Of jewelry boxes and deep freezers

In The Tablet article, Bishop Arthur Roche, chairman of ICEL makes excellent and thought provoking comments. Here is another excerpt:

Some people assume that liturgical language should be comfortably predictable: it should not shock. That assumption was not shared by the compilers of the post-conciliar Latin Missale Romanum. Following them, ICEL has not been afraid to introduce an element of surprise into the prayers we are offering. What is surprising eventually becomes familiar, while retaining the vividness that initially caused surprise.

Many of us could name a piece of music that shocked us when we first heard it and that, as it has become familiar, has continued to enrich our experience. Liturgical texts have a long life. We want the landscape of the Missal to have some colour, some peaks and some troughs, not to be the dull monochrome desert across which we currently traverse year by year. To use a different metaphor, the Missal is a jewel-box, not a deep freezer.

YES! The language of prayer should not be entirely commonplace. I cannot be hitched to the way people talk in normal circumstances. Even in the best circumstances and environments, wherein people are well educated and genteel, above average "common" parlance would not be good for liturgical prayer. But today … with our informality and vulgarity… UGH. The horror….

Also, His Excellency makes the good point that liturgical language should fascinate and dazzle, captivate and bemuse, attract and make you focus. A jewelry box is a good description for this as is a deep freeze for its opposite: in my freezer I have stacks of things in white paper and things sealed in bags and containers. There is nothing exciting going on in The Sabine Farm’s freezer, I can tell you. Things get exciting only when stuff gets thawed out and the work at the stove begins. Everything needs to be "unpacked" before it is useful and delightful. That is what WDTPRS has been doing all this time: dragging the content of the Latin prayers out of the deep freeze (= the lame-duck ICEL version) and doing some serious cooking with it. Running the risk of mixing metaphors wildly, when you are working with the Latin content, every plate on your table can be a jewel.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

One Comment

  1. dad29 says:

    …and a fine job you’ve DONE of unpacking the Latin!!

Comments are closed.