Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Translation Thursday: How Would You Explain This to a Seven-Year-Old?

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."

Greetings from Birmingham, Alabama. Arrived late yesterday afternoon and spent some time having dinner and great conversation with some members of the diocesan staff. I have never been here before; quite a lovely city.

In a few hours I will be leaving for St. Bernard Benedictine Abbey for a day and a half on the new translation. The days are being sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Religious Education. There will be quite a few religious educators and those associated with Catholic schools at the workshops. I am looking forward to this experience. I have been speaking, for the most part, to liturgists, musicians, and clergy. It is going to be interesting to hear from those whose job it will be to help parishioners—the young, especially—with the reception and implementation of the new translation.

Have you thought, for instance, of what you would say to a precocious seven-year-old Catholic child when that child asks the question, "Why are they changing the words?" How would you respond?

I am told that I will not have internet access at the abbey, so there will probably be no post tomorrow, unless I can sneak some time at the airport or when I return home tomorrow night. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Please pray for those spending these two days together and for all who are working to find ways to receive and implement the new translation of The Roman Missal.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Stephen said...

This is what I'm most worried about. We have seen NADA about the implementation process for children. What about the school who hold Masses regularly? What are we to do? So many of the publishers have focused on adult formation, what about the kids?!

Paul said...

I'm not sure if there is a good answer for a child or anyone. I think the truth is always the best answer.

Fr. Cody Unterseher said...

God bless you in this work, Jerry. It's immensely challenging to catechize on the liturgy, and complicated in this case by the convolutions of the translation. I admire your sense of mission and your dedication to this ministry.

Sometimes I wonder, from my not-quite-ivory turret in academe, if the grass really is greener on the other side. Apparently not: we've all got different vantage points, but the turf is the same!


Anonymous said...

Your question is right on the mark, Jerry. There are a lot of situations in the Catholic Church where we ought to consider what an intelligent seven-year-old will think! If we had good solid answers for such questions, ones the kids would be able to grow with, then maybe we wouldn't start lose so many at age 14 or so.

I guess I would answer that words wear out and that they take on new meanings and shades of meaning over time. And some people felt that the old words didn't have the right shades of meaning or that they were somewhat disrespectful or impolite.

That would be my try.


Liam said...

The same questions were asked in 1970, when we switched from the interim vernacular Missal to the reformed Missal

Just sayin': we've been through this before. I was 9 and I had to re-learn a lot of prayers. We joked, but everyone more or less accept this with aplomb.

It might help to explain we've done this before, and other people have gone through this before: to treat it as normal, not exceptional.

And it will happen in the future, too, I strongly believe. All the more reason to normalize rather than exceptionalize it.

Doris said...

After attending your workshop, Jerry, I feel in a much better position in my approach to the new translation as well as my ability to explain it to others in my parish. Thanks for your "grass roots" approach and your dedication to this effort. God bless.

Stephen said...

Jerry - as fate would have it (maybe divine intervention?!) I stumbled across this article the other day:

However, that's ALL I've seen on children's liturgy for the Roman Missal.

I really hope some intelligent writers get to work soon (maybe they're working now, let's hope) on some materials for children.

When I briefly spoke about it in my 8th grade Religion class, one of the 14 year olds was really upset (as upset as they can be "forgive and forget the next day) that the words were changing. They answer to "why" for children has to be formulated very well. Especially young adults in middle/high school who are likely to veer away after high school during their college years. We don't want them to go far.

Chironomo said...

I have to agree with Liam... might be best to not "over-think" this one! Children are the most likely to just accept such change as normal and "no big deal". For the very young children, it won't be a change at all, just a matter of learning their prayers. Having 5 children myself, I can tell you that the Missal translation is not big on their radar...I think you would be challenged in the extreme to find a seven-year-old who would really be both aware of and concerned about this issue.