Tuesday 31 May 2011

First Experience of the New Translation of the Mass

At Mass today, Father used the new translation, as a way of giving himself and us the chance to get used to them before their formal introduction in the autumn.

I was struck by many things: overall what an improvement!

In many ways it was the little changes that made a big impact:

The repeated assurance that the priest had a spirit;

Being allowed to say we adore once again in the Gloria...;

The Gospel of the Lord’ rather than ‘This is the Gospel of the Lord’, meant that our priest, at least broke his habit of raising the Lectionary at that point, so we remained focused on the fact that the words we had just heard were the Gospel;

‘The Mystery of Faith’, rather than ‘Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith’, making it clear that the Mystery of Faith was the consecrated Body and Blood of Our Lord, not the acclamation by the people;

The omission of the acclamation that ends ‘Christ will come again,’ at precisely the moment when He has come to us on the altar;

The sins of the world, rather than the sin of the world...;

I will draw a veil over the number of times I responded ‘And also with you,’ out of habit rather than ‘And with your spirit,’ which I vastly prefer.

I would still prefer to be at an EF Mass every time (especially with regards to the Offertory!), but this is a vast improvement on what we have had to put up with for so many years.

Wolf, Wolf...

I hear on the Today programme that in X years the population will be Y million, food prices will have risen by Z per cent, and unless we address global warming we will all perish.

Oddly enough Charlie and I watched 2001 A Space Odyssey the other day. That made me pull the book off the shelf. It was written in 1968, and by 2001 it predicted not only easy frequent space travel (including interplanetary) but guess what: food shortages, unsustainable world populations, 38 Nuclear Nations and the Chinese selling nuclear capability to any other nation...

And so it has been as long as I can remember.

I have a theory that these cries of 'Wolf, Wolf' serve a number of purposes. Governments find a frightened populace easier to govern, academics can get their research funded, journalists have ready-made stories, and so on.

What worries me is when a real wolf comes along and a numbed and disillusioned public (including me) simply ignore the ritual warnings...

Sunday 29 May 2011

E&W Bishop's Pastoral on New Translation with my thoughts added...

(I'm not sure if this is Molesworth or Fr Z influenced - you decide.... I'm bold, bishops ordinary [how apposite])

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of Advent this year, when we gather for Mass, we shall be using the new translation of the Roman Missal. This will be the case not only in England and Wales but throughout the English-speaking world. The Mass will remain the same but parts of it will sound different. (well, yes, and no. The Latin remains the same, the English is different...)

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has produced three Latin editions of the Roman Missal. At present, we are still using a translation of the first edition which was published in 1973. Although the texts we have been using have served us well, (that is certainly debatable; The intention of Mass in the vernacular was to increase active participation and increase our understanding of the Mass and so forth.... In the time since these translations were introduced, the numbers participating at all have fallen catastrophically, and people’s understanding of the Mass seems worse than ever: so how well have they served us?) since that time there has been much development in the liturgical texts themselves and in our understanding of them. (Hang on, earlier we were told ‘the Mass remains the same’, here we are told ‘there has been much development in the liturgical texts”... I’m getting confused!)

We all become very accustomed to the words we hear; and the fact that we have been praying in a certain way for so long has imprinted that style of language and words upon our consciousness and made them very special. (Would that this had been realised and allowed for in the 1960s when the Mass of Ages was wrenched from the people of God and effectively chucked in the bin...) The changes in the language now to be introduced, however, do not represent change for change’s sake, but are being made in order to ensure greater fidelity to the liturgical tradition of the Church. (Hurrah!) In the earlier translation not all the meaning of the original Latin text was fully expressed (indeed: what happened to Adoremus?!) and a number of the terms that were used to convey the teachings of the faith were lost. (indeed: almost all mention of spirit, sacrifice etc omitted) This was readily acknowledged by the bishops of the Church, even back in the 1970s, and has become an increasing cause of concern since then.

There is an old adage in Latin which states that the way we pray forms the way we believe. So words and language are important for the teaching and the handing-on of the faith. (Latin? They are drawing wisdom from Latin? Now what does that suggest...?)

So what does this new translation offer us? First of all, there is a fuller expression of the content of the original texts. (Yes, indeed! Laetamur!)Then, there is a closer connection with the Sacred Scriptures which inspire so much of our liturgy. (Alleluia!) Also, there is a recovery of a vocabulary that enriches our understanding of the mystery we celebrate. (Exultemus!) All of this requires a unique style of language and expression, one that takes us out of ourselves and draws us into the sacred, the transcendent and the divine. (Yes, hieratic language is important to worship and adoration. How about Latin...?)

The publication of the new translation of the Missal is a special moment of grace in the English-speaking world. It offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery we celebrate each week. (and we really need to do that!)This itself will help us to move towards that fuller and more conscious and active participation in the liturgy to which the Church invites us. It will help us also to examine the dignity with which we celebrate the ‘source and summit’ of the Church’s life. (Let’s hope so; let’s pray for that!)

At the end of his visit last year, Pope Benedict asked us to use this moment for genuine renewal. He said: “I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist, and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration. ‘The more lively the Eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples’” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6). (Viva il Papa!)

In order to achieve this, the bishops have produced resources for all our parishes and, as from September, we will gradually begin to use the new liturgical texts at Mass and hear why certain changes have been made. Each diocese is already preparing its priests and deacons, catechists and liturgical ministers. Programmes for schools are being developed and new musical settings are being composed. From September until Advent everyone will have the opportunity to study the new texts and familiarise themselves with the prayers and chants. In addition, this period of preparation will allow us to pray these new texts. (I notice the contrast in the pastoral preparation for this change, compared with the introduction of the New Rite way back when... It is heartening to see they are learning: let us hope they continue to do so.)

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a gift, something we receive from God through the Church. Saint Paul spoke of it as coming from the Lord Jesus himself. Writing to the Church in Corinth, he said, “for I received from the Lord what I in turn also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23). So Eucharist is not something of our making but a gift received. Like Saint Paul, therefore, let us receive it with reverence and care, knowing that we are being faithful to what the Lord himself passed on to the Apostles, which has been handed on since, in faithfulness, by their successors to every generation of the Church.

Let us welcome the new translation of the Roman Missal as a sign of our unity and a powerful instrument of God’s grace in our lives. (And let us hope it is the first step towards an ever fuller recovery of our Sacred Traditions).

Catholic Instincts

One of the most worrying aspects about the Liverpool Cathedral/Methodist 'ordinations' fiasco is this. As soon as I read about it, my instinct was that this was wrong. The Archbishop of Liverpool's instinct was clearly the opposite.

That would worry me, in terms of my own response, were it not that on this (as on so many issues) my instinct coincides with what previous generations of Catholics would have felt, and also with the official teaching and praxis of the Church as demonstrated and taught by Peter.

I claim no credit for this - I'm just an ordinary Catholic in the pews. Blame my parents. They insisted on educating me in the Faith, despite the protestations of the Benedictines who ran the school I attended (one had the temerity to write to my father suggesting he leave my religious education to the school, as I was getting confused: that drew a frosty response... My father was a convert, as was my Mother: they had worked hard for their Faith).

So the worrying question is: why do we have bishops in this country whose instincts are contrary to those of the Catholic faithful of the past, (and indeed many of the present generations too) and contrary to Rome? And what can be done about it?

As usual, prayer and sacrifice are a large part of the remedy. But what else?

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Liverpool Cathedral's Methodist 'Ordinations" off...

I have just learned that the proposed Methodist 'ordinations' about which I blogged here, will not now take place in Liverpool Cathedral (H/t Fr Z).

I also note that the Catholic Herald, reporting this, mentions the Catholic Blogosphere - and indeed quotes this blog (and as Fr Z carries the Herald report, I get a mention there too! Fame at last!)

While I have no delusions of grandeur, it is encouraging to think that we on the blogosphere may play our small part in getting poor decisions noticed and re-considered.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Public Interest or public interest

Clifford Longley was on Thought for the Day yesterday pontificating about how from the Bible he inferred the right of journalists to write and publish just whatever they like.

In my understanding, Catholic teaching has always frowned on gossip and taking away someone’s good name.

So frankly, I couldn’t care less whether a footballer has been having an affair with a model. And it’s hardly news in any sense of the word - just gossip.

Nor do I buy the line that any censorship is impermissible. We all know that’s not true: we happily - and rightly - agree to the press censoring advance details of military operations, or police ones; we would deplore the press publishing accurate information on how to make chemical weapons in your kitchen, and so on. The question is not whether we have censorship, but what is censored and who decides.

I think one of the arguments here is Public Interest, which is very different from public interest.

I can see no particular Public Interest (although lots of prurient public interest) in the misbehaviour of an overpaid footballer and an overexposed glamour girl.

However, I think there is a real Public Interest in revealing the affairs of those in public office or places of social and political influence. So we should know if Fred Goodwin had an affair with another senior member of his bank; and the same applies to journalists, politicians, police chiefs (and Police Authority chairmen, come to that) and so on.

And the reason is this: we are expected to invest some trust in these people, and lack of integrity in their private life is, to say the least, an indicator that we should watch out for their integrity in their public life.

It was particularly shameful to hear MPs excusing one of their own for stealing from the public purse because he was not doing it, (it was claimed) for motives of personal gain, but to keep the secret of his homosexual affair out of the public gaze.

And then they have the nerve to say that private morality is private and does not affect someone’s fitness for public office.


Saturday 14 May 2011

God Bless Our Bishops

Two heartening pieces of news from the bishops' conference in England and Wales.

The first is that they are restoring the obligation to abstain from meat on Fridays.

This is hugely important for a number of reasons. One is the recognition that visible Catholic witness is an essential part of the re-evangelisation of the countries. A second is the need to rebuild a sense of Catholic identity, that has been seriously eroded by so many changes over the last few decades. A third is that it is the first clear sign that the bishops may be starting to turn the super-tanker. It is a reversal of a change they introduced, which they now recognise to have been mistaken, and as such is a great beacon of hope (at least to me!).

The second heartening piece of news is that they are considering allowing us to celebrate Ascension Thursday on a Thursday, and Epiphany on the Twelfth Night after Christmas. Again, the practical and symbolic aspects of this change, if decided upon, would be enormous, in similar ways to those listed above.

Let us hope and pray that they do so, and that they continue to evaluate and reverse policies and pastoral practices that have been introduced but have, in practice been counter-productive.

I gather that these changes are the fruits of the Holy Father's visit last year. I know from personal and family experience that there were many local and particular fruits; it is wonderful that there are also to be national ones - and I hope these will be the first of many.

Saturday 7 May 2011


It is scarcely believable, but apparently Slutwalking is taking off.

The idea is in response to some comments by a cop giving advice on personal safety to students in Toronto, Canada.
"You know, I think we're beating around the bush here," Michael Sanguinetti began, blandly enough, as he addressed the 10 students who turned up for the pep talk. Then he said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised."
This was taken as blaming the victim for the crime of rape, and the response was Slutwalking.

Of course, and this shouldn't need saying, but I'll say it anyway, any man who assaults a woman, sexually or otherwise, is committing both a crime and a sin, and is responsible before God and the courts for that.

But to infer from that obvious proposition that women and girls are therefore absolved of any responsibility for their actions is absurd.

If I leave my wallet on the dashboard of my car, leave the car unlocked with the windows open, and go for a long walk, and somebody pinches my wallet, then that person is responsible for his actions: he has committed a theft and if caught will rightly be punished.

However, it does not seem to me to be out of order for the police to advise me not to do such an idiotic thing, and after the event, to point out that I was, to some extent, responsible for what happened. That does not in any way reduce the culpability of the thief - but I can't reasonably say that I had no responsibility whatever for the theft.

In the realm of sexual behaviour, we have further complications. Our clothes and our behaviour sends out messages: a woman who dresses in a way which she knows will send out a message that she is sexually available does have some responsibility for that. We also know that men are far more susceptible to visual stimulation in the field of sexual arousal than women. The data on pornography alone verifies that. Some women simply don't seem to get that; and some do and enjoy provocative teasing...

So I will continue to teach my daughters to dress and behave modestly, and that if they dress and behave like sluts then they will have some responsibility if men take that at face value...

Monday 2 May 2011

New game...

Spent the evening playing a new board game which Charlie and Dominique have made. It's a family version of Cluedo, based on our house as a board (on two levels, downstairs and upstairs). The family become the suspects (including Goldie the dog) and the murder implements include grandma's knitting needles, the potato peeler, one of Charlie's hats and so on. They have added some chance cards (as in Monopoly) including discovering a steel boot that enables you to boot another player out of any room at any time (but only once!).

The whole thing has been wonderfully produced: photos of all the suspects and implements mounted on cards etc. And people wonder how they fill their time with no TV...