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.