Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Going Smoothly at My Parish?

Welcome to this lastest installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

On Sunday afternoon, about eighty parishioners of my parish, Saint James here in Chicago, gathered to reflect on the new translation of The Roman Missal.

I began the presentation by telling them that every talk that I have given over the past few years was really my own preparation for this Sunday afternoon talk, because the people of Saint James are so close to my heart, they are my "peeps."

People were quite attentive as I moved through the history of the development of the Church's official texts for prayer. I told them that my aim was that when they are approached by a parishioner and asked about the "why" of the new translation, they would be able to answer the question.

Basically, when we get to the very recent history, I share two paragraphs from Comme le Prevoit and two paragraphs from Liturgiam Authenticam. My aim is to show the stark contrasts between the two sets of translation guidelines. I think that people came away with an understanding of why the translation is changing. I know that for some, the answer brings little satisfaction. For the vast majority, however, I think that having this knowledge base was a good and helpful thing.

Two comments from parishioners after the presentation stuck with me. One woman said that she came to the meeting in a frightened manner, wondering about the changes to the Mass. She thanked me for bringing her clarity and for helping calm her fears.

Another woman said to me, "You know, Jerry, I came into this meeting completely close-minded. But that's all different now. Now at least I can understand how we got where we are right now."

Having my pastor right there at the presentation was a good thing. I kept referring to the fact that he will be bearing a great burden of responsibility since the prayers that he prays are now so different, are much more challenging to proclaim well. I invited the parishioners to pray for Father Edward. At one point I told those in attendance that I had been very clear with Father Edward throughout this whole process. I have said to him that I take Paragraph 14 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy very much to heart:

"Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a 'chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,' is their right and duty by reason of their baptism."

I actually looked Father squarely in the face and said, "I am baptized and it is because of my baptism that I have both the right and the duty to fully consciously and actively participate in the liturgy. And so much depends on your careful preparation, prayer, and proclamation of the Church's liturgical texts. I am depending on you, Father, for my participation hinges on your celebrating the liturgy well."

(I often say that Father probably regrets the day I ever joined his parish!)

All in all, I feel that our parish is doing a good job. It all comes down to this coming Sunday's "Town Hall Meeting" between the two Sunday morning Masses when my pastor will address the new translation. Please keep Saint James in your prayers.

I leave tomorrow afternoon for Pittsburgh, where I will be giving a presentation on the new translation to the people of Saint Alexis Parish in Wexford tomorrow night.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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