Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: A Pastoral Heart

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

This past Sunday I attended Mass at Saint Matthias Parish in Somerset, New Jersey.

At homily time, the pastor spoke to us about the upcoming changes to the liturgical texts. He began with the statement, "I was the first priest in the state of New Jersey to sign the 'What If We Just Said Wait' petition, which asked if perhaps it would be a better idea to do some actual testing of the new translation before a full implemention." Folks, I sat there wondering what the rest of his talk was going to be about. Well, this pastor then told us that, even though he may not have been personally in favor of the way the new translation was being implemented, what he has come to realize is that the liturgy is, in fact, not his. He challenged us to think about this for ourselves. For instance, he said, we may think that a certain statue in the church building doesn't belong where it is; our personal tastes might dictate that we prefer the statue to be placed elsewhere. He reminded us that the liturgy does not belong to us as individuals. The liturgy, he said, is an expression of the Church. From there, he moved on to challenge us to ask ourselves the question: "Why do I come here? Why do I go to Mass?" He then turned the presentation over to a young lay pastoral associate who has recently begun liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame. This young man walked us through a brief history of the reasons why the translation is changing. We all then watched a video about the "And with your spirit" change, which was quite good.

Then the pastor came back and really did a wonderfully pastoral job inviting us all to look at these changes as an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. This was a man who showed a deeply pastoral heart. He obviously loves the people of his parish and he showed us that there is real possibility for growth and renewal in the next several months.

I spoke with him after Mass and thanked him for his words. I told him I thought it was the most pastoral talk I had heard about the new translation. Good man. Good pastor. I believe they will be doing similar things at homily time next week at the parish. And on Saturday they will be doing a "practice Mass" during which people will be using the new translation. They have also scheduled two talks by one of the priest-residents on the history of the Mass.

Even though this pastor honestly expressed his own reservations about the new translation, he was a faithful leader of his flock. I really appreciated his words.

How is it going in your parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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