Saturday, February 13, 2010

The New Missal is Coming! (Eventually)

“The clerics should celebrate the liturgy, praying for the living and the dead, like the clerics of the Roman Curia.” (From Chapter 3, the Earlier Rule of the Order of Friars Minor Regula non bullatta).

A few days ago the National Catholic Reporter, on their website, posted two stories from the Catholic News Service, concerning the release of the new Missal, wit new translations of the liturgical prayers. One speculated on the possible date for the release of the missal in the U. S. The other story was on plans to prepare the clergy and laity for the release.

Now I consider myself a center leftist amateur liturgist. I grew up with both the pre Vatican II Mass with the Latin; and the post Vatican II Mass in English. While I agree with goal expressed by a U S bishops’ expert, of installing a more intense sense of reverence, the language must also speak to people. I have seen some of the examples on the USCCB website; some of the words used in the translations are either too academic; or too formal.

I think what we are seeing is the constant tension between the need for uniformity in liturgy and liturgy that speaks to a people of a certain culture or time. It has been a conflict that has existed since the early days of the Church, when each region and nation had its own unique liturgy. As papal authority became more established, the Roman liturgy became the norm in Europe.

Because we are a universal Church, our liturgy needs to be celebrated with the same format and words. But because our Church is made up of diverse cultures, our liturgy needs to be flexible enough to incorporate signs, symbols and language of a particular people, so that it will touch their minds and their hearts.

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