Sunday, June 25, 2006

The new (old) Order of Mass

A great many people are making a big deal out of the so-called "changes" coming to the liturgy at a Catholic parish near you. To hear some folks talk about it, these are drastic changes that are some sort of progressive plot to take control of the Mass. As readers have likely figured out by now, I am the great anti-progressive where worship is concerned, so I would likely be skeptical of any so-called changes that were going to give our worship the dreaded "hippie effect."

However, the new Order of Mass that will likely be approved by the U.S. Bishops and the Vatican for the United States is only a change if all you know is the present system, or if you've never attended a traditional Latin Mass. The new Ordo Missae is actually a reversion back to standards that were held as common in the early days after Vatican II, but fell out of favor in the effort by some people to use lanquage that was "dynamic equivalent" as opposed to translating the Mass directly from the Latin language. Let me put it more plainly: Rather than translating the Mass from Latin into English straightaway, our U.S. and Canadian Bishops allowed liturgists to translate the Mass in a way that sounded good as long as the "spirit" of the original Latin was maintained.

Rome has finally stepped in and said "enough" to that whole mentality, and has demanded that American and Canadian Bishops adopt a translation that is more literal and true to the universal Latin Mass used by the Church all over the world (you go B16!). For Catholics in America, that means that the Church is saying "worship in English is just fine-as long as the liturgy you are using is more like what the rest of the Church everywhere is using." Rome forced the U.S. Bishops' hands to finally deal with this issue after years of trying to gently prod them. Many (but by no means all) of our American bishops are stubborn and stiff-necked men who will only listen when they are finally slapped on the hand rather firmly-and Benedict has apparently given a great thud.

Some of the changes:

Whenever the priest says “The Lord be with you,” the people will respond “And with your spirit.” (Translated direct from the Latin et tum spiritu tuo.) The current response is “And also with you.”

In the first form of the penitential rite the people will confess that “I have sinned greatly . . . through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” (Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.) In the current version, that part of the prayer is much shorter: “I have sinned through my own fault.”

The Nicene Creed will begin with “I believe” instead of “We believe”—a translation of the Latin text. (Credo in unum Deum...etc.)

During the offertory prayers the priest will pray that “the sacrifice which is mine and yours will be acceptable” (more theologically correct) instead of the current prayer that “our sacrifice will be acceptable.”

Before the preface when the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” instead of saying, “It is right to give him thanks and praise,” the people will respond, “It is right and just.” (This is a more literal translation.)

The Sanctus will start “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts.” The current version says “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.”

Very often, Catholics in America fall into the great trap of thinking of themselves as "American Catholics," and perceiving there to be an "American Catholic Church." In spite of the wishes of certain so-called progressives, there is no Amercan Catholic Church-there is just the Catholic Church in America. I am not an "American Catholic," I am a Catholic who happens to live in America.

What I am about to say may offend some of my evangelical Protestant brethren, but in advance of saying it I want to tell them that no offense is intended-I say it to illustrate a point.

Many so-called Catholics in this country forget what it really means to be Catholic. When you are truly Catholic, there is no American Church, Canadian Church, Latin American Church, European Church, or Asian Church. There is no First Church or Second Church, and there is no Southern Church and Northern Church-there is just one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. We are all a part of the same Body, and we obey the same Church and believe the same doctrine in service to the same God-Jesus Christ. In our arrogance, many Catholics in the U.S. think they can have their cake and eat it too-they can call themselves Catholic, and even go to Mass on Sunday, while openly disobeying Church teaching all the while. At least in Europe they got the message-they can't be found in church on Sunday anymore, and a majority don't avail themselves of most of the sacraments. The only people left in Catholic parishes in Europe are those who want to be there because they believe in it.

Europe, however, is very slowly beginning to awake from its religious slumber, with many realizing they can't get through life without God. It has taken decades, however, of decline in attendance in Europe's churches to get to this point-but the Church has held fast to what is true and refused to budge an inch, and that will very quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.

These reforms in our liturgy are meant to remind us that we are part of one spiritual family, one Body, and whether that Church is great or small, it is One.

Cross-posted from Where I Stand)


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