This "New Translation Tuesday" has dawned bright, sunny, and dry here in Chicago; just a beautiful day.
I had a rather interesting call from one of our J. S. Paluch Parish Consultants last Friday. These consultants spend lots of their time visiting parishes, making sure that the parish bulletin service is of the highest quality. As you can imagine, these consultants get to know the pastoral staff quite well over the years.
This particular consultant was calling from California. He told me that he had a question for me, a question that had been asked by the leaders in two of the parishes he visits. I may be paraphrasing here, but this is pretty close to what he said: "Jerry, I have two parishes who are not happy about the new translation. They said that it has not gone over well in Europe and they don't want to use it when it comes out. They were wondering if WLP was going to continue to publish our worship resources in an edition that uses the current translation for parishes that don't want to make the switch to the new translation."
Of course, my answer was "no." First of all, I am sure that the "Europe" to which these parishes referred was the mess that occurred in South Africa when the new translation was implemented without any catechesis. But beyond that, I was kind of floored by the question. This is moving beyond the "What if we just said wait" posture. This is the "What if we just say no" posture. Added to that, I was named a "conservative" yesterday by a dear old retired priest friend of mine who simply stated that he would never succumb to "and with your spirit" at any of the Masses he celebrates. He implied somehow that I was the super-advocate for the new translation. He said, "Doesn't the Church have enough to deal with without having to throw something so silly out there right now?"
I am ready to throw my hands up in the air about all of this. I have been saying over and over again that the central issues raised by the implementation of the new translation will not be liturgical issues; they will be ecclesiological issues. What theology of the Church, what ecclesiology is being expressed by the two parishes cited above? The very fact that a parish would believe that it has the choice to wholeheartedly reject the new translation says so much about the understanding of Church espoused by those who lead these parishes. Perhaps I am way off here. Perhaps these people have taken a good long look at the new translation (which I have yet to see) and made the decision that these new texts will cause the faith lives of their parishioners to suffer deep harm. If this is the case, then these leaders have the responsibility to complain to their bishop. And I believe this is a very legitimate course of action.
On the other hand, perhaps the sense of congregationalism that many have talked about in the past has really taken root in some parishes here in the United States. The erosion of the credibility of the Vatican and the bishops in general may have inadvertently led to this growing sense of congregationalism: "The bishops and Rome aren't going to tell us what to do!"
Folks, as a Catholic publisher, owned by a dedicated Catholic family, today I am inclined to look out at someone and cry, "This is a fine mess you've gotten us into." Only I don't know toward whom my frustration should be directed. Frankly, there is that hesitant part of me—the brutally honest part, really—that believes that this frustration should be directed beyond the grave to the one that many are trying to call "the great." For all that Pope John Paul II did for the Church, I wonder if his lasting legacy will be a more divided, more polarized Church. Only time will tell.
A few days ago, my friend Father Anthony Ruff, OSB, over on Pray Tell, asked us to pray for our bishops during the implementation of the new translation. You can find that post here. I had expressed a similar sentiment about our priests last year on this post. I, for one, am redoubling my prayers for our leaders. They have some very tough landscape to maneuver in the next few years. As I have said in the past, I love being a Catholic; I love my parish; I love the liturgy. I just don't know what awaits us on the other side of the "implementation."
Feel free, especially today, to comment.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.