Sunday, September 13, 2009

A New, Improved Missal - as seen on US Bishops website - click to read

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a new website that will inform and educate Catholics about the forthcoming English translation of the new Roman Missal. The information on the process of development of liturgical texts including sample text from the improved Missal, FAQ and glossary of terms will be provided regularly over the next months. The Missal will be printed and available in 2011. Stuart Reid provides a summary of the most important changes or rather corrections of wrong translations of Latin text and changes introduced by the first translators of the Missal. There are some excerpts:

....It seems that the work has been done with scrupulous honesty. All the offensive constructions in the Ordinary of the Mass - and so far we have only the Ordinary on the bishops' website - have been abandoned in this text: multis now translates as "many" instead of "all", and Credo becomes "I believe" instead of "We believe". In the Gloria, "sin of the world" becomes (as in the Latin) "sins of the world". If you overlook one instance of (justified) gender neutrality, the new Gloria and the Creed have an almost Tridentine splendour.

The big surprise to me, though, is that in the Confiteor we now have "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault". At first I thought that this was value-added, something perhaps smuggled in by a traditionalist disguised as a normal human being, but looking at the original Latin text I see it was there all along. The translators of 40 years ago just omitted it. No doubt they thought it was "vain and repetitious prayer", and came over all bossy boots and Protestant....
.... The new translation is not in itself a reform of the reforms, as I have said, but it could signal the end of the abuses. No one can perform a clown Mass with these new texts, especially if, as seems possible, priests are encouraged (even required?) to say the Eucharistic Prayer ad orientem.

Let's hope, meanwhile, that the new missal (to be published perhaps in 2011) is accompanied by robust rubrics. I'd like to see the return of the priest's double genuflection after the consecration and the congregation's single genuflection during the Creed. I'd also like to see Communion given on the tongue to people who are kneeling _- and for it to be administered by priests and not by extraordinary ministers....

....There will presumably be further changes to the missal in the years ahead. Perhaps some of the old prayers will return. "I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy House and the place where Thy glory dwelleth." Where was the harm in that? Where was the harm in the Offertory prayers that have been removed?

My feeling is, though, that the reform of the reforms will for the most part be accomplished by changes in rubrics, and in attitudes, customs and practices. The changes are occurring already. The religion of the Seventies has almost disappeared. When did you last see a priest with permed hair and Cuban heels?

Let's avoid triumphalism in the meantime. Let's be kind and Catholic. Let's go by the book, and not force the pace of change (or regression). Liberals are often criticised, and rightly, for improvising with the texts. Orthodox priests must now be encouraged not to add their own traditionalist touches to the revised Mass.