Mass translations: Things I can’t say
As a former student under Fr David Power OMI on The Eucharist in History and Tradition, I have been tempted to question the historical and even theological accuracy of some of the arguments put forward, and the latest article is no exception.
However, I must confess to an attitude of resignation. To what end? Why bother with alternative arguments? These Mass changes are a fait accompli (if not in the rest of the English-speaking world, at least here in South Africa).
It is clear that the sincere and heartfelt objections and suggestions of good Catholics (not just the so-called vociferous minority of religious and intelligentsia) have been ignored. This may be denied, but I have yet to see one constructive point conceded, other than a promise by our bishops that they will advocate sensitivity to sexist language.
One advantage I have as a Redemptorist travelling around the country preaching missions and retreats is that I get a sense of what laity are thinking about the changes. At a meeting of 50 liturgical ministers at a Johannesburg parish, when all I asked was how they felt their parish liturgy could be improved, every person exceptone said: Go back to the old words of the Mass! (The person who disagreed was a French-speaker who said he preferred the changes because they were closer to the French!)
Redemptorist missioners find the same responses in other dioceses, with most people saying they are not happy with the changes, but recognising they are powerless, are simply resigned to them. I would welcome an independent survey to confirm or deny my findings.
Difficult as it is to admit as an academic and a theologian, I think any hope for discussions around the pros and cons of the new wording is futile, even though much of the rationale offered us I consider debatable. However, I am left with some personal struggles not yet resolved.
Despite Bishop Risi’s comments about the priest acting in persona Christi (which in the wider context of the liturgy I don’t deny), I still cannot bring myself to say: my sacrifice and yours.
As a priest, yet always and primarily a member of the community of the baptised, I have continued in good faith in my own celebration of the Eucharist to use the phrase – our sacrifice.
Likewise, I cannot on principle (linguistic, not doctrinal) use the new Nicene Creed whenever I am main celebrant. It truly is an abomination of good English, which no one can deny.
If there is one source of comfort to me in this whole saga, it is the knowledge that we have not heard the final word, but can only wait in solidarity with the rest of the English-speaking Church as to whether these changes will finally be accepted.