Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reactions to the New Missal

Fr. Ruff posts an interesting look at the new Missal translation after one year. He was on the opposed side, and I was on the side of the proponents. We agree more or less on the need for more openness and less secrecy. That whole approach didn't do the process any favors, and it was probably the cause of the retention of certain linguistic problems,

His main critique of the language: "I haven't heard anyone report they've detected more scriptural allusions in the revised priests' prayers. It's rather easy to tune out what lacks appeal, and people's reduced attention to liturgical texts is a significant piece of why 'it worked.'"

I don't see this at all. I'm far, far happier with the new texts. No, they don't cause me to jump up and down with joy. What they have done is remove what used to be a major irritation that grated on my nerves every week: the feeling that the texts have been manipulated or politicized to the point that I'm not really hearing the authentic meaning. That this was not the case is easy to demonstrate. A quick look at the old Gloria text was enough to show that. The priests propers were similarly far from the Latin, and I could tell that even with my rudimentary understanding of Latin. This was a constant annoyance.

That annoyance is gone, and it feels a bit like what it is like when a part of the body heals that had previously been in pain. You don't have a constant sense that "wow my foot feels great!" Rather, what you experience is a greater sense of normalcy, that things are as they should be. The irritation is gone. The annoyance is gone. The sense of persistent pain has receded. No, that does not cause unrelenting rejoicing. It causes greater focus on what truly matters. We can move on with out lives. That's the main contribution of MR3.

There is much more to do, of course. The music issue looms large. The mainline publishers deserve congratulations for their impressive feat of retaining much of what MR3 tried to get rid of. Their manipulations are a case study in commercial survival tactics. It should be studied in business school. There is a place for this kind of marketing savvy. Liturgy, however, deserves more. Others have learned a lesson too: it is going to take much more than some minor textual alterations to get music on track. It is going to require a clear demand that liturgical music be...liturgical music, and not something else.

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