Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Survey on the New Missal

A new survey on the new Missal translation is making a splash because it shows overwhelming opposition. I'm quoted on the PrayTell blog as suspecting a demographic split here. Older priests who were accustomed to the previous translation don't like the new formality. Younger priests are different: they are thrilled with it (speaking from what I gather from conversations. However, the survey didn't include demographic data, though that would have been easy to elicit and compile. So we'll never know.

Here is the PrayTell release.

Full survey results are here.

My own comments are listed in the comment page.

I'm reprinting them below. They were initially 600 words, and I had to cut to 250.

These survey results initially surprised me. But I'll admit my bias: I'm far happier with the new translation. I'm frequently moved by the new language. I'm friends with many young priests who fully agree.

Why would some priests disagree with this assessment? The survey lacks demographic data, but I suspect a generational split is at work here. It shouldn't really be surprising that some priests of an older generation are annoyed. They came terms with one way, received vast amounts of catechesis along these lines, and developed a more casual liturgical style to go with it, and now they are told to do it another way. This creates a real tension: am I supposed to speak in the language of the people or not?

What is the purpose of liturgy? Is it primarily a community gathering centered on the needs of the people or is it a formalized prayer that strives to reach out of time and into eternity? The existing resources for liturgy do not fully agree on this crucial matter. The answer to this instability is to get to work on the remaining options and bring them into line with the new understanding and ethos.

One point that emerges here should serve as a warning sign. We find in this survey an intense suspicion about the process of translation itself, all stemming from excessive and pointless centralization and secrecy. Every process of revision could benefit from a more open approach.