Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reform of the Roman Missal

We have said goodbye to the inaccurate, paraphrased English translation of the Roman Missal of the Ordinary Form. This weekend the new and improved, and more accurate English translation was implemented. The words match the Latin, and are more poetic and inspirational.  The downside is that many parishes, including my own, are still using sugary, folk-pop style "Liturgical music".  Hopefully, in time, that will change as new composers become inspired, and parish music directors become less fearful of using Gregorian chant.

I attended the 5pm vigil mass at my parish. The new words were very beautiful and inspiring... but the overall anticipation for this event let me down a little. I was looking forward to saying the Confiteor, with the "mea culpa", but we skipped over it and went right to the Kyrie.  Although I don't blame him, the priest didn't seem well rehearsed with the new words and stammered quite a bit. And there was the Andrew Lloyd Webber hymnal that bogged the celebration down.  One nice thing was when the parish said "And with your spirit" the very first time, very loud and confident.

But overall, I hope in the weeks to come, the priests will get more used to the new words, and not stumble so much, and we may get better music... perhaps even chant.  And hopefully we will get to say the Confiteor soon.

There are critics on the left who say the older 1970 paraphrase translation is more understandable, and there are critics on the right who say it doesn't matter how they improve the translation because only the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is pleasing to God.  While I am fond of the Extraordinary Form (the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII), I don't know if simply going back to it exclusively is something that would be accepted by the ordinary Catholic, unless it is gradually done over a generation.  Even I don't think I could attend the Extraordinary Form exclusively, due to the somewhat confusing nature of it, not so much  due to the Latin, but because much of it spoken by the priest in a low voice, having the people sit there in silence, reading the English translation missalettes on their own. The plan of Pope Benedict XVI seems to be to gradually merge the Novus Ordo of Paul VI and the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII together. The new English translation of the Missal of Paul VI seems to be step 1. Some years later, step 2 may be a hybrid Mass, perhaps based on the 1965 Missal. After a decade or so of that, then it would be feasible to think the 1962 Missal could be restored as the only form, slightly revised to include more vernacular, less "sotto voce", and to fit the newer liturgical calendar and three year cycle of readings.

But for now, I am looking forward to the new English translation of the Ordinary Form, and excited to see the celebration of it become better and more fluid, and just maybe, priests may start saying the Eucharistic Prayer ad orientem.

1 comment:

Van said...

I am agitated by the typical U.S. suburban Catholic parish. It seems like it is hopelessly out of touch, and trapped in the 1970s. The buildings itself, have a distinctive 1970s look to it, whether it be of the "circus bigtop" style, or the plain, generic, multi-purpose style. Inside, it's worse, with bad 1970s style walls, bare except for cheap looking banners and streamers, with 1970s style abstract images. Same for the stain glass windows, bad 1970s designs, and the covers of the Lectionary and Missal.

The music is all done in a bad, 1970s folk style (how I wish I could hear more of "How Great Thou Art" or "Immaculate Mary", and much much less of "Lord of the Dance" or "Gentle Woman").

Every time I go to one of these parishes, I feel like I'm trapped in the era of "All In The Family" and "Mary Tyler Moore". I think the new and improved translation is a step in the right direction, but it's baby steps. Church buildings built in the 1960s thru 90s need to be demolished, while new buildings need to reflect true sacred architecture. Parish music directors need to get over themselves, and bring back chant and classic hymns, and lose the awful folk-pop "contemporary" music, which is really as contemporary as a Ford Pinto. Pastors need to watch EWTN to learn how to celebrate a Mass properly.

I would love to see the Ordinary Form ultimately phased out, but it will be a long process.. I don't expect it to happen in my lifetime, perhaps not even my childrens lifetime.

But for now, baby steps. And it helps to find a good, orthodox parish that isn't stuck in the 70s.