive." This is the first line of Bishop Arthur Serratelli's recent article in America magazine. When the changes in the English translation of the Missale Romanum are implemented, I am sure that there will be some strong indications that the English-speaking Church is alive. I wonder what kind of "alive" that will mean. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "alive" as "having life: not dead or inanimate." Have you ever visited a parish and, after experiencing the liturgy, said something like, "O, that Mass was dead." I myself have had the experience of standing in front of a church full of Catholics, trying to animate their song. Often, so many in the pews seem to have settled into some kind of malaise, or some kind of liturgical lethargy. I have spent much of my adult life talking with Catholics about ways to shake off this liturgical lethargy. One of my central questions for Catholics (me included) is "Do you believe that salvation is occurring at Mass every Sunday?" Some just stare in bewilderment at this question. I always hearken back to text of the Prayer over the Gifts for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time:
may we celebrate the eucharist
with reverence and love,
for when we proclaim the death of the Lord
you continue the work of his redemption,
who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
The central act of the eucharist is the proclamation of the death of the Lord. When we do this, God continues the work of Christ's redemption, plain and simple.
No new translation of the Missale Romanum in any language can change this belief. The Mass is not changing; the translation if changing. And, if Bishop Serratelli's words are correct, the change will not only prove that we are alive, it just may make some of us who have settled into liturgical lethargy come alive once again. Of course, there will be differing characteristics to this being "alive." Some will be alive with lividity. Some will be alive with glee. Some will be alive with a new inquisitiveness about the liturgy itself. This latter group represents, I hope, a large portion of our Catholic faithful. I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record here. We must seize upon this onrush of inquisitiveness and be prepared to do some solid liturgical theology; a theology not based solely in coursework; but a theology that shapes the Catholic heart.
Tonight I am leading the second night of a parish mission at St. Mary's Parish in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. I have never been in the church and am anxious to see the interior of this historic building. Here's a photo of the exterior:
Here's the description of the talk I found in their parish bulletin:
On Tuesday March 2 we will look at the ritual responses and sung texts of our shared prayer as we consider the
changes in the English translation of the Mass. While this may be new to many of our parishioners, it is expected
that at the start of Advent 2011 we will be implementing the new Roman Missal. For examples of the revised texts
visit: http://usccb.org/romanmissal. Dr. Jerry Galipeau, Associate Publisher at World Library Publications, has
accepted our invitation to speak about the new translation and to answer our questions on the second night of
mission. His strong pastoral sense was developed during the fifteen years he served as Director of Liturgy and
Music at parishes in Florida and Illinois. Read his New Translation Tuesday / Thursday postings at: http://
Please say a prayer for me tonight. So far, the only groups that I have addressed with regard to the new translation have been groups of professional ministers. This is my first real "plunge into the pews." I will let you know how it all goes tomorrow on this blog. My plan is to give the folks some history about how we got to where we are, provide some solid liturgical theology, then actually do some investigating and praying of the newly translated texts with them. I am looking forward to it.
Thanks for listening today, and be sure to read Bishop Serratelli's article.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.