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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Preview of coming attractions?!?!?

For the better part of nearly two years, the collects, offertory and post-Communion texts of the revised English translation of the  Roman Missal have been a secret guarded more closely than the recipe to make the original version of Coca-Cola.  The only ones who had seen the text, in its entirety, were the various bishops conferences that voted on the Roman Missal.  All that we have seen is the Ordinary of the Mass.

Now, a link has made its way throughout the Catholic blogosphere that purports to leak a handful of sections from the Roman Missal, allegedly from the April 2010 text given to the Holy Father by the Vox Clara committee (although there are now reports dating these pages to June 2010).  Included in this set of leaked documents is a rather scathing review of the revised Roman Missal.

Perhaps we should look at the translations, the current first and then, the revised, to see just why some folks find them so offensive, at the worst, and problematic, at the least.  Let's look at the inaugural ones to be used next year for the First Sunday of Advent:

Entrance Antiphon (Current version)
To you, my God, I lift my soul, I trust in you; let me never come to shame.  Do not let my enemies laugh at me. No one who waits for you is ever put to shame.  (Psalm 24:1-3)

Entrance Antiphon (Revised Roman Missal 2010)
To you, I lift up my soul, O my God.
In you, I have trusted; let me never be put to shame.
Nor let my enemies exult over me;
and let none who hope in you be put to shame.  (Psalm 24-:1-3)
The language is slightly more elevated in the 2010 revision.  It seems more poetic, something that is sorely lacking in the current version.

Now, let's look at the Collects for the First Sunday of Advent:

Current Version
All-powerful God,
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Revised Version
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord.
As I read the two Collects, the revised version of the Collect takes on a tone of beseeching the Lord, rather than merely making a request.  The language is more formal because we are addressing God in his Divine Majesty.    It captures the phrase "lex orandi, lex credendi" at its best.  We pray as we believe.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not some casual get-together among like-minded people.  It is a celebration of the Paschal Mystery.  That is why everything, the text of the prayers, the music, the vessels, the vestments, the environment and the prayerful disposition of both celebrant and faithful, is important.  Now, if there are corrections to be made, there is still a lot of time to get these in place before the Advent 2011 launch date.  However, even what has been laid out before us is still a vast improvement over the current version. 

Unfortunately, since the initial release of the Ordinary of the Mass in 2008, not a few people have tried to derail the entire English-language revision of the Roman Missal.  In fact, website polls, such as the infamous "What if we just said wait" campaign sought to delay or even altogether stop the release and implementation of the revised Roman Missal.  Such developments grieve me because it's as though these folks, as well-meaning as they think they might be, seem to have no interest in the promotion of authentic liturgy and, instead, would rather continue offering the Lord a sub-par form of worship that is more reflective of the alleged Spirit of Vatican II than what the actual documents of the Council and subsequent authoritative writings of the Holy See had mandated. 

For those of us who have been anticipating this revised translation of the Roman Missal, the wait has been a long one.  It's almost as though we've been wandering in some sort of liturgical desert for nearly 40 years and are about to reach the Promised Land.  Rather than castigate the Holy See for giving us this magnificent gift, we should thank the Lord for giving us the grace of the foresight of leaders like the Venerable Pope John Paul II, CDWDS prefects like Jorge Cardinal Medina, Francis Cardinal Arinze and Antonio Cardinal Canizares Llovera, Vox Clara Chairman George Cardinal Pell and, of course, Pope Benedict XVI, who have all pushed for an authentic, prayeful and noble translation of the Roman Missal.  Rome is trying to re-orient our focus towards what authentic worship is.  We need to follow the Holy See's lead and welcome this Roman Missal with great joy and with loving obedience.

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