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Missing the Missalís Mass of Potential (New Translation Comments) [Catholic Caucus] ^ | December 16th, 2011 | Louie Verrecchio

Posted on 12/16/2011 7:45:36 PM PST by Salvation

Missing the Missal’s Mass of Potential

December 16th, 2011 by Louie Verrecchio

After years of discussion, preparation and anticipation, the new English translation of the Roman Missal – Third Edition was officially implemented in the United States on November 27. The “reviews” are now starting to show up in newspapers, blogs, and other media.

As I read them, it seems as though most of the “people in the pews” are either positive about the new text, or they are at the very least willing to approach the changes as an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Some media outlets, however, are doing their level best to trumpet the negative by highlighting the opinions of a disgruntled minority composed largely, it seems, of aging liberals and self-anointed cognoscenti.

The Washington Post Blog, for example, featured the insights of a guest writer who boasted of a “theological degree” and having “studied the liturgy for thirty years” presumably as qualifications for summarily dismissing the new translation as an exercise in “what the hierarchy wants” as opposed to “what the Catholic faithful actually need.”

As compelling evidence that the new text is unacceptably “complex and clunky,” this liturgical-expert-come-blogger highlighted changes made in the Eucharistic prayers, pointing out, “In the story of the Last Supper, retold at every Mass, it used to be that Jesus took ‘the cup.’ Now, instead he takes ‘the precious chalice.’”

O, the horror of it all!

This sort of sophistry would be amusing if not for the sad truth being made plain; namely, not even three decades of liturgical study and a theology degree is enough to guarantee that one is able (much less willing) to conceive of the Mass according to “the mind of the Church.” Neither, does it seem, is Holy Orders.

On this note, one report in particular caught my eye, coming as it did from a bishop in his weekly diocesan newspaper column.

While acknowledging that the faithful’s reaction to the new Missal was “overwhelmingly positive,” he went on to write, “Nearly all the priests I spoke to expressed regrets that the new language made it difficult for them to enter deeply into prayer during the Mass because they were distracted by the book. A change of just one or two words created an obstacle that will take some time before our priests are able to celebrate the Mass in [a] prayer-filled and zestful style…”

With all due respect, this commentary makes it clear that the new translation alone — for all of its poetry, elevated language and faithfulness to the original Latin — isn’t going to do much to deter the liturgical priest-as-centerpiece mindset that has so plagued the Church for the last forty years. Furthermore, it raises some serious questions.

Does the bishop mean to suggest that a priest simply praying the Mass reverently and devoutly, believing and intending what the Church intends and believes, is somehow deficient? It would seem to me that this is all that is truly required (even desired) of the priest; in fact, as far as I’m concerned anything ostensibly “added” on his part can only serve to subtract from the liturgy.

Also, what does “distracted by the book” mean? Distracted from what, exactly? Taken in context, this comment seems to imply that the text in the new edition of the Roman Missal, thanks to our priests’ relative unfamiliarity, is somehow handcuffing their creativity. And this is a bad thing how?

Perhaps the most troubling and revealing questions these comments raise concern the notion of “style.”

What on earth is meant by a “zestful style?” To what end is this necessary or even desirable in the celebration of Holy Mass? Is it imagined to be for the benefit of the assembly — a sign intended to reassure those present that Father is “all-in” with the prayers of the Mass, or is it for the benefit of Father himself –- a way for the priest to reassure himself that he’s giving the liturgy, and the people present, the help they presumably both need?

Taken as a whole, the bishop’s commentary seems to suggest that he and the priests with whom he spoke simply assume, in the manner of Protestant ministers, that it is incumbent upon them to bring a certain stage presence to the Mass wherein “style points” are earned by those clerics who offer (perform, perhaps) the prayers of the liturgy with the kinds of expressive intonations they consider necessary to somehow enhance the celebration.

Well, I have some good news and some bad news for all concerned. The good news is that the pressure to perform that these clerics are feeling is artificial and largely self-imposed; having little to do with what is actually required of them and even less to do with the liturgy’s true nature.

The bad news is that too many of our priests and bishops (and by natural extension, laity) don’t seem to get it.

In the aforementioned column, the bishop chose to highlight the thoughts of a local pastor who offered the following commentary in his parish bulletin:

“My unfamiliarity with the new translation has led to a rupture in my ability to enter deeply into prayer with all of you. I realize now the great gift I have been given in such a community that prays so well together. It is more than simply good liturgy (although we have that in spades) or careful preparation. It is about the way we come together as the Body of Christ to listen to and to support one another in prayer and in sacrifice.”

What inspired the bishop to share this pseudo-catechetical exercise in clerical self-pity with the entire diocese is a mystery all its own, but be that as it may, here’s some more good news; it’s not all about you, Father! The liturgy isn’t even, as you suppose, about the community assembling “to listen to and to support one another,” as though “entering deeply into prayer” at Holy Mass is some sort of Christian group hug abetted by familiarity.

No! It’s about entering into the Redemptive work of Christ; it’s about Divine worship; it’s about sacred mystery.

If my frustration is showing, forgive me. Yes, the new Missal offers the potential of helping the Church take a major step in the right direction, but my God! How much longer must we suffer under the weight of this decades-long liturgical crisis in which so many of our people insist on behaving as though Christ is no more present and operative in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass than He is when two or more ---- Boy Scouts are praying ‘round a campfire?

And just for the record, I’m not simply talking about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist alone, but rather the transcendent presence of Christ in the entirety of the sacred rite wherein He is uniquely active among us.

Speaking in September of 2010, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations Monsignor Guido Marini addressed this distorted view saying, “[The liturgy does not] deal with a mere assembly of persons who share an ideal and intend to form a community; rather, it deals with a celebration by which we truly enter into a relationship with the mystery of our salvation…”

He went on to talk about what it means to truly “enter” the liturgy, saying, “To enter into a reality… involves man in his every dimension: intellect, will, emotion, sentiment, action, etc. The external nature of action and its interior foundation result as complementary and necessary. And so it is for the liturgical life…” he continued, “if there is participation that comes about by means of comprehending a text, it is also a form of participation that occurs when the soul is uplifted as it encounters the beautiful.”

As for the erroneous suggestion that liturgical texts must be eminently comprehensible on a merely human intellectual level, Monsignor Marini said, “It seems to me that, according to the law of the pendulum, if at one time the lack of adequate participation [in the liturgy] may have been due to a defect in understanding and action, today such a lack of adequate participation may be due to an excess of rational comprehension and external action, to which there is not always present a sufficient and complementary understanding of the heart and attention to the interior action, so as to re-live in oneself the sentiments and thoughts of Christ.”

With all of this said, it must also be noted that even in the sentiments expressed by those who are largely positive about the new Missal there are red flags waving.

My pastor, for example, said to the assembled faithful following Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, with neither malice nor negativity intended, “Three or four weeks from now, it will be as though nothing has changed.”

I fear he is right, and this is why we must confront head-on the very real danger that the faithful sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church may ultimately find themselves encouraged to accomplish little more than to adopt new words; remaining deprived of the prescription put forth by the Council Fathers who said, “Pastors of souls must zealously strive to promote the full and active participation of all the people in the sacred liturgy by means of the necessary instruction of the faithful” (cf SC 14).

This “necessary” liturgical instruction, according to Pope Benedict XVI, is best considered “mystagogical catechesis;” i.e., teaching that illuminates, to the extent that this is possible, Holy Mass as sacred mystery, that we might deepen our participation therein as we “grow in our awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life” (cf Sacramentum Caritatis).

If we’re honest, we must admit that in spite of all the Roman Missal workshops, bulletin inserts and homilies over the last year, the official implementation milestone is really just a small first step in preparing the way for the Roman Missal, that it might be the impetus for renewal it has the potential to be.

Sir Winston Churchill’s famous 1942 quote after a decisive WW II battle seems entirely apropos in this case as well: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


Louie Verrecchio is a Catholic speaker and the author of Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II; an internationally acclaimed adult faith formation tool, endorsed by George Cardinal Pell, that explores the documents of the Second Vatican Council. For more information please visit:

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; eucharist; liturgy; mass; prayer; translations
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To: Lady Lucky; AnAmericanMother

Are you a linguist?

Remember the three things happening with the new translation:

Higher linguistic register = chalice rather than cup
Greater adherance to the Latin
Longer sentence (the way Latin was written)

41 posted on 12/17/2011 11:37:15 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: jmacusa

You never know. Remember he sent two disciples ahead to follow a MAN carrying a water jar. (Women, in those days, usually fetched the water.) Then they were to ask him if the Master could eat the Passover at his upper room.

Perhaps the man provided the chalice, the bread, the bitter herbs, the roast lamb......remember this was a Passover meal. Oh, can’t forget the wine! LOL!

42 posted on 12/17/2011 11:41:42 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: jmacusa
For your information here are some links about a Passover meal with roast lamb (Commerating the Passover when the Israelites ate lamb, marked their doorposts and lintels with the blood of the lamb and ate the meal while ready to journey out of Egypt.)

A Christian Passover Seder for Holy Thursday (or tonight)
Seminarians experience a key Jewish rite [Seder Meal]
What every Christian needs to know about Passover [Passover starts this evening]
Christian seders draw concern

43 posted on 12/17/2011 11:46:09 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Mad Dawg
Thus we have the new words at Communion time (words (Lamb of God) that converted Scott Hahn, a Presbyterian)

"Behold the LAMB of God,
Behold HIM who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the LAMB."

44 posted on 12/17/2011 11:52:30 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Thanks for the info Salvation. It seems ironic in a way. The thread is talking about the new liturgy and it’s translations, words used, etc. and we’re doing pretty much the same thing. Yes of course The Last Supper was on the night Passover and being observant Jews Jesus and the 12 disciples would be partaking. I guess I’m just looking at it from the perspective of the Catholic teaching of the ‘’old school’’ nuns and priests of long ago who wanted us to focus on the meaning of it— that Jesus knew what he had to do, though he wished he didn’t have to(i.e ‘’the bitter cup’’). No doubt in every sense of history and tradition it would have been a traditional Hebrew Seder of that era.

45 posted on 12/17/2011 11:56:31 AM PST by jmacusa (Political correctness is cultural Marxism. I'm not a Marxist.)
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To: jmacusa

Yes, we have been doing much the same and it is a great conversation. Thanks.

46 posted on 12/17/2011 12:05:57 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation


47 posted on 12/17/2011 12:12:10 PM PST by jmacusa (Political correctness is cultural Marxism. I'm not a Marxist.)
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To: Salvation

The real problem is that many of the priests simply cannot read properly. The lectors when trained properly know how to read to the congregation quite well. It is the priests who have essentially memorized it all and now find themselves having to read the new translation to the congregation. They should have been reading it over quite a few times in advance of the change being made. Instead, they stand there in front of the congregation and demonstrate their inability to read out loud from a large print book. Some of these priests come across as first grade children reading from a Dick and Jane reader.

48 posted on 12/17/2011 12:42:12 PM PST by CdMGuy
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To: sayuncledave
Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi

This says so much in so few words. It works in reverse, too. If we live bad lives, we cease to believe, and we stop communicating with God. Sin cuts off the source of our existence, so we are dead men/women walking. Zombies in the true sense. I have always been pretty liberal in my opinions, but paradoxically, because I grew up in a Protestant environment, I never quite bought into the thinking of the Catholic modernizers. I admired Kueng until I took the time to read carefully one of his books, and thought to myself, not so fast. I find I have much more sympathy with Karl Barth and Bonhoeffer his disciple.Especially Bonhoeffer, a martyr to Christ. I hate those who lie about Pius XII. Don't they know that when Pacelli was negotiating with the Nazis, he had his legs cut out from under him by the German bishops who were fawning over Hitler? The German Church,like the philosophers kept being blindsided by Hitler.

49 posted on 12/17/2011 12:46:30 PM PST by RobbyS
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To: jmacusa

Well, John said it was NOT the passover meal. In any case, I have always thought, in any case, that it was something done after the meal, while they were all still seated at table. Something like: well, we have been following the old Law. Now I give you something new. something to remember me by, the first meal in the new kingdom.

50 posted on 12/17/2011 12:50:47 PM PST by RobbyS
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To: Salvation

“Are you a linguist?”

You need clearance for that information ;) but I’ll say this: from where I’m sitting I can see five different works of Greek study, and 2 cases of the full audio of the New Testament, and I would most emphatically recommend study of same to everyone. It’s amazing what you can learn this way, that might never otherwise come up.

51 posted on 12/17/2011 2:40:31 PM PST by Lady Lucky
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To: RobbyS

Scott Hahn is good on this — on placing the Institution in the context of a Seder. But yes, John says what he says. It’s interesting.

52 posted on 12/17/2011 5:32:37 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Jesus, I trust in you.)
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To: Salvation

As far as this new translatio­n of the phony 1969 mass, its only been done because everyone is waking up to the fact that we have had a fake mass for the last 40 years or so. Changing a few words is just their way of dealing with the catholic counter-re­volution. If they were serious they would just bring back Old Roman Rite that worked just fine for the better part of the last 2000 years. Why would the pope change a mass that had been used for for nearly 2000 years? Because Pope Paul VI was an infiltrato­r, an impostor, as was his predecesso­r John XXIII. Who was the lawful (though unrecogniz­ed) pope during this time? Why it was Cardinal Siri of Genoa who was elected on October 26th, 1958 when the white smoke billowed out of the Sistine Chapel for 5 minutes but was forced aside before he could appear on the balcony in St. Peter’s square. Historic footage of his election here http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=xMtMbe6od­h4

53 posted on 12/17/2011 7:02:07 PM PST by Gilbert555
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To: Lady Lucky
I’ll say this: from where I’m sitting I can see five different works of Greek study, and 2 cases of the full audio of the New Testament...

Did you start with Machen? LOL!

54 posted on 12/18/2011 5:07:34 AM PST by LisaFab
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To: LisaFab

It was a looong time ago but I think the author’s name was Winer. Big old book. I’ve seen the newer books in the library and like most recent works it looks somewhat “dumbed down” to me. NTTAWWT... :) Some swear by Machen. Others at him.

55 posted on 12/18/2011 5:53:49 AM PST by Lady Lucky
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To: Gilbert555

Well for most of my life and I am just a few years past the half century mark, up until almost a month ago, the previous version of the mass was ALL I EVER KNEW. I hardly remember the old Latin mass and I am working to get used to the new updated English words 3rd Roman Missal changes.

56 posted on 12/18/2011 12:30:21 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: All

Well, the Pharisees never change. Even more and more obvious these days.



57 posted on 01/07/2012 1:56:48 AM PST by jesus4life
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