Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Roman Missal: Something's Gotta Change

Tuesday greetings from Chicago, where we awoke to about an inch of snow on the ground. It is actually quite beautiful, but it should all be melted in a matter of hours. The view on the train platform this morning:


While away on vacation last week the new CARA survey on The Roman Missal was released. Frankly, I did not find any of the findings that surprising. In my travels, I have noticed that the majority of priests over forty have expressed dismay with the text; younger priests have generally expressed satisfaction with the text.

I would like to share more of my own experience. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to pray with the celebrant at Sunday Mass when the official texts are prayed. I am listening so intently to the words and phrases that I am too distracted to actually pray. Sometimes I try to tune out the praying of the collect, for instance, just so I won't get bogged down in trying to figure out what the prayer is actually saying. This saddens me. Since I have been somewhat of a "travelin' man" Catholic for the last year, I have had experiences of excellent celebrants who have prepared the texts quite well. But even then, I find myself being impressed more by their preparation and delivery than by the texts themselves. I knew, certainly, that this would be the case for me as the implementation of the new translation began to unfold. But I expected this not to be the case today, a few years later.

I am speaking from my Catholic heart here, not my publisher heart. I believe that something needs to change in the next several years. I need the English-language texts of the Mass to make sense when they are prayed. I need the English-language texts of the Mass to inspire me at face value, without having to decipher the meaning embedded in a convoluted word-order. I need the English-language texts of the Mass to draw me deeper into the theology they express in much more straightforward ways. I am growing tired of doing linguistic analysis at Mass. I am not there to analyze; I am there to pray with my sisters and brothers. Something's gotta change.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

11 comments:

John Drake said...

You may be speaking from you Catholic heart, but as a publisher don't you stand to reap financial rewards if the Missal is re-translated once again in just a few years? Jerry, it continues to baffle me how intelligent people can have such opposing views on this. To me the words of the Collect, in the majority of cases, give me food for thought and set a proper tone for the readings to come. I truly regret that they don't have the same impact on you. I do make a point of reading all the propers, along with the readings, in advance. Perhaps that helps. My prayers are with you during this struggle.

John Halloran said...

Thank you for the remarks! I find myself so very distracted... not just from the priest, but possibly the deacon or lay leader at a Communion Service. They consistently stumble and start again... sometimes the comma isn't inserted and they have to choose how to break the thought. There will hopefully come a day when ICEL will once again become the creative tool that it was meant to be, instead of the mouthpiece of authoritarian minority.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Thank you for your post, John. It is difficult to draw a line between what I do and who I am; I was speaking from the heart as a worshipping Catholic here. Of course, if there were a re-translation and we decided to delve into that world again, there would be financial benefit for this publishing company. Sometimes I take the publisher's hat off, as I did this morning. Thank you for your prayers.
Jerry

Mark Hoggard said...

Well said, Jerry. I attended the Chrism Mass last night, and found myself distracted by the clumsy text of the opening collect. I'm not sure the collect is doing what it's supposed to do -- "collect" the silent prayer that has just happened after the Gloria.

Linda Reid said...

I am speaking from a grateful Catholic heart and I am not a publisher. THANK YOU, Gerry! I am of the same mind as you are! I continually tune out the presidential prayers because they make no sense most of the time. The speech is so convoluted and Latinate that any English meaning is lost, as is the moment of prayer! and I hear them 3 times every weekend as I am the music director and minister at multiple masses. I am so thankful that I have the hymns and songs with which to pray!
What we have is an English translation shoehorned into Latin grammatical structures - it is SO far from the vernacular as to be unintelligible most of the time.6

Anonymous said...

I had the same issue years ago but with a different aspect of the Mass. I am/was a bit of liturgical snob and would notice every little thing that was done incorrectly. These things greatly disturbed me and distracted me from my participation in the Mass. Same thing went for the music. If it wasn't well performed or the song selection wasn't "up to my standards" I was distracted once again.


A while back I decided that I wouldn't let these things bother me any more. I just tried to participate fully in the Mass that I was a part of. No Mass is our own; it's the public prayer of the church and who am I to say it's not up to my standards or desires.
I tried my best to not listen to the Mass with a critical ear/heart but with an open heart to whatever the Lord was teaching me that day.


Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I've given up on listening to the prayers at Mass. They've become meaningless. Unfortunately I have also given up on the idea that the Mass has anything to do with my prayer life. Prayer, for me, is something separate from Mass. And that's very sad.

The Rambling Quilter said...

Totally agree. I have a slight hearing problem and I have given up trying to decipher what's being said and prefer to read along when possible (I know we are also discouraged from doing this - especially during the Liturgy of the Word). However, sometimes it's read along or miss it completely. I long for the days I could just sit and absorb the prayers and pray along. Sad but true -

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. I really can't pray the prayers any more. I find my mind wanders. I think the priest find it difficult to speak the words prayerfully. Many times during the Eucharistic Prayers the priest stumbles over the words or loses his place, because he momentarily looks at the community. Many times the Collect in particular makes no sense. The idea of a close or word to word translation from the original, just isn't prayerful.

Rosie Rundell said...

Thank you for speaking what many of us are feeling.

Liam said...

I wouldn't recommend embracing an expectation that the texts will change any time soon. Which leaves . . . changing ourselves and how we think we ought to be engaging the liturgy.