US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Something up with which we should not put

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

As we draw nearer to the October release date of the new Roman Missal, I expect to see more and more essays about how rotten the new translations are, such as this one from Rita Ferrone in Commonweal. Though Ferrone doesn't break any new ground, she summarizes most of the major problems with the new translation--nice to have it all in one place.

Far more biting is a critique by Episcopal priest Carl P. Daw, an accomplished hymn writer and liturgist, who documents infelicity after infelicity, from strange theological turns of phrase to misplaced modifiers. It would be good for a laugh if the text weren't about to be unleashed on the people of God when the First Sunday of Advent rolls around.

Then again, I don't know why anyone bothers to write these critiques anymore, as if this were an actual debate among reasonable people rather than a naked exercise of power by one group against another. Despite the general consensus that these texts are deeply flawed in both process and product, it seems we Catholics, like lambs to the slaughter, will simply do as we are told, shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars on new missals and other resources, and use the new texts. "Oh, well. What else can we do? Rome has spoken," goes the refrain, as if our mouths can actually be forced to say "And with your spirit" by episcopal fiat. No doubt there will be conference after conference on the new translation, and liturgists will joke about it over cocktails, but the people of God will be stuck them--in addition to having to pay for them.

But there is something we can do. We can find our voices and flatly refuse to use these texts. The current sacramentary is not going to combust just because a new missal arrives.  

Related: Learn your lines: How parishes are preparing for the new Mass

Mass disruption