Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Translation Thursday: "A Springboard for Renewal"

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."



I was privileged to attend the annual "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" fundraising event last night for Catholic Theological Union, my alma mater (Doctor of Ministry in 1999), pictured above. The evening honored Miguel Diaz, US ambassador to the Holy See. He gave a wonderful speech. It was a delightful evening. Perhaps the most poignant moment came when Rev. Don Senior, CTU's president, addressed the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis, pledging to those gathered that CTU was doing everything in its power to prepare healthy and whole seminarians studying for the priesthood. His impassioned and moving speech garnered the greatest round of applause the entire evening.



I was gladdened to hear the pastoral tone of Pope Benedict's speech given to members of Vox Clara yesterday in Vatican City. This paragraph especially:

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.


"Due sensitivity" is the phrase that jumps out at me. I hope that, especially for those whose excitement and enthusiasm around the new translation, we all take to heart the pope's words. I have heard more than one person say that we should just "start it" on the implementation date and the people will be "just fine." I couldn't disagree with this sentiment more.

The pope assures us that he will be praying for English-speaking Catholics. This is a good volley toward heaven that we will have on our behalf. His prayer will be that "any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted." Good, pastoral sense here, yes?

I also was struck by his words, that the change "will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world." I hope that we interpret this remark in a way that sees our catechesis focusing on the actual celebration of the Mass, rather than devotional practices associated with the reservation of the Eucharist in tabernacles and in monstrances.

Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying (and I , for one, have never found the source - if you can, let me know) something like this: "If hundreds of millions of Catholics are receiving the Eucharist each and every week, why has so little about our world changed?"

The new translation, with its (hopefully) accompanying catechesis, can lead to a renewal of Catholics, focusing on the very source and summit of our lives. I believe that this can ultimately lead to a better world, where the poor and disenfranchised are served with the strength that comes from the celebration of the Eucharist. In a world torn by war and violence, it is my hope that the Eucharistic Lord, whose first post-resurrection word to his frightened disciples was "Peace" will be placed more and more at the center of our hearts, minds, and attitudes through the celebration of the Eucharist.

Let's join our prayers to Pope Benedict's, asking God to strengthen us in our pastoral approach and in our catechetical endeavors.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness though...

What is the difference between implementing the new translations on the date they are to be implemented, and implementing them on that date with "due sensitivity"? Or does "due sensitivity", like the phrase "pastoral sensitivity" mean individual clergy deciding whether to implement them or not? If it is the latter, then I would agree with the commenter that said "just start". The notion that "they aren't ready yet" is a straw man...

Preparation is another matter...although I'm not sure how the assembly might be prepared other than to inform them...they can only start learning them by using them. It is the clergy and musicians who need the advance formation in that respect.

While it may be a mistake to assume that the assembly "will be just fine", it is equally a mistake to assume that they will be somehow traumatized by this. As many others have said here...most will probably take little notice. It would be wonderful if most of those attending church were so steeped in the texts of the Mass that it would be immediately obvious to them that there were changes, but I don't see that in my own experience. The whole thing may well be little more than a passing curiosity to many. It could well be that interested parties are making a liturgical mountain out of an administrative molehill.