Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Those Strange "Alternative Opening Prayers"

A very odd feature of the current Sacramentary is its "Alternative opening prayer," which appears to have been dreamed up out of whole cloth. Here is the way it works. On the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the priest's collect can read:
God our Father,
your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him
reject what is contrary to the gospel. 
Or this is this other option in the right hand column. It is labelled "Alternative Opening Prayer" and it reads as follows:
Father, let the light of your truth
guide us to your king
through a world filled with lights contrary to your own.
Christian is the name and the gospel we glory in.
May your love makes us what you have called us to be.

So where did that come from? Not from the Roman Missal. They were inserted into the Missal with the help of an advisory board. Essentially they were selected by a bureaucracy and inserted in to stand alongside the already loosely translated real versions. Sometime they seem to pick up missing parts from the Latin; other times, they contain completely new ideas. But there is nothing in the Sacramentary to indicate that they are anything less then authentic. It is made to appear as if these were just another example of "choice" that is all to pervasive in the Missal already.

To be sure, most younger priests got hip to this game some years ago. They never say them because their dubious authenticity. Older priests, however, who have not partaken of the current ethos toward more faithful rendering of texts, use them frequently, and they are nearly all as puzzling as the one above ("Christian is the name..."?)

Among many extraordinary features of the forthcoming Missal is that these are eliminated entirely. The text you will see is the translated text from the Roman Missal, period.

This is a huge step.

Incidentally, this is the new collect for the same day:
O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.