Skip to comments.An Open Letter to the Church Renouncing My Service on I.C.E.L.
Posted on 11/29/2002 5:00:21 PM PST by Loyalist
An Open Letter to the Church Renouncing my Service on I.C.E.L.
Father Stephen Somerville, STL.
Dear Fellow Catholics in the Roman Rite,
1 I am a priest who for over ten years collaborated in a work that became a notable harm to the Catholic Faith. I wish now to apologize before God and the Church and to renounce decisively my personal sharing in that damaging project. I am speaking of the official work of translating the new post-Vatican II Latin liturgy into the English language, when I was a member of the Advisory Board of the International Commission on English Liturgy (I.C.E.L.).
2 I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canada, ordained in 1956. Fascinated by the Liturgy from early youth, I was singled out in 1964 to represent Canada on the newly constituted I.C.E.L. as a member of the Advisory Board. At 33 its youngest member, and awkwardly aware of my shortcomings in liturgiology and related disciplines, I soon felt perplexity before the bold mistranslations confidently proposed and pressed by the everstrengthening radical/progressive element in our group. I felt but could not articulate the wrongness of so many of our committees renderings.
3 Let me illustrate briefly with a few examples. To the frequent greeting by the priest, The Lord be with you, the people traditionally answered, and with your (Thy) spirit: in Latin, Et cum spiritu tuo. But I.C.E.L. rewrote the answer: And also with you. This, besides having an overall trite sound, has added a redundant word, also. Worse, it has suppressed the word spirit which reminds us that we human beings have a spiritual soul. Furthermore, it has stopped the echo of four (inspired) uses of with your spirit in St. Pauls letters.
4 In the I confess of the penitential rite, I.C.E.L. eliminated the threefold through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, and substituted one feeble through my own fault. This is another nail in the coffin of the sense of sin.
5 Before Communion, we pray Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst (you should) enter under my roof. I.C.E.L. changed this to ... not worthy to receive you. We loose the roof metaphor, clear echo of the Gospel (Matth. 8:8), and a vivid, concrete image for a child.
6 I.C.E.L.s changes amounted to true devastation especially in the oration prayers of the Mass. The Collect or Opening Prayer for Ordinary Sunday 21 will exemplify the damage. The Latin prayer, strictly translated, runs thus: O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant to your peoples (grace) to love that which you command and to desire that which you promise, so that, amidst worldly variety, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are found.
7 Here is the I.C.E.L. version, in use since 1973: Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise, make us one in mind and heart.
8 Now a few comments: To call God Father is not customary in the Liturgy, except Our Father in the Lords prayer. Help us to seek implies that we could do this alone (Pelagian heresy) but would like some aid from God. Jesus teaches, without Me you can do nothing. The Latin prays grant (to us), not just help us. I.C.E.L.s values suggests that secular buzzword, values that are currently popular, or politically correct, or changing from person to person, place to place. Lasting joy in this changing world, is impossible. In our desire presumes we already have the desire, but the Latin humbly prays for this. What you promise omits what you (God) command, thus weakening our sense of duty. Make us one in mind (and heart) is a new sentence, and appears as the main petition, yet not in coherence with what went before. The Latin rather teaches that uniting our minds is a constant work of God, to be achieved by our pondering his commandments and promises. Clearly, I.C.E.L. has written a new prayer. Does all this criticism matter? Profoundly! The Liturgy is our law of praying (lex orandi), and it forms our law of believing (lex credendi). If I.C.E.L. has changed our liturgy, it will change our faith. We see signs of this change and loss of faith all around us.
9 The foregoing instances of weakening the Latin Catholic Liturgy prayers must suffice. There are certainly THOUSANDS OF MISTRANSLATIONS in the accumulated work of I.C.E.L. As the work progressed I became a more and more articulate critic. My term of office on the Advisory Board ended voluntarily about 1973, and I was named Member Emeritus and Consultant. As of this writing I renounce any lingering reality of this status.
10 The I.C.E.L. labours were far from being all negative. I remember with appreciation the rich brotherly sharing, the growing fund of church knowledge, the Catholic presence in Rome and London and elswhere, the assisting at a day-session of Vatican II Council, the encounters with distinguished Christian personalities, and more besides. I gratefully acknowledge two fellow members of I.C.E.L. who saw then, so much more clearly than I, the right translating way to follow: the late Professor Herbert Finberg, and Fr. James Quinn S.J. of Edinburgh. Not for these positive features and persons do I renounce my I.C.E.L. past, but for the corrosion of Catholic Faith and of reverence to which I.C.E.L.s work has contributed. And for this corrosion, however slight my personal part in it, I humbly and sincerely apologize to God and to Holy Church.
11 Having just mentioned in passing the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), I now come to identify my other reason for renouncing my translating work on I.C.E.L. It is an even more serious and delicate matter. In the past year (from mid 2001), I have come to know with respect and admiration many traditional Catholics. These, being persons who have decided to return to pre-Vatican II Catholic Mass and Liturgy, and being distinct from conservative Catholics (those trying to retouch and improve the Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments of post-Vatican II), these Traditionals, I say, have taught me a grave lesson. They brought to me a large number of published books and essays. These demonstrated cumulatively, in both scholarly and popular fashion, that the Second Vatican Council was early commandeered and manipulated and infected by modernist, liberalist, and protestantizing persons and ideas. These writings show further that the new liturgy produced by the Vatican Concilium group, under the late Archbishop A. Bugnini, was similarly infected. Especially the New Mass is problematic. It waters down the doctrine that the Eucharist is a true Sacrifice, not just a memorial. It weakens the truth of the Real Presence of Christs victim Body and Blood by demoting the Tabernacle to a corner, by reduced signs of reverence around the Consecration, by giving Communion in the hand, often of women, by cheapering the sacred vessels, by having used six Protestant experts (who disbelieve the Real Presence) in the preparation of the new rite, by encouraging the use of sacro-pop music with guitars, instead of Gregorian chant, and by still further novelties.
12 Such a litany of defects suggests that many modern Masses are sacrilegious, and some could well be invalid. They certainly are less Catholic, and less apt to sustain Catholic Faith.
13 Who are the authors of these published critiques of the Conciliar Church? Of the many names, let a few be noted as articulate, sober evaluators of the Council: Atila Sinka Guimaeres (In the Murky Waters of Vatican II), Romano Amerio (Iota Unum: A Study of the Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century), Michael Davies (various books and booklets, TAN Books), and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, one the Council Fathers, who worked on the preparatory schemas for discussions, and has written many readable essays on Council and Mass (cf Angelus Press).
14 Among traditional Catholics, the late Archbishop Lefebvre stands out because he founded the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), a strong society of priests (including six seminaries to date) for the celebration of the traditional Catholic liturgy. Many Catholics who are aware of this may share the opinion that he was excommunicated and that his followers are in schism. There are however solid authorities (including Cardinal Ratzinger, the top theologian in the Vatican) who hold that this is not so. SSPX declares itself fully Roman Catholic, recognizing Pope John Paul II while respectfully maintaining certain serious reservations.
15 I thank the kindly reader for persevering with me thus far. Let it be clear that it is FOR THE FAITH that I am renouncing my association with I.C.E.L. and the changes in the Liturgy. It is FOR THE FAITH that one must recover Catholic liturgical tradition. It is not a matter of mere nostalgia or recoiling before bad taste.
16 Dear non-traditional Catholic Reader, do not lightly put aside this letter. It is addressed to you, who must know that only the true Faith can save you, that eternal salvation depends on holy and grace-filled sacraments as preserved under Christ by His faithful Church. Pursue these grave questions with prayer and by serious reading, especially in the publications of the Society of St Pius X.
17 Peace be with you. May Jesus and Mary grant to us all a Blessed Return and a Faithful Perseverance in our true Catholic home.
Rev Father Stephen F. Somerville, STL.
Do you realize the arrogance and disobedience in this statement? You alone, even above the Vatican, are fit to judge these? Incredible! Pride goes before the fall.
Must be nice knowing the inner-most thoughts of the Vatican leadership -- especially when their very pronouncements argue against your conclusions. I didn't think the Church looked that favorably on the practice of the black arts such as mind-reading...
<> True. In addition, I think he meant the reality of the Eucharist far surpasses what mere words can describe - and Aquinas' understanding and explanation of transubstantiation are far superior to anything most men have ever accomplished.
There you go again. There is no schism. Rome agrees.
BS. Do a video capture then and post it. Ive heard of the Masses, but until you provide some evidence otherwise, I strongly doubt they are anything like the picture posted.You know, when you post pictures like that with a caption suggesting hula masses, something that picture is not of, so far as I can tell, one starts to wonder if Catholicguy is correct about your partiality, and your selective trust in ultima.Do you deny the reality of hula "Masses"? Or does drstevej's mentioning it just embarass you and your positions? I have seen videos of these "Masses"; I know they exist. drstevej's posted pic was not much different from the video I saw.
That, of course, was not one of the poll questions. You are proving my point. They dont just ask the simple question, they make it complex and try to get deeper into the theology.how well do you think pollsters can gauge belief in the Real Presence, when they can't even figure out who people will vote for?Looks like you are making excuses for the result. It looks pretty simple to me, and I am not even a professional pollster: "Do you believe in the real Presence of Christ at Mass?" People answer yes or no.
<> Believe me, it is. Sitetest, Polycarp, Black Rlk, Patent, myself,etc, are all on an automated Fax list. Each day we receive something from Rome.
I don't have the heart to tell you what we all recieved today. It involved "good news," and I know how unsettled that makes you:)<>
You contend Rome agrees there is no schism? Then please explain what the Pope meant when he said:to tell yourselves that you can embrace schism and yet be Catholic.There you go again. There is no schism. Rome agrees.
Or, in your view, is John Paull II not the key authority in Rome? Does someone else trump his judgment?
c) In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church's law.
Wrong. We see in the Campos case that Vatican admits that traditional Catholics and traditional Catholic priests are not "schismatic." How do we know this? When the traditional priests and faithful of Campos, Brazil, were received into "full communion" in January, 2002, the Vatican did not make any move to absolve them from any censure for "schism," which would have been necessary had the Vatican legally held them "schismatic." The Vatican, in its handling of the priests and parishoners of Campos has admitted that there was no schism.
Language (and thus each written word) is a human construct, it can never fully describe the divine and the infinite. If the Eucharist is what we say it is, words cannot do it justice.he said, "All I have written is straw?" I am not familiar with the quote. I presume the inference is that a philosophical explanation is inferior to an apprehension by faith<> True. In addition, I think he meant the reality of the Eucharist far surpasses what mere words can describe - and Aquinas' understanding and explanation of transubstantiation are far superior to anything most men have ever accomplished.
It is funny. They do not object to calling the Pope an apostate pig, an apostate, an idolater, etc. But they claim we cannot judge them schismatic.To observe and describe is neither arrogant nor disobedient."'In formal terms, innocent until proven guilty, but schismatics nonetheless.'"Do you realize the arrogance and disobedience in this statement? You alone, even above the Vatican, are fit to judge these? Incredible! Pride goes before the fall."
If one observes a man robbing a bank, one may describe him as a bank robber. This is a reasonable action, even prior to his conviction in court for the crime of bank robbery.
THen why was what's-his-name getting all bent out of shape by the previous poster's reference to them?
I completely understand and would not dream of asking you to defend my points or to be used against the others. It would be improper for me to ask and improper for you to do so. My comments were just to say that it is nice having an objective observer to chime in with some interesting insights, delivered without malice. You may despise me and my views. That is fine. It still does not change that I have admired your posts on this thread.
Indeed. That's why people like Rev. Kennedy are so refreshing. Protestants are going through what Catholics are and then some: modernists within the protestant sects are running rampant and are making headway in destroying the faith of their attendees. In some ways the destruction is even worse. There is a parallel fight going on, which is why I said earlier that I often find common ground with my protestant friends on these issues.
I haven't seen pictures of a hula Mass, but here is a photo of the "clown Mass." Looks just as bad to me. But I will give you this much: they didn't use a bed of nails.
(Sorry it's so big. Is there some way to control the size, since you're just linking to a picture posted elsewhere?)
Never. The New "Mass" is illegitimate.
Can the SSPX recognize the validity and worthiness of the new Mass, and help to take this good thing and make it better (possibly to the detriment of the desire of many to assist at the old Mass
If they were to do so, I would cease assisting at their Masses and find an independent priest who would refuse this evil compromise.
Don't you get it? The new Mass is illegitimate. It is NOT a dogma of the Church. The traditional Mass was never abandoned -- indeed could never be abandoned, even by this pope. What the modernists have done, however, is to attempt to stamp out through sneaky and nefarious means what they could not outright ban.
If you look around at the New Church that the New Mass has spawned and say "hey, this looks pretty good," then there is no way you will ever understand the argument of traditionalists. But I will caution: any objective observer will look at the current state of the Catholic Church and see an institution in a profound crisis -- and spiraling downward. Of course the Church was not perfect before Vatican II -- there is no perfection among the fallen. But any intelligent comparison between the state of the Church before Vatican II and the Catholic Church now will come to some very revealing conclusions. By their fruit you will know them. Vatican II's fruits have been spiritual death and destruction. A scorched spiritual earth.
Looks just as bad to me.Oh it looks plenty bad to me as well, but that wasnt my point, which seems to have flown past most traditionalists here. I think those it was intended for understood it, so Ill leave it there.
(Sorry it's so big. Is there some way to control the size, since you're just linking to a picture posted elsewhere?)Yes.
< img src=http://www.visi.com/~patent/Children.jpg height=77 width=52 > gives you:
Old whats-his-name who is purportedly getting all bent out of shape or something like that.
There is still the matter of explicitly lifting the censure of those who were "formally schismatic". The Vatican did not do so. You cannot deny reality.
LOL...do you guys REALLY do this, and if yes, what for?
There are liberal Catholics who try to make the Mass "relevant" for particular groups. They do childrens masses, clown masses, etc. It really misses the point of the Mass, and I doubt any of us here actually do this. I just want the Mass, without any silly modifiers on it.I haven't seen pictures of a hula Mass, but here is a photo of the "clown Mass."LOL...do you guys REALLY do this, and if yes, what for?
Ok, Catholicguy staring in....
<> One of tne fruits of Vatican I was the Old Catholics. One of the fruits of Vatican II is the Neo-Old Catholics. "The more things change...."
<>" Filled with ideas of ecclesiastical Liberalism and rejecting the Christian spirit of submission to the teachings of the Church, nearly 1400 Germans issued, in September, 1870, a declaration in which they repudiated the dogma of Infallibility "as an innovation contrary to the traditional faith of the Church"
You and your ilk are no different, in principle, than the Old Catholics<>
I am not amused...Please do not ping me again. I have never found your posts amusing. I have found them annoying.<>
Thanks for your defense, Snuffington, but if I gave the mistaken impression that I was absolving myself of responsibility for the religious education of my children, then CatholicGuy was right to take exception to it.
Let me say, that the opposite is true. I accept full culpability for the fact that my 2 oldest children graduated from 12 years of Catholic school suffering from confusion about the faith and living lives that are objectively not in a state of grace.
It was clear that Plan A (Novus Ordo Mass, parochial school) had failed. I had to confront the fact that my efforts had not succeeded. And if I were simply to blame others and try to evade my own responsibility, then I would only compound my guilt. Just like in confession (and in fact specically in confession), I had to admit my guilt, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, and then make a firm purpose of amendment.
Here is the firm purpose of amendment that I undertook. Let me say that after 2 years of trying it, the results are dramatic. Our family life has undergone a radical transformation. The reality of grace is now present in our lives. My younger children now seem like different persons. They are truly committed to the Catholic faith with their whole hearts and souls.
1. Attend ONLY the Latin Mass. This is the foundation stone. You MUST receive the grace of the unbloody re-presentation of the sacrifice on Calvary in order to succeed in the rest of your spiritual life.
2. Traditional Catholic devotions. We started wearing Miraculous Medals and scapulars. We pray the family rosary every night. We thought about doing so during the time that we attended the Novus Ordo Mass, but it just seemed incongruous, like we were performing a show, rather than doing something normal and natural. That's because traditional devotions correspond with traditional liturgy.
3. Traditional Catholic literature. I ordered about $200 worth of books from TAN publishers, both children's books and adult books. Every night we read aloud before saying the rosary. For the children we've been reading the collection of lives of the saints by Mary Fabian Windeyatt, the Hilda Van Stockum books, and "Outlaws of Ravenhurst." But the same children also listen to theological works by the great saints including material from St. Margaret Mary ("Devotion to the Sacred Heart") and St. Alphonsus Ligouri ("Preparation for Death").
4. Homeschooling. We took the children out of parochial schools. For most of my adult life I had spent nearly all of my time and money paying for Catholic school tuition and driving my children to parochial schools. Now I see that I was insane. Parochial schools did have the advantage of allowing me to enjoy the virtue of poverty. But in terms of giving my children the Catholic faith, they were worse than useless.
5. Making salvation our #1 priority. Logically, this might seem like it ought to come first. But practically speaking, it has been a result of the other actions. I thought that God was my priority before, but I was fooling myself. Secular pursuits like school and extracurricular sports occupied all of our time. Now we put our family activities and prayer life first. Our focus in on eternity, not ambitions for this world.
Since we began our new lives as traditional Catholics, I have become a different person, and so have my wife and the children. The difference is night and day. First is the reality of grace, which is not present when sin is present. I have seen that this is not some abstract theory of the Church, but a simple description of reality, like the fact that gravity makes things fall down, not up.
I am still working to rectify my errors with my older children. We are making some progress, but I guess I can't expect to remedy the mistakes of a lifetime in a few short years. But now at least I have hope. Deo gratias.
I didn't ping you, I posted to you, I'll post to whoever I want. As far as being annoying, you are the KING.
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