What if we just said “Yes”

Many in the Catholic blogosphere and many who pay attention to Catholicism in the US may have heard of the website “What if we just said wait?”.   This is a “grassroots” attempt to get the new missal translation postponed.  From their website:


We are very concerned about the proposed new translations of the Roman Missal. We believe that simply imposing them on our people — even after a program of preparation — will have an adverse effect on their prayer and cause serious division in our communities.

We are convinced that adopting translations that are highly controversial, and which leaders among our bishops as well as many highly respected liturgists and linguists consider to be seriously flawed, will be a grave mistake.

For this reason we earnestly implore the bishops of the English-speaking world to undertake a pilot program by which the new translations — after a careful program of catechesis — can be introduced into some carefully selected parishes and communities throughout the English-speaking world for a period of one (liturgical) year, after which they can be objectively evaluated.

We are convinced that this approach will address the concerns of those many bishops who feel that they have lost their voice in this matter and that it will also give a voice to the People of God whose prayer is at stake and who accordingly have the most to gain or lose by the translations.

We realize that a pilot project of this kind is unprecedented, but so is the process by which these translations have been approved.

And one of the comments on their comment page that caught my attention:

How will the priests explain the purpose of these changes? It will be embarrassing. How will the teen-agers respond to these changes — they will tune it out at a time when we are desperate for them to tune in. Younger adults (age 20-30)everywhere will be confused and dismayed.
Marianne Polkowski-Burns| Lay Person | Oakland | USA

I totally fall into that 20-30 age group she references.  With all due respect to Ms. Polkowski-Burns, that is complete Bologna Sandwich (B.S).

Confused?  Hardly.  Simply by going to http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/index.shtml you can check out the changes.  Guess what, most of them are small additions of words that add to the beauty and CLARIFY what we are saying.  Sure, we might all have to get a missal and follow along for a while, but is it really that hard?  Little kids have to follow along to learn.  It won’t take that much effort to learn it.

As for how teen-agers will respond, well, I would like to know too.  So guess what?  I”m going to go talk to teenagers.  Show them the changes, explain why they are being made and see what they think (teens, feel free to post your comments on this post).  Expect a follow up!

Another comment:

Why take the simple and correct english words and phrases away and leave us once more in the world of ecclesiastical double-speak? When i pray, i use Father, not Almighty God as the address. I was away from the church for some time and when i came back it was primarily because the language of the Mass was so warm and welcoming and accessible. I don’t find my mind wandering away from the prayers. I know what they mean and don’t have to filter out extraneous words.
Jeanne MacCoy| Lay Person | Oakland, California | United States of America

Ecclesiastical double speak?  How is “Almighty God”, which is a more reverential phrase, extraneous or otherwise liable to cause “mind wandering”?  i’m sorry Ms. MacCoy, but the language of the church doesn’t NEED to be “warm”, “welcoming” or “accesible”.  It needs to be “correct” and “prayerful”.  Sure, Jesus called His Father, Father.  Yes, God is our “Father” and we use that title in the Our Father.  But sometimes, we need to be reminded more of God’s Almightyness and a little less of the “loving” side.  If you sin and are unrepentant you’re not going to be going “Oh Daddy, but I wanted to sin!”.  You should be begging Almighty God for forgiveness.

As for needing to “filter out extraneous words” I again point to the actual changes.  Most of the prayers add a word or change them, maintaing about the same length.  Other prayers are actually SHORTER.  And going to one of the reasons for this change (to get a more accurate translation) take a secular example.  If you want to read a book that’s been translated from another language would you want the whole book, all the words and phrases and ideas that were written by the author?  Of course you would!  Who wouldn’t?  Apparently people who want “simple” which in this case is just a poor translation.

Which leads me to a bit of “instruction” for those who aren’t as familiar with all this.  Quite often, because we’re part of a living church, there are updates to the liturgical prayers.  Most of the time this is added prayers for new saints who have been canonized since the last missal or adjustments to prayers that only the priest says.  The changes to what the people say have been rarer, mainly due to the use of Latin.  Heck, if it changed, you were reading it before, you still were.  It was pretty simple because everyone had a missal of their own.  The last few missal changes have been in 1962 (the year Vatican II started), 1970 (five years after V2), 1975 and 2002.  This current “debate” is evolving from the English translation of the missal that was completed in 2002 (by JP2).  What is interesting to note is the quickness that the first post-V2 missal got translated.  The latin edition is the 1970 one, the English one was ready by 1973.  Compare that with this translation: Latin in 2002, potential use: 2011 (Advent is when it’s predicted to be in use by).

So what’s so important and special about this translation that’s causing all this debate?  Essentially it boils down to one thing, that has two parts.  It’s a better translation of the Latin that maintains the “style” of the Roman rite (aka, Roman Catholcism, as compared to the Eastern Rite or others).  Why is this a problem?  It’s my opinion that those who embraced the Kumbaya Jesus loves us all no matter what mood that erupted after V2 are adverse to change.  It’s kinda funny cause they were all for the changes that V2 brought initially, but don’t seem to understand that these changes are more inline with the “Spirit of Vatican II”. The spirit of Vatican II is really a phrase I don’t like anyway as it’s mostly liberal speak for an attitude of “democracy in the Church”.  That’s a whole other topic for a whole other super long blog post.  Let it suffice at this moment for me to point out the Roman Catholic Church is NOT a democracy. Sorry guys, but you do NOT have a vote.

The point of the changes in the mass due to V2 stem from a desire for more “lay participation” in the mass  as laid out in Sacrosanctum Concilium. The problem is that what the bishops and Pope Paul IV wanted is MUCH different than what happened.  When they said “lay participation” they meant that the people in the pews should be able to say the responses in the mass intelligently, be singing and whatnot.  An “easy” solution was to put portions (not ALL, but portions) of the mass into the language of that area.  When something is in your own language it is easier to understand and be an active participant.  And I think that is a great thing and has really led to a lot more participation.  Unfortunately many people took this way too far.  All of a sudden we were able to “participate”.  And soon you have things like lay people giving the homily (big no-no, yet remarkably prevalent in the US).  The stories that you can find of such abuses are amazing and terrifying.

Essentially, the point I’m trying to get across is that we should embrace the changes to the mass with open arms.  Why?  Mainly, because we should be practicing obedience to our bishops and the pope.  And I don’t think anyone is to accept things “blindly” but by simply looking over the changes we can see that they are good changes that will help bring us closer to God through the Holy Mass.

Want to do something to help and counteract the “petition”?  There are several things you can do.  First, pray.  Pray that the bishops stand firm.  Pray that hearts change as the process of catechesis begins.  Second, right to your bishop and tell him that you support the changes and you look forward to learning more about them.  And finally, if you feel so called, talk to your pastor about starting to get info out at your parish.  Perhaps you can lead a study group that starts looking at the changes and getting people prepared for them.

This is something that I feel very passionate about right now.  I’ll update you on the continuing dialog and I promise a follow up post on some of the specific concerns of the What if we just said wait group as well as what some real life Catholic teens have to say!