Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Missal Missiles

Until now, I haven't commented on proposed changes to the Roman Missal, the U.S. bishops' recent deliberations, or the USCCB announcement about what will go into effect circa 2011. Other commentators have done a great job. A Concord Pastor provided fine reportage in his post. I also liked David Gibson's Pontifications post.

Not that I'm devoid of opinion on the matter.

Am I ever without an opinion? Heck no, even my dreams are opinionated -- which might explain the bruxism. So here's what I'm thinking about the changes, at least half of which I plan to ignore by muttering sotto voce what I learned as an adult convert. I'm thinking two words: "Latin Mass" ...but without the priest celebrating Ad Orientem.

As a result of growing up with Hebrew prayers and chanting in Sanskrit during my yoga years, I'm all for worshiping in a foreign language. I can say with confidence that doing so provides access to a powerful experience beyond the rational mind. Plus, returning to Latin could end up being ironically democratizing. Let's level the praying field so that no one knows what's being said. Quod erat demonstradum.


  1. "Let's level the praying field so that no one knows what's being said."

    Our parish in Chicago used to have masses in English, Spanish, Lao & Vietnamese. The priest figured Latin was our only unifying language so a lot of the prayers were in Latin. I liked it. I think everyone did, actually.

  2. So no one knows what's being said? My old 1962 Missal has the Latin on the left, and the English on the right. You can bet the publishers will be offering new bi-lingual Missals six months before the changes go into effect.

    This isn't hard. Except for the silly stuff, like "gibbet," these are the exact translations that are in that 1962 Missal. A little teaching by priests who don't have some bone to pick with the Vatican (risky business!) will go a long way toward getting people to understand and accept.

    It won't bother me anyway. I'm bi-lingual in English and Latin (and not bad at reading Spanish and French as a result), thanks to a decent high school and college education. Of course, I'm old ...

  3. Meanwhile, off line I got email from someone who was horrified that I seem to be advocating Latin...said she'd rather be dead than have to endure a Latin Mass because it's so "boring." Go figure. This, folks, is why I'm always quoting James Joyce on the Catholic Church, "here comes everyone!"

  4. What's the big deal? All the examples of the "changes" are just more accurate translations of the Latin. So they are really corrections of the mistranslations we've had since the English Novus Ordo was implemented. BTW, the new wording is also the way these phrases were translated in our Latin-English missals before Vatican II, so for some of us these changes are not strange, but familiar.

  5. For some the “big deal” is that the accurately translated Latin makes for extremely awkward vernacular English. Me? I believe God hears every prayer regardless of language and even if there’s no spoken language at all! God may even prefer that we shut up.


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