article, How "Inclusive Language" Came to the Liturgy: ICEL's Strategies in "Shaping English Liturgy" in the Adoremus Bulletin.)I haven't seen the entire new translation of the Roman Missal yet, but, considering the sometimes banal and bad translations in the current text, it has to be an improvement. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has a long history of providing liberal, dumbed-down translations that eliminate the sense of the Mass as a holy sacrifice. It's been the happy, clappy banquet party of the lamb with sour suffering shoved under the altar cloth for many years. ICEL also gets the credit for politically correct and "inclusive" language which almost eliminated the generic male pronoun in favor of awkward and ugly alternatives. I still cringe when I hear "human beings" replacing men, meaning all mankind. What's not to understand about the sentence, "Jesus came to save all men?" As a woman I do not feel threatened or overlooked by that terminology. And so I rejoice to see the coming changes and hope that much of the "inclusive language" will be reversed. (For an interesting historical perspective on ICEL's impact on the Mass see Kenneth Whitehead's 1998
Fr. Z, of What Does the Prayer Really Say? fame, has done all of us a great favor by showing the beauty of accurate Latin translations! But some "progressive" clerics just don't want to "go backwards" so they are rebelling over the new lectionary which becomes mandatory in Advent. In Australia, a dozen priests are openly defying the Church saying they will continue to use the old translation -- so much for the virtue of obedience. In Ireland, where the sex abuse problem was acute, a group representing over 400 priests has denounced the new translation. It makes me curious once again over the connection between dissent and priestly sex abuse. Why obey Holy Mother Church if you dance to a different drum; why obey the 10 Commandments and your vows if your libido quivers like a violin string?
And what are these awful changes that have raised the priest hackles? Some emphasize the individual's faith responsibility. The Creed changes from "we believe" to "I believe." That certainly makes sense since there is no such thing as collective judgment. Each of us will be judged individually for our personal faith response. Just as each of us at the Baptismal rite says, "I reject Satan." The same comment applies to the change in the Eucharistic prayer response when, instead of saying "Pray, Brethren, that OUR sacrifice...", we say "my sacrifice and yours." Each of us brings our personal gifts and offerings to the altar. I don't bring my neighbor's and he doesn't bring mine. Cain and Abel are both welcome to make their offerings; God will judge their worth.
Many parishes around the country will be preparing their people for the new translation with classes that study and explain, not only the changes themselves, but the reasons behind them. I hope many Catholics will take advantage of the opportunity with hearts open to receive. Banality and downright silliness has often been the norm in the past, as when the bishops' liturgical committee suggested changing the word "manger" to "feedbox." The bishops began singing "Away in a feedbox" in response. It was one of their shining moments.
Let us pray for a smooth implementation of the changes to the Roman Missal and for all the clergy who will be leading us. May it bring a more profound sense of worship to our parishes and a greater sense of our individual responsibility before God to pray and worship well. "The Lord be with you....And with your spirit."