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May 26, 2006


John Schultz

A USCCB staffer once told me that conference staff and certain bishops get annoyed when the conference spends a great deal of time on liturgical issues. I guess that in their mind it gets in the way of social justice, immigration, etc.

Fr. Guy is right - several Bishops think that directives = optional.

Frankly, the musical mayhem that will result in new translations will either be a great opportunity or a disaster.

Chestnuts from the last 30 years like Mass of Creation, all settings of the Gloria, etc. will need to be rewritten or adapted. I'm sure some bishops, clergy, music directors, etc. will refuse to go along with it.

Hopefully the Holy Spirit can intervene and we can begin to focus on fidelity to translations and higher quality music.

Father Thomas Dowd

What I find particularly interesting about the Arinze-Skylstad exchange is how it reveals certain contradictions in the attitude of recent liturgical reformers/deformers. It strikes me that liturgists who feel quite free to regularly propose alterations to elements of the liturgy now suddenly seem quite "conservative" when it comes to making corrections to the bad translations.

The argument is that this is conservatism is for pastoral purposes. But this argument boils down to "our people have gotten used to doing it poorly, so we should allow them to continue to do it poorly". Ironically, this is based on the idea that 30-40 years of practice is sufficient to avoid making changes, when 400+ years of practice was not enough to avoid jettisoning much of the liturgical tradition that existed prior to the Vat II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

I'm a post-Vatican-II priest. Actually, I'm a post-Vatican-II Christian - I grew up with the "new mass" and have never really known the "old". But recently I was given a working copy of the proposed changes to the English version, those based on a more accurate translation, and I fell in love.

I also felt a bit cheated. I really think liturgy is meant to lift us up and challenge us, and when I saw how "dumbed down" our English-version of the liturgy had become, it made me sad. So I personally oppose the attitude of some liturgical experts who basically seem to be saying "we dumbed it down for them, and now they are so dumb we don't dare raise the bar again to where it was supposed to be". It smells of elitism, frankly, and it forgets the real challenge that liturgy is supposed to present: the challenge to holiness.

Oh, making the changes won't be easy. We will need a proper catechetical program to help our people make the transition. But if we present it properly, showing that we are trying to help people grow in godliness (and not just obey arbitrary directives) I think they'll accept the changes readily. In th end, it is all about fidelity. The new English text is more faithful to the post-Vatican-II text. Using it is just a small way for us to grow in the habit of fidelity itself, which will ultimately unite us more closely to the Church and to Christ.


I heard the most wonderful homily last weekend about what we are called to be and to do as the Church (Fr. Philip Scott at Epiphany Byzantine Catholic Church in Roswell, GA).

Fr. Scott said that our entire identity is the Eucharistic community. Liturgy is not just a thing we do -- it is THE thing we ARE. Everything we do and everything we believe is expressed in the liturgy, and if we are not centered and focused around that, nothing else is important. Our works are the fruits of our relationship with God and not the other way round.

I'm paraphrasing and summarizing poorly, but he gave a powerful argument for why liturgy -- and having good, faithful liturgy -- matters so much!

Chris S.

One of the post VII Gloria's I really like is the 'Peter and Paul Gloria', by John Schiavone. And thankfully, I don't think it would be affected too much by the translation changes, since much of it is in Latin.

Some reworking of the verses might be in order, but nothing too drastic. All of the refrains are in Latin, however. It's a beautiful piece, especially with choir and organ.


Does anyone happen to know how to contact the bishops of this committee? We ought to contact our respective bishops as well. The faithful should tell them that we want and deserve a noble and inspiring translation of the Mass.


It would be nice to offer them feedback, even if they don't listen (sorry..don't mean to sound so negative)



>>>So I personally oppose the attitude of some liturgical experts who basically seem to be saying "we dumbed it down for them, and now they are so dumb we don't dare raise the bar again to where it was supposed to be".

Y'know, the Spanish translation of the Mass is more faithful to the original Latin than the ICEL English translation, and Spanish-speaking Catholics don't appear to have any trouble understanding it. I guess our bishops must think that we English-speaking Catholics are particularly dumb.

In Jesu et Maria,


As much as I'd like the English-language Mass to be cleaned up and put back in continuity with the Tradition, I'm uncomfortable with this new "translation" by committee. I appreciate the intention of wanting greater conformity with the Latin, but these episodic and occasional retranslations and reconfigurations of the Mass by some "committee of experts" of who knows and where, seems so self-referential, arbitrary and capricious. The liturgy is not something to be fine-tuned or tinkered with like your car, and even if we have to correct it, we should not use the same methods that made it incorrect in the first place.

I can just imagine, after promulgation of the new translation there will so much intrusive, distracting confusion and both ignorant and willful non-compliance. Pastors will have to explain and explain and remind, once again interrupting the sacred integrity of the liturgy. We'll still have some clinging to the old translation and others already attached to the new one, and yet others who find the new translation still inadequately translated. Ugh, what a mess we're in for. And just as we settle into the new translation, surprise! a new panel of experts has determined we need another new translation. When is it going to end? It's enough to make this Vatican II fan sympathize with the SSPX.

The problem with the Novus Ordo really is not translation but ultimately an attitude and hermeneutic of reverence and continuity. If we're going to make a reform, make it more than just a few words here and there, which is just small enough to keep the loopholes for liturgical abuse wide open and big enough to make Mass a nuisance for years to come.


If people once get a look at what the current Mass looks like in Latin, versus what it looks like in English, they will realize just how messed up the English "translation" has been all these years.

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