The Post-Concilar Text Thicket

Adoremus offers a very helpful guide for those confused by the post-conciliar issue of translations. As I look through the list of releases, revisions, commissions, releases, revisions, commissions, seemingly without end, I gain sympathy for the traditionalist impulse to say: down with the new; give me that old-time religion and the stability that comes with it. When you play with the core ritual of a people, and really an entire civilization, you really are playing with fire.

And remember that the textual and translations upheavals compromise on a small amount of what’s gone on. There were massive architectural changes that, strangely, find little or no support in the documents but were worldwide. The same is true of the music for liturgy. What was presumed to be the ideal – however rarely reached – was thrown out and replaced with the peculiar view that music of the liturgy ought to sound less like Church and more like anything else.

When one gets frustrated with reactionary impulses alive among traditionalists – and I’m among those who can easily become so – it is good to remember what we’ve been through. It may or not be unprecedented in Catholic history but it this upheaval has been a defining mark of our age, one that has deeply unsettled the Catholic mind and heart.

Still, this is the setting into which we were born and we must endure with faith and hope. There is much to be hopeful for. In fits and starts, we are clawing our way out of the trouble and into safe harbor. The mistake the traditionalists make is in thinking that safety comes only through an attempt to recreate the past. But time moves forward, and the urgency of examining and learning from the past must serve the project of looking to a brighter future.