Friday, March 21, 2014

In These or Similar Words by Paul Turner

Friday morning greetings to all.

When I returned from California yesterday, I found a new WLP book on my desk, a book that I helped edit over the past several months. It has now arrived and is in stock in our warehouse. I believe this book will prove to be one of the most helpful resources for clergy and laity alike in this Roman Missal, Third Edition era.

Announcing Fr. Paul Turner's new book: In These or Similar Words: Praying and Crafting the Language of the Liturgy.

Paul begins his introduction in this way:

"What happened to the parts of the Mass that used to say, 'In these or similar words'?" This was one of the most frequently asked questions I heard in the years leading up to the implementation of the Third Edition of The Roman Missal. Priests were especially concerned.

The answer is complicated, but I thought it was a good question and deserved a thorough response. That's why I wanted to write this book.

Paul continues:

Priests asked about improvising words because every one of us has a unique style of presiding at Mass. Even though we all operate from the same book with the same rubrics and words, each of us puts our own personal stamp on the liturgy, whether or not we intend it.

All priests use their own words at some time during the liturgy. There have always been places where the rubrics encourage this, often with the expression "in these or similar words." Some priests have a special gift with this freedom. They disclose their personal faith, and they connect with their people. They fortify the unity of the assembly as people prepare to share Communion together. Other priests, quite frankly, don't have this gift. They make inept remarks, they drone on too long, or they repeat themselves. People in my congregations have had to put up with my verbal strengths and weaknesses throughout my years as a priest.

And a final few sections from the introduction:

Catholics have a right to expect that they will hear and say the correct words when they gather for the Eucharist. The predictability of the liturgy is the Procrustean bed of Catholic spirituality. Nonetheless, the Church allows some flexibility to the liturgical words. That freedom helps infuse the Eucharist with new life each time we gather to pray.

I've divided this book into four parts. The first chapter directly answers the question, "What happened to the parts of the Mass that used to say, 'In these or similar words'?" I think the answer will surprise you.

In the second section, I'm treating the parts that can and should change with every Mass. We've always been free to compose some of our own words, and this has not changed . . .

I'll follow this up with a presentation of some of the words that people have found difficult or puzzling in the revised translation of The Roman Missal . . .

Finally, I've added a section at the end pertaining to the rubrics. The Roman Missal is a book full of words to say, printed in black, but it also contains actions to perform, printed in red. I've witnesses considerable variation in the way that priests and people handle the red ink, the rubrics of the Mass. Occasionally, I hear a fellow priest summarize his philosophy this way: "I say what's in black. I do what's in red." 

I tell him, “No, you don’t. I’ll take that challenge. Let me watch you say Mass. Nobody does exactly what it says in red. Everybody changes something.” Even when I watch papal ceremonies on television, I see actions that appear nowhere in the rubrics. Some priests don’t realize what they’re doing. Some do. So, for a fuller look at the celebration of the Mass, and to put the original question in a broader perspective, I’ve concluded the book with a section called “[In These or Similar Actions].”

As I read and edited this book, I realized how helpful Paul's pastoral and scholarly approach would be for clergy and laity. He includes a few "quizzes" in the final section. These "quizzes" test the reader on our actions at Mass and whether or not these actions correspond to the rubrics. I took these little tests and found them fascinating (and my lack of knowledge became all too apparent!).

This book is sure to stir some discussion. I look forward to entering into fruitful dialogue. But first, we all need to read this fine book (blatant commercial here). So be sure to call our great folks in WLP Customer Care at 1 800 566-6150, or log onto our web site and order your copy today. Let's get the discussion started!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

In These or Similar Words: Praying and Crafting the Language of the Liturgy Copyright © 2014, World Library Publications. All rights reserved under the United States copyright law.

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