Welcome to "New Translation Tuesday."
I wanted to comment further about my experience in the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama last week.
On Friday morning, I presented a keynote on the new translation to over 500 Catholic school teachers; this was their annual Fall In-service Day. Knowing that many (perhaps 1/4) of the audience would be non-Catholic, my presentation was a little more basic than others.
In the afternoon, I was able to gather with about 60 teachers, most of them were principals or theology and religion teachers across the school system and across the age spectrum.
I learned a lot.
One principal explained that for much younger children, those in the early years (Kindergarten and First Grade), the changes would be accepted with ease. This principal said that the children would need some catechesis, but that their worship experience was still in the formative stage and they basically accept what they are told is a "new way."
One teacher, who works with middle school children told me he was trying to formulate his responses to their inevitable questions about the translation. He asked me if it would be OK to say to these children something like this. "The language we use at Mass needs to be a holier language. Think about how you speak with your friends and how different it is when you speak with your teachers, your principal, your parents, your elders. You would certainly not speak with these people in the same tone and in the same casual way that you speak with your friends. Well, the Church thinks that the language we use at Mass should be more formal, since we are praying to God. It is a more polite and respectful tone in English; not the kind of casual language that we use when we are talking with our friends."
I thought this was pretty insightful on the part of this teacher.
The teachers, as well as the people in attendance at Saturday's workshop for other ministers in the diocese (a mix of clergy, catechists, liturgists, choir members, and other liturgical ministers) expressed support for the new translation. However, there were some cautions expressed.
Many priests in the diocese are from countries other than the United States. Some people said that they have difficulty understanding the priest at Mass now, with the current translation. They wondered what the future will hold, with a more "elevated" and more challenging English to proclaim. Others wondered if their pastors will be committed to the kind of work it will take to pray these prayers in a way that really gets the meaning across to the congregation.
These are legitimate concerns. And, as I have said before, time and experience will tell.
Well, that's about it for now. Glad to be back in Chicago. Heading back to New England this weekend for a keynote presentation on Saturday. More about that later.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.