Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mass confusion

Sorry for the play on words- I guess Scott Hahn is having an effect on me :)

I've been getting sample copies of the National Catholic Register as part of a promotion. As far as Catholic periodicals/newspapers go it's pretty good. The one I got today has good coverage of the Bishop's Synod on the Eucharist, and an interesting article on page 5 titled "Bishops Receive New Draft Translation of Mass Prayers." Hmm. I didn't know they were thinking about changing the Mass prayers. Let's read more.
"...the draft relies on more literal translations of the Latin texts than the English texts currently recited at Mass and uses a more formal version of English. However, some of the translations that bishops had judged as archaic or artificial sounding have been changed since the 2004 draft was circulated."
For example:

  • current Third Eucharistic Prayer: "From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from East to West a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name." 2004 version: "You never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure oblation may be offered to your name." The word "sacrifice" has since replaced "oblation," which is a good thing. Something tells me that if they kept the word "oblation" in that it would get changed anyway. You don't think priests change the Mass on the fly? When was the last time you heard the phrase "for us men and for our salvation" in the Creed? It gets changed all the time.
  • Second Eucharistic Prayer: "Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness. Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ." Latest draft: "You are indeed the holy one, O Lord, you are the wellspring of all holiness. Therefore, make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit, that they may become for us the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ." "The dew of your Spirit?" Is that really a literal translation of the Latin?
  • The draft also retained the more literal translation of the standard response to the priest's greeting, "The Lord be with you," by having the people answer "And with your spirit." That is the literal translation of "Dominus vobiscum/ Et cum spiritu tuo," but man, are they asking for problems in changing a response that has become so ingrained. I'm looking forward to the first Mass with this change, assuming it sticks- most of the crowd automatically answering "And also with you," with the hardcore Catholics who sleep with a copy of the GIRM under their pillow giving the correct response, and lambasting those who don't get with the program RIGHT AWAY. As the weeks turn into months people pick it up, but there will always be a small group who either can't or won't adapt to the change. And by the time they get it, the Mass gets changed again.

And therein lies my issue with the whole thing. Why do the prayers in the Mass need constant updating? If there is a legit answer to this question someone please leave a comment because I would really like to know. I know that some changes were made in the Tridentine Mass over the centuries- a saint's name in the canon here, a sign of the cross there- but it seems like there have been more changes in the modern order of Mass in the past 40 years than there were in the Tridentine liturgy in the past 500.

Listen, I'm not one to talk down the bishops. They have a hard enough job without doofuses like me gumming up the works. But I've never understood why they didn't just make the new Mass the same as the old Mass (with my apologies to The Who). I have a copy of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962 edition from Angelus Press, and the English translation alongside the Latin looks pretty good to me, as well as to a lot of other people. Didn't they already have an English version of the Mass, available to a whole lot of people? Did they need to monkey with it? Sure, maybe change words like "vouchsafe" to something more easily understandable. But that should have been the extent of it.

Oh man, what is that phrase from theology class? "Lex orendi, lex credendi"? I believe it translates "the law of prayer is the law of belief." What we pray is what we believe. There has been a definite lack in reverence and faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the past 40 years. What is the cause of this? Is it merely a lack of catechesis? Is that the only reason? Or has the shift towards eliminating things that are distinctly Catholic- prayers and devotions, artwork, the location of the tabernacle- had a subtle effect?

You tell me.


I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
---The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”


Blogger Steve said...

The National Catholic Register is like Catholic News on Prozac. It's informative in a completely emotionally neutral way. It's one of those things that becomes conspicuous through the absence of any sense of crisis in the Church.

This is not surprising, considering the fact that it's run by the Legionaries of Christ.

As to your questions about the Mass, you've brought up some good points. Why does it keep changing? Why didn't they use the old Mass if they really HAD to change it to the vernacular?

Of course, you know that I think the Old Mass was hijacked, beaten, and left on the side of the road like the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan. And pope after pope since the council has walked by, looked at the bloodied, wounded Mass, and kept on going.

Where is our Good Samaritan to care for the Church?

1:09 PM  
Blogger Der Tommissar said...

Sorry for the play on words- I guess Scott Hahn is having an effect on me :)

You gotta nip that in the bud!

Oh, and Steve, I think there was some French Archbishop that acted as the Good Samaritan. His name escapes me at the moment.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"...but it seems like there have been more changes in the modern order of Mass in the past 40 years than there were in the Tridentine liturgy in the past 500."

True, true. I wish the Catholics would return to the Tridentine Mass too, for what it's worth. It doesn't have to be in Latin.

"And with your spirit" is how we say the response in the Orthodox Church, by the way.

12:56 PM  

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