Friday, February 4, 2011

Soon Losing a Good Friend

Friday greetings from Salt Lake City.

Last night the participants here at the Southwest Liturgical Conference celebrated the Eucharist at the stunning Cathedral of the Madeleine. Bishop Wester, the local bishop here, was the celebrant.

After yesterday's post concerning the pro multis issue, I was struck by the four words that appeared on the back wall of the sanctuary, directly surrounding the image of the crucified Christ.

Those four words? "CHRIST DIED FOR ALL."

Thanks to all of you who provided helpful comments yesterday about the issue. There is going to need to be lots of catechesis about this.

I know that I have been speaking about the fact that we will need to let go of the old translation eventually and that many of us will need to grieve the passing of that translation.

Praying last night with over 1200 Catholics committed to the Church and the Church's liturgy as celebrated by God's people, I was swept up in the celebration. When the people prayed and sang our parts during the Mass, the responses and acclamations were strong and were prayed and sung with such conviction. Standing there, singing and praying, unable to take my eyes away from those four words, "Christ Died for All," I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. I strongly felt that I was soon going to lose a good friend; a friend that I have learned to love more and more with the passing of each Sunday for the last four decades. Say what you will about the current translation; but these living words have helped shape me into the Catholic I have become. Isn't that what a good friend does?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Kate S said...

As we approach implementation of RMIII, my thoughts have been very practical: How will we best catechize our parish? Which Mass setting(s) will be best to learn first? And can we find a Gloria that the Christmas crowd can sing? :) But as the time grows closer, I find myself thinking along your lines, Jerry. We'll be singing a Mass setting and I'll think, "We won't be singing this a year from now." It will be hard to replace all the things we know "by heart."

Anonymous said...

While I understand your point about losing an "old friend", I prefer to envision the new translation as the same old friend newly encountered after he has had a couple of years working out at the gym. Same old pal, but much healthier, more robust, and deserving of new admiration.

David Bonofiglio said...

This seems a bit melodramatic and unhelpful for a smooth transition. Yes, we've all grown comfortable with the current texts, but if we want a vernacular liturgy, we must be prepared to lose some comfort in service of that end. The winds of translational priorities will shift in 30 years and the entire process will begin anew and what was gained for some will be lost, and what was lost will be recaptured.

Dry your tears and then move ahead.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

David, thank you for reading the blog. While I appreciate your comments and can take them to heart in a spirit of Christian brotherhood, I hope to God that you will never actually communicate your final words to anyone who is grieving anyone or anything; this is perhaps one of the most insensitive comments that have ever been posted here.

AliasKate said...

For every meaningful change, there are three stages people go through -- letting go, a neutral state of familiarization, and the new way. There are no clear boundaries between these stages and Jerry's blog is a great reflection of this -- people at different points in the transition. As much as I know and am committed to introducing the new changes, I find myself also at various times feeling sad at what will be a loss for many (if not all). I also recognize and accept that it's a natural part of the transition. The people in our parishes will respond in the same varied ways. If nothing else, we need to respond with compassion and patience. What's truly "unhelpful to a smooth transition" is insensitivity.

David Bonofiglio said...

Jerry and Kate,

When did words become our friends?

I love Shakespeare, but I can hardly consider "grief" to be a word I would associate with the absence of the Bard from my life.

It seems that you have anthropomorphized the current texts in an extreme way. The teaching of the Church regarding the salvation of all people has not changed. Grieve for that, certainly, if it ever changes but lets not overstate (or understate) the significance of the changes in the texts.

You are grieving for prose that has always been subject to continual development, change and error over the history of our Church. I hesitate to compare that with grieving the loss of a person, as you do, Jerry.

Texts are not our friends. And translations are definitely not our friends. We are losing words we are comfortable and happy with, but on the continuum of loss, I would be grateful to have a "lost" translation of ritual texts be my greatest pain.

Call me insensitive, but I just can't bring myself to grieve for the loss of any text, sacred or secular. I may dislike certain things about a text, I may prefer certain aspects or particulars of one translation over another, but to develop feelings for a text seems a bit to extreme.

Call me insensitive, but those are my feelings.

Brent McWilliams said...

FJH3rd, I'm sorry but I can't consider the new translation "buff" and "fit" when the grammar is so appalling. Even more appalling is the lack of sensitivity people are showing to people who have given their life to serving the liturgy and know and live with the liturgy and have come to think of their prayer as a comforting friend. Yes, David, you are being insensitive to someone who has been dragged through the ringer and has been beaten down by a process that has been unkind at its best and who has worked hard to "keep the faith". In all seriousness, I do suggest an examination of conscience and ask if this process has helped the Church grow in charity and compassion.

Anne said...

Those of us who pray with full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy will definitely be grieving the loss of our familiar prayers.

David Bonofiglio said...

@Brent: I suppose to that I would ask why there was ever an expectation that the process would be open, transparent and productive. The actions of the Curia in the last 25 years have been anything but transparent and collaborative. Msgr. Tony Sherman will say that several thousand people have been consulted during this process and that may be true. However, from the beginning, personally, I assumed that the direction of this Missal would have very specific intentions that would be imposed despite any attempt at collaboration and scholarly input. It seemed obvious from the start that this process was being undertaken to impose on the liturgy a sense of nostalgia, imperfect as it may be. That Vox Clara hijacked the process at the last minute should not be a surprise to anyone. Remember who established it in 2002.

I guess I'm just much more realistic (or fatalist?) about these sorts of curial processes. I set my expectations low from the start based on how I've observed liturgy to be dealt with by the Curia. While Joseph Ratzinger is quite brilliant in his liturgical theology, the process, which started before his papacy, seems to have been hijacked several rungs below him on the curial ladder by people who seek to impose a imperfect nostalgic tone upon the Mass. To expect that the process would be democratic seems unreasonable to me and seems to be setting one's self up for disappointment. Rome just don't work that way.

By the way, Brent, you should know I spend my life serving the liturgy as well. I don't want you to assume that I'm some armchair quarterback. I'm looking at exactly then same questions, problems, dilemas and concerns as everyone else as implementation day approaches. And while the current translation has been the only one I've ever known (born in 1983), I simply don't share the same feelings of loss. The only constant in life is change.

But to each his own.

Anonymous said...


Pastoral Care 101: (a) any change, for good or ill, brings a loss... and all losses are grieved; (b) and we each grieve in our own way.

I don't know you or what your role in implementing the Missal in your community will be, if any, but a friendly word of caution: please tread gently. The implementation of RM3 will require great sensitivity on all our parts. We have prayed these texts for 40+ years; if we have been attentive they have soaked into our bones and become part of who we are. To tell people that their grief is inappropriate is callous at best, and, at its worst, does violence to them.

Anonymous said...

Anne - I like to think I am among "those of us" who pray with full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy, and I have been "conscious" for quite a few years now of the inadequacy of the 1970 translation. As have most priests I know. I assure you, I will not grieve, but will rejoice, when I can pray and hear the new translation this coming Advent.

Anne said...

FJH...I'm happy that you will rejoice when Advent 1 comes around. Good for you! I cannot. Many of us find the new translation theologically inadequate and unsatisfactory. I find it all troubling and worrisome on many levels.

Anonymous said...

Anne - Sorry you feel that way. I'm not sure I have stumbled across any theological issues with the new corrected translation. I'll keep an eye out. I just wanted to be sure you knew you don't speak for ALL "who pray with full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy."

Anonymous said...

To FJH3:

What texts are you looking at? Just the Order of Mass (from the USCCB website)? Or have you also looked at final versions of the Prefaces, Collects, and other presidential prayers? You may be surprised.

Kate S said...

One thing these posts shows is the variety of responses we may expect to the new translation. What matters more than the texts is the way we treat each other and the way we respond to those who are struggling with a variety of issues in the church. There's a lot more to this than words.

Francis said...

The confusion surrounding 'all' and 'many' is quite plain. If you read this section of the Catechism, you will understand the difference.

Very simply put, Christ died for all, and all can avail his salvation, but not all will do so. That, my friends, is the many to which Christ was referring.