Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Translation Thursday: "Ritual Stupor"

Welcome to today's installment of "New Translation Thursday."

At last week's Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, many people were drawn into the WLP booth because of our resources for the implementation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition. It was fascinating to watch people pick up our Order of Mass booklets. For many, this was the first time they were seeing the newly translated texts in print. Many stood in the booth, turning page after page, of the Order of Mass. Some faces showed signs of confusion and bewilderment. However, for the vast majority, they moved through the resource, nodding their heads as they recognized some of the phrases that have caught the attention of Catholic media, phrases that they were now seeing in print for the very first time. I didn't get the sense that people were angry or afraid. Most exhibited a sense of acceptance. Many people purchased these booklets for their own preparation for the upcoming changes to the text.

There was also a large degree of interest in the musical settings. People were huddled around mp3 players, listening to the various movements of the new and revised settings. We received an interesting e-mail yesterday from a diocese in the United States, requesting copies of WLP's Mass settings for a reading session for musicians. They requested only new settings, no revised settings. This was the first time we received a request that specifically asked that no revised settings be sent. Obviously, the leadership in this particular diocese feels strongly that the new settings will serve the implementation in a more effective way. Other dioceses have actually chosen a revised setting as an initial "diocesan setting" to assist in the implementation.

So, folks, the pastoral plans in dioceses across the country, are obviously quite varied.

I must admit that I am beginning to feel a bit befuddled as I attend Mass on Sundays. The newly translated texts have been such a part of my "world" in the past several years. I have been traveling around quite often (as you know), sharing the new and revised settings with people all over the United States. When the current texts are sung and prayed at Sunday Mass, I find myself being tripped up a bit. There's a part of me that wants simply to begin singing and praying the new texts now. It's kind of like having a split liturgical personality. I would imagine that this will be what many will experience when the new texts are implemented. We will need to travel through that "in-between" period for awhile. I know, for instance, that I will fall back into the response "And also with you," even though I have been practicing singing and reciting "And with your spirit" with Catholics all over the place in the past several months. It's kind of like what my good friend and mentor, Fr. Ed Foley, talks about when he uses the term "ritual stupor." Too often for many Catholics, including me, the prayers and responses at Mass kind of rise up out of a place of habit, a place of routine, perhaps a sense of "ritual stupor." Perhaps people will need to be much more intentional liturgical pray-ers at Sunday Mass.

Many people have said that the new translation will help people be drawn out of a sense of rote at Sunday Mass. Parish and diocesan leaders have expressed the hope that many Catholics, shaken out of any ritual stupor that may have set in, will beging asking questions about the meaning of the Mass itself. This, of course, is one of the great hopes as we move forward with this new translation. Time and experience will tell, of course.

Tomorrow I head to the Archdiocese of Seattle. On Friday evening, in Longview, Washington, at St. Rose of Viterbo Parish, I will lead a reading session for musicians, highlighting the new and revised musical settings of the Mass, with some great WLP choral octavos in the mix. I take along some choral music as well, since it can become quite tedious singing Mass setting after Mass setting. Then, on Saturday, I am leading a day of reflection and discussion for RCIA ministers at St. Patrick Parish in Tacoma, Washington. I am looking forward to both of these sessions, since they tap into two of my real passions, liturgical music and Christian initiation.

Sorry for the spotty blogging over the past several weeks. Travel and some technical challenges have prevented me from posting daily but, hopefully, I am back on track.

Please pray for the safety of travelers.


Chironomo said...

Hi Jerry;

During the past three weeks, I have led two workshops here introducing musical settings for the new texts to our Diocesan Directors and Cantors. Our Bishop has asked that the ICEL Chant settings be learned by all as they will be the setting used at Diocesan events, Ordinations, Chrism Mass, etc.

Like you seem to have found, the reaction to the new texts (we went through the "sample texts" that have been released so far as well as the sung Ordinary texts) was not negative at all. A few questions came up, particularly the new texts for the non sum dignus, but after an explanation of the scriptural reference that had been lost in the old translation, there was a kind of "ah-haa" moment for more than a few.

Anonymous said...

As you have shared in a previous post, it will be interesting to see where we are a year from now. Will we accept the new changes and keep moving forward? Will we be in state of fumbling of using the previous texts in our response? Probably both and more. I am sure for those of us who visit a number of parishes over the course of a year, we we will find and hear the same of what currently happens in our parishes - each parish not always dotting their "I's" and crossing their "T's". Oh the beauty of being Church; many parts, but all one Body.