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
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 Romanum, editio 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.