I haven’t yet been impressed with much that the publication US Catholic produces when it comes to anything remotely liturgical. An article by Bryan Cones has lowered it in my estimation even more.
What kind of God do the new Mass texts imagine?
Thursday, April 21, 2011
By Bryan Cones
I had a chance to peek at the new liturgical texts, coming this Advent. Here’s one for you, a prayer over the people for one of the weekdays of Lent:
Prayer over the people, Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent:
O God, who chose to show mercy not anger to those who hope in you, grant that your faithful may weep, as they should, for the evil they have done, and so merit the grace of your consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
There’s a lot going on in that prayer, and I’m not sure much of it is good. [Then perhaps you should have waited until you were sure before writing this?] Like most of the prayers, it focuses more on sin than anything else, [First, I don’t think most prayers in the Novus Ordo are about sin. Second, if they were, that is a pretty good reason to pray.] and there’s little recognition that we are already baptized, already redeemed. [“already redeemed”… okay… but we can still blow it, Brian, and wind up in Hell. Right? And we should still be sorry for past sins even if they have been forgiven, right? And there may be the problem of temporal punishment due to sin and the penance which in justice we must do, right?]
Or this one, a prayer over the gifts (or, rather, “offerings” in the new translation [corrected, translation]):
Be pleased, O Lord, we pray, with these oblations you receive from our hands, and, even when our wills are defiant, constrain them mercifully to turn to you.
[ANNOUNCER IN GOLF COURSE VOICE: “What Bryan doesn’t know yet is that is what the prayers of the Catholic Church really say. If he has a problem with our prayers, then he has a problem with our Church.]
I’d have to think about that one for a bit to figure out what it means, in fact I had to consult a dictionary more than once to figure out some of them. [Gosh. He had to look something up and think about it.] They are also disturbingly heretical: [?!?] lots of “meriting” and “earning” in them (Pelagianism), lots of spirit/body dualism. [For heaven’s sake. They are not heretical. Let’s look at that text, above. We ask God to make us weep. The weeping isn’t something that we choose apart from grace. By giving us that compunction for sin, God then consoles us. This is not Pelagian. Also, this has been the language of prayer for a long time. Also, is the sorrow part the “spirit” and “hands” the body part? Cones is confused. And think about what the Lord said to Peter about those who would bind his hands and take him where he would not want to go otherwise, or the parable about the wedding feast when people on the streets were compelled to enter.] What these naked translations really reveal is how imperial and pagan these prayers really are—you could substitute “Zeus” for “Lord” in any of them. [It’s “imperial” and “pagan” to call Jesus “Lord”? I thought that was a biblical term. Yes, I am sure I read that somewhere in the New Testament. What about Philippians 2: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.] In fact, they use “Lord” so often that it is hard to tell if we are praying to Jesus or the Father. [That’s a problem? To pray to the “Lord”? For more on the “Lord” question, see Romans 9: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.” I have lots more of these verses, by the way.] (All Roman liturgical prayers, with rare exception, are addressed to the Father.) [Except when they’re not. Which is fairly often, come to think of it.] To me it seems not only that we shouldn’t be using these translations, we shouldn’t be using most of these prayers at all anymore. [Gosh. Bryan Cones of US Catholic thinks we shouldn’t pray these prayers.] They simply reflect an approach to God–a distant, imperial God to whom we must beg for mercy– [God is distant. God is still somewhat transcendent.] and an understanding of the church–sinful, unworthy, unredeemed–that I think we have left behind. Unless we want to recover that approach… [Imagine how fun it must be to belong to a church in which there are no reminders of sin and which affirms you as definitely worthy of heaven. God is so lucky to have us. How could She do without us?]
We commissioned our May cover story on prep for the new Roman Missal to see how parishes were preparing the faithful for this new way of praying, but I don’t see how you can prepare people for these prayers. [cf. common sense and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not, apparently, by reading US Catholic.] They are exceedingly hard to understand, and often don’t make much sense when you say them aloud, as priests have to do. [I suspect that what he really means by “hard to understand” is “hard to accept“.]
But I am also worried about people’s tolerance for this sort of thing. [Ohhh… I don’t know. They have put up with a great deal since about 1970. I suggest that the writer sit down and read through the text of the Order Mass, looking for references to sin and our unworthiness.] Many already tune out during the longer prayers, but what will happen when they become even more unintelligible? [Who wouldn’t have slept through the lame-duck ICEL prayers all these years. The smart ones probably do tune out. And… come to think of it, I suspect I could wake them up.]
Guess we will find out this Advent.
Several minutes of my life I will never have back.