From the New York Post comes an op-ed from a seminarian for the Archdiocese of New York who used to be a writer for the Post.
A priest in training explains why the Vatican is changing Catholic worship
By JOHN WILSON
November 6, 2011
English-speaking Catholics are in for a jolt later this month, as significant changes come to the words of the Mass they have been praying for more than 40 years.
To be sure, these changes pale in comparison to what happened in the 1960s, [Something liberals always forget to remember.] when, following the Second Vatican Council, the Mass was revised and translated from Latin into the vernacular. The updated Roman Missal, due to hit parishes three weeks from today, is simply a new English translation of the same prayers, albeit far more faithful to the Latin original.
But even modest changes can have a big impact on the way Catholics approach their worship — and on the way they interact with the rest of the world. [This reflects two ideas which we must keep firmly in mind. First, the way we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe (les orandi lex credendi) and also the useful distinction in the paring ad intra and ad extra (consideration of something for the Church within herself and also how the Church interacts with the whole world.)] Indeed, reforms like this one are key to understanding Pope Benedict XVI’s vision for the Church. [So far so good.]
Put simply, the project is about restoring beauty and reverence to their rightful place in Catholic liturgy. It succeeds in a way that Catholics and non-Catholics alike should appreciate.
The background story involves the 50-year debate among Catholics over the meaning of Vatican II.
That Council, held from 1962-65, aimed to equip the Church to engage effectively with the modern world. It expanded the use of the vernacular at Mass, dealt with tricky questions like relations with non-Catholics, and attempted to re-propose the truths of the faith in light of the challenges facing contemporary man.
But what does “engaging the modern world” actually look like? A 1969 Vatican document on the topic shunned word-for-word substitution in favor of what was called “dynamic equivalence”; the idea was to get at the general meaning of a prayer [also know as “the gist”… which isn’t good enough] and translate that into contemporary English.
It sounds good in theory, but much of the poetry that elevated the original text was simply stripped away. [Not to mention what the prayers really say.]
More generally, the Church found that the drive to make the liturgy “relevant” often obscured the transcendant — fueling the impression, reflected by declining Mass attendance in most Western countries, that the Church had nothing meaningful to say. [Could it be that this fellow has been reading WDTPRS from time to time?] Before his election, Pope Benedict labeled this nothing less than a “crisis.” His 2000 book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” called for a recovery of postures of worship that emphasize the Mass as a humble encounter with a reality far beyond man’s power to create or contain. [Nicely phrased. Good work.]
Since becoming pope, he has labored to emphasize the continuity of the modern Church with its past, even permitting the more widespread celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. The effort to revise the English text, though it began before he was elected, is part of the same story.
WDTPRS kudos to Mr. Wilson