The new missal: We wait in joyful hope

missale_romanum_red_658x10001The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not going as smoothly as its promoters perhaps wish that it would. At a recent meeting of clergy and lay leaders in Milwaukee, participants expressed their dissatisfaction with the texts. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Father Ken Smits, a Capuchin priest and liturgical scholar as saying: “For some people this will be very unsettling. The real concern is among the parish priests, who will have to explain something many of them are not in favor of. They’d much rather spend their time in ministry than have to go through this linguistic exercise.”

Some of the clergy in Chicago are apparently in agreement. Jerry Galipeau, Associate Publisher at World Library Publications, reported on his blog today about a meeting he had with ten priests of the archdiocese who told Jerry that “not one priest of the deanery gives his personal approval for the need for a new translation—and there is some resentment and fear.”

And all this follows on the heels of the “What If We Said, ‘Wait’?” movement, which has collected over 21,000 signatures from people who “are very concerned about the proposed new translations of the Roman Missal.”

Jerry Galipeau, however, sees the introduction of the new missal as hopeful moment.

[T]he advent of the new translation—I hope—will lead to a discovery, or rediscovery (as the case may be) of the real art of celebrating the Mass for these priests. We look for a new dawn of liturgical engagement, a synergy among the realities of text, celebrant, music, and people. It is within the life that is generated through this synergy that God’s work of mercy, love, and reconciliation in Christ takes root, blossoms, and grows day after day, Mass after Mass, year after year, until our voices are joined with countless hosts of angels in that eternal “Hosanna!”

The most compelling statement of support I’ve read came from Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ. Hughes committed almost two decades of her life to creating the second English translation of the missal, which was approved by the world’s English-speaking bishops’ conferences in 1998, but rejected by Rome. If anyone has reason to be resistant to the current translation, it would be her. Instead, she said this at the July 2010 meeting of the National Associations of Pastoral Musicians:

[W]e can make a choice now not to be cranky about the new translation or to disparage this word or that phrase. I have more reason than most of you in this room to wish it were otherwise. I worked for the former ICEL for nineteen years and we had neared completion of a new translation of the Missal using different translation principles. But that was then. Now I have made a conscious choice to button my lip. Being cranky, especially being perpetually cranky, sours us and keeps us in a sort of low grade depression. None of us really wants to live like that.

This will be a defining moment in our ministry as liturgical and pastoral leaders in the church. There is certainly enough to criticize and denounce. But, as Hughes, suggests, do we really want to live like that? The reason we all chose lives of ministry is because of our radical conversion to the hope Christ offers and our apostolic compulsion to proclaim that hope to others. It’s time to go to work.


See also these related articles:

3 Responses to “The new missal: We wait in joyful hope”

  1. Nick Wagner Nick Wagner says:

    The next six issues of Today’s Parish will feature articles related to the new missal. The first, “Case study: How do I implement the revised sacramentary?”, appears in the September 2010 issue.

  2. Joyce Donahue says:

    Thanks for puttting this together, Nick… looking forward to the series of articles. As someone who has had to navigate through a few personal “cranky” moments about the new translation, I have to agree that it is a challenge. Those of us who are “on the ground” in parishes, or support those who are, are going to need all the help we can get!

  3. Jim Peters says:

    It’s good to hear the positive spin that Kathleen has put on this opportunity. I, like so many others, am wrestling with some of the “new” verbage (who really uses “consubstantial” in their daily vocabulary?), but have found myself more and more looking forward to the opportunity to get reacquainted with the Liturgy. Who knows? This could be a wonderful catalyst for some serious adult faith formation!

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