Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Giving Birth to Newly Translated Texts

I hope your Christmas week is going well. This is the first time in I don't know how many years that I have worked the week between Christmas and the New Year. Very productive time for me. I am editing a new book by Mary Birmingham, Formed in Faith: Sessions for Inquiry, Catechumenate, and Ongoing Faith Formation. Mary is a good friend and a master catechetical leader. This will be a great addition to the many RCIA resources in WLP's Fountain of Life series.

Thanks to those of you who commented on yesterday's blog post. Feel free to visit the post and offer your own comments as well.

A few years ago, Fr. Cyprian Davis, OSB, was the guest celebrant at my parish, Saint James, here in Chicago. Father Cyprian was ordained a priest in 1956, and has been celebrating Mass for 54 years. When Father Cyprian celebrated Mass at Saint James, it was one of the most significant liturgical experiences of my life. When Father Cyprian said "Let us pray" before beginning the Opening Prayer, he bowed his head in silence. When the Sacramentary was brought to him, he prayed that Opening Prayer with such prayerful reverence and with such a deliberate style, the first thing that came to my mind was a sense that he was giving birth to that text right there and then. He prayed that prayer as if he were sharing the best news in the world for the very first time. He was obviously overjoyed in his delivery; I had the sense that he was cradling the text like a new parent showing off a baby for the very first time.

And it didn't stop there. When Father Cyprian prayed the Eucharistic Prayer, that sense that he was birthing the text happened all over again. It was as if he had been waiting years to share that prayer with us at Saint James. It was as if we were people who had never heard it before and, knowing that, he prayed it for us as if it were what we had hungered for our entire lives. Sitting here at my desk in Franklin Park, Illinois, I am being moved to tears as I recall this moment.

The Church will give birth to the newly translated texts of The Roman Missal not when the musical settings of the Mass appear in printed form (as they even at this moment roll off the presses); not when blogs, diocesan newsletters, parish bulletins, books, and magazines contain portions of the texts and discussion and commentaries on the texts;  not even when the actual Roman Missal is published. The Church will give birth to the newly translated texts when they are prayed, spoken, and sung at Mass, hopefully beginning in Advent of 2011.

What will this birth be like? It is my sincerest hope that the birthing of these newly translated texts will be very much like what Father Cyprian Davis accomplished at Saint James a few years ago. These are high hopes that place enormous responsibility on bishops, priests, and musicians. There is also a great responsibility placed on the congregation as well. The success of any well-told story is dependent upon the open ears and open hearts of the listeners.



My prayers continue for a successful and exciting delivery. How about you?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Me too! However, I'm realistic. Most of the Priests I work with run through the mass because they don't want to miss the start of the football game. I'm hoping with the new Missal, many priests will get their priorities in order.