Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Ramifications for This Publisher

Welcome once again to another installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

We in the publishing world are still in a holding pattern with respect to the text of The Roman Missal. Due to the fact that this translation process has not run anywhere near the normal course, we need to wait until the actual text is released to publishers before proceeding with any publications. The "I'll believe it when I see it" stance is the one I am taking at this point.

Allow me to let you know just how one publisher (we here at WLP) is dealing with all of this. As you know, when the Order of Mass was released in 2008, given its recognitio and was declared "binding," we were given the task to work with our composers and authors to begin creating musical settings for the Mass, as well as catechetical materials. For our part, we began this important work in earnest. After reading the new translation of the eucharistic prayers, I felt that our contribution to the catechetical sphere was to reach out to bishops and priests, those who would be entrusted with the praying of these texts. We released Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, IV, a CD recorded by Bishop J. Peter Sartain of the Diocese of Joliet here in Illinois. The CD came nicely packaged with a booklet containing the texts. We secured all permissions and soon, hundreds and hundreds were sold to bishops, priests, and lay people. Some bishops ordered them for every priest in their respective dioceses. We priced this resource very affordably, in the hopes that as many as possible would purchase it. I honestly felt that we were really serving the needs of the praying Church.

We were quite surprised when the August 20, 2010 text arrived, only to find that there were changes to these already approved texts. While I was tempted to tell people who had purchased the resource to bring their complaints to the Congregation in Rome, I knew deep down that we had to do something to help make this right. So, we have decided to go back to the recording studio, re-record the texts, make the necessary corrections to the booklet, and provide these two components free of charge to anyone who has purchased the resource. This is one of those decisions that tests the strength of a company's mission. I have to say that I am quite proud of our staff here. When I told them of my inclination to tell people to complain to higher authorities, they looked at me with raised eyebrows, saying, "Jerry, how can we best serve our customers? Is your way the way of real customer service?" Of course, they were absolutely right. So, the decision became quite easy for us. Will it cost us time, energy, and money? Absolutely. Is there a "not fair" character to the whole thing? Absolutely. But none of this really matters in the long run. When we say that we exist to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church, we really mean it. I am not sharing this with you as a gesture of a big pat on the back on WLP's part. I just want you to have an appreciation for what it means to be of real service.

When one of those who had purchased Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, IV found out what we were doing, that person sent us the following e-mail:

This is outstanding customer service way beyond the call of duty. You are to be commended as well as blest for all you are doing to help us get through this trying and difficult transition. It is a blessing to know that there are those in the Church such as yourselves who wish to support and encourage rather than to just lay heavy burdens on others' shoulders without lifting a finger to help. God bless you in what has to be very trying times.

Folks, this is what makes working at World Library Publications/J. S. Paluch such a pleasure. If you purchased a copy of Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, IV, please feel free to contact our customer care department at 1 800 566-6150. Your name will be added to the list of those who will receive corrected CDs and booklets.

Very grateful today to be working with and leading a great group of dedicated people in service to you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Great Day in San Francisco

Happy Monday to you all.

I am back at the office here at WLP. I spent Friday and Saturday in San Francisco. On Saturday, WLP and the Archdiocese teamed up for an RCIA workshop focused on the Ninety Days (Seasons of Lent and Easter). The workshop was held in the conference area in the lower level of the cathedral.

If you are ever in San Francisco, don't miss the chance to visit Saint Mary's Cathedral. Here's a photo I took of the interior, standing at the baptism font and facing the sanctuary:

Here's another photo, this one is of the organ:

Finally, here's a shot of the soaring ceiling:

While I love my work here at WLP, my ministry to people in dioceses across the United States and Canada is the type of work about which I have so much passion. We had about 80 people in San Francisco and their engagement in the topic was inspiring. We talked about the various rites during Lent (the Rite of Sending for Election, the Penitential Rite, and the Scrutinies). We also focused on the Triduum and the Preparation Rites for the Elect on Holy Saturday. I wish we had more time to talk about the period of mystagogy; we did spend about an hour on this important topic.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Archdiocese. Special thanks to Pat Vallez-Kelly, the director of the worship office, and to Sister Celeste Arbuckle, director of the office of religious education and youth ministry. These two people are so dedicated to solid formation for those entrusted to their care. These kinds of events don't just "happen." It takes a good deal of time and effort. For their work, I am most grateful.

Well, these are my last few days before vacation. Beginning on Thursday, you will be treated to a variety of voices on this blog. We are still working out the logistics as to how to make all of this happen. As always, feel free to comment.

And thanks for your kind words regarding Friday's post.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Day of Memory

Happy Friday to you all. I have arrived at the hotel here in San Francisco, a short walk from St. Mary's Cathedral, where my RCIA workshop on the Ninety Days will be held tomorrow.

I want to take the time today to remember a very special woman, my sister Joanne (Galipeau) Gazzara. Today would have been Joanne's 47th birthday. Joanne died from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis in February of 2001.

I am from a family of three boys and three girls. Joanne was my youngest sister. She was diagnosed with M.S. in her early twenties and lived with a very aggressive form of the disease until her death at the age of 38. In her final years, I had the opportunity to visit with her as often as I could. One day, after she moved into a long-term care facility, I was visiting her one day and asked her if it would be OK if we prayed together. This was not a usual occurrence among the siblings in my family. She agreed rather peacefully and we prayed. I told her that nowhere else in my life did I feel the presence of Christ more than when I was with her, especially when she was so sick. Joanne was not without her flaws and struggles throughout her own adult life; she lived with addictions and successfully remained free of these addictions in the last years of her life.

After she died, I was given three things to remember her by: her laminated serenity prayer, which I still carry with me; her last driver's license, which is at the base of my computer at my office; and her one-year medallion declaring that she had been sober for one year. A few months ago, one of my coworkers was planning a pilgrimage to Spain, the Camino del Santiago pilgrimage. She asked me for several months to remember to give her something that she could place along the pilgrimage route. I contemplated this for a long time and finally, a few days before her departure, I gave her Joanne's one-year medallion.

When this colleague returned from Spain, she showed me a photo of where she had placed the medallion along her pilgrimage route. We shared some tears and I thanked her. In some way, I was hoping that those who travel this route—particularly those who live with addictions of any kind—would find comfort through the intercessory prayers of my sister Joanne.

On this anniversary of her birth, dear readers, please remember those who live with addictions. And please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of my sister, Joanne (Galipeau) Gazzara, born on this date in 1963.

May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

For you, Joanne. I love you and still miss you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Headed to SFO - Will Blog Later

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Translation Thursday: The Doxology

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."

Thanks to the scores of you who decided to "like" this blog on Facebook. Please see yesterday's post to discover a way that you can "like" Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

I will be leaving for San Francisco early tomorrow morning to lead a day-long workshop for RCIA ministers on the Ninety Days. I am looking forward to it. The staff at the offices of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Sister Celeste Arbuckle and Patrick Vallez-Kelly are always so hospitable. The event will take place at the conference center at the Cathedral. This is part of WLP's "Ambassadors Program." Basically, this program is intended to help dioceses sponsor workshops on a number of topics (music, RCIA, liturgy). We work closely with the diocese to tailor a program that will suit their needs. WLP offers financial support and all we ask is that we be allowed to offer our resources for sale at the event. Please consider one of these events in your (arch)diocese in the future. You can learn more by contacting me directly here at WLP: galipeauj@jspaluch.com.

For the last six days, I find myself taking nice deep breaths before I come into work each day. The frenzy surrounding the changes to the Order of Mass texts has settled somewhat. We are doing everything we can to serve the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

Right now, we are working with our composers to re-work the musical settings of the doxologies to the eucharistic prayers.

Here is the text in Latin:

Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso
est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti,
in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
omnis honor et gloria,
per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Here is the text from the 2008 Order of Mass:

Through him, and with him, and in him,
to you, O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
is all honor and glory,
for ever and ever.

Our composers set this text, which had received the recognitio and was described as "binding" (but you have heard me complain enough about that—definitely time to move on). Some employed simple chant settings; others set the text in a more metrical fashion.

Here is the August 20, 2010 text:

Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
for ever and ever.

This is a case where the August 20, 2010 text is a less direct translation of the Latin original. One wonders about the rationale for this particular change. I am sure that there will be scholars poring over the many changes, asking similar questions.

Someone asked me yesterday whether I thought the changes in the August 20, 2010 were "more pastoral." I couldn't answer the question fully, because we have only seen a tiny percentage of the text of The Roman Missal. I do think that insertion of the additional "I believes" in the Nicene Creed is a "more pastoral" approach. Others may disagree.

Well, folks, thanks for listening today. Please pray for the safety of all travelers over the next few days.

Let's keep our chins and hopes up.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gotta Sing Gotta Pray: Like Us on Facebook

Happy Wednesday to you all.

I am going to take a break from commenting on the new translation for a day. We are very hard at work here making adjustments to our resources, given the changes in the text. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the staff here at WLP.

For those of you with Facebook accounts, I'd like to ask that you become a "liker" of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray via Facebook. Just log on to Facebook and in the search area at the top of your home page, type in Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. Two options appear. Click on the one without text and when the new page opens, simply click "Like." It's as simple as that.

It is simply a beautiful day here in Chicago. The sun is shining, the humidity is low, and the breezes are light.

I will be leaving for an extended vacation a week from tomorrow. During my absence, several  members of the team here at WLP have a greed to fill in for me on the blog. You will be getting different perspectives during the weeks that I am away. I think this will be a great opportunity for the staff here, as well as an opportunity for you to hear some different voices in Catholic publishing. Tuesdays and Thursdays will continue to be new translation days; the other days will focus on whatever issues the writers determine for themselves.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Ten Thousand Changes

"New Translation Tuesday" has come round again.

Several on this blog, and others, have been asking about the validity of the so-called "10,000 changes" to the text we received on Friday, August 20.

Yesterday we completed a word for word comparison between the four eucharistic prayers in the so-called "2008 Missal" and the texts received last Friday.

Not counting the changes in the doxology to these prayers, here is what we discovered:

In Eucharistic Prayer I, we found approximately sixteen changes in the text, four changes in the rubrics, four changes in punctuation, and two changes in capitalization, making a total of approximately twenty-six changes.

In Eucharistic Prayer II, we found two changes in the preface that is printed with this prayer, one change in the text, three changes in the rubrics, one change in punctuation, and two changes in capitalization, making a total of approximately nine changes.

In Eucharistic Prayer III, we found one change in the text, four changes in the rubrics, and two changes in capitalization, making a total of approximately seven changes.

In Eucharistic Prayer IV, we found one change in the prayer's official preface, four changes in the text, five changes in the rubrics, and two changes in capitalization, making a total of approximately twelve changes.

So, there are approximately fifty-four changes in the four eucharistic prayers, not taking into account the major changes in the doxology.

We must admit that some of the changes in the rubrics are consistent across the board, for instance the change of the word "bow" to "bend." Also, the capitalization changes are also consistent; the word "death" is now "Death" in two of the memorial acclamations, which we now believe are to be referred to as "Mystery of Faith A, Mystery of Faith B, and Mystery of Faith C."

Many of you have asked about the so-called 10,000 changes. The most reliable source that I know told me recently that this is a conservative estimate. Given the fact that we see approximately fifty-four changes in the four eucharistic prayers, it seems that, given the voluminous amount of text in the balance of The Roman Missal, the 10,000 number may actually be a small number!

Now we have to be clear here. If the word "death" has been capitalized in the prayers, that accounts for eight changes (but, in reality it is only one change, made several times). Perhaps this is the case in other areas of the missal.

We at WLP have been asked to resubmit our Order of Mass materials (which had already received approval from ICEL and the BCDW). This is the source file that is used to create our worship resources. This is an understandable request from these bodies, given the number of changes in the text. I just want to point out that this means more time, energy, and resources expended on a text that had already received the recognitio, and had already been deemed "binding" by Cardinal Arinze. And this expending of time, energy, and resources goes across the board to all publishers of liturgical texts, as well as the hard-working staffs at ICEL and the BCDW.

I've got to be honest and tell you that, given the hope that I have expressed time and time again on this blog regarding the great potential for liturgical catechesis that the new translation will engender, I am feeling like the tires that have carried the process along have been slashed. Perhaps I am too close to all of this all the time, but I love the liturgy too much not to be disappointed.

As always, I pledge our support to the Church in the United States and beyond; to provide the best resources as we seek to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

I have found it surprising and invigorating that so many of you have left comments here, e-mailed me, and left comments on my Facebook page, letting me know that you are praying for us in the publishing world. I can't tell you how much this means to me. I know that some of you might be tempted to say, "They just need to get over it; this is their job after all." Yes, these are our jobs, but the majority of us here at WLP are so close to the liturgy, so close to liturgical and music ministry, so close to the ministry which is Catholic publishing, that we feel like this is much more than a job. So, as we continue our mission, which is your mission—just with different tools—I want you to know how much we appreciate your prayers and support.

I want you to know that I try to keep all of this in perspective. When I read this past Sunday's bulletin at my parish, Saint James, the following statistics for July were listed:

1,482 The number of families St. James Food Pantry served in July
3,763 Bags of groceries distributed by the Pantry
14,740 Canned goods given out!
$47,897 The retail value of the groceries distributed

God is at work on us through the celebration of the liturgy; it is primarily the work of God. And it is good to remind ourselves that God calls us to reach out to those in need, to "go" out to the world. This helps keep me balanced through all of this.

Thanks for listening today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Day in Atlanta and Now Frustration Abounds

Good Monday to you all.

Where do I begin?

First of all, I wanted to say what a delight it was to spend Friday and Saturday with the people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta for their Southeastern Liturgical Music Symposium. With the "text" having "arrived" on Friday, it was a perfect opportunity to talk about the pastoral and musical opportunities and challenges we face as the implementation looms. I enjoyed my conversations with these dedicated musicians. Atlanta's parishes are not unlike parishes in other areas of the country. Parishes celebrate the liturgy with an eclectic mix of musical style. The Mass we celebrated on Saturday Morning, the optional memorial of St. Pius X (how appropriate for a day focused on music!) included the Eucharistic acclamations chanted in Latin.

Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, the executive director of ICEL, presided and preached at the liturgy. He delivered the keynote address as well. He challenged composers and publishers to set the proper texts of the entrance and communion songs to music. We have been doing this, in a limited way, here at WLP for a number of years. Of course, there arise many questions about this. David Haas and I had some discussions about how this would practically work in parishes where the custom is to sing an extended song or hymn at gathering. How would it work in parishes where the communion procession lasts up to ten minutes? These are important questions.

Monsignor also challenged us to think about ways to encourage our celebrants to sing the Mass; the dialogues and the proper prayers, as well as perhaps the Eucharistic prayer. I heard quite a few snickers from those seated near me, with phrases such as, "Yah, that'll be the day," being overheard.

He also said that he lamented the fact that there is no universal set of sung acclamations for the English-speaking world. He told us how sad he is when he visits English-speaking countries and, at Mass, he cannot enter into the liturgy because he does not know the musical setting of, say, the Sanctus. As soon as he said this, I remembered the Mass we had just celebrated. The chant for the Sanctus (in Latin) was unknown to me, so I knew what he was feeling.

The two sessions that I lead—on the publisher's perspective of the implementation—went quite well. We talked about the pastoral issues with which these musicians will need to deal. We also took a good long look at some of WLP's new and revised musical settings. For most people, this was the first time they were singing the newly translated texts. It's always a great experience to share music with dedicated musicians like I found in Atlanta.

I'd also like to say that I am quite dismayed at the entire process of the "reception" of this new translation. I thought that once we received it, the publisher's nightmare would be over. But a new nightmare has begun. How is it that texts (the Order of Mass) that received the official recognitio in June of 2008, have now been changed?

I need to do some venting here, so please bear with me. Here is the text of Cardinal Arinze's letter to Cardinal Francis George, written in June of 2008:

Addressed to Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI
President of the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America

Prot. n. 1464/06/L
Rome, June 23, 2008

Your Eminence,
This Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is pleased to enclose the decree by which it has granted recognitio for the territory of your Conference of Bishops for the new English-language transaltion of significant parts of the Ordo Missae as found in the Missale Romanumeditio typica tertia, including most of those texts used in every celebration of Holy Mass.
This Dicastery has no little satisfaction in arriving at this juncture. Nevertheless, the Congregation does not intend that these texts should be put into liturgical use immediately. Instead, the granting now of the recognitio to this crucial segment of the Roman Missal will provide time for the pastoral preparation of priests, deacons and for appropriate catechesis of the lay faithful. It will likewise facilitate the devising of musical settings for the parts of the Mass, bearing in mind the criteria set forth in the Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam n. 60, which requires that the musical settings of liturgical texts use only the actual approved texts and never be paraphrased.
As regards the text enclosed, this Dicastery wishes to draw attention to the following points:
1. The attached text is to be considered binding. For its part, this Congregation is confident that the universal use of these texts will greatly contribute to the building up of the Faith throughout the broad and diverse English-speaking world.
2. It is to be borne in mind that use of this text is restricted by copyright. Therefore, all pertinent copyright legislation in civil law is to be observed in accordance with the statues which this Congregation approved for the Mixed Commission known as the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
3. Although the Mixed Commission took the initiative of distributing, along with these Parts of the Order of Mass, an adapted text of Eucharistic Prayer IV, Higher Authority has determined that as regards to either modification of the typical edition or the manner of translating it: non expedire.
4. Likewise, the Holy Father has decided that , in response to a recommendation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 2-23, 2005), a selection of additional formulae of dismissal for the faithful should be introduced in n. 144 of the Missale Romanum and consequently these are include in the attached text.

With every prayerful good wish, I remain
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal Arinze

When this letter arrived, we in the publishing world were quite happy that we could go to our composers with this new text for the Order of Mass and encourage them to begin composing new music for a new translation. We took this part of the letter very seriously: "It will likewise facilitate the devising of musical settings for the parts of the Mass." We moved ahead quite confidently, because the letter also said that "The attached text [the texts for the Order of Mass] is to be considered binding."

In an effort to be as helpful as we could to bishops and priests, WLP went ahead and secured permission from ICEL, paid them their appropriate royalties, and received the approval of the BCDW, as we went ahead and asked Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet to record the new "binding" texts of the Eucharistic Prayers.

What was received on Friday here in the United States, as well as in other English-speaking conferences around the world, is, in essence, a new text. What Cardinal Arinze wrote in 2008 was, and I hesitate to say this because of my love of and fidelity to the Church, simply a lie. 2008's text apparently was not a binding text. The recognitio was not a real recognitio.

What in heaven's name is going on here? Years and years of consultation with English-speaking bishops and their conferences around the world have occurred. The amount of money paid to translators, to other experts, and to those who facilitate the process of translation, as well as the money spent on travel and lodging for all the various meetings related to the translation, certainly must be in the millions. After all of this careful work, after all of the meetings of Catholic bishops during which the nuances of word meaning and grammar and syntax were hammered out over hours and hours of meetings, how is it that over ten thousand changes to the approved texts were made in these final months? This is extremely frustrating. Unfortunately, I think that people are just so tired of the whole thing that little protest will be heard. Might the bishops consider insisting on a new process to approve what amounts to a new translation?

Thanks for listening to my venting here.

We are scrambling now in this publishing house. We have had to return to our composers, who will need to re-write their musical settings of the doxologies to the Eucharistic Prayers. But we will do all this work because we exist to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

As you can tell, it has been a frustrating few days. I remain confident and hopeful, although my dedication to the Church is a bit bruised right now. Continue we must; and continue we will.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Singing and Praying Church That We All Love

This is my final post for this day. I was just over at Pray Tell and, like Father Anthony, I too am sitting at a desk pondering the happenings of the day and the past few years leading up to today.

I do need to spend time with the changed texts, which I will do in the coming days.

As you know, I am here in Atlanta readying for workshops on the new translation, which will happen tomorrow. We just finished dinner with the wonderful people from the Archdiocesan Office of Worship, and the conversation was lively. These kinds of experiences shape us in ways for which we can never fully prepare.

One of Father Anthony's final lines of his post tonight bears repeating here. Father, I hope you don't mind me quoting you:

"Remember, everyone: we all love the Church, we all love the liturgy, we all want the best for the People of God."

And with that, know of my own fervent prayer this night for this big Church of ours.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

New Roman Missal

Thanks to all of you for your comments today. I was in the air between Chicago and Atlanta when the news broke.

I want to assure you all that we at WLP are doing everything humanly possible to make the musical settings available to you as soon as possible. There is a bit of work still ahead of us. Please continue to be patient and please go over to Sing the New Mass to see and listen to samples of our new and revised musical settings of these newly translated (and now approved!) texts.

I am relieved, excited, a bit fearful, but overall glad that we have finally reached this moment.

And for that . . .

Gotta Sing. Gotta pray.

It's Here!

We just received this communication from the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship.

Yes, this is the update you've been waiting for!! We thank you for patience over these past several months, as together we have awaited the final text of the Roman Missal for the Dioceses of the United States.

This morning Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and USCCB President, announced to the body of bishops that we have received the final text of the Roman Missal. Implementation of the new text will take place, as anticipated, on the First Sunday of Advent, 2011 (November 27, 2011). A public announcement (in the form of a press release) will be at 12 noon EDT today.

In the coming weeks we will be working with the staff of the ICEL Secretariat to prepare the texts for transmittal to publishers. Please know that we are doing everything possible to assure a timely delivery of the text. We received the text in a series of Word files that must be reviewed for accuracy and consistency; then they must be assembled into a complete text. In addition, adaptations and proper texts for the Dioceses of the United States, which were returned separately in hardcopy form, must be integrated into the full texts. Please note that it will be some time before we can accurately determine the page count for the Missal, as the files do not at this time include musical notation, several optional elements (at the Conference's discretion), or in some cases, page breaks.

In the meantime you can access the final text of the Order of Mass on our website, www.usccb.org/romanmissal, which is being updated today to reflect the latest text. We draw your attention to a number of modifications made in the Order of Mass since its' original approval in 2008, some of which may affect musical settings of the Order of Mass and other catechetical resources already in print:

--the words of absolution in the Penitential Act have been modified (so that the text of the current Sacramentary is maintained);

--the addition of "I believe" at three points in the Profession of faith;

--several slight modifications to the texts of the Eucharistic Prayers;

--the final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer has been slightly altered.

Regarding adaptations for the Dioceses of the United States, you will notice in the Order of Mass that the acclamation "Christ has died" has not been approved. Musical settings of the Order of Mass must not include this acclamation. Alternate forms of the tropes for form C of the Penitential Act were approved. They will be contained in an appendix in the final text of the Missal.

With the final text, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued detailed publishing guidelines for the ritual text. We are currently reviewing those guidelines, and we will offer separate communication in the coming weeks with those who intend to publish ritual editions of the Missal.

We are well aware of publication deadlines, especially for those who publish seasonal and annual participation aids, and we are doing everything possible to expedite the transmittal of the texts. Hopefully we will be able to furnish at least some texts very soon, but in the meantime, know that the text of the Order of Mass is available on our website.

We are grateful for your collaboration and your faithful service to the Church as we work together to bring the Roman Missal to successful implementation.

God's peace,

Msgr. Anthony Sherman and Fr. Rick Hilgartner

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Voices at the Table

Hello everyone, and welcome to this edition of "New Translation Thursday."

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for Atlanta to speak on Saturday at the 2010 Southeastern Liturgical Music Symposium. The keynote speaker is Fr. Andrew Wadsworth, the executive director of ICEL. Then there are several of us giving workshops, including David Haas, yours truly, Will Breytpraak, and Jeffrey Tucker. The informational material from the Archdiocese of Atlanta describes the event in this way: "The symposium will focus on the opportunities and challenges presented to liturgical musicians by the new translation of the Roman Missal."

Folks, I can't wait for this event. I have been looking forward to it for months and I also look forward to sharing the experience with you, the faithful followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

Having these five speakers on the same program is quite interesting, to say the least. The people in attendance will have quite an assortment of flavors on their plates as they sample the views of the presenters. I believe we are all meeting for dinner tomorrow evening. For those of you who know this slate of speakers, you must be as intrigued as I am about the direction that the conversation will take.

I think what the Archdiocese of Atlanta is doing is a good thing. Over the past several years, as we have talked about the implementation of the new translation, I have come to the realization—more and more with the passing of each day—that this is a big Church. There is room for chant settings of the Mass parts in English; there is room for chant settings of the Mass parts in Latin; there is room for Gospel-style settings of the Mass parts; there is room for contemporary music settings of the Mass parts; there is room for SATB settings with organ, brass, and timpani; there is room for musical settings for two-part choirs with C-instruments; there is room for the resuscitation of some of the earlier musical settings of the Mass; there is room for the work of new composers. What I have come to believe is that there is no room for an ideology that prefers one of these styles exclusively over another. For instance, this is what I mean: while one may believe that the Church has stated emphatically that chanting the Mass parts in Latin is the only option, or that at Entrance and Communion only the proper antiphons should be sung, pushing this position to the extreme will prove to be more alienating than helpful. The same is true of those who would push any style.

This is why I think the exchange among the speakers at the symposium will be so interesting. And I think that there will be many surprises at the table. Even though I do not know Will Breytspraak at all, I do know that the others are dedicated Catholic men to the core. And this dedication is what drives all of our work. And my hope is that our conversations are much more about serving the Church and much less about ideologies.

For those of you who read this blog only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it might be a good idea to check these pages tomorrow as well. Remember that Fridays are the days that we publishers receive our updates from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship regarding the state of affairs with respect to the new translation. Maybe tomorrow will be a day with more substantial news?

Even though tomorrow is a travel day for me, there will be a posting. Please pray for safety for all travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Translation Wednesday!

Hello everyone. Me deep apologies about yesterday. I actually did post something, written from my phone in the Baltimore airport as I awaited my flight. I hit the "publish post" button and everything I had typed with my thumbs on my tiny keyboard was wiped away. Just didn't have the time and energy to type it all out again.

And thanks to those of you who were kind enough to inquire about whether or not I am OK. All is fine here. Thanks for your loyalty and concern.

So today's edition of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray is a new twist: "New Translation Wednesday."

As many of you know, last week I was asked to speak with some priests here in the Archdiocese of Chicago about the issues surrounding the new translation. One of those priests wrote about the experience in his "notes from the pastor" area of the parish bulletin. Here's an excerpt from the column that he entitles "Isn't Prayer a Discovery?":

Isn’t Prayer a Discovery?

Older folks will remember that 50 years ago the mass was celebrated in Latin. After the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) prayers were translated into English and other languages. At that time, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) was charged with translating into English prayers that had been prayed only in Latin for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Within a very brief period, ICEL needed to compile liturgical prayers, which generations of Catholic Christians took centuries to gather together.

Those of us who for the past 50 years have only known the Mass celebrated in English may have a hard time understanding why it is being changed. We love the Mass. The prayers have become familiar to us. They have become so much a part of our fabric that we instinctively know how to respond. We find ourselves reflecting throughout the week on prayers we have heard during the mass. Certainly, the prayer of the Church in English that we have been praying and singing for the past 50 years is dear to us.

So, why change? We must acknowledge that this was the same question many who loved mass in Latin asked before the prayers were translated! We seldom welcome change and often avoid it whenever possible. However, we all have the experience of something wonderful happening because of the changes in our life that we have most tried to escape. After 50 years, those studying the liturgy have become aware that something of the richness of prayers composed since the ancient beginnings of the church is missing. After all, the translations we now pray were composed only within a few short years. Certainly, so much of the richness is already within the translations we now use. But the liturgy is being translated again to insert the richness that our collective Christian Conscience finds missing.

I need to tell you that this particular pastor was one of those that was most adamantly against the idea of the new translation. A few days after the meeting, he sent me a brief e-mail. Here is what he had to say:

"Hi Jerry. I just finished reading the introduction to Fr. Paul Turner's book by Bishop Roche that you left with us. Along with our discussion Monday, it has helped me understand and feel better about this translation business. I am almost even excited! Thanks for sharing it."

Folks, I have a feeling that with the right kind of honest dialogue with our bishops and priests, one of the great things that may come out of this whole "translation business" might just be a real liturgical renewal among these men. To be reminded and then once again take to heart that one of their primary roles is to be for us that person who is in persona Christi capitis is a real gift for the Church. Taking seriously the responsibility to pray texts in the liturgy can only result in a fuller and more meaningful celebration of Mass. We still need to wonder if the actual translation might get in the way at times. Only the actual experience of praying these texts will or will not bear that out. Even if there are moments of stumbling, a priest or bishop re-dedicated to studying and preparing these texts for liturgical proclamation and public prayer will be a gift to the liturgical reform begun by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

Today, as that day for the reception of the texts draws near, I am hopeful. Let's keep the dialogue open and honest as we move forward.

Again, thanks for understanding about yesterday. Hopefully I am back on track now.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

What Makes Your Heart Leap for Joy?

Happy Monday to you all.

First of all, a response to those of you who have asked about Thursday's post. I removed it, and cannot share any other details.

I was the substitute musician at the two Masses at Saint James yesterday. First of all, I thought it was wonderful that the Feast of the Assumption landed on Sunday this year. The readers were well prepared and the word of God came alive at our Masses. In his homily, our pastor related a story about a man on the facilities committee in the parish. The committee met on Saturday morning and when the man was leaving, he noticed a very long line, with well over three hundred people in it, that snaked its way out of our parking lot and along 29th Street. These were people waiting for food from the Mobile Food Pantry, which is at Saint James once per month. When the man returned to his home, he phoned the pastor, telling him what a joy it was to see so many people served by the volunteers working in the Mobile Food Pantry. The pastor told us that this man's heart leapt for joy when he saw all of this outreach. Of course, the comparison was to the Gospel story of the Visitation, where Elizabeth tells Mary that the babe in her womb leapt for joy when Mary's greeting sounded in her ears.

We were then asked to reflect on this question: What or who makes your heart leap for joy? This is a question I have been pondering since yesterday. Immediately what came to mind were my friends and family, my parish, and the people with whom I work and have the privilege to lead here at World Library Publications. When I was praying the rosary in my spin class this morning, my prayer was one of simple gratitude. I thought about how many people came to me after Sunday Mass and thanked me for the meditation music I played toward the end of the Communion procession. I played an improvisation on Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above. One man came up to me after the 11:30 and said that he had learned that hymn fifty years ago on this very spot; at Saint James school. He thanked me profusely for the rendering.

I guess what really makes my heart leap for joy is when I use the gifts that God has given me perhaps to let others' hearts experience the presence of Christ. So, as my legs spun round and round this morning, I thanked the Blessed Virgin Mary for her "yes," which made all of this possible.

I hope your week has begun on a grateful note as well.

Here's a snippet for you from my CD, Shall We Gather. I hope you enjoy it.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday and a Loss for Words

This is definitely one of those TGIF kind of Fridays.

It is usually on Fridays that we hear from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, if there is any news to share about the new translation. But no word yet today, so I guess there is no news to share.

My tenth grade English teacher once looked at one of the more chatty members of the class and delivered this warning: "Debra, God has only given you a set number of words to speak in your lifetime; I have the feeling that you are coming close to exhausting your entire life's supply; now quit the chatter!" You know what, folks? I think it has finally happened. I have wondered if the time would ever come on this blog that I ran out of words. It has been one of those weeks that has my brain very tired and I just don't have the wherewithal (isn't that a great word?) to post a long blog post today. So, forgive me, folks.

My hope for you today is the same I hope I share each Friday. May your weekend celebration of Mass bring you closer to the Lord, who is so good.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"They know what those sounds mean . . ."

Wednesday is here; thanks for visiting Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

This morning at my spin class at the gym, I spent the hour spinning my 52 year-old legs round and round on the bicycle, all the while spinning the Hail Mary's, the Our Father's, and the Glory Be's, as I prayed decade after decade of the rosary. The focus of my prayer this morning was for the family of a young girl killed here in Chicago last night. Here is a snippet from the news story:

"A young girl was killed and her cousin was injured as they jumped rope when gunfire erupted Tuesday in Roseland. The two girls—Tanaja Stokes and Ariana Jones—were shot by two men on bicycles about 7:55 P.M. near Indiana and 107th, according to relatives. Tanaja was killed. "They know what those sounds mean. And they know to run. But [Tanaja] didn't get a chance to run," said Minnie Wise, the girls' cousin.

Chicago has seen more than its share of senseless violence over the past few years. Innocent children, like Tanaja, become the victims too often. When I read the news report, it was the words of Minnie that really struck me, the words referring to the sound of gunfire: "They know what those sounds mean, And they know to run." Can you imagine what it is like growing up and one of the things that you need to be taught is to run when you hear "those sounds?"  They were taught the things that you and I were taught growing up as well; how to be kind, how to make your own bed, how to get dressed for school, how to brush your teeth, how to fix your hair, how to focus on your homework, how to help put away the groceries, how to jump rope. And, how, when you hear "those sounds," you gotta run.

This is just plain sad, folks. I don't know what else I can do but pray at this time of pain for this family and for this suffering city of Chicago.

Please take a moment out of your day, perhaps right at this moment, and close your eyes and pray for Tanaja Stokes and her family.

Although it's difficult at times, we gotta sing and we gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Our Priests

Welcome to this week's edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

As you know, yesterday I facilitated a meeting with a group of about twelve priests from one of the deaneries here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. They asked me to come and facilitate a discussion about the upcoming new translation of the Missale Romanum.

A few impressions.

I felt privileged to be a part of this holy conversation. Each priest, without exception, showed concern for the prayer lives of those entrusted to their care.

There was much discussion about the "universal" dimension to the prayer of the Church. This was a good conversation. I know this might get some of the readers of this blog a bit riled up, but I did offer this to them:

We have to be careful when we play the "universal" card—that these prayers must be prayed exactly, word-for-word, because they are the officially translated prayers of the English-speaking Church—the "universal" Church. This is a value and is absolutely a Roman Catholic principle. But we cannot stop there. If this were the only principle to which were to hold priests and bishops accountable as they celebrate Mass, I believe that the Church's liturgical life would be in a sorry state. I reminded the priests about the group of Catholics for whom the EWTN style of celebration is the norm against which they hold the celebration style of the priests and pastors in their parishes accountable. I also reminded them that papal liturgies often become the same kind of norm. For the vast majority of these celebrations, the celebrant, included our beloved pope, prays the Mass in a less-than-engaging matter. Their ars celebrandi is reflected in getting all the words exactly right, whether they be in Latin or in English. This serves the principle of the universality of the Church's prayer quite well. It is Roman Catholic through and through. But, dare we ask, "Where is the life in the prayer?" The liturgy is the work of God, but God works through the hands, hearts, postures, and voices of his people. A detached celebrant—detached from any semblance of human feeling—makes me a detached worshiper. It makes the celebration of the paschal mystery appear remote. The priests with whom I spoke are fearful that the "detached, say the words exactly as they appear" type of expression of the ars celebrandi is what is being expected of them. I think this is a legitimate fear. And I don't believe that this is what is being asked of them.

One of the priests in attendance stated that for most of his priestly life, he has not said the words from the Sacramentary exactly as they appear in the book. He told us that he feels that he is called to make adaptations to address the needs of his parishioners. Can we fault this dedicated priest for his love and concern for his people? Frankly, I did not know how to respond. I simply said that if we are wondering what the Church is asking of celebrants with the impending new translation; it is surely clear that the Church is not asking for an ad libitum approach to celebrating the Mass.

Another priest said that it seems that the approach he has taken to the presidential prayers at Mass since his ordination will have to change. He told the group that he does not need now even to look at these prayers before Mass because he knows that when the altar server opens the Sacramentary in front of him at Mass, the style of the language of prayer will be familiar enough that it simply flows naturally. He wondered what the new translation might mean for his approach. It was at this point that I had to put my own "view-from-the-pew" two cents in (or, perhaps in this case it was more like a dollar twenty-nine!) In a genuinely pleading tone, I talked about my "right and duty" as a baptized Catholic. I quoted Sacrosanctum Concilium, saying that as a baptized Catholic, I have a right and duty to participate in the liturgy with fully conscious and active participation. This right hinges so much on the active participation that is listening. For this, I rely on the priest to pray the prayers, not just say the prayers. I told them that the days of "rolling out of bed" and into the Sacramentary are coming to an end. I also said that I believed that the advent of the new translation is asking nothing new of celebrants at Mass; the Church's expectation has always been the same. God uses these real flesh-and-blood men to use all of their gifts to pray the prayers with life and conviction.

I know I am going on and on here, but there is one more thing I'd like to share. I told the priests about Paul Turner's upcoming book with us here at WLP, Pastoral Companion to the Roman Missal. I did not have the manuscript with me at the meeting, but I did recall a few places in Paul Turner's commentary about some prayers—either lost over the centuries, or fallen into non-usage—that were recovered for the current Missal. When I told the priests that they would be praying some prayers from the Church's liturgical treasury that had never been even uttered in the English language, their interest piqued. I likened what they would be asked to do with these texts to a real experience I had of a celebrant a few years ago. Father Cyprian Davis, OSB, was the "guest" celebrant at Sunday Mass at our parish. When it came time for him to pray the Opening Prayer, he said "Let us pray." He then bowed his head in silence. When he opened his mouth to pray the text from the Sacramentary, I was stunned. I don't know how else to say it except that it seemed like he was birthing the text right then and there. It was as if he were sharing the most precious thing with us for the first time. He did the same with every other prayer at Mass, including the Eucharistic Prayer. I have seldom been more drawn into the celebration of the Mass than I was that day. I told the priests at the meeting that this was precisely what they are being asked to do; to give birth to a new translation in the midst of God's people; and these words have the potential for salvation, right then and there; right at the moment that they are prayed for God's people.

Folks, it was an exhilarating and exhausting afternoon all at the same time. I don't want our priests and bishops to feel as if the advent of the new translation means that they are being asked to turn into sacramental and liturgical automatons. Far from this, the advent of the new translation—I hope—will lead to a discovery, or rediscovery (as the case may be) of the real art of celebrating the Mass for these priests. We look for a new dawn of liturgical engagement, a synergy among the realities of text, celebrant, music, and people. It is within the life that is generated through this synergy that God's work of mercy, love, and reconciliation in Christ takes root, blossoms, and grows day after day, Mass after Mass, year after year, until our voices are joined with countless hosts of angels in that eternal "Hosanna!"

Thanks for listening today. I am thanking God for my Catholic faith today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ten Priests: All Ten See No Need for the New Translation—Your Comments, Please!

Happy Monday to one and all.

This afternoon I have the privilege of meeting with ten priests from one of the deaneries here in the Archdiocese of Chicago to facilitate a roundtable discussion. They meet regularly and over the past several years one topic of conversation has understandably been the new English translation of The Roman Missal. I have been invited in to help provide an opportunity for them to move from the complaining phase to a new phase. I have been told that "not one priest of the Deanery gives his personal approval for the need for a new translation—and there is some resentment and fear." I do not know their individual reasons for this; I do not know how long these men have been ordained nor their ages. It is something that ten of the ten do not give approval for the need for a new translation. It should be an interesting afternoon.

I am not sure exactly what it is they are expecting me to bring to their conversation. The leader of this group of priests said that they are at the point now of asking these questions: "What do we need to do to 'get on board'? What will this new translation ask of us as presiders? Is it asking something different than we are offering now as presiders?"

How would you answer these questions? Feel free to comment and I will bring your comments to the meeting this afternoon. If you are unable to place a comment below, feel free to e-mail me directly:

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Look for the Gems in This Great Garden

Friday has dawned warm and dry here in Chicago.

Chinatown here in Chicago is one of my favorite places in the city. A few nights ago, after eating a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants, I noticed a sign directing people to "Ping Tom Park." I didn't know that there was a park in Chinatown. I followed the signs, which led me to a beautifully tranquil park that had been constructed along the south branch of the Chicago river. This is an area that is surrounded by warehouses, train trestles, and many bridges. It is about as urban as you can get. Yet, built here is this wonderful park. Here are a few photos I took.

Discovering these hidden gems is what makes living in a city like Chicago such a great experience. I'll never forget the first time I discovered another one of those gems, the Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool in Lincoln Park. I was riding my bike along the lakefront one day and saw this tiny entrance off of the street. It was an "Alice in Wonderland" kind of experience. When I walked through the tiny entrance, this is what opened before my eyes:

I share these experiences with you today to urge you always to be on the lookout for these gems that we too often overlook. God's given us such a garden to tend here on this planet. I hope you discover more beautiful places and spaces in that garden.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Translation Thursday: The "New Zealand Plan"

Hello everyone, and a special welcome to those who are newcomers to Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

I'd like to take the time today, on this "New Translation Thursday," to talk about what is happening in New Zealand.

I received an e-mail this morning from the national liturgy office in New Zealand. I knew that their bishops were meeting last week to discuss a partial roll-out for the implementation of the new English translation of the Missale Romanum. This morning's e-mail confirmed that the New Zealand bishops indeed have decided on such a plan. They will be introducing the peoples' parts of the Order of Mass on the First Sunday of Advent (Sunday, November 28, 2010), a mere 115 days from today!

At first, I thought that this was not a wise move. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that there is wisdom here. What will essentially happen in New Zealand will look something like this. For a period of time, the people will be singing and praying the new translation of the Gloria, the Sanctus, and the Memorial Acclamations. I don't know what their plans are for the dialogues, the creed, nor the other changed peoples' spoken texts (Confiteor, "Lord, I am not worthy"). So, some of the peoples' parts will be prayed and sung in new translation, while the other texts remain in the current translation. Rather than a wholesale new translation being received all at once, New Zealand English-speaking Catholics will have a period of time to get used to the texts they pray most often. Then, in another year or two (perhaps), the other texts (Entrance and Communion Songs, Collects, Prayers over the Gifts, Prefaces, Eucharistic Prayers, Post-communion Prayers, blessings, and other presidential texts) will be introduced. In other words, the priest will use the current Missal for the interim period, with the people praying and singing their responses with the new texts. Then, when the new Missal is published, the priest will begin praying the new translation of all other texts.

This kind of approach (a partial roll-out) has been suggested here in the United States over the last few years. It doesn't look like this is what will happen here, as has been indicated by our own liturgical leaders.

So, what do you think of the "New Zealand Plan?"

Looking forward to sharing your comments with the world.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sister Denise Mosier: The Heroism of Consecrated Religious Women

What a weather morning here in Chicago. Went to the gym for my 6:00 A.M. spin class, and when I tried to get to the car, all heck broke loose. Thunder, lightning, and rain, rain, rain. It's been quite a few weeks here in Chicago.

Did you read the story about the religious sister who was killed by a drunk driver? There were two other sisters in the car as well, and they remain hospitalized. You can read the story here and here.

It seems that the intoxicated man (Carlos Montano) was an illegal immigrant. Local and federal authorities are using the incident to point out flaws in current immigration laws. While this incident surely shows some inherent problems, the real crux of the story for Catholics (and others) is in the response by the deceased sister's convent.

This is the statement released by the convent: "The Benedictine Sisters are dismayed and saddened that this tragedy has been politicized, and become an apparent forum for the illegal immigration agenda." The spokesperson, Sister Andrea Verchuck, said that she would rather focus on the needless tragedies caused by drinking and driving, and on forgiveness, in memory of Sister Denise Mosier. Sister Andrea went on to say this: "If she had been conscious at the time that she was taken from the wreck, if Carlos had been there, she would have said, 'Carlos, I forgive you.' "

Here's photo of Sister Denise Mosier. Look carefully at the words she is pointing to on the chalkboard, as well as the other words:

When I read stories like this, stories that remind us of the Christian heroism of religious sisters like Sisters Denise and Andrea, I am moved beyond words. I often wake up each morning and wonder how Christ will be made present to me in the unfolding of the day's events. Today, Christ was made present through the witness of these consecrated women.

When my life takes strange turns and I fall into sinfulness, I often am filled with doubt, doubt as to whether or not forgiveness is even possible. The words of Sister Andrea stand as a reminder today that, just as Sister Denise would have said "Carlos, I forgive you," so does the Lord look squarely at me, his beloved sinner, and say "Jerry, I forgive you."

In the words of Saint Julie Billiart, another one of my heroes (the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur), "Ah, qu'il est bon, le bon Dieu!" Ah, how good is the good God.

Sister Denise Mosier, may the angels lead you into paradise, may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.

And Carlos Montano, may you know how good is our good, loving, and forgiving God.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Ecclesial and Liturgical

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday." I am getting the sense that Tuesdays and Thursdays on this blog are getting to be like "optional memorials." Thanks for your continued interest in these blog posts.

I want to begin today by publicly (at least in a virtual way) expressing my own gratitude to the good people at the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship in Washington. Both Monsignor Tony Sherman and Father Rick Hilgartner (as well as one of my favorite people, Sister Clelia Cecchetti) have always been so helpful to us here at World Library Publications. A word that comes to mind, a word that describes the work of that office, during this whole translation process is "transparent." I believe that the staff at the BCDW envision their work primarily as a real ministry to the people of the United States and beyond. While what is going on in Rome with the still-in-process English translation of the Missale Romanum is veiled in wonder and second-guessing, the people at BCDW have been transparent as they keep the needs of the worshiping community at heart. I just want them to know that at least this Catholic publisher appreciates their communiques, even when there is no news to report. It just helps keep us all in the loop. It also underscores the fact that we are all partners along this journey of a new translation.

While I was in Omaha last week, the Archbishop, George Lucas (picture above), delivered the keynote address to the RCIA teams gathered on Saturday. He did touch on the new English translation and asked the people to approach the entire implementation with the attitude of "reception." While he admitted that there will be many questions and that people will have a heightened sense of anxiety about the new translation, he urged the members of RCIA teams to help people "receive" the new texts with a sound pastoral approach. I was gratified to hear him say that this whole things is much more an ecclesial issue than a liturgical issue when it comes down to it. This is what I have been saying since day one.

Those seeking baptism or reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church will undoubtedly be hearing about the new translation during the initiation process, both from their parish and from various media outlets. Their questions will have little to do with the usual questions that will be surfaced, questions such as, "Why are they changing the texts of the Mass with which I have grown so accustomed?" For them, the implementation—or reception—will will provide a marvelous opportunity for catechesis. This will be a very practical example to show them the ways that a hierarchical institution like the Church actually functions worldwide. Becoming a member of the body of Christ in the Roman Catholic Communion is not the same as becoming a member of the First Church of the Covenant on Main Street in Assonet, Massachusetts. It points to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is not run like the local independent denomination nor like the town or city government. I believe that catechumens and candidates might just be fascinated by the whole new English translation issue. They may ask a legitimate question, such as, "What am I getting myself into here? This is not like anything else on earth!" What a great moment for catechesis! The approach will, obviously, need to be double-pronged, since they, along with everyone else, will need to be taught to sing and pray a new translation.

I am not suggesting that we in initiation ministry "use" the new translation as a moment to teach absolute blind fidelity to the magisterium of the Church. But I do think it provides an opportunity for us to invite catechumens and candidates into an adult discussion about how the Church "works." And I don't believe that we should cut off all their questions. Catholics should—and must—engage in a healthy dialogue about the new translation. Those about to enter the Church should not be shielded from this healthy dialogue. But, in the end, the way we approach them should be the way we approach all in our congregations; with honesty and humility. This is not an easy task for many of us (I count myself among this group). But I still hold that this is a great moment of potential renewal of the liturgy; not a "reform of the reform," but a continuation of the liturgical renewal inaugurated before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council.

Thanks for your comments yesterday. And please, feel free to add your own voice to this discussion by clicking on the comments tab below.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 2, 2010

RCIA: Time to Stop Doing What You Are Doing

A good Monday to you all. I hope your weekend was a good one.

I wanted to share some photos of the interior of Christ the King church in Omaha, where the RCIA workshops were held on Friday and Saturday:

I also had the chance to play their 40 rank Reuter organ—just wonderful! You can just about see the pipes in the gallery in this photo:

My focus for the two days (one day with clergy, the next with RCIA teams) was on recapturing the originating vision for the RCIA as elucidated by the Second Vatican Council, in its document on the Church's missionary activity, Ad Gentes.

I have been doing presentations such as these all over the United States and Canada for about ten years. Dioceses are keenly interested in sharing this vision with the people involved in Christian initiation. This vision—that the catechumenate is not merely a "course" in Catholic teaching—is critical to the full implementation of the rite. The Council envisioned the RCIA as more of a hands-on school of discipleship, a real apprenticeship in the whole Christian life. This is played out in the RCIA text itself through the four-pronged approach to Christian formation, found in Paragraph 75: 1. Formation through catechesis (Handing on the Sacred Word and tradition); 2. Formation in and through the Christian community; 3. Formation in liturgical prayer; 4. Formation in apostolic service and witness. I am convinced more and more that most (90% plus) of RCIA processes in the United States and Canada focus almost exclusively on the first prong. Formation through catechesis is alive and well. Just Google "RCIA Schedule" and you will see what I mean. Parish after parish after parish offers a syllabus of topics, arranged systematically over the course of several months. In many places, there are creative ways that this catechesis is offered, i.e. various approaches with the Catholic Catechism, with the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, with various adult learning models, with Christian witness talks, with the use of all kinds of hand-outs to help with understanding and appropriating God's word and the Tradition of the Church. But, for these 90% plus parishes, this is where it stops. I am getting to the point now of telling people in these parishes (who are unwilling to take steps to embrace the other three pillars of Christian formation) to stop calling what they are doing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults; clearly a course in Catholic teaching is not the RCIA; is not what the Second Vatican Council envisioned.

People tell me time and again how moved they are by the way I present the Council's vision for the catechumenate; the apprenticeship approach. They buy my book (Apprenticed to Christ: Activities for Practicing the Catholic Way of Life), and then they tell me that they don't move their initiation processes beyond the programmatic teaching approach.

Is there hope that the RCIA (the catechumenate as envisioned by the Church) will be implemented in the United States and Canada? Even this eternal optimist is beginning to have his own serious doubts. All I can do is chip away very slowly at the entrenched mentality.

Here's the way I see it. For decades and decades (before the Second Vatican Council), the approach to formation of the unbaptized and those already baptized persons wishing to enter the Catholic Church was the convert class model. The parish priest, or a consecrated religious held these classes and "taught" the faith. The Second Vatican Council came along and restored the catechumenate, the ancient process of gradual formation leading to conversion and to the celebration of the sacraments. When diocesan and parish leaders discovered that there was this mandated way to "bring people into the church," they sent people for training, particularly through the institutes offered by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. The great gift of these institutes, for the most part, has been a wonderful renewal of the liturgical rites that are part of the initiation process. Somehow, though, the Forum's push of the four-fold approach to Christian formation, has largely been ignored, in my opinion. Very early on, those who had religious education degrees, or who had taught for years, were made the leaders in Christian initiation. Rather than looking at the expressed wishes of the Church with respect to the "school for discipleship"—the apprenticeship model—these leaders, I believe, simply took the convert class model a step further and, instead of one person doing the teaching, the responsibilities were spread out through a "catechumenate team." So, in essence, we are now doing largely what the Fathers of the Council warned against : "The catechumenate is not a mere exposition of dogmatic truths and norms of morality, but a period of formation in the whole Christian life; an apprenticeship of sufficient duration during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher." In place of convert classes taught by the priest, we now have convert classes taught by a group consisting of the clergy, consecrated religious, and, for the most part, lay ecclesial ministers. And this model continues to be passed along to new members of initiation teams, who know little or nothing of the originating vision for the catechumenate.

People often express their concerns about the RCIA in this way: "What happens to these people after their initiation? Sometimes I don't see these people six months later." Or, as I heard on Saturday, "We all know that the percentage of those who fall away after the RCIA is very high."

Hello!? If it is true that many people drift away after having spent time in our classes, might we consider it possible that the way we are doing initiation might just have something to do with this? What happens after one spends time in other kinds of classes? Simple—one graduates and one does not have to return until future class reunions. This is why the classroom approach to initiation has little chance of actually accomplishing initiation into the Catholic Church. Why? Because the Catholic Church is not a classroom; it is the living breathing Body of Christ that believes, celebrates, prays, parties, laughs, cries, and helps continue to build the kingdom of God in this weary world.

I am not going to apologize today for this rather dismal portrayal of the state of the RCIA in the United States and Canada. Something's gotta change. How can we hope for a changed world when all we are doing in most initiation process is cranking out students of Catholic teaching who, by and large, do not ever become involved in real Catholic living?

I sense another book on the horizon. Somebody has to start telling it like it is. Recently I have begun naming my talks on apprenticeship "Re-inventing the RCIA." Maybe the title needs to be stronger: "Stop Doing What You Are Doing in the RCIA: Start Over."

Thanks for listening to this too-long post today. Initiation is at the center of my passion for the Church; hence my long expression of disappointment.

Still . . . gotta sing. Gotta pray.