Some critics of the new translations: “radioactively cynical”

Over at First Things Fr. Rutler has some comments about the new translation and liturgy in general.

Here are a few excerpts. We join him in medias res with my emphases and sinographs:

[...]

Publicly owned corporations are more accountable to their shareholders than tenured bureaucracies, which may explain why it took the Ford Motor Company only two years to cancel its Edsel, and not much longer for Coca Cola to restore its “classic” brand, while the Catholic Church has taken more than a generation of unstopped attrition to try to correct the mistakes of overheated liturgists. The dawning of the Age of Aquarius is now in its sunset repose and the bright young things who seem to be cropping up now all over the place with new information from Fortescue and Ratzinger, may either be the professional mourners for a lost civilization, or the sparks of a looming golden age.

One thing is certain to a pastor: the only parishioners fighting the old battles are old themselves, their felt banners frayed and their guitar strings broken, while a young battalion is rising, with no animus against the atrophied adolescence of their parents, and only eager to engage a real spiritual combat in a culture of death. They usually are ignorant, but bright, for ignorance is not stupidity.

They care little if the Liturgy is in Latin or English or Sanskrit, as long as they are told how to do it, for they were not told. Some critics of the new translations have warned that the changes are Shishi qiu shi : Seek truth from factstoo radical, which is radioactively cynical from people who in the 1960’s wantonly dismantled old verities overnight, in their suburbanized version of China’s Cultural Revolution.

[...]

I think there should be few options in the Liturgy, and no attempt to be “creative,” for that is God’s particular talent. As Vatican II taught in Sacrosanctum Concilium, “[T]here must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

[...]

While I am glad for the new and more accurate translation of the Mass, which is not perfection but closer to it than one deserves in an imperfect world, a far more important reform would be the return of the ad orientem position of the celebrant as normative. It is the antidote to the tendency of clerisy to impose itself on the people. When a celebrant at Mass stops and says, “This is not about me,” you may be sure he thinks it may be about him. It would be harder for him to harbor that suspicion were he leading the people humbly to the east and the dawn of salvation.

[...]

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36 Responses to Some critics of the new translations: “radioactively cynical”

  1. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Very well said. Hear, hear! And I hope the aging Boomers do, in fact, hear the concerns, questions and insights of the younger generations.

  2. thereseb says:

    “overheated liturgists”…”suburbanized Cultural Revolution”. Perfect. Just perfect.

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    “I think there should be few options in the Liturgy, and no attempt to be “creative,” for that is God’s particular talent.”

    Fr. Rutler knows how to use the English language. I love it.

    Re creator and created: The stories of creation in Genesis, the book of Job, Psalm 148–all come immediately to mind. =) How dare anyone to try to one-up God?

  4. jt83 says:

    Perhaps the tradition-minded youths will be able to oust the ‘boomers who always seem to be in charge of World Youth Day liturgies and so-called “Youth Masses” in parishes far and wide. Many youths do not even know about the reform of the reform movement because they continue to be patronized by liturgists who promote a the idea of the Mass as entertainment.

  5. Nan says:

    I went to Vigil Mass in Moscow a couple of weeks ago. In Russian. I didn’t understand the words the priest used since I don’t speak Russian but knew what was happening because Mass is Mass. The Cathedral is undergoing renovations so the Sanctuary isn’t available; there was a dropcloth-covered scaffolding, attached to which was a large, laminated picture of a crucifix. In front of this was a temporary altar for Mass.

    Today, in his homily, the Deacon talked about the upcoming new translation, the type of changes it will encompass and when it will be implemented. We first heard talk of this a year and a half ago so there will be no surprises upon implementation thereof.

  6. I was just thinking this morning at Mass, during the highly abbreviated and ever-changing penitential rite, what a wonderful thing it would be for there to be few options in the liturgy. Oh, wait: we have that in the TLM. Wish I could go to the TLM exclusively, every day!

  7. Mark R says:

    Good. So long as tradition is not just a fad as innovation was for the prior generation.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    Mark, what the heck does that mean?

    Tradition, true tradition, rests on the understanding that with respect to the essential things, this time is like any other time on the long continuum from the beginning of the world to the end of the world. You understand, this is the underlying presumption of Christianity.

    Whereas “New and Improved” is a marketing slogan of & for the 20th century, a brain hiccup, a titty the pagan culture proffers to the aimless and grasping among us. Get over it. Both (all) versions of it, okay?

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    Salvation history is what it is; God is what He is. Continuity is the key, not the exception. Do you believe that God changes his mind every time the wind blows? Or that the truth flickers like a candle that goes out without warning and needs to be re-lit constantly? I certainly hope you don’t think that.

  10. TJerome says:

    Father Rutler does have a way with words. I particularly liked his name for a disease which affects many celebrants “clerisy.” That’s a corker. The biggest critics of the new translations appear to be the very people who stripped the Liturgy of its grace and beauty and are now hopping made that grace and beauty might be restored.

  11. One thing worth noting here is that Fr. Rutler’s Novus Ordo is outstanding. If his parish were around the corner from mine, I’d probably go there. One need not fear any oddball silliness at his church, whether it be extraordinary form or ordinary form. What hurts is that my company had a client literally around the corner from his church, so I got to go there occasionally for daily Mass. The client sold the building, though, and I don’t get the opportunity much these days.

  12. paulbailes says:

    The description of the revolt against traditional liturgical practice and doctrine as a “suburbanized version of China’s Cultural Revolution” would be fine if it weren’t for the “suburbanized”, which would seem to diminish the magnitude of what was done to us by our own revolutionaries.

    Evil as Mao and his gang were, at least they were operating against what was mostly “only” natural/human culture; whereas the revolution in the Church is an attack on supernatural phenomena (of course through the media of things that humans can sense, e.g. words, music, actions).

    FWIW my hope is that the perpetrators of the Catholic Cultural Revolution, and their methods, will one day be named and condemned by the Church, and the counter-revolutionary heroes correspondingly honoured so that maybe future generations will be able to see any future revolution as it takes shape and know what to do in order to resist it. (Which is why it’s important not to just “move ahead” from questions about who was and wasn’t legitimately censured by the Vatican authorities.)

    God bless
    Paul

  13. Stvsmith2009 says:

    “When a celebrant at Mass stops and says, “This is not about me,” you may be sure he thinks it may be about him.”
    I am sure my friend in Australia wishes the priest at her parish understood that “this is not about me”. He had the crucifix removed from the sanctuary so that the people could concentrate on him. The crucifix now resides in a sacristy closet.

    At a parish in this county of western North Carolina, I attended a late Sunday Mass, and was somewhat taken aback at some of the things I observed. A young woman who was an altar server dressed in a Franciscan monk’s habit (complete with rope about her waist), she and other altar servers passing by the tabernacle as if it was nothing and never once genuflecting. People who never kneeled during the consecration, and the Host and the Precious Blood both being held in creamic vessels. The breaking of the bread by the priest, the deacon, the “extraordinry ministers of the Eucharist”, and anyone else who was handy at the front of the sanctuary which had no altar at all. And this is just a few of the things that happened.

    Being a relatively new Catholic, I sent an email to the Diocese explaining what had happened. My email was forwarded to the priest of said parish, who then sent me an email and essentially told me that as a “new” Catholic I was ignorant of the “norms” of Mass and would learn as my Catholic “experience matured”.

    And people wonder why I am becoming more and more “conservative”.

  14. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Oops…that should have been “ceramic vessels”…I am afraid I am always a typo waiting to happen.

  15. medievalist says:

    “…their felt banners frayed and their guitar strings broken”: an elegy

    The sky poured through the ruins,
    of the concrete long forsaken;
    the grass encroached upon,
    the aisle the dancers’d taken.

    Guitar strings ‘neath my feet,
    no longer could they twang;
    but yielded to plainsongs,
    which the scholae sang.

    The field had been abandoned,
    littered by vessels of clay;
    nothing remained but the eastern breeze,
    on tattered felt to play.

    And from o’er the horizon,
    came echoes breaking the gloam,
    and my straining ear did catch:
    per saecula saeculorum.”

  16. TJerome says:

    stvsmith2009, I think the priest who wrote you that email is the one who needs to grow up. The bishop should remove him ASAP or the bishop should be doing some “splaining” in Rome.

  17. Dr. Eric says:

    Our parish priest ad libs the Mass now, how are we to get him to stick to the new translation without ad libbing?

  18. paulbailes says:

    The foregoing all goes to show that if clown masses are maybe a thing of the past, liturgical abuse in other modes remains chronic in the Church. I am not at all sure that we’ve yet seen the beginning of the end.

  19. TNCath says:

    It doesn’t get much better than Fr. Rutler. The change in position of the Mass had much more of a negative effect on the Mass than the Novus Ordo or the vernacular ever did.

  20. Central Valley says:

    Fr. Rutler is a blessing to the Church. He is a man with a knowledge of language and tradition….he can cut your throat with a pen and do it well. We need more Fr. Rutlers, more importantly we need more Bishop Rutlers.

  21. Central Valley says:

    “One thing is certain to a pastor: the only parishioners fighting the old battles are old themselves, their felt banners frayed and their guitar strings broken, while a young battalion is rising, with no animus against the atrophied adolescence of their parents, and only eager to engage a real spiritual combat in a culture of death.”
    The same can be said for alot of the clergy. This, at least, is the case here in the diocese of Fresno, Ca. As one who attends the Extraordinary Form, the greatest insults ever received were from the clergy of the diocese.

  22. Will D. says:

    Interestingly, our pastor brought up the new Missal during his homily today. Every time he mentioned it, he referred to it as “a correction,” and said that the older translation was laudable for trying to “emphasize our place as sons and daughters of God” but that it failed to make it clear “why we need a savior.” It was music to my ears, God bless him.

  23. Sixupman says:

    When I visit a particular city, I attend daily Mass at a church which Celebrates Ad Orientem and it occurred to me how easy it would be for the Celebrant to say the Mass in the vernacular of the 1962 Missal. No one would hardly notice. That said, some some of the translation in the 1962 Missal I find irritating and find myself using words implanted into my mind during my childhood and youth.

  24. kiwitrad says:

    It is only a few weeks now before the “corrections” are brought into the Mass here in NZ and the vast majority of Parishioners in my town have no idea it is going to happen. I am a daily Mass goer and have not yet heard it mentioned at all at Mass. I’m veryconcerned as I’m sure thers’ll be a rebellion. Is that what the Bishops want I wonder?

  25. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Eric says:

    Our parish priest ad libs the Mass now, how are we to get him to stick to the new translation without ad libbing?

    Excellent question. I think to a great extent it will depend on the bishop. The problem is that so many priests have been trained to perform at mass (see: versus populum celebration).

  26. Henry Edwards says:

    kiwitrad: “I’m veryconcerned as I’m sure thers’ll be a rebellion.”

    I wonder why you say this. Where I am in the USA, it seems to me that most ordinary OF “Sunday Catholics”–perhaps in contrast to daily Mass Catholics like you–either will be happy with a more sacral sound, or (probably the majority at first) will be largely indifferent to it because they’re not into the liturgy enough to both notice and care all that much about the details.

  27. wmeyer says:

    Henry Edwards,

    At my own parish, the liturgist and the entire Dept. of Religious Ed. are hardcore “spirit of Vatican II” folks. One of them, in fact, has declared the hope that she may die before the new translation is put in place. Not sure how the general population would react to a more traditional form. The very vocal minority tends to be in control of most decisions.

  28. ghp95134 says:

    Father,

    Is that YOUR “pen-shuji” [penmanship]? If so, I compliment you on space, balance, and stroke-order! By the way, what is “pen-shuji” in Chinese?
    ????
    As far as I can make out, it means “True things require this [truth]” … or “Reality requires truth.” Perhaps it is s Sinofication of “Say the black, do the red?”

    –Guy Power

  29. ghp95134 says:

    Oops … the Chinese characters I supplied translated as question marks! “????” Sorry
    http://img832.imageshack.us/f/chinesei.jpg/

    –Guy Power

  30. Henry Edwards says:

    wmeyer: At my own parish, the liturgist and the entire Dept. of Religious Ed. are hardcore “spirit of Vatican II” folks.”

    A very familiar situation, indeed. I was thinking of the faithful in the pews. The “victims” rather than the “perpetrators”, so to speak. I wonder whether the latter–parish and diocesan bureaucrats and functionaries–are sometimes less concerned with the merits of liturgical issues than with their political aspects and implications.

  31. irishgirl says:

    I went to a presentation on the new translation last week. It was done by Father Peter Stravinskas (he told me that he knows you, Father Z! My eyeballs nearly bugged out of my head when I heard that!). He did such a great job going through everything!
    There were a couple of priests and a deacon present. In fact, Father Stravinskas did an earlier presentation for local priests the same day.
    I kind of wonder what some of our more-liberal priests are going to do when this gets implemented. Will they still do the ‘ad-libs’?
    Well, I go to the EF Mass exclusively, so I won’t have to worry about it.
    Father Rutler has such a way with words-I thought ‘clerisy’ was a typo! It’s not-it’s supposed to rhyme with ‘pleurisy’! Very clever, Father George!

  32. J Kusske says:

    ghp95134, I may know the answer to your question: that saying appears to be the well-known dictum “learn truth from facts”, originally a Maoist slogan but later taken by Deng Xiaoping to overturn most of the Maoist program in favor of his own pragmatic brand of capitalism. The only difference is the third character–in that saying it is the same jiu4 as in “jiu shi” or “exactly, precisely, definitely”.

  33. J Kusske says:

    Upon further digging, it seems the characters given above is the correct form after all–I’m sorry if I caused any confusion… When I visited the Yuelu Academy in Changsha I saw a plaque there with the older form of the characters on it, and digging up that photo I see that it uses the character Fr. Z used. Shame on me for doubting him!

  34. nanetteclaret says:

    It’s worth noting that Fr. Rutler was formerly an Episcopal priest. Even though Anglicans have now theologically descended into heresy, they do know how to make the liturgy reverent and beautiful. I’m hoping that with the implimentation of “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” that Anglican Use Catholic parishes will have a direct and positive influence on the celebration of the new translation.

  35. ghp95134 says:

    J Kusske: Thanks for the translation. I simply HATE simplified Chinese characters — at least the Chinese versions; I’m okay with the Japanese versions …. which seem closer to the originals than do the Chinese versions …. (well, to me)!!! (^_^)

    –Guy Power

  36. Daniel Latinus says:

    At my own parish, the liturgist and the entire Dept. of Religious Ed. are hardcore “spirit of Vatican II” folks. One of them, in fact, has declared the hope that she may die before the new translation is put in place.

    Reminds me of a newspaper report about the “changes” back in the 1970s. An elderly lady was quoted as saying, “I hope I die soon, so I can still die a Catholic.”