Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Let me suggest another point of view

As I cruise around the blogverse, I have noticed a thread appearing concerning the impending new translation of the Roman Missal. Mostly, it is a symphony of "how stupid can these bishops be? Just change the text and let's get with it" mingled with "Why would about a translation when we could just do it in Latin?" It seems to me that both of these responses miss the point. Any and all changes in the translation used will require re-education of an entire parish, and that will take time, not only in actually implementing the changes but then fielding all of the phone calls, comments and other stuff that will accompany the changeover.

Now, don't get me wrong. The current translation is pretty pedestrian, if not downright cheeky in spots because the prayers have been rendered in a command form unfitting for a creature to approach a creator with. And I think that it is shameful that the English speaking world is several editions behind the rest of the Church universal, especially because it seems as though most of these issues are caused by agendas rather than a through attention to fidelity to the typical edition.

Most people don't realize how difficult it would be to change over to a new translation. First, you would have to either delay the beginning of Sunday Masses or have people show up at least 15-20 minutes early for Mass for at least 2 months. Given the stampede five minutes before Mass, when 50% - 75 % of any given congregation appears, I can tell you what the response for arriving early would be: fat chance. Compound this with the running around priests like myself have to do and you can see how a fifteen minute delay can create real havoc. Second, you would have to explain all of the linguistic preferences as envitably someone is going to walk up and say, "I like the old way better." This is something of a bonus though, because then you can show how dignified language actually promotes a better comprehension of the Faith. Third, you would have to adapt all liturgical music currently in use to match the actual Mass parts. This is only somewhat irritating for me as I would like to have an excuse to seemlessly introduce plain chant throughout the Holy Mass. Fourth, you, meaning a parish, will have to assume the added expense of providing all of the new texts -- assuming you aren't using a missal service -- for people to use at Mass. Welcome to a whole new stewardship issue. Those are the things that come to mind, just off the cuff; I am sure there are more. And just to cut this off at the pass, going back to a completely Latin liturgy would be ten times more complicated than what I am suggesting here.

I don't intend this litany as an impetus to not correct and update the Missal's translation. What I am suggesting though is that when a bishop, or your pastor for that matter, suggests that something might have some difficult aspects in its implementation, don't assume out of hand that the bishop or parish priest is merely being retrograde and obstructionist.

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