FLASH! Fr. Z agrees with Winters of the NCFishwrap. Freezing of Hell to follow.

Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter Fishwrap and I are both carbon-based life forms.  I don’t think we have agreed on much else.

That said, on a day when I also agree with something on the site of the Huffington Post (did I jut write that?), I can also say I agree with Winters about something sensible he wrote about the new, corrected translation of the Missale Romanum which will be going into effect rather soon.  You can see his whole piece here.


Nor am I worried about the return of some archaic language. It may be true, but very sad, that the average person in the pew is unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “ineffable” but I would submit that it is well nigh to impossible to find a better adjective to describe the Godhead – and our limited intellectual capability to exhaust the meaning of God. And, besides, if we need to avoid archaicness in the liturgy, why is the priest still dressed in what was once a toga?


In short, regarding the new Missal, the time for complaints is over and the time for instruction, and for self-instruction, has begun.

And he mentioned “ineffable”.  I find that… indescribable.

And the time for instruction began here a long time ago.

Perhaps someone put something in my coffee this morning, but I am pleased to have read Mr. Winter’s piece today and thank the reader who alerted me to it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike says:

    The Jews living under the Roman lash in the first century would find the line about the togo risible, if not insulting.

  2. ghp95134 says:

    “…maybe we need to think of the new translation the way we think of Shakespeare….”

    I like Mr. Winters’ use of Shakespere as a “touchstone!” I have often explained the EF:OF difference as being akin to Romeo & Juliet:West Side Story. “Romeo & Juliet” is a classic play whose eloquence is (1) divine (figuratively) and insightful, (2) has a long tradition of being played as it was written, and (3) must be studied to be fully understood; whereas, “West Side Story” is (1) loosely based on the former, (2) is situated in a modernized (although stagnant in the mid-50s) setting, (3) and has “hip” songs to attract the audience.


  3. The Cobbler says:

    Already happened. Unknown whether Mr. Winters (suspicious name) had anything to do with it then either.

  4. ghp95134 says:


    And …. modernizations of Shakespere (e.g. Loncraine’s “Richard III”), while EXTREMELY interesting — especially when using Shakespere’s original words — fail to move me the same way as when reading or watching Shakespere in the pure original.


  5. Panterina says:

    While I understand the meaning of the word ineffable (thanks to reading this blog!), I did have to look up the word nigh that Mr. Winters used in his piece.

  6. Pachomius says:

    “…why is the priest still dressed in what was once a toga?”
    Clearly, if we are to properly modernise the liturgy, the priest at the altar should wear a coloured 3-piece suit (say, a light navy blue with orange lining), with a tie which changes according to the liturgical season: keyboard for Ordinary Time, little-stick-figures-doing-stuff for Lent and Advent, tie-which-has-been-vomited-on-pattern party tie for Christmas, Easter and other major feasts, tartan for days like Gaudete and Laetare Sunday, and key-lime-and-fuschia-stripes for funerals.

    New churches should come with an altar rail, staffed by unfriendly and unhelpful secretaries, who will individually call people to the priest’s office to communicate.

  7. benedetta says:

    Well that is refreshing. It would be a hopeful sign for the whole Church to feel free to pray the new prayers with confidence going forward, I think.

  8. Bryan Boyle says:

    You know…driving home, I thought I sensed a warping in the time-space continuum…right about the time that porcine animal passed my windshield on silver wings while I was marveling at the beautiful icicles forming on the telephone poles in the 90 degree heat…now I know why.

  9. FrSam says:

    I was shocked and genuinely happy to read Mr. Winters’ article. For the first time in my memory, the Reporter has published something worth reading. Hopefully we can all start focusing on real preparation for using the new (English) Missal and allow that preparation/catechesis/formation to carry over to our spiritual preparation for every Mass! Any thoughts on whether this article represents a turn in NCR’s ordinary approach to Church/liturgy/world?

  10. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Now I’m scared. You agreed with the Huffington Poat and the NCFishwrap in one day! My grandmother always said things like that come in three’s! You didn’t run out of Mystic Monk coffee and were forced to procure a coffee of lesser quality did you? Oh woe is us!

  11. papaefidelis says:

    I agree with what Pachomius said above. Let us not forget or dismiss the milieu out of which the present lame-duck translation was born. Just watch several episodes of Match Game ’73 or Here’s Lucy to get a feel for the times.

  12. Joeski5651 says:

    For what its worth – the word “ineffable” was used inan episode o “How I met your Mother” and they concur it being a good word. The argument of the language of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal is a poor one at best. Lets get to Advent ’11 already.

  13. pelerin says:

    Every time I see the word ‘ineffable’ now I think of this blog! The English Daily Mail a few weeks back described a hypnotist as ‘ineffable’ and did not feel the need to explain to its readers what the word meant.

  14. ThomasL says:

    While Mr. Winters doesn’t always get it, I have to say he is one of the few commentators worth reading at the Fishwrap.

  15. pjsandstrom says:

    For accuracy’s sake, the chasuble’s origin (and that of the phenlonion also) was a Roman outergarment (not the toga). It was called the planeta — and resembled a Mexican poncho. The cope is also derived from this garment.

  16. Patti Day says:

    ‘Ineffable’: After I saw it in your blog, Father, I’ve seen it several times in print, and even on tv. Also, a reply from one of your other posters here introduced me to T.S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Cats.

  17. smcollinsus says:

    As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice every day!

  18. PostCatholic says:

    Aww. If you’d said “PostCatholic and I are both carbon-based life forms. I don’t think we have agreed on much less,” you’d be wrong, so you’re really giving Michael Sean a bum rap.

    That said, I translate “ineffable” to mean “Something improbable and unprovable which is probably also improvised,” and ignore any claim on ineffability. Let me know when something is effable.

  19. Dante was clear about this and Mr. “Winters” should know about it.

    The pits of Hell, as far as they are from the warmth of Divine Love, are frozen, as is a Swiss lake in the Alps during the winter. Forget ineffability. Frozen cold is frozen cold. That is the cost of giving up the flame of Divine Love.

    By the way, wrap a whole fish in wet newsprint and grill it on warm (not hot) coals for a couple of minutes on one side. Then, wet the newsprint again and grill the whole fish on the other side for a couple of minutes. Take the package off of the heat and cover with aluminum foil for 15 minutes.

    The fishwrap has never served a better purpose, Fr. Z.

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