Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: "Do You Think God Really Cares?"

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

One of my colleagues here at World Library Publications recently related a conversation she had with her Dad, a relatively new Catholic. The conversation was about the changes in the new English translation of The Roman Missal.

This man asked this question: "Do you think that God really cares about these ridiculous changes to the Mass?"

I would like to ask you, the faithful readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray: How would you address this man's question?

This is much of what we will face as the coming months unfold. I am already envisioning the conversations that will take place during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when I will be spending time with my family, many of whom are practicing Catholics. And these conversations will be taking place in the Archdiocese of Boston, where the Church as a whole has suffered immeasurable damage from the fallout of the clergy sexual abuse crisis there.

What would you tell this man?

Gotta sing. Gotta Pray


byte228 said...

Yes, God cares, but at the same time he doesn't. God cares because it is hurting his flock through division. At the same time as long as we are praising God I don't think he cares what language or what version of language we use as long as it is praise through love. God doesn't hear English, Latin, or Pig Latin, he hears us through love.

Rich said...

As much as I'm a fan of the idea of the new translation (not taking into account the issues surrounding the mis-translations or revisions or whatever), I would say ultimately God doesn't care what translation we use, but that he does care how much "care" we take in deciding how we worship him - as long as it doesn't distract us from actually worshipping him. That is a challenge for everyone who has an opinion - of any sort - about this.

Luke said...

@byte228: I agree wholeheartedly. We have to remember that human beings developed the liturgy, even if under the guidance of the Spirit. No liturgy is going to be perfect, and I am sick of all this infighting and clandestine activity. I think God is probably shaking His head and sighing at all the division and disagreement this has caused--and still will cause. God's ability to hear us, our worship, pleas, and prayers, does indeed transcend language.

Chironomo said...

It's a very dangerous path to go down to try and guess what God does or doesn't think about any subject. We can't know, and as such, it's presumptuous (in the technical meaning of that word - thinking that you know God's mind)to even say that God "probably doesn't care" or whatever...

As such, it's not that it doesn't matter what God thinks, but rather, the question itself is irrelevant. Does God care that we use hosts made from pure wheat with no additives? Does God care whether we receive communion every week, or once a year, or not at all? If you go down this road (which many, many, many folks do...) you end up with "Spirituality", those folks who say "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual". In other words, they conclude that if God doesn't care, they don't either.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Thanks, Chironimo.
My question remains: How would you answer this man?

JonoShea1 said...

Thank you for asking. I appreciate that you seek to keep your blog so open to discussion, and that you are so inviting of a variety of views.

Mine are as follows:

The translation of the liturgy is an issue not so much for God as it is for humanity. We often hear it said, "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi". While the Mass is indeed the place where our highest worship of God takes place, and the moment in which he meets us in Word and Sacrament, it remains also an action of catechesis. We learn our faith not just through reading the various catechisms or through Scripture alone, but also through the liturgy, whose prayers are in many ways commentaries upon that Scripture, and a living expression of those formulas. It is precisely for this reason that we ought to have a good translation of Scripture: that we may know our faith more deeply and express it more clearly.

As has been said, God will be fine. It is we who must benefit from this new translation, so that we may know the faith, and by extension Him, more clearly.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the thought I had.
God wishes to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth; in praise and thanksgiving and as Catholics we believe in a universal manner.
As a post Vat 2 Catholic I don't understand latin nor understand its beauty... and I think liturgy (work of the people) must speak to its time using the language of the people at this time. Making the language conform a specific text meant for a specific time in history will just confuse the vast majority of the worshipping assembly.

FJH 3rd said...

I would say something like, Yes, i think God cares. He gave us the Eucharist and instituted His church 2000 years ago. He told Peter "Upon this rock I will build my church." He entrusted his Church to the Apostles. Through their successors over 2000 years, the Church has developed norms for worship. The holy sacrifice of the Mass is the central prayer of the Church, and indeed the Eucharist constitutes the source, center and summit of the faith. So yes, I think God cares, and the Church has a responsibility to protect this most central act of our lives as Catholics, and ensure that it represents our best act of worship.

Liam said...

"Well, that sounds like a rhetorical question to me. What's your real question? What are your assumptions? How do you deal with the fact that Christians don't all share your assumptions?"

Simon Ho said...


If God cares enough for us to worship him in spirit and in truth, surely he would care that his beloved flock will be using a more accurate translation (that better expresses the truth he has revealed).

I am reminded of how my young nephews are struggling with speaking English clearly. Even when he goes on with his inaccurate enunciations, incorrectly used words and stammerings, we manage to get an idea of what he says and we respond to him lovingly. But all of us would be happy if (and are trying to teach him so that) he can speak better.

Personally, I see the new translation of the Missal, even with all its imperfections and warts, as a gift from God Most High. If it's a gift from someone, you know that that person cares enough about you to give you that gift. That's enough for me.

Liam said...

Btw, if you're still in the Boston area on Sunday after Thanksgiving, come to Advent Lessons & Carols at St Paul's in Harvard Square in Cambridge at 3PM on the First Sunday of Advent.