Sunday, November 27, 2011

Musings on the Mass - the New Translation

Today the English speaking world inaugurated the new translation of the Roman Missal, in full.  In some places the new parts of the Mass have been practiced with congregations for some months already, some places in the world are still using the old translation for a little while yet, but here in Canada, the Missal came in full force today.  Presently I find myself in a situation where I don't have the opportunity to preside at Mass with a congregation on a regular basis, but I did have the chance today, and so I thought I'd just offer a couple of my own thoughts about the experience.  Some months back I was taking some holidays and went to visit some of my classmates who live and work on the east coast of Canada.  As I was travelling with one classmate from New Brunswick to visit two others in Nova Scotia, I decided to pull out the copy of the old Roman Ritual I had brought with me, to offer a prayer for our journey.  As I prayed that prayer aloud, and recited a few others for my friend he commented that I was praying with a passion he had not seen before.  He actually likened it to a Baptist minister who was 'on fire' in his preaching.  The only comment I could make in reply was that it was the words of the text, that the text itself had a passion to it, that it had "teeth" so to speak, that it was not a neutered or watered down text, but it was the Roman Rite in all its splendor and glory.  Today, as I prayed the new translation of the Mass for the first time, I noticed something.  Certainly I was a little befuddled having heard nothing and prayed nothing but the old translation since my father first brought me to Mass as a child.  I was having to navigate new texts and a new book after all.  But as the Mass unfolded I found myself saying and praying the texts with a new passion, one which I had not had before.  The only thing I could attribute it to was the text.  That no longer did we have a neutered and watered down text, but now we had to Roman Rite in splendor and glory (or at least a much better approximation of the original text).  I know that there have been many concerns about the new text, it seems much more exalted, the language may be more formal and more complicated.  Some have suggested that it will turn more people away from the Church. But I suspect that the opposite may be true, especially if many of my brother priests have a similar experience to my own.  If the new text inspires true passion for the liturgy in the priests, that passion will spill out into their congregations.  Therefore I urge my brothers to enter into the new words of the text, to find the passion in them, let that passion enter you, and that passion for the text will become a true passion for God, a passion shared with God's people.

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