Friday, October 29, 2010

"2010" Text: My Gut Sense About the Bishops

I hope your Friday is going well.

I flew to Houston this morning. I am presenting a workshop tomorrow for RCIA ministers here in the Archdiocese; the day is focused on the period of purification and enlightenment (Lent) in the RCIA. It just so happens that there is an organ recital on the new Pasi pipe organ this evening in the co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart here in Houston. I will be the guest of several members of the Archdiocesan staff; should be quite an evening.

Here's an exterior view of the cathedral:

And a view of the organ loft:

Phillippe Lefebvre, titular organist at Notre Dame in Paris, will be playing the concert. I am really looking forward to a delightful evening.

I did want to make a comment about the 2008/2010 missal texts. Many of us have asked where the English-speaking bishops are with respect to what is going on. I want to say that, in my gut, I just know that there must be bishops who are speaking out—maybe not publicly—about this issue. We just don't know how all of this stuff works with respect to communications with the Vatican. It is my hope that there are bishops who have joined their voices together to express displeasure at what has happened with the text. It seems impossible that these men, many of whom dedicated so much time and energy to approve the final translation, could be sitting idly by while this very problematic translation (2010) begins to become available for inspection. Let's give these leaders the benefit of the doubt for now, yes?

Comments welcome.

Please say a prayer for safe travels tomorrow evening, back to Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Translation Thursday: "To Love the Things of Heaven"

Welcome to this latest installment of "New Translation Thursday."

What a few weeks this has been, wouldn't you say? Thanks to all who have provided comments here on the blog. I want you to know how much I appreciate words of encouragement; they mean a lot to me.

I want to be clear about the intention of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. This blog is meant to be a forum for people who are interested in issues surrounding liturgy, music, Christian initiation, and catechesis. For the most part, I publish the vast majority of comments that come my way. By publishing them, I am in no way endorsing the opinions contained therein. My aim here is to provide a place where honest dialogue can ensue; and that has certainly been true regarding the new translation.

Examining my friend Fr. Anthony Ruff's blog, I find myself getting more and more concerned about what is going on with the so-called "2010 text." Over the past several years I have been saying that my strong belief is that the peoples' parts of the Mass will be received with some frustration (change always does that), as well as a sense of joy and satisfaction by some. The vast majority of Catholics will pray and sing the new translation in time. Composers have done a great service to the Church as they have spent so much time and energy composing new musical settings that will assist in the reception. The chant settings (both those in the Missal itself, as well as those chant settings recently composed—listen to Richard Proulx's Gloria Simplex at the bottom right hand corner of this page of will help the text land in the minds and hearts of Catholics.

The biggest concern I have had throughout the translation process has been for bishops and priests who will be entrusted with praying the collects, prayers over the gifts, post-communion prayers, as well as the other "presidential" texts. The so-called "2008 text" presented many challenges for celebrants. Bishops and priests would have needed to spend much time examining these texts before they were proclaimed, probing their meaning, and then practicing out loud so that the meaning was communicated to the greatest extent possible. Father Anthony's post yesterday included this "leaked" text from the changes made since 2008, into what is now referred to as the "2010 text."

Here's the post-communion prayer for the First Sunday of Advent in the 2008 text:

May the mysteries we have celebrated
profit us, we pray, O Lord,
for even now, as we journey
through this passing world,
you teach us by them
to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what will endure.
Through Christ our Lord.

Obviously, the phrase "you teach us by them" refers to the "mysteries we have celebrated," uttered in the first line of the prayer. Celebrants would have needed to have spent time practicing this prayer so that the full meaning was communicated.

The so-called "2010 text" takes this prayer and changes it to this:

May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.
Through Christ our Lord.

"Xavier Rindfleisch" over on Pray Tell does a much better job than I ever could at commenting on this new text. I just can't figure out a way to proclaim it in such a way as to communicate that the "them" referred to in the line "you teach us by them" actually refers to "these mysteries." Because the line follows immediately upon the words "passing things," the "them" just naturally sounds like it is referring to those "passing things." This seems to be a case where we are asking bishops and priests to do the impossible. This just can't make it's way into the Missal.

I want also to add to the discussion the current Sacramentary's translation:

may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope
guide our way on earth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

I know there are some who have called our current translation "pedestrian," but frankly, I would rather "walk" with this text than what has been proposed for 2010. I have to admit, though, that our current Sacramentary translation is weak, especially when one looks at the 2008 translation, which I find quite inspiring, although it will take practice by bishops and priests to pray this text well.

Gosh, folks, these are strange times, aren't they? So many are asking the simple question, "What's going on?" And we have reports about meetings in Rome, but most everything is veiled in mystery right now.

And, through all of this, I want to say that these prayers are more important than ever. I, for one, want to "to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what will endure." My opinion? The 2008 text, at least for this one prayer for this one particular Sunday, looks like it will endure. But not the 2010 text.

Whether we want to admit it or not, these prayers have the potential to transform hearts. I believe to the bottom of my heart that when these texts are proclaimed, God's work of salvation continues in the here and now. I, for one, need these texts to do that for me, for my mom and dad, for my siblings, for those with whom I worship, and for the entire Church. And for that salvation to continue, the meaning of the texts must be able to be proclaimed and understood.

Simply put, I would like to get to heaven. There are enough roadblocks along the way in my sometimes screwed-up life. I don't need the Church itself putting more roadblocks in the way.

Is anyone listening?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Singing the New Translation in Chicago and Cincinnati

Good Wednesday to you all. It is a crisp and clear morning here in Cincinnati (actually I am at an airport hotel, which is in northern Kentucky).

The reading session last night went quite well. We were in a good acoustic space; Incarnation church in Centerville, Ohio. Here is a photo of the exterior:

The people in attendance were good sight readers and wonderful singers. We sang through many of the various parts of WLP's new and revised musical settings of the Mass. I jumped back and forth between the organ and the piano. It was great to show people how versatile these settings are. The Archdiocese has a marvelous plan for musicians. They have invited each publisher (GIA, OCP, and WLP) in for a reading session. A group of musicians from the Archdiocese will then sift through all of the settings, then there will be another session where what they determine as the "best" settings will be presented to all musicians. The musicians were assured last night that this in no way was a determinant for every parish; parishes are free to sing any setting they choose; this is just meant as a guide. 

The day before, on Monday afternoon, WLP presented a similar reading session for musicians in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Here's a photo of that event, taken at Saint John de Brebeuf church in Niles, Illinois.

As much as I am frustrated by the whole translation process (see previous posts), I find myself getting much more rooted (and a little excited) when spending time with parish musicians. I know that they have mixed feelings about the new translation, but they are sharing an excitement about learning, teaching, and singing the new settings. This group of people gives me the most hope as we move forward. You can see and hear our new and revised Mass settings over at Sing the New Mass

Thank you for your comments in recent days. I want to assure you that I love this Church; saints and sinners that we are. 

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: A Sense of Demoralization

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday." Well, as you can see by the continuing comments on last Monday's post, things have really heated up.

Not being a Latin scholar, it is difficult for me to meander through the various comments, but I have come away sensing once again that what has been going on with the so-called "2008 text" and the revised so-called "2010 text" has caused more and more people to get more and more disenchanted.

Folks, I am perhaps still too wide-eyed and naive a churchman, but I find myself caught in the midst of a sense of demoralization over all of this. I remember when the rejected 1997 ICEL translation was in process; I was in the midst of my doctoral studies. One particular professor of mine was part of the translation process and had spent a good deal of his life dedicated to producing a new English translation. I remember the days when the bishops were voting on the new translation and the joy and sparkle that I saw in his eyes as the process moved to its conclusion. When the Vatican rejected the ICEL translation, I saw that joy and sparkle dim, not only in his eyes, but in the eyes of so many others who had spent so much of their time and energy on a good translation. The shake-up at ICEL itself I saw as having an evil tinge to it. Bishop Maurice Taylor's widely circulated chapter has confirmed that sentiment for me. When Liturgiam Authenticam was released, it was obvious that the Vatican was reining in more control over the translation process itself. All of this was completely consistent with the erosion of the principle of subsidiarity, which had marked the pontificate of John Paul II. Yet, I still held out hope. If there were, indeed, errors and omissions in the our current English translation, then a new translation could help us pray better and more fully; I held out hope that this was the case.

Then we all watched the nearly decade-long process of translation and approval and corrections; we watched the amendments and arguments and counter-arguments and conversation and some liberal-bashing and some conservative-bashing. Those of us who love the liturgy so much struggled through all of this, forming and reforming our opinions.

Finally, we received the recognitio for the Order of Mass a little over two years ago. And what we thought was the final text of the new translation of the Missale Romanum was given its recognitio several months ago. I found myself—now that it was all finalized—finally able to move forward; to make the best of what is clearly a more challenging text for bishops and priests to proclaim. I have been inviting people into a stance of hope as the new translation looms. I have not sugar-coated any of this. I have just invited Catholics to be Catholic; to be honest and humble in the face of new texts that have been approved by our English-speaking bishops around the world. I have urged Catholics, when they have had an extended period of experience singing, praying, and listening to the new texts, to talk to their pastors about whether or not the new texts are helping them to pray better and more fully. I believe this is a right and duty we have by reason of our baptism (as echoed in Sacrosanctum Concilium).

Now, the 2008 text approved by our bishops has been altered. Some have used the terms "derailed" and "hijacked" to describe this development. Highjackings and derailments often end in catastrophe. The Vatican has every right to do what it wants with the text. How are English-speaking bishops feeling right now? All those hours of meetings; all those hours of reading draft after draft; all those hours of consulting with people in their dioceses; all those hours of agonizing over words. Have they just thrown their hands up in the air over all of this?

I still hold out a glimmer of hope that this will not end in catastrophe but I must be honest and say that I believe that this is within the realm of possibility.

Please feel free to comment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The IPad Homily

Monday has dawned with sunshine and warmth here in Chicago.

Last Monday's post has drawn many comments, counter-comments, as well as links from other blogs. Please take the time to read the post again, but more importantly, follow the trail of comments. What I had described as "a disconcerting Monday" became—at least for me—more disconcerting as the week went on and these comments were received. I have just not had the time to comment on the unfolding conversations. I will attempt to do that tomorrow on "New Translation Tuesday."

As you know, I was in Texas this past weekend, presenting workshops at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference. Here is a photo of Cardinal DiNardo—of Galveston-Houston—delivering the keynote address:

With the Bible open to the Gospel of Saint Luke, Cardinal DiNardo beautifully led us through the theme of the conference, "Walking Together In Faith." His interpretation of the Gospel was inspiring.

On Saturday evening we gathered in the arena for the celebration of Mass, with Bishop Kevin W. Vann, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, as the celebrant and homilist. He preached in English and in Spanish and, just before beginning the homily he begged our indulgence, saying that in order to preach in both languages, he now uses a new helpful tool:

What you see in his hands is an IPad. I thought this was a wonderful use of technology. When he first started to scroll down through his homily, a quizzical look came across his face; he then looked out to us and said, "Oops, I think I pressed the wrong button." 

This all made me think more and more about ways that new technologies can assist us in the liturgy. I wondered aloud a few months ago if someone would develop a choir robe with an electronic screen on the upper part of the back of the robe, upon which would appear the choral anthem. Makes one wonder, doesn't it.

This afternoon, Alan Hommerding and I are leading a "Sing the New Mass" workshop for musicians here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, sharing with them new and revised WLP musical settings of the new translation. I leave tomorrow morning to do a similar workshop for the musicians in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati tomorrow night. Folks, I am becoming more and more convinced that people will embrace the new texts because of the fine work of our composers. (I just can't get Steve Janco's Holy from his Mass of Wisdom out of my head.)

I hope you have a great week. 

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Enthusiastic Catholics

Friday greetings from Dallas to all.

We ran into Galveston-Houston's Cardinal DiNardo last night here in the hotel lobby. The Cardinal has always been kind to us at World Library Publications and the J. S. Paluch Company. He will be delivering the keynote address at this morning's University of Dallas Ministry Conference.

At last night's president's reception, the new president of the university told us that he tells people that the school is "enthusiastically Catholic." He wants the Catholic students (70% of the student population) to engage in their faith as they develop their intellects. It was an inspirational presentation.

Well, time for this enthusiastic Catholic to prepare for the day. Hope your day goes well and that your celebration of Mass this weekend helps form you as an enthusiastic Catholic.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Later

Greetings from Dallas, Texas, where it is currently 87 degrees.

I am here to give two presentations at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference, where they are expecting nearly 5,000 people. Should be great fun.

For the latest "conversation" about the new translation, please take the time to read the comments on this past Monday's post. You will of course join me in wondering just who this "anonymous" is. Thanks to you, "anonymous," and all, for your comments.

Many people have asked how the publishers are weathering the current delay in the reception of the final text of the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Well, to be honest, every day brings us closer to that day when we will not be able to have our worship resources ready if the implementation date for the reception of the Missal remains as November 27, 2011. We are not there yet (although by now we would already have completed all of our work on the 2012 resources); contingency plans are in place. All of this because of our mission to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

As the associate publisher here at World Library Publications, the music and liturgy division of J. S. Paluch, I have the privilege of leading a group of people who are dedicated to service. Some days we feel a sense of panic about how well we will be able to serve, given this long wait. Other days, we are confident that we will receive texts in time to be able to provide for those who look to us for their resources. The days of frustration and worry, understandably, are beginning to outweigh those other more confident days. But, we trudge ahead. Last night, at a talk I gave on the cultivation of an adult baptismal spirituality, I was reminded again about the foundation of my own life as a Catholic: the day that changed everything; the day that determined that nothing about my life would ever be the same again: the day of my baptism into Christ. At times like that, things fall into perspective and I remind myself that we will get through this.

I am a man who strives on clarity; clarity in communication and clarity of process. I guess this gets to the root of my days of frustration; the lack of clarity that has most recently emerged. As we wait in these days of rumor and whispers, there seems to be a leadership vacuum. Why isn't someone telling us exactly what is going on with the text? Where is the Church leadership in the English-speaking world on these issues?

Well, enough of my ranting. I have a reception to prepare for in a few minutes. Please take the time to say a prayer for the good Catholics who will be attending this ministry conference over the next few days here in Dallas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

New Translation Thursday: Maybe Later?

Hello faithful followers. Arrived back in Chicago yesterday afternoon, then gave a presentation at Saints Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lemont, Illinois last night. The focus was on the cultivation of an adult liturgical spirituality.

I am very pressed for time right now. Need to scoot out to O'Hare to fly to Dallas for the University of Dallas Ministry Conference over the next several days. I will do my best to post some "new translation" news after my arrival, or at O'Hare. (The image above is a whirlwind.)

So, please stay tuned. Also, please read Tuesday's post and feel free to weigh in.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Weighing In On New and Revised Musical Settings for a New Translation

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Greetings from Baltimore, Maryland. Here for a two day meeting at the Catholic Center, across the street from the newly restored Basilica; always worth a visit.

Apparently, there is/was a meeting in Rome today between members of ICEL and the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. We are in a "wait and see" stance . . . sound familiar?

I wanted to share some musical news with you. Over the past several weeks, during my presentations on the new translation, I have asked the people to sing two versions of the Holy, Holy, Holy. They have had the assembly versions of a revised setting, Jan Vermulst's People's Mass, and a newly composed setting, Steven Janco's Mass of Wisdom. You can listen to both over at Sing the New Mass.

I start with the very popular Vermulst setting, as revised by the late Richard Proulx. I alert them to the fact that the new text is set; so I warn them to be careful. Without exception, many, if not most, in the room have sung the old version of the first line. I tell them that it has become so part of their "Catholic DNA" that it is difficult to sing new words to the very familiar melody.

Next we sing the new setting from Mass of Wisdom. The text and music flow along flawlessly. I am becoming more and more convinced that the new musical settings will really help the implementation along. And the fact that we have such talented composers like Steve writing these settings is a real gift for the Church. 

There are some who will not want to let go of the older settings; I believe it will take more work to re-teach these settings, but there are some fine ones out there and the work may prove well worth it. And the Missal chant settings, mostly new to the majority of Catholics, will surely help the new translation to settle in to minds and hearts.

It has been an interesting journey with these settings. The older Vermulst settings—as well as Michael Joncas' older "Sing Praise and Thanksgiving" Mass setting—may just find a happy home in places where these fine settings have either never been sung, or have not been sung in quite awhile. These are great musical settings and we at WLP decided against abandoning them, since they have become a part of the fabric of Catholic music since the Council.

So, where are you landing these days with regard to new vs. revised musical settings of the Mass?

Please check out Sing the New Mass, as well as the OCP and GIA web sites. Listen to new and revised settings and let's share our thoughts.

Speaking of web sites, WLP's web site has been down for a few days. People back in Chicago are feverishly working to restore the site; oh the wonders of technology! Until the site is restored, feel free to contact WLP toll free at 1 800 566-6150, and our great team of customer care professionals (a big shout out here to Jude, Kathy, Patty, and Didi) will be there to help you with your needs.

Thanks for listening and please feel free to reply by hitting the "comments" tab below. Or you can always e-mail me directly at

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Disconcerting Monday

Hello everyone.

There is an article over on Pray Tell (distinct from the one I pointed to on Saturday) that is well worth reading. Check it out.

Folks, it seems that the reception of the new English translation of The Roman Missal will make more and more people less and less happy.

I find it remarkable that people who respond to articles like this begin their scholarly comments with the word, "Wow."

And that's how this writer is feeling on this Monday morning with regard to the current state of affairs with this translation.

What, in heaven's name, is going on here? Trying to hold on to hope here, folks, but my grip gets more tenuous by the day. Please read the article I mention above and you'll see what I mean.

What is your take on all of this?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

(You know, on a day like this, it's not too easy to type those last four words. But each time that I do, I am reminded that there is always something about which we can pray and sing. Some days, it's just tougher than others.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Deepened or Weakened?

Welcome to another installment of "New Translation Thursday."

Thanks for taking the time to visit Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

These past few weeks have been a real whirlwind for me as I have given five presentations on the new translation. As I have said, reactions to the presentations have been mostly marked by a sense of gratitude. I am convinced that people need as much information as possible as we prepare to receive the newly translated Roman Missal. 

At my meeting with the Jesuit pastors at Marquette University earlier this week, one of those pastors spoke to us, and he spoke deeply from his pastoral heart. His comments were so genuine and cut to my own heart. He told us of his own love for the way that the current translation, in its employment of an accessible English, helps him pray and helps those who hear those texts pray as well. To hear a pastor talk so passionately about the texts that are entrusted to him was quite moving. Listening to him speak made me want to attend Mass at his parish and experience the way he prays the texts of the Missal. He is resigned to the fact that the new translation will happen; he laments it deeply. And then he told us that he would need to grieve the loss of a translation that has been at the center of his priestly life for the entirety of his priesthood. Folks, we need to listen to these laments. For many of us, we will need to grieve the loss of texts that have shaped our life of prayer and belief over these many years. On a deeper level, we will need to let go of the "accessible English" that was employed in the current translation.

It will take years for us to begin to know if and how the new English translation of The Roman Missal will shape our life of prayer and belief. I remember the words of Sister Nancy Swift, my first liturgy professor in the seminary. She described the Church's liturgy as a locus theologicus; or the site or locus where the Church's theology is expressed. This is where the adage Lex orandi, lex credendi is situated. When I speak with groups of catechists, I remind them that the liturgy is really "first theology." In other words, I tell them something like this, "If you want to know what Catholics believe, attend a parish celebration of the Triduum." I urge catechists to trust that the liturgical texts and gestures express what the Church believes.

The Church, at this moment in history, is asking us to accept the judgment, made forcefully in Liturgiam Authenticam, that some current vernacular translations of the Latin texts of the Mass fall short in expressing the beliefs of the Church, that certain "omissions and errors . . . have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place." The instruction goes on to that the "the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal."

As I said, it will take some time for the Church's current solution (the new translation) to this perceived problem to stand the test or time and actual practice.

It is my hope that liturgical scholars will seize this opportunity to usher in a new age of exploration. We don't need to know whether Catholics like or don't like the new translation. We will need to explore ways that the new translation may or may not shift their beliefs. The Church's hope, of course, is that what is espoused in Liturgiam Authenticam, which has in turn guided the new translation, will result in a deeper expression of the faith at the liturgy; that a "fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal" will take place.

In my own doctoral work in liturgical studies at Catholic Theological Union here in Chicago, my professors urged us to pay close attention to the experience of the liturgy. We studied various ways to analyze this experience; we drew on principles from sociology and ritual anthropology to get to the heart of peoples' experience of the liturgy. This is work that will need to be done as the Church in the English-speaking world begins praying in a new translation; in a "new" English language, if you will.

I, for one, am looking forward to the kind of scholarly work that will undoubtedly emerge in the next several years.

And you who read this blog know that I am a man of hope; I hope that the reform of the liturgy continued by the Church at the Second Vatican Council will be made fuller and healthier as a result of the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Since we do not yet have an experience of this new translation, we cannot yet make this determination. Each of us will need to make that determination in his or her own heart and mind in the coming years. I come to Mass every Sunday with great expectations that God has a miracle of transformation to work in my own life. That transformation is made possible through the words we pray, the texts we sing, the gestures we perform, and through the persons gathered at the tables of word and sacrament. I will be on careful watch as the new translation is implemented; will that transformative power of the liturgy be deepened or will it be weakened? Words do matter.

And, on a lighter note. Some newcomers to Gotta Sing Gotta Pray may not know that I am an avid hockey fan; more to the point, an avid Chicago Blackhawks fan. I was at last night's game at the United Center here in Chicago. The 2010 Stanley Cup was won by the Blackhawks and the banner was hoisted on Saturday night. Last night was my first glimpse, so here you go:

The 2010 championship banner is the slightly longer one of the four large banners.

Thanks for listening. Feel free to comment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Up From the Earth: The Rescues

A good Wednesday to you all.

I just finished reading Gordon Lathrop's post over on Pray Tell (which many of you have probably already read). If you haven't, please take the time to read the post. Father Anthony, thank you for sharing this post with us.

I will comment more about my experience with the Jesuit pastors up at Marquette University in tomorrow's post.

I have been unable to get the images of the rescued Chilean miners out of my head all day. As a matter of fact, I woke up at around 3:30 this morning, made my way to the sofa and watched three more miners rescued.

Has anyone else seen the obvious connections here to the images we carry within us of the raising of Lazarus, or even of the raising of the Lord? When I saw the tube containing the first miner come through that rock, I couldn't help but think of Martha and Mary as Lazarus came forth from the grave. What is more remarkable are the stories that are beginning to emerge as these men begin to speak about the ordeal and the profound sense of conversion that has deeply gripped some of them. We sing texts like "up from the earth" and we make comparisons between the dying and rising that the Lord Jesus accomplished and the kind of imitation of that dying and rising we are called to each day in our journeys of conversion to Christ. This was a pretty graphic portrayal—for me—and has been with me all day.

It has been a remarkable day for this little planet of ours, hasn't it? I know that there is a lot of media hype about the rescue, but it is things like this that put me in touch with my brothers and sisters around the world and help make me realize that not everyone looks, sounds, feels, touches, works, cries, and laughs exactly like me. Watching those men's faces and seeing the welcome they are receiving makes my heart leap with gratitude. It also calls me to remember that there is a large part of the world's population that lives and works in horrible conditions. Today I pray for them and also lift a prayer of gratitude for the rescue of the miners.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: "Not Too Bad At All"

Welcome to this latest installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Today I am headed to Marquette University in Milwaukee to speak with a gathering of Jesuit pastors from the Midwest. The subject, of course, is the new translation of The Roman Missal. I am looking forward to an afternoon of lively discussion.

I wanted to share some thoughts about the two gatherings of people in Saint Louis this past Friday night and Saturday morning. These were sessions on the new translation.

Both groups were made up of a few members of the clergy, some vowed religious, some music directors, some parish choir members, some catechists, and some "pew Catholics." I asked each group how many of them had not seen any of the newly translated texts. It surprised me at first to find that about one quarter of the people said they had not seen the texts. (There were roughly 60 people on Friday night and perhaps 80 on Saturday in total). I had prepared three handouts for the participants. One was an historical sketch of the translation process since the Second Vatican Council, including sections from The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Comme le Prevoit, and Liturgiam Authenticam. Another was the Order of Mass (Peoples' Parts) as available from the US Bishops' web site on The Roman Missal and another was a small sampling of new and revised musical settings that will be published here at WLP.

For the first hour of the presentation, we focused on the historical sketch. There is one particular paragraph (6) from Liturgiam Authenticam that we spend quite a bit of time with.

"Ever since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the work of the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages, as promoted by the Apostolic See, has involved the publication of norms and the communication to the Bishops of advice on the matter. Nevertheless, it has been noted that translations of liturgical texts in various localities stand in need of improvement through correction or through a new draft. The omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations – especially in the case of certain languages – have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place. Consequently, the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal."

I remember bristling when I first read this paragraph years ago. I remember having a discussion about it with a relative of mine who said something like, "You mean to tell me that what I have been praying at Mass all these years is wrong?" The people with whom I have shared the sections of both Comme le Prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam often bristle at first when they read paragraph 6 from the latter. But I do have a sense that some people are open to finding wisdom in these words. There are others who openly question whether or not the Holy Spirit was at work at all in Liturgiam Authenticam. I watch the faces of those in these gatherings as we move through the differences between the two approaches to translation espoused in these two documents. I can see them grappling with the issues raised.

What is the general reaction for the majority of those that have gathered these past two weekends, both in Milwaukee and in Saint Louis? Gratitude. People are just grateful to be able to have their questions addressed. They are grateful to be able to read through these documents. They are grateful that what they thought was going to be a completely non-understandable Order of Mass is not actually so. There was an elderly woman at Friday night's presentation. At the end of that session, she told the others in attendance how grateful she was that she had come. She said that she came to the meeting very frightened about the changes in the Mass; but now she felt that "this was not too bad at all."

I think that when people gain knowledge, they become more open to the possibility that the new translation will do a number of things. People generally agree that this will be a real "wake-up call" for many Catholics who mechanically move through the celebration of Mass. Others say that this new translation will be a real call to bishops and priests to pay much more attention to the words that are entrusted to them.

I guess I remain hopeful that these things will happen. There is still that part of me, however, that is suspect. A great new translation could have been that catalyst. It remains to be seen whether or not the translation that we will begin praying soon is a great new translation. We will need time to pray these texts; we will need time to sing them. Then we will need to take the time to analyze just what effect they have on the singing and praying Church. I venture to guess that the majority of people doing post-graduate studies in liturgy over the next several years will be focusing their thesis work on the effects of the new English translation of The Roman Missal.

I think it is an incredibly exciting time to be a Roman Catholic. It sure is shaking me to the very core. How about you?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saint Louis and the New Translation

A good Monday to you all.

My apologies for missing Friday's post. It was a busy travel day for me.

I spent Friday night and Saturday in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, giving two presentations on the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Saturday's presentation was in the ballroom/lower level of Saint Francis Xavier College Church on the campus of Saint Louis University. I had always wanted to visit this church and got a chance to peek in (there was a wedding occurring) after my presentation. This is one of the locations where the Saint Louis Jesuits began their music ministry.

Here are a few shots of the church, exterior and interior.

The presentations went well. I'll report more on them on tomorrow's "new translation" post.

I will say this for now, though. I am finding that, in general, people have really appreciated the "walk through" of the developments regarding the Roman Missal from the Second Vatican Council to the present. It has proven to be a very good idea to present sections from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, as well as pertinent sections from Comme le Prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam. Most people arrive at these sessions with both information and misinformation. During the presentation, they are given solid information, which has proven to be a very good thing. 

With all of this flying around the country, I am feeling a bit under the weather; I'd appreciate a few prayers for good health and strength as the next round of travel begins to loom.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Translation Thursday: The Missal and Homilies and Catechesis

Good morning and welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."

It's getting to be that every day seems to be a "New Translation" day around these parts.

I want to focus my attention today on the relationship between liturgical texts and preaching. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, in paragraph 65, has this to say about the homily:

"The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners."

Too often I find that homilists feel that the only "text" upon which they can preach are the texts of the readings for Mass. It is clear in the General Instruction that other texts from the Ordinary or the Propers of the Mass can be the foundation for a homily. The implementation of the new translation of The Roman Missal will be a time for homilists to embrace the other texts (other than Scripture) as the basis for their homilies.

Just this past Saturday, even before I started to get into my entire presentation on the new translation in Milwaukee, a woman raised her hand and, with a twinge of anger, said, "How am I supposed to catechize a second-grader on the meaning of the word 'consubstantial' in the new translation of the Creed?" I calmly asked her to enter the process that I was using for the presentation, and then think about her question again. I wondered, frankly, how catechists catechize about the current terminology, "one in being with the Father." This all brought us to a discussion about the fact that, with an elevated "sacral vernacular" (a directive for the new translation proposed by Liturgiam Authenticam), there will probably be the need to do more in depth explanations of these texts, since the language used will not be the kind of language we are used to in conversational discourse. Some may argue that this "sacral vernacular" will pose an impediment to instant appropriation of the meaning of the texts themselves. There may be truth to this; without direct experience of the praying of these texts, it is hard to make a judgment. But, it looks as if these texts may need fuller elaboration and explanation in order for the meaning to be appropriated in the hearts and minds of both celebrant and congregation.

I think this all points to the fact that the homily (as well as our liturgical/catechetical endeavors) will need to necessarily begin to look at the newly translated texts as fodder for preaching and catechesis.

My own pastor follows a set formula for most homilies he preaches. The last few minutes of the homily usually begin with the words, "My friends, the good news for us in today's readings is . . ." When I met with the priests of the deanery, I said that perhaps in the future, a homily might be based on one or another of the other "texts" of the Mass and that perhaps he might find himself ending his homilies with these words, "My friends, the good news for us in today's opening prayer is . . ." or "My friends, the good news for us in today's Eucharistic Prayer is . . ."

I believe that with the advent of the new translation, preachers and catechists will have a renewed opportunity to preach and teach mystagogically; to begin with the Church's text, in which are embedded our beliefs, and recapture the sense that liturgy is a locus theologicus, that liturgy is "first theology."

These are high hopes, but what is about to be opened for us in the new translation will need elucidation, expansion, explanation, and further catechesis and reflection. I, for one, think this is an opportunity that we surely can't let slip by.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Table Prayer

A good Wednesday to you all.

I arrived back in Chicago late last night and am catching up here at the office.

Every once in a while I do a little WLP commercial here on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, so please indulge me for a moment.

As you may know, WLP publishes resources for the singing, praying, and initiating Church. As the Autumn begins to take a stronger hold throughout the United States, and as we begin preparing for the holidays, I want to draw your attention to a Thanksgiving Table Prayer Card that we publish. The artwork—by Brother Mickey McGrath—is just lovely and would be a grand addition to your own family's or parish's Thanksgiving meals. Many parishes have purchased these in quantity (at a discounted price) and given them to parishioners the weekend before Thanksgiving or after the parish's annual Thanksgiving Mass or Ecumenical Prayer Service.

Please consider visiting our web site to take a look at this prayer card and the other resources that we publish.

I hope that you are having a good week.

Gotta Sing. Gotta Pray. (Gotta Give Thanks!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: "The Water's Fine: Just Jump Right In"

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

I am sitting here at the airport in Philadelphia, awaiting my flight back to Chicago.

Today was a good day. I was the presenter at the annual staff day for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

My presentation on the new translation was part of a comprehensive plan here in the Archdiocese as they prepare for the reception of the Missal. They have been in full swing here for quite some time with respect to catechesis on the new translation. I know there are other (arch)dioceses out there that have put together a plan for implementation, but I must say that Philadelphia is a real model.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the reception of the new translation is less about words and more about our sacramental and liturgical life. We began the day with a short session I led on the importance of recovering a solid baptismal spirituality. We then moved into a prayer service that included a ritual of baptism remembrance. I began with this because of Sacrosanctum Concilium's paragraph 14; that full conscious and active participation in the liturgy is our right and duty because of our baptism.

I then launched into a direct comparison between the principles in Comme le Prevoit (the previous guidelines for translating the Latin into the vernacular) and the principles in Liturgiam Authenticam (the current guidelines). People not only notice sharp distinctions between these documents with respect to guidelines for translation, they also gain an appreciation for why the Vatican (under Pope John Paul II) saw the need for such a change in approach.

No one likes to hear Liturgiam Authenticam's suggestion that "errors and omissions" have occurred in the process of translation into "some" vernacular languages. People naturally express their dismay that the Vatican is saying that there is something somehow defective in the current translation. The sentiment is real and needs to be listened to and addressed.

Folks, I guess,  at this point in my own journey with the new translation, that I am seeing this whole development as much more organic. The only way that the new translation is really going to take root here in the United States is if we give people solid information; solid knowledge directly from the sources. We need to lay it all out for people. We need to show them that there are significant differences between the way the Latin was translated into English and the way the Latin was translated into many of the world's languages.

One young woman at today's session, a Byzantine Catholic who told me that her liturgical language mirrors the language of the new translation, had this to say to me: "What I want to tell Roman Catholics is this: 'The water's fine. Just jump right in.'"

I hope that I am not being naive as I see the Catholic faithful, clergy, vowed religious, lay leaders, and pew Catholics really begin to see the possibilities to deepen their appropriation of the meaning of the paschal mystery through the new translation. Again, I have to caution myself that we do not yet have a direct experience of praying and singing these newly translated texts. It will take years to determine if and how the new translation will or will not deepen the power of the liturgy. I remain hopeful, especially after my days in Milwaukee over the weekend and my day today here in Philadelphia.

Please feel free to add your own voice to this conversation. Please challenge or affirm what I have said today. You can comment by clicking the comments tab below. You can also comment directly on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook Gotta Sing Gotta Pray logo at the top right hand of this page. I am always open to your direct e-mails to me as well:

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Translation: Suspicion Turning to Intrigue?

Good Monday to you all.

What a whirlwind of a weekend. I gave presentations on the new translation on Friday night and Saturday in parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Yesterday afternoon, I gave a presentation to 100 plus liturgical ministers at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Mundelein, here in Illinois. I am now getting ready to head to Philadelphia in a few hours to speak at the Archdiocesan staff day tomorrow; and the topic is—you guessed it—the new translation of the Missale Romanum.

Folks, I find myself getting more and more comfortable with these presentations on the new translation. In the past, I have talked about the content of Comme le Prevoit and  Liturgiam Authenticam. Beginning this past weekend, I have given people actual excerpts from these texts so that they can see for themselves the differences that these two documents make as far as the rules of translation go. I think, for the most part, that this approach has helped people understand why Pope John Paul II and those around him saw the need for a new translation. When we start to talk about a "sacral vernacular," as Liturgiam Authenticam puts it, I think that people become intrigued about how the new experience of a new translation might mean for the Church. Some people express their lament that the pastoral approach enshrined in Comme le Prevoit seems to have been abandoned. But when we begin to talk about how the language of the liturgy should be distinct from ordinary discourse, many people begin to see some pastoral wisdom behind Liturgiam Authenticam. Of course, with no direct experience of liturgical celebrations using the new translation, much remains to be seen. I think people are beginning to get keenly interested in what all of this means in the next few years.

Well folks, that's it for now. I'll try to post tomorrow. Off to Philadelphia.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wisconsin and the New Translation

Happy Friday to one and all.

This will need to be a short post. I am leaving very shortly for Milwaukee, where I will be giving two presentations on the new translation, one tonight at Saint Veronica's in Milwaukee and then one tomorrow at Saint Frances Cabrini Parish in West Bend, Wisconsin. I always approach these with some trepidation, since often the subject is one that can elicit strong feelings. I do look forward to singing some of WLP's new musical settings with both groups. I'll share what happens at these two parishes with you early next week.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you have a terrific weekend and that your Sunday celebration brings you closer to the Lord.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.