"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to all.
Pope Benedict, in his final videotaped address to those gathered for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, reflected on the anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's reform of the liturgy:
The Congress also occurs at a time when the Church throughout the world is preparing to celebrate the Year of Faith to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Vatican Council II, an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known. Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities. The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of His brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognise anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life.
I'd like to place Fr. Austin Fleming's comments from last week's post here, because I think there is a direct relation to the Pope's statement. Here are Fr. Fleming's comments regarding my post about the Collect for Corpus Christi:
Gerry, you wrote, "Sure, there is some awkwardness in the construction..."
What if the awkwardness in the construction thwarts whatever meaning and beauty is in the collect for those who have not studied and rehearsed the text ahead of time? What of those worshipers who, as many of us would prefer, do not follow along in pew books but who open ears and hearts to hear and pray the collect the priest offers?
Seems to me that no matter how beautiful the text and its meaning to those who study it, the same text has failed if those for whom it is intended fail, in the best of circumstances, to grasp its meaning and intent.
I have great respect for Fr. Fleming's work and solid pastoral sense. His words gave me pause when I first read his comments and they have haunted me all week. Look again at what the Holy Father said in the statement above: "The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery." The re-translation of the Missale Romanum was indeed part of the continued "renewal of external forms." And here is a pastor, whose dedication to excellent liturgy is well-known, saying that this particular renewed "eternal form" "has failed if those for whom it is intended fail, in the best of circumstances, to grasp its meaning and intent."
Does the Holy Father need to hear from people like Fr. Fleming? I don't think any of us would argue with the points made by the Holy Father in this statement; actually it is quite inspiring. You can read the entire text here. I think what we see here is quite a disconnect between what the pope hopes is happening in the hearts of the faithful with this new translation, this new "external form," and what is actually happening in many of the faithful's experience.
I know I have opened a can of worms here, but a blog like this is a forum for all of us to share our experience. So, please hit the comments tab and share away. And, Fr. Fleming, thanks for your comment.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.