Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Siracusan Surprises

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

I want to relate one of my liturgical experiences while I was in Sicily. I recently reconnected with a seminary classmate via Facebook. Fr. Vincenzo Marino is now pastor of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Siracusa, a city on the east coast of Sicily. I attended a 7:00 P.M. Sunday Mass at his parish. Here is a shot of the interior of the church.


The church was packed for Mass. This parish has 18,000 plus members. The church was built just a few years ago. I immediately started looking for the tabernacle when I arrived. There was no tabernacle in the main church space. There was a chapel for the reservation of the Eucharist:



It surprised me—given all the talk here in the United States about moving tabernacles back onto "main altars," "front and center," etc.—to see a reservation chapel very distinct from the main church. Fr. Marino said that this was not an issue. I asked him about the approval process for new church designs in Italy. He told me that the parish comes up with three architects' designs and then they are submitted to the metropolitan see, who makes the final decision. I asked him who the metropolitan see for Siracusa, Sicily was. He told me "Rome." How interesting.

The people enthusiastically prayed and sang the Mass. Fr. Marino chanted several of the celebrant's texts. The responses by the people just fell off their tongues. It was a vibrant and spirit-filled liturgy. The people sang with gusto; no hymnals, no missals, no worship aids.

I couldn't help but think about how this kind of congregation would deal with a new Italian translation of the Missale Romanum. It brought the issue right back to square one for me. Our current translation certainly just falls off my own tongue and the tongues of millions of us in the English-speaking world. It is going to take some hard work of unlearning and relearning these new texts. And with all the confusion surrounding the thousands of last minute changes that were not approved by the various English-speaking conferences of bishops, I wonder if the process of the reception of the translation has been tainted, making the work that is ahead of us all the more difficult.

After Mass at St. Anthony in Siracusa I was in for another surprise. There was an infant baptized after Mass. Take a look. In this photograph you will see the parents undressing the baby (on the far right):



And in this one you will see what happens next:




That's right. Baptism by full immersion. It was glorious. Good liturgy. Good praying. Good singing. And all of this in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I was in heaven!

Well, that's enough for now. Thanks for your patience. I usually blog much earlier in the day, but there is lots to do around here these days, as you can well imagine.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jerry...when I was working at Holy Family in Kirkland, WA about 98% of the infant baptisms were done in similar fashion. All of the baptisms were done during Mass and the babies would arrive at the font naked. Then the mother and father would sit the child in the water (about up to its mid section) while the priest poured water from a pitcher over the baby three times. Then the dad would lift the baby up and hold it aloft for all to see! Those were some of the best baptisms of my life! -Geoff