I’m glad I wasn’t at the Catholic Academy of Liturgy proceedings in the Great White North last week. I’ve tried to avoid the countless bloggers who’ve virtually scrambled over themselves to get text on Bishop Trautman’s address. Naturally, if the Erie bishop appeared on the Food Network to whisk an egg, the Catholic bloggerhood would toss out their fry pans and go, in full uniformity, for hard-boiled instead. That is, if there were any eggs left after heaving them in the direction of northwest Pennsylvania.
I have to confess I’ve not always found my liturgical “betters” to be a hospitable folk. Even among progressives, there can be a certain cattiness. One-basin versus two-basin immersion fonts, print readings at bilingual Masses okay, but missalettes, no. Things like that. You want to tell some types to get over themselves. (Which is probably why I enjoy being the foil so often in neo-orthodox Catholic blogdom.) Somewhat symbolic of this was a cocktail hour at a Philadelphis bar many years ago. I ordered a nice black beer from Brazil, while most of my colleagues settled in for wine or the usual high-proof stuff.
I‘m an adventurous sort, but not all people in church ministry are built that way. Needless to say, most of the St Blogger conservatives are probably used to George McFly’s bar call, “Milk, chocolate!”
That being said, I can’t get excited about St Blog’s egg toss this week. I can’t remember all the places I’ve looked in on, counted the dittoheads and moved on. What can you say to people who like their milk the way they like it and no moving off point?
I hold less enthusiasm for the upcoming changes in the Ordo Missae. I think the CDWDS, Vox Clara, and ICEL have done badly for us, and that’s before I get into the substance of transliteration or whatever they’re calling it these days.
1. Enough Catholics who probably don’t otherwise give a darn about liturgical words think Rome and the bishops have more important things to do. They’re still upset about mismanaging pedophiles. If the financial mismanagement turns out to be a big story, it will further highlight episcopal impotence. The party line for hiring tough lawyers was to “save the investment heritage of the Church.” If bishops have allowed, by inaction, the frittering away of parish and diocesan money, it sort of blows the whole line of argument out of the water. Which leads me to the next point …
2. Why are bishops involved in the creation stage of texts, anyway? Vatican II was all over the competence of the laity. Aren’t there Latin scholars, poets, Scripture scholars and other experts who aren’t bishops? Your friendly neighborhood Latin professor can’t reform her diocese’s procedures on financial management, but the bishop sure can. One might say it’s part of his job as a shepherd. Vox Clara was a wasteful exercise from the start, adding another layer of translation bureaucracy to the mix. Naturally, they got all those nice trips to various Eastern and Southern hemisphere English-speaking locales for their troubles.
3. Lay people in the American parishes I know have pretty much memorized their part in the Ordo Missae. Quite frankly, even I have a hard time following the Ordo in the hymnal or missalette these days. It will be very, very interesting to see what the missalette publishers come up with when the new words hit print. I suspect that implementation will come rather slow at first. Enough priests have liturgy far enough down on their priorities that it will be an even tougher switch for them. For one thing, they have a lot more words.
4. If there was real respect for the laity, ICEL would’ve tackled the priest parts of the Mass first, promulgated them, then waited for the input from the parishes. That part of the Roman Missal could’ve been in print by now. I suspect the reason for not upgrading the sacramentary was political.
5. Lastly (for now), whatever the flawed Liturgiam Authenticam says about translation, the important thing for a living Missal is not accuracy from the Latin source. What is vital for Catholics is to get an artistic translation that prays well. Progressives have conceded since the mid-70’s that the current Roman Missal is inadequate. The conservatives, now that they’ve come back from pouting, are late, very late to that particular party.
From what I’ve seen of the Ordo Missae is that we have something just as poor, but for different reasons. When discerning lay Catholics see the fuss is about a deeper fussiness of language, they might rightfully ask, “Is it worth the bother?”
“If it keeps their minds off sex predators and collection skimmers, maybe so.”
Let the eggs fly.