At The Tablet aka The Bitter Pill, there is a piece by one Melanie Lately, a guest contributor, which deserves our attention – and not because of its excellence.
Commentators in the combox over there have dealt with the obvious problems, so I won’t dwell on them.
I don’t intend to go over every possible misstep, for it is one of the dumbest things I have read for a long time. I’ll touch a few things that I didn’t see covered elsewhere and then do some ranting of my own at the end.
As you read, consider that liberals intend now to vilify what they don’t like by linking it to clerical sexual abuse of children. It doesn’t matter what it is that they don’t like, if they don’t like it, it must have something to do with child abuse. So, you sometimes have to look beyond the facile – though sometimes admittedly agile – introduction of their new blunt instrument, for their real points.
My emphases and comments.
New Missal translation – rated 18
Posted by Melanie Lately, guest contributor , 1 July 2011, 9:00
At Mass we have cards in the pews so we can follow the revised translation of the Mass. The options for different parts are there. This week our parish priest used the homily to speak about it. When he read out the words of the Confiteor, with the changes in bold, he was greeted with gales of laughter and even he had to smile.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
[All strike their breast]
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
No-one today in their right mind – unless perhaps they have just murdered someone – is going to harp on about “my fault, my fault, my own most grievous fault” while beating their breast, especially if they are reflecting on ordinary everyday thoughts or words that most Mass-goers might be expected to have. The picture the words give of breast-beating illiterate peasants with cloth caps and mud-clotted boots is like something out of Monty Python. [What it actually reflects is belief in the reality of sin. Keep in mind that liberals don’t believe in personal sins. They believe only in structural sin.]
Among consenting adults [Notice that she wants to sexualize this.] at Mass it matters little. But it is completely different when it comes to the children. As an educator with children in Catholic schools I wonder if Vox Clara group who came up with this translation have thought about the educational side. [The writer implies, apparently, that children don’t sin. I beg to differ. And neither Vox Clara nor ICEL, had to concern themselves about the “educational side”, whatever that means. They were concerned with “sacred tradition” and the actual meaning of the words of the prayer.]
[Now she gets to her real point.] Imagine what would happen if the Government of Britain or the US, Canada or Australia were to bring something like this into state schools with little or no public consultation, and have children learn such words by heart and repeat them over and over for 12 years – there would be a public outcry. [The writer’s fundamental problem here is a lack of recognition of a difference between a state school and a Catholic school, at least one not paid for by the state.] And yet the equivalent of this is being foisted on Catholic children in English-speaking lands. Surely if Catholic children are cajoled by teachers at the behest of the Catholic hierarchy to beat their breasts on regular solemn occasions [I think she means Mass.] and pronounce themselves inwardly filthy, [Good grief. Is that what the Confiteor says? Perhaps she has a better grasp of Lutheran anthropology than Catholic] we should be shown the psychological impact study they carried out. Or did they not do one? [This is simply loony. Perhaps we should have a psychological impact study on Christianity? After all, some people think that Christianity is in itself bad for people. The writer may be one of them, as a matter of fact. Think about the psychological impact of being told about a God who tells a father to kill his kid on a rock with a knife and burn his body. That same God, in the guise of a “Father”, then purposely sends His Son to tortured until He dies. Maybe the writer’s New South Wales, paying for the Catholic school the writer accepts a check from should do a psychological impact study on that. After all, publicly funded Catholic schools have to be held to account for what is taught, right? Imagine the state wanting in this day and age exalt say… virginity.]
With all the to-do about child abuse in the Catholic Church, [Do you suppose there is any child abuse in other state schools in NEw South Wales?] you would have thought that it would have led to some consciousness-raising among priests and bishops and someone in Vox Clara or among their apologists might have asked, “Do you think the solemn formal repetition of words like this for 12 years is good for the children? Might this not be seen as a form of psychological child abuse?” [What was she smoking?] Certainly, in our publically [sic] funded Catholic schools it could be seen this way. [Then perhaps they shouldn’t be publicly funded, so that actual Catholic doctrine can be taught in these schools]
[And now we arrive at what The Tablet really wants to push…] Priestly prestige and power are on the wane in countries where there are good levels of sanitation, education, food, water, and long life expectancy, [The implication is that having a hierarchy in the Church is a throw back to primitive times. Remember her Monty Python tour de force at the top?] and the changes of the liturgy are about retrieving this lost prestige and power. [For liberals, liturgy is about who has power, who is at the center of attention. For Catholics. however, liturgy is about worship of the transcendent God, our mysterious origin, goal and salvation.] But it is a very underhand way of going about it. The real grievous sin, if we are to speak this language, [She doesn’t like the concept of “sin”.] is in fact this underhand [again?] manipulation of the Catholic people, with total disregard for their children. [Total disregard for children would be an avoidance of instruction about sin and denial of the proper liturgy of the Church.]
Melanie Lately is a lay Catholic [How could she be anything else but a lay person?] based in New South Wales with children in Catholic schools.
This is what The Tablet thinks is worthy commentary. But remember: it is less about the translation than the problem of accepting the Church’s teaching about sin.
Reflect on the suggestion that the liturgical beating of one’s breast is tantamount to child abuse. I wonder what she thinks of showing children a piece of wood with a man nailed to it.
Since the writer doesn’t care about two millennia of Christian tradition, consider that Jews traditionally beat their breasts at the confession of having sinned. Observant Jews strike their breast over their hearts to remind themselves of the fact of their transgressions. They have done this for a long time. By her reasoning, the Jews who passed on the traditional of teaching children to beat their breasts or think about sin and penitence are child abusers. And they aren’t even members of the oppressive and backward Catholic hierarchy!
But back to Christian tradition, which Catholics do care about. St. Augustine says that when the words “forgive us our sins/trespasses” were pronounced, the congregation struck their breasts so hard that it made a great noise in the Church.
Hmmm… now that I think of it, didn’t the Lord teach a prayer about sinning? He even repeats the baaad idea of sin, or trespasses. It is important for us to repeat and to ritualize what is important. The three-fold repetition – aside from the fact that its in the Latin original - has a “psychological impact”, which needs no study. The repetition helps us to hear it. The striking of the breasts makes us own it. And that is what she doesn’t like, because, for liberals, sin is structural and not personal.
We Catholics don’t go to Mass – sorry… “solemn formal occasions” because we are okay just the way we are. We go because we are not okay. A recognition of who we are and who we are not is a necessary starting point for authentic Christian worship.
The future Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Spirit of the Liturgy (p. 207):
“We point not at someone else but at ourselves as the guilty party, [which] remains a meaningful gesture of prayer. … When we say mea culpa (through my fault), we turn, so to speak, to ourselves, to our own front door, and thus we are able rightly to ask forgiveness of God, the saints, and the people gathered around us, whom we have wronged.”
To conclude, I will repeat what I offered at the top, in case you missed it.
Liberals intend now to vilify what they don’t like by linking it to clerical sexual abuse of children. It doesn’t matter what it is that they don’t like, if they don’t like it, it must have something to do with child abuse. So, you sometimes have to look beyond the facile – though sometimes admittedly agile – introduction of their new blunt instrument, for their real points.