Thursday, January 5, 2012

The New Mass Translation - UPDATE #1

I figured here in the New Year, I would give my thoughts on the Revised Roman Missal as it has been practiced for the past six weeks. Some of you may recall that I did a fisking on an atrocious piece of journalism from the Washington Post a little over two months ago – which was about four weeks before the Revised Missal went into practice here in the United States.

Firstly, I have to say that I was thoroughly amused by the reaction of people at Christmas time who don’t normally attend Mass (the ol’ “C and E” Catholics). It was as if they had no idea that any of this was going on and were completely blown away by this ‘regression into darkness’, with regard to the wording. I am not sure how people could have missed this, though – if it made its way into mainstream papers like the Post and other publications. I suppose that, in their defense, it is a lot different to hear it rather than just read about it – which I can completely understand.

Secondly, I will admit that I have screwed up a good number of times. The biggest one is reflexively starting to say ‘and also with you’, only to switch in the middle of the stream and say something like ‘and also with your Spirit’. Annoying as hell to catch myself doing this. The spot where I tend to do it the most is at the little dialogue prior to the Eucharistic Prayer, because I would be so intent on making sure I said ‘it is right and just’ that I would totally forget to say ‘and with your Spirit’ at the first command ‘the Lord be with you’. I think it will be a whole year before everyone is completely adjusted.

The other main spot of error I keep making is during the Creed – when it comes to discussing the birth of Christ, I have said at least three or four times ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’, instead of ‘and by the Holy Spirit, he was incarnate…’. Do you know how awkward it is to say that with NO ONE ELSE in the whole church saying it with me? Embarrassed silence ensued from me each time, indeed!

Thirdly, I really, really like the wording of the Institution Narrative in the Eucharistic Prayers. I mentioned it briefly in the fisking, but the changing of the word ‘cup’ to ‘chalice’ is a small, but important feature. In the Latin, it is rendered as ‘calix’, which is a type of cup, and gives it a sense that something sacred is going on. I have said it to quite a few people that the banal and mundane does not really have a place within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus, the elevation of our language demonstrates that we are in the ‘other’, that we are in the world, but not of it. The other major change - of ‘for all’ to ‘for many’ - I commented in the fisk:
Look up the actual words that are found in Scripture - Matthew 26:28: ‘this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins’. If you have a beef with the line, take it up with the Lord, not the Church.
Also, words (in the Creed) like ‘consubstantial’ and ‘incarnate’ actually do better than ‘one in being’ and ‘born of’, because they convey the theological meaning that is not necessarily present in the short phrases that we had formerly spoken. Can they be considered ‘awkward’? By our modern American English standards, probably, but it is not the same thing as being ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, and they are more impactful for the same reason as ‘chalice’ being inserted into the Institution Narrative.

So far, I like what I have seen – and for the most part, the faithful in the pews have done well in their adjustment, save for a few cranks that have no sense of irony in complaining about the new wording of the Mass. Otherwise, I expect the relatively smooth sailing to continue. The next update will probably be around Easter time, when we have gone through Lent and the Triduum. Stay tuned…

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