Most of the hand-wringing over the new, corrected translation of the Roman Missal was predicated on the notion that people are too stoopid to understand English. I must admit, however, when I read some of the articles after the 1st Sunday of Advent, it may be that the tiny group of complainers were, in fact, too stoopid. All in all, I think people grasped the changes pretty well and have already moved along.
The Cardinal Newman Society, which keeps an eye on Catholic colleges and universities, has a piece on their site about the reception of the new, corrected translation on campuses.
Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.
At Catholic Colleges, Mass Translation ‘Much Ado About Nothing’
The prophecies of the calamitous consequences of the introduction of the new missal were heard around the country. But was it much ado about little?There were warnings from some Catholic publications that the new translation was “unreadable” and an “inhibitor to authentic prayer.”
One news story suggested that “New missal could drive away Catholics.” Another fretted, “Liturgists Worry About Upcoming Implementation.”
But according to a number of priests and campus ministry professionals at faithful Catholic colleges, it seems that all the worry about the new missal translation is a bit like Y2K – prophecies of doom and gloom followed quickly by rather smooth sailing.
“There was no fainting, no shrieking, no embolisms,” assured Director of Campus Ministry at Belmont Abbey College Patricia Stevenson. “We haven’t had anybody sort of whining or complaining or objecting.”
She told the Cardinal Newman Society that the introduction of the new translation is going smoothly.
Fr John Healey, Chaplain of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, told CNS, “It certainly hasn’t come to pass that people who were predicting difficulties were in any sense correct.”
Magdalene Riggins, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry said she thinks the new translation will allow students to engage more deeply with the Mass. “I think this will help students and everyone more deeply understand what the liturgy is all about,” she said.
In fact, some said students seem to like the new translation.
So too does the Rev. Joseph Fox, O.P. of Christendom College, calling it “a far superior translation.”
Fr. Fox said much of the screaming about how this would negatively affect the faithful turned out to be “much ado about nothing.”
He said that while the priests have much to remember, the changes are not very significant for the faithful. In fact, he laughed at all the fuss. “Some places have made such a big deal about educating the people about the changes,” he said. “I don’t mean to make light but all of this for ‘and with your spirit’?”
Fr. Fox said the concerns and protests over the new translation weren’t coming from young people. [Indeed.] “This was made a cause célèbre because now finally we have a translation and not a complete reformulation of the liturgy,” he said.
Fr. Healey agreed, saying the fuss was primarily from “the chronic complainers.” [read: liberals]
Stevenson said she suspected it was one last battle of the Vatican II generation. ["Ahhh... [puff ... ... ... COUGH]… I remember Woodstock… ] “I think this was about some fighting the old Vatican II fight and climbing one more hill to plant a flag on,” she said. “But students don’t relate to those old discussions. For most students this is completely uncontroversial. They don’t have any dogs in the fight.”
She said she believes students today have shown greater receptivity to move with the Church as a whole and not see actions by the Church as “a tyrannical takeover” of their free will. ["They've given in to The MAN! We need to OCCUPY them!"]
Stevenson says Belmont Abbey College laid the groundwork by reviewing the changes with students before Mass and having a diocesan priest visit to explain the changes more fully.
Of course, in the pews are the cards to help students follow along with the changes to the language. Stevenson called them “cheat sheets” and said she suspected they’d become less necessary over the next few months.
Fr. Healey said he believed that the new translation was actually helping students see the Mass in a new way. “One has to stop and read the words carefully and reflectively pay attention to what the church is really trying to offer in terms of instruction,” he said. “And it’s a far superior translation so it’ll certainly be easier to understand.”
Fr. Joseph Fox of Christendom College said that if people want to avoid it altogether they can do as many of the students there do – attend the Latin Mass. [Hmmm... that sounds familiar, doesn't it?]
Kudos to the Cardinal Newman Society for checking with campus ministers. I hope they do several more installments.