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Monday, February 28, 2011

Mass Rebellion Over New Translation!

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 article, How "Inclusive Language" Came to the Liturgy: ICEL's Strategies in "Shaping English Liturgy" in the Adoremus Bulletin.)

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."


  1. Perhaps soon we might see headlines reading "Mass Appeal of the New Translation" replace all the "Mass Rebellion" and "Mass Confusion" stuff.

    Nice article!

  2. I sure hope so. It will certainly appeal to me!

  3. Yes, "peace on earth goodwill to people" as one new translation of a favorite, old hymn says, just does not "cut it" with me. I almost stood up and shouted "men" even though I am a woman. And having to continually write "his or her" or his/her makes simple things complicated. Some radical feminists are so flaky that they insist on "her or his" or her/his. Oh! the trials and tribulations of acting ....... stupid.

  4. I guess I can't understand how you could NOT be upset by being referred to as "men"? Since God is gender-neutral, why should not all the language be? Or do you really believe that God is male, too? I think God is beyond gender.

  5. If "men" is insulting, how about woMAN? What do you want to change that to? Making the language "gender neutral" is impossible and soon becomes an exercise in idiocy. Personhole? Oops, it embodies the word SON.

    As for God, you are right, except you're not right. The second person of the Blessed Trinity came to earth and entered time as a MAN. He called the First Person of the Trinity Father. That's HIS language. In fact, on the cross He called Him Daddy, a more accurate definition of Abba.

    And no I'm not insulted by generic language. And I think I'm just as intelligent and independent as any feminist. They get as bogged down in their idiotic silliness as the communities in Gulliver's Travels fighting over which end of the soft-boiled egg to crack.

  6. But there is only ONE sacrifice at Mass, the one and only sacrifice of Jesus Christ in which priest and people (in different ways) participate. What you wrote, "I don't bring my neighbor's and he doesn't bring mine" is simply wrong according to Catholic theology.

    The Latin says, literally, "my and your sacrifice," which makes clear there is only one sacrifice. Our current translation is loose but theologically accurate: "our." ICEL had proposed, "this sacrifice, which is mine and yours," which is a mouthful but you see the theological issue they're being careful about."

    "My sacrifice and yours" isn't quite what the Latin says. I implies there could be TWO sacrifices, which the Latin carefully does not do.

  7. Of course you are right, but I was always taught that we unite our sacrices to the sacrifice of Christ on calvary. Isn't that part of what preparing for Mass involves? I bring all that I am and render it to God at the foot of the cross in union with his sacrifice.