Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Paying Attention? Wandering?

"New Translation Tuesday" is here. Welcome.

As I was driving into work this morning, a question crossed my mind: Do the majority of Catholics pay close attention to the prayers prayed at Mass?

When I look around at my own parish, I am not quite sure. This past Sunday, when the First Reading began, I was so excited to hear the story of the binding of Isaac. But to be honest with you, my mind wandered to the Easter Vigil proclamation of this same text. As I sat there and the reading was proclaimed, all I could think of was the preparation session that I would have to plan with the Easter Vigil readers some time during Holy Week. I thought to myself, "I wonder what night would be best" and "What lector would be best for this reading?" Then I heard the lector say, "The word of the Lord." Darn it! I missed the entire reading because my mind wandered! So, it seems to me that it is a natural thing for our minds to wander at moments during Mass.

I guess my question for you, faithful followers of this blog, is this: Have you found that since the advent of the new translation, you yourself have been paying much closer attention? What is your sense of the other Catholics in your parish?

I am toying with the idea of creating an on-line survey, asking people to share their experience of the new translation thus far. What do you think would be a good question to ask?

Looking for lots of feedback here. Remember, just check the comments box. You can always post anonymously. Thanks so much.

Headed to Baltimore tomorrow morning for the first ever Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leadership. Giving three workshops, focused on the RCIA. Should be fun.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Christian Cosas said...

That happened to me too—all four times this weekend. Frankly, I don't feel bad about it. It's kind of anamnesis, isn't it? The reading triggers a memory of lived experience, even if it's of the same reading in a different liturgical context. In this case, it brings us to the Easter Vigil, the height of celebration of our faith, the liturgy par excellence. What's so wrong about that?

Maybe it's ADHD, but I think it's just living the moment in a different way.

Geoff said...

Interesting that you should ask this question...I was just talking about this with a colleague at dinner last night. I used to actually pray the words of the Eucharistic Prayer quietly with the priest at Mass (except Prayer I...never quite got that memorized). I had even led several reflection days on the spirituality of the EP in the past. Over the past few months, I have used the time to decipher stained glass windows and figure out who all the statues are. This past week, as I waited to direct the memorial acclamation, I looked down at the floor and figured out the mosaic pattern. It is very sad to me because I believe so strongly in the eucharistic prayer, but I just cannot seem to enter into anymore. And if I am doing this, I can be pretty certain that many, many other people are also doing it.

I have had an interesting epiphany through it all though... In the mornings I work in a Presbyterian setting and, reformed worship being what it is, words are very important. It would be a fair assessment that there is not a single prayer on Sunday that has not been gone over with a fine tooth comb for theology, syntax, and readability earlier in the week. At least in the congregation I serve, these things are much more important that any ritual moments in the service. There is also not a lot of room for sacred mystery. On the other hand, with the advent of the new missal translation, I have become more aware of the ritual and sacramentalism of Catholic worship. Perhaps the average person in the pew doesn't care about the new translations so much because Catholic worship is so much more centered in sacred mystery and words are secondary to that. Just a thought.

Now my idea of the heavenly liturgy is one where mystery and word finally unite in some glorious celebration. Because I think that ultimately, both are important and have their place. I think Protestants have learned much from Catholics since the Second Vatican Council when it comes to liturgical renewal and ritual. Unfortunately, I am not so sure that Catholics have learned as much from Protestants when it comes to the words we actually use in worship.

Steve Raml said...

Hi Jerry -
You mentioned a possible online survey -- I did one for the music people of my diocese in Mid-January, a "six weeks into it" sort of thing. From 32 responses, we found mostly positive overall feedback, both from assemblies and from the musicians themselves (personal reaction). Not surprising, I could corrolate those whose personal reaction was negative (only 3%) with those whose assemblies' reaction was mostly negative.

When we asked about how they would gage the assembly response to the various dialogues - choosing from "<75%-most have it, 50% mix of old/new, 33% we sound like Babel, or >25% get it right". You could see the percentage drop as the Mass went on. From most getting the initial dialogue, to the mix by Preface, to Babel by Invitation to Communion.

Now, six weeks after that survey - I can see my own parish settling in to mostly correct responses. But I suspect many minds are wandering during the EP and Collects.

I would love to see a national survey -- so I say "go for it".

Anonymous said...

I find that my mind wanders during the prayers and I have also heard that from the "people in the pews." We did a lot of catechesis before the implementation but people tell me the wording of the prayers isn't meaningful. Some said they do not always know the meaning of some of the words. (an example was compunction)The teens don't seem to be engaged at all.Hopefully this will change in time.

FJH 3rd said...

I find that my trusty hand missal helps keep me focused. I enjoy flipping to the different sections, and seeing the texts on the page helps reinforce what is being proclaimed.

Scott Pluff said...

How about, "Has the new Roman Missal changed your experience of prayer?" with choices of various degree. You know, the old idea of what will help these people, in this place, on this day to pray?

Reception of ritual texts, especially the Eucharistic Prayers, depend largely on the skill of the presider. Maybe you could have a question about the perceived skill-level of their presiders.

If Father missed his calling as an auctioneer, it will be received as blah-blah-churchy-church talk. That much is true of any translation.

The denser new prose may slow down presiders at first, but if so inclined they will be back to breakneck speed before long.