At Amerika there is an interview with Francis Card. George, the out-going Archbishop of Chicago. Among the various questions put to him, this one, with the answer caught my special attention.
My emphases and comments:
You were prominent in the work of theInternational Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and the development of the new liturgical translations. Now that they have been in use for nearly two years, are you satisfied with the translations pastorally and theologically?
It’s hard for me to give an unbiased judgment on the value of the new translations. First of all, the first full translation of the missal of Paul VI was ideologically charged. [It sure was! It is nice to hear someone of Card. George’s eminence to state it clearly. However, the translation was not the only issue: the prayers of the Novus Ordo also depart from the theology of the prayers of the previous, pre-Conciliar Missal.] Since the liturgy, along with Sacred Scripture, is the primary carrier of the tradition that unites us to Christ, [NB: more on this, below!] the loss of the theology of grace, the domestication of God, the paraphrasing that deliberately omitted nuances of understanding, the deliberate omission of biblical references in the liturgical text itself, etc. left the church for forty years without a way of worship that adequately expressed our faith. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] This was clear for those of us who used the Roman missal in Spanish during those years; their translation was far more adequate. The bishops had the obligation to see that the translation into English of the third edition of the Roman Missal was faithful and also able to be used communally. I believe it has been well done. Some of the expressions in the Prefaces are a bit “clunky,” [yes… then again, perhaps it is okay for a translation to sound like a translation. Shall we forget that the Roman Missal is in LATIN?] but the collects are truly beautiful if a priest takes the time [yes!] to interiorize the structure of dependent clauses and use his voice so that the prayer is comprehensible to the faithful. [Exactly.When I hear priests whine about how haaard the prayers I, I wonder if they took the time actually to read them through before getting up in front of people.] Normally, people paid little attention to the collect; they couldn’t tell you what the priest said as soon as they sat down. [On the other hand, I believe this is also the case with most sermons.] Hopefully, a more deliberate style of declamation with a more adequate text will help draw people into a climate of worship and prepare them to hear the Word of God in Scripture. The canons [“Eucharistic Prayers”… there’s one Canon.] are very well done, even the most difficult, Canon One, because it is a compilation from various sources. Criticism of the scientific inaccuracy of the word “dewfall” in Canon II is a bit absurd coming from those who easily accept and speak of “sunset.” [HA! That was, I think, a little shot at now-retired Bp. Trautman.] Some of the criticisms have an extrinsic rationale. The bishops’ choice of experts meant that many who had been more involved in the work of ICEL previously were no longer engaged. The loss of a work to which one had given oneself is always hurtful. Some others just opposed any exercise of episcopal authority; in principle, the bishops were just supposed to rubber-stamp what the “experts” were doing. Some, surprisingly, objected to the re-introduction of the biblical metaphors and allusions, while others underestimated, I believe, the native intelligence of the average English-speaking worshiper. [ditto] There were a few more justified criticisms of the process, which was open in places to accusations of last-minute manipulation. I have to say that I enjoyed going back and working through Latin texts, something I hadn’t done since minor seminary.
Fr. Z kudos.
Card. George said:
Since the liturgy, along with Sacred Scripture, is the primary carrier of the tradition that unites us to Christ, the loss of the theology of grace, the domestication of God, the paraphrasing that deliberately omitted nuances of understanding, the deliberate omission of biblical references in the liturgical text itself, etc. left the church for forty years without a way of worship that adequately expressed our faith.
This is why I keep harping away that, unless we have a top to bottom renewal of our liturgical worship of God, no other initiative that we undertake will have true and lasting success. We start from worship and we bring what we have done and who we are back to worship.
We order our relationships with other persons by the virtue of Justice, whereby we give to them what is their due. But the Holy Trinity are persons. We owe them what is their due, which is, first and foremost, worship. Because the divine Persons are qualitatively different from human persons, we have a different virtue for giving them what is there due. Related to Justice, is the virtue of Religion. We fulfill the virtue of Religion by offering due and worthy worship to God. We do this as individuals, smaller groups like the family, and larger groups like the whole Church and her local elements. If our relationship with God is out of order because we are not fulfilling the virtue of Religion properly, through worthy worship as the Church asks authoritatively, then our other endeavors are going to be disordered.
This is why Summorum Pontificum was a major contribution for the renewal of the Church.
When I hear church leaders bang on and on about project X or initiative Y for group A or B or C, I am left rather disappointed. While each of those could be good, if we are not simultaneously working hard to renew our liturgical worship of God, those other things won’t amount to much in the end.
I don’t get why they don’t get this. It is not as if this means don’t do X or Y. It means in order to do X or Y, we have to get our worship in order at the same time at least, if not before.