Monday, December 5, 2011

Just another Mystagogy Monday . . . week two.

How did it go in your parish over the weekend?

Well, at Saint James, I thought it went fine for the second week. About half the people are responding "And with your spirit" at those particular moments. The response at the sign of peace is the most challenging.

We have a particular challenge at Saint James. Our pastor is a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. For his entire priesthood he has used the "Saint Meinrad Tones" for the prefaces and for those times when he sings the Eucharistic Prayer. These tones are really an ingrained part of his own "Catholic DNA." Apparently Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, of Saint Meinrad, is working to set the new translation to the Saint Meinrad Tones, but he has not completed this work. So, my pastor is trying his best to use the chants as they appear in the Missal. I feel for him. For me it would be like trying to sing "Happy Birthday" in a different mode, or with a different melody, or in a minor key. Let me tell you what happened yesterday.

At the preface dialogue, the music director played a few cue notes for the chant as it appears in the Missal. And it went beautifully. The pastor then began to chant the preface from the Missal, only to discover that he had turned to the wrong page and was chanting a preface for Ordinary Time, which he had not prepared. It kind of fell apart. So, he simply stopped, looked at us and said, "Well I am still having some trouble finding my way around in this book, so let's start that again." It was an honest liturgical moment and I thought that his stopping and explaining was quite appropriate. I felt like the congregation was saying, "It's OK, Father, we understand; don't worry about starting again." So, he started again, only this time he reverted back to the Saint Meinrad tone for the preface. Before we had the chance to respond, the music director interjected, "Let's start that again." Then he played the cue notes again for the Missal chant and we were back on track. It all seemed very natural to me; just honestly moving through something very new for all of us.

As I said, I feel for my pastor, who not only to learn a new translation, he also has to learn these new chant tones. I have lots of confidence that we will eventually all get on the new translation highway.

As for me, I am having difficulty spiritually entering into the liturgy. I find myself too aware of what the next thing is to happen (Oh, I need to pick up the worship aid now to pray the next set of responses), and I feel I am not paying enough attention to what is happening in the moment. I know this will pass as I become more familiar with the new translation, but it is pretty frustrating right now.

So, I have two questions for you:
1. How did it go in your parish over the weekend?
2. How is it going for you spiritually?

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Alan Hommerding said...

Our second week went pretty well - the last Mass of Sunday morning is resisting "And with your spirit" somewhat; but mostly because about 25% of that congregation arrives during the first reading and so they haven't heard the announcement/reminder at the beginning of the Mass; a fair portion of that congregation also resists picking up anything to do/sing/say/respond - so these days of the new translation aren't that much of a change in that regard, except they can't do the responses on auto-pilot.
The congregations I serve as a musician do seem to be struggling to find a rhythm for the "new" Creed; as they are reading from the card, it actually seems to be picking up speed. Not sure that's what we want!
Personally, I've been finding the need to pick up a response card occasionally, and catching myself reverting to old ways as a nice reminder (or, perhaps for Advent, wake-up call) of all the times I surely responded at Mass on auto-pilot, thinking or telling myself that I knew the prayers "by heart." It's been real opportunity to slow myself down, and stay a bit more focused even during the prayers and responses that haven't changed. The process is re-connecting me to my need to stay focused and connected for the WHOLE Mass.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit this was one of the most challenging weekends I've had as a Catholic.

We had our first funeral with the revised translation on Saturday. We used Richard Proulx's revised Community Mass, which worked very well.

The difficulty came with the words of institution. This funeral was for someone who committed suicide. I began praying that our pastor would say "for all" instead of "for many." Thankfully, he did.

I'm really having difficulty now with this phrase in the missal because of this experience.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be going pretty well at our parish, from what I have seen. Practically no miscues from the priests. The folks around me in the pews were mostly on target with the responses (except my wife!) and those who said the old were clearly not doing it could see them shake their heads or smile sheepishly.

Spiritually...well, I have teared up at both Sunday Masses when I see how much more beautiful the vocabulary is. I told a friend that I feel like I have had wax in my ears for forty years, and it has finally been removed. Where the words were once muffled and dull, they are now clear and glorious.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I found myself just watching and listening. The pseudo-exalted language wasn't my prayer and had nothing to do with my worship of God. I felt like I punched my ticket -- fulfilled my obligation to attend Mass.

It's only been two weeks. Maybe it will get better. But I find myself thinking about the Immaculate Conception this week and wondering where I can find the most minimal Mass that will punch my ticket again.

This is not what I want!

I guess the good news is that I'm relying more on other forms of prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours hasn't changed -- yet -- and Lectio Divina still allows God to speak in his personal and loving way.

Scott Pluff said...

So far, so good. Our 7am crowd has picked up the responses well, the 9am crowd somewhat less so, and the 11am crowd is mostly confused. I think that the elderly (who have a memory of these responses) and the school-aged kids (who have rehearsed these for weeks) are doing the best.

Looking down from my perch in the choir loft, I have to wonder about all the people who don't pick up the worship aid even when prompted. I suspect they are apathetic rather than making any kind of protest.

Anonymous said...

Sad. Sad. Sad. Levity when everyone laughed at the repeated "an also with you" responses despite cards in had. Relief when presider rejected the "many" in favor of "all." But sad at the loss of "waiting in joyful hope" among other things and basically distress and disengaged at trying to understand collects and pray with "elevated language." Sad. Sad. Sad.

Steve Raml said...

Very good second week -- only one mass out of four that had any uncomfortable snickers due to a large number still saying the old response. Our pastor admitted getting it wrong when the Deacon introduced the Gospel. All four priests picking their way through prayers - having trouble with the flow.

Assembly doing "And with your spirit" fairly well - even at sign of peace (I had pointed that one out as a potential problem area before mass). We're mostly getting "it is right and just to give him thanks and praise" in the preface and still lots of mumbles during "Lord I am not worthy".

Apostles' Creed strong for both weeks, because everyone has it in our Advent booklet to read from, whereas we only had song sheets while trying to say the Nicene from memory before.

My personal prayer is still distracted by words like "beseech" "chalice" and "oblation" -- language that still sounds clunky, and not conducive to prayer. Still cringing every time I hear "for many" rather than "for all" Goes against Lex Orandi Lex Credendi. Hard to make it Lex Vivendi.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, as a regular church-goer, I found myself not having the desire to attend this weekend. Maybe it's because of my disposition over the weekend, but I really didn't want to attend and hear the new language once again. Last weekend, my parish used Reconciliation Prayer II. I love this prayer, but in the new translation, that love has to be rediscovered I hope.

Steve's comment really struck me, "My personal prayer is still distracted by words like "beseech" "chalice" and "oblation". This is not everyday language, yes I know it, I've read more than I want to about it. Do I understand the "desire" for a more formal language? Sure... but I don't use words like beseech and oblation in my prayer, and truthfully, I really don't think God cares what words one uses so much God wants us to be in relationship. For those making the decisions and are also authors and scholars, words like this may be common in everyday life for them. But this isn't about them, is it? It's about all of US. For the church goer, musician like myself who doesn't write books, this language is not conducive to prayer. I find myself angry at times, because I feel like something has been taken away. Too early to say? Maybe.

Anonymous said...

One thing that helps is having someone (me at role at one of our Masses this weekend) handing out (among other things) the card with the new translations on it. Noticed that it was one of the cleanest Masses so far in terms of using the new responses.

And the chuckle of the day?
P: The Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.
P: Lift up your spirit.
R: We lift them up to the Lord.

The second response thanks to our alert cantor, who didn't get caught in the moment, and led everyone in the right response. said...

Having used the new translation of the Order of Mass since September, the people's response went well. People are beginning to respond "and with your spirit" naturally, as well as the new memorial acclamation. For the Creed, people still had to look at the cheat sheets, and the Priest started with "We believe" although amazingly everyone switched back to the "I believe" when it came round again. There were still some people who said "seen and unseen" instead of "visible and invisible" out of habit.

The Pater Noster was funny though. In our region, we switched from the "Our Father in heaven" to the "Our Father who art in heaven" version. Everything was ok, except for the second person pronouns. There is one group of people using "thy" while another group used "your".

I've found myself more engaged at Mass and enriched by the texts and prayers of the new translation, compared to the old ones. I even remember the flow of the orations at the end of Mass, something which I could never do with the old translations. I think the richer structure and meatier ideas in the new texts gave me something to catch hold off; the older texts kind of ended before I even realised what we were praying for! This became one of the motivations to attend daily Mass, compared to previously.

All in all, I would say the new translation has a very positive impact in my Catholic life.

Michael said...

I'm thankful for the new translation (although I think that Thou/Thee/Thy would have been better for praying and singing than You/You/Your). I find the new phrasing inspiring, but it is taking some getting used to. My fellow parishioners and I may have even stumbled a bit more on this second Sunday than last week.

I agree that your pastor handled that oops moment well. He was not alone in his struggles.

Anonymous said...

While the assembly is getting the hang of the responses, they are made in a wooden fashion - it is clear that folks are reading and not praying (yet). Still some gaffs, but to be expected.

The choir and assembly have been able to handle the new Mass setting reasonably well.

Eucharistic Prayer I is an abomination. Completely unproclaimable and unintelligible. My hope is that most presiders will simply abandon it.

"Chalice" repeated over and over grates. The overall vocabulary, and the grammar/syntax, are foreign to English ears and do not pray well. For the most part, neither elevated nor beautiful; just pompous.

Anonymous @ 12/5 9:54 - your comment about the funeral is exceptionally poignant. A great example of theory failing pastorally.

I am "tearing up", too, FJH, but I am sure for very different reasons.

I am sure that many folks - as has been mentioned here - are just "punching their card." Hardly the liturgical renewal that was advertised! Perhaps that will get better... but I do not have any hope that it will. said...

I would be very cautious to judge who's reading and who's praying. There are many who appear to the reading who are actually praying and many who appear to be praying who are actually, well, elsewhere. I shift from one position to the next, depending on my mental state and the state of the Liturgy being carried out.

As for the comment regarding the funeral, I think "for all" appears pastorally kind because we are tired (or don't know how to) and want to avoid having to explain the hard truths of our Catholic faith. It would take too much time, and in our bite-sized culture, many prefer not to explain/listen to anything that's not in a couple of short phrases.

We hope and pray for God's mercy, but justice is the flip side of the coin and demands that God's mercy not overide a person's free choice. God, in his wisdom, has chosen not to reveal to us what a person's final free choice was who died from commiting suicide, or who died outside the visible communion of the Church, or, for that matter, who died as an apparently practicing Catholic. "For all" doesn't mean all are automatically granted admittance into heaven and we lie if we give such an impression; "for many" doesn't automatically exclude any specific individual either and we are presumptous if we think this is the case too. But I suspect some people prefer to have people mistakenly think the former than the latter.

Anonymous said...


The "hard truth" of our faith IS that Christ died for all... or are you doubting the efficacy of his salvific act?

This is a translation issue. The original languages use "many" in an inclusive fashion (many as in the multitude; up to and including all); in English, it is heard as exclusive (many but not all).