"New Translation Tuesday" greetings. A rather long post today, but please stick with it.
I received a letter yesterday:
I read with interest—and some alarm—your comments on The Roman Missal in the Intro to the current Seasonal Missalette.
You like it!
This is a priest who has offered Mass since 1956. When I first saw this Roman Missal, it forced me to check on the liturgy document from Vatican II.
I found that every norm for the promotion of good liturgy in Paragraphs 21-36 was laid aside and broken.
What we have is nigh a blasphemy to God and to His people. A mess.
The words which should lead to the Mystery have now become the mystery unto themselves, barring access to the Mystery.
And you find inspiration?
You and J.S. Paluch have taken a far tumble in my estimation.
Sorry, Buddy, but I disagree 100% with you!
P.S. It's a Trial—not any pleasure—to read the Mass text.
These types of letters are certainly difficult to read. Here is a man, a priest for 56 years, who is echoing the sentiments of many, many priests I have spoken with since the advent of the new translation. I wanted to share with you what it was that I wrote in the Seasonal Missalette. I have been writing a short article that appears on the inside cover of our missal resources for about twelve years now. The article is entitled "Liturgical Reflections on the Season." Here is the text:
Liturgical Reflections on the Season
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
This short section is taken from the Gospel of Saint Mark proclaimed on October 28, the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. As we continue with the implementation of the newly translated texts at Mass, we can make the words of the blind man our own, asking the Lord, “Master, I want to see.” We are not talking about sight in the physical sense; here we are talking about sight in the spiritual sense. Many of us are paying much closer attention to the prayers at Mass now, chiefly because they sound so different to ears that had become accustomed to hearing the same prayers for decades in the former translation. Perhaps we can seize this opportunity to ask the Lord to lead us more deeply into an appreciation of what these texts can mean in our lives. In other words, echoing the words of the blind man, we can say, “Master, I want to see.”
I know that my own experience at Mass has shifted pretty dramatically since the advent of this new translation of The Roman Missal. Sometimes some of the newly translated prayers are hard for me to comprehend when I hear them prayed aloud. At other times, certain phrases strike me instantly as inspiring and they touch me deeply. As a person sitting in the pews at my parish, Saint James, located on the near South Side of the city of Chicago, I have found myself paying much closer attention to the prayers that our pastor prays at Mass. There is such richness in them. The Church has consistently taught that the prayers we pray at Mass create for us a locus theologicus. This simple Latin phrase means “the site or the place where theology is expressed.” In other words, the Church teaches that our very Catholic beliefs are expressed in the prayers that are prayed at Sunday Mass. When someone asks me, “What do Catholics believe?” my first inclination is not to point them in the direction of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That can come later. My first inclination is to say to them, “You want to know what Catholics believe? Go to a Sunday Mass in any parish. Or better yet, go to a parish and attend liturgies during Holy Week. Just pay careful attention to the readings, the prayers, the music, and the ritual, and there you will discover the core of what Catholics believe.”
The new translation of The Roman Missal offers us the opportunity to embrace the Mass prayers in a renewed way. We have a choice to make. Some of us can simply settle into old ways of letting the prayers merely wash over us, paying little attention to them. Or, hopefully, we can be much more attuned to what is being prayed. God continues the work of redemption, through Christ, as the Mass is prayed. And that means that God is working that redemption on each and every one of us who sits in the pews week in and week out.
Why not take the opportunity before Mass to ask the Lord to help you to be more attentive, more attuned to the richness of our Catholic beliefs expressed in the prayers at Mass? Let’s make our prayer the same as the blind man in the Gospel: “Master, I want to see.”
So, I wrote to the priest who sent the letter. I told him that I really felt for him. I also clarified a few things and told him that this has been a very difficult and challenging time for me as a worshipping Catholic as I struggle to grasp the meaning of many of the newly translated prayers. To be honest, folks, my heart was aching for this priest of 56 years. Two things from his letter have haunted me since I received it:. The first is this phrase: "The words which should lead to the Mystery have now become the mystery unto themselves, barring access to the Mystery." And the second was his shortest sentence: "A mess."
I would appreciate your comments and perhaps clues as to what you would have said to this elderly priest.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.