Sunday, July 16, 2006

Vatican II Catholics can write to Rome too!

If you aren't reading a regular Catholic weekly such as America, or monthly, magazine, you might have missed the report on the US Bishops' meeting in June, at which the prelates voted their approval of a new missal for US Catholics (the same has been voted in by other Anglophone episcopal conferences).
If you haven't already read it, I am including below the article as written up in America. In short, the prayers of the mass have been retranslated, and the wording is now a little different. Not very different, mind you, but enough so that we will not be able to pray them from memory without stumbling.
You'll have to scramble for your missalette every time the Confiteor comes up. You'll stumble over the words of the Creed. The prayers you've learned to look forward to will no longer be there. The Holy Holy includes the words "God of Hosts" in place of "God of power and might."
Now, I don't know about you, but I grew up with the Latin mass, and loved it. However, when the mass was translated into the vernacular, I rejoiced in the ability to understand what I was saying in the way one only understands a language learned in experiential context. My first experience with the new translations was actually in France, where the Gelineau psalms were being used at mass. I was transfixed.
"God of Hosts," as I understand the America article, is a translation from the Latin. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that who has ever had any idea what that kind of host might be? I certainly haven't, so the expression means exactly nothing to me. "God of Power and Might" means a lot, summoning up images of God creating the universe, Jesus calming the storm, God who keeps all in existence.
For 40 years we have been singing beautiful renditions of the Holy, Holy, using the wording "God of Power and Might." What will become of that music once the new wording comes into being? Will we have to throw out all the old masses and start over? Is this a conspiracy by the music publishers, whose sales have dropped off as the people have learned the words? Quite frankly, I can see no one else who will benefit from this.
The vote has been taken by the American bishops, but the new missal has not been approved by Rome. Now is the time for Catholics who cherish the mass as we have known it over all of our adult years to write to Rome and protest this unwise tampering with the prayers of the people. Because that's what they are: the people's prayers. They belong to us--not to some little cadre of nit-picking regressives with too little to do.
Please write to our pope or to the Congregation on the Sacred Liturgy if you feel strongly about this issue.
Below is the text from America.

Bishops Approve New Texts for Order of Mass

In what Bishop Donald W. Trautman called “a truly important moment in liturgy in the United States,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new English translation of the Order of Mass and adopted several U.S. adaptations during a national meeting on June 15 in Los Angeles. The new translation of the main constant parts of the Mass—penitential rite, Gloria, Creed, eucharistic prayers, eucharistic acclamations, Our Father and other prayers and responses used daily—will likely be introduced in about a year or two if it is approved by the Vatican, said Bishop Trautman, a Scripture scholar who heads the Diocese of Erie, Pa., and is chairman of the U.S.C.C.B.’s Committee on Liturgy. He said he thought the bishops would wait until they have approved—and received Vatican confirmation of—an entire new Roman Missal in English before implementing the new Order of Mass.

Here begins America's commentary on the news release above.

Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, the Mass is about to change again. On June 15, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new translation of the Order of Mass, which would alter some of the most familiar prayers of English-speaking Catholics. (Other Anglophone bishops’ conferences also approved the changes.) Within a few years, people in the pews will respond to the greeting “The Lord be with you” with the phrase “And with your spirit.” Before receiving Communion they will say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

The bishops’ vote is the latest in a decade-long series of decisions about liturgical translations. The saga of the texts prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is a byzantine one, but the current phase was set in motion by Liturgiam Authenticam, published in 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship. That document rejected the widely accepted notion of “dynamic equivalency,” translating documents with a feel for the local usage, in favor of literal word-for-word translations from the Latin. Some of the new translations may lend richness to the Mass. (The phrase “under my roof” recalls the centurion’s words to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, 8:8.) Most, however, inject archaic language into the liturgy.

The U.S. bishops approved the ICEL document with amendments. “Consubstantial,” for example, was removed from the Nicene Creed in favor of “one in being.” But the Congregation for Divine Worship reserves the right to reject the bishops’ amendments. Whatever the Vatican decides, the familiar words of the Mass will soon become less familiar.

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