Friday, January 12, 2007

When Should a Liturgist be Prophetic?

My answer: Never! The 70's are fact that was last century.

Press release on Bishop Trautman's address:

The Catholic Academy of Liturgy met on January 4, 2007 in Toronto, Canada, prior to the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy. The keynote speaker was Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania and chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In his address entitled “When Should Liturgists Be Prophetic?” Trautman raised concerns about current directions in the revision now underway of the English edition of the Roman Missal being prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The first edition in English of the Roman Missal was issued in 1973. Drawing on biblical scholarship, historical theology, and his many years of pastoral experience as a bishop, he contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic and expressed fears that the significant changes in the texts no longer reflect understandable English usage. Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people’s parts during the Mass will confuse the faithful and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church.

The Bishop cited various problematic texts, criticizing their awkward structure and arcane vocabulary that would be very difficult for the priest to pray aloud and for the people to follow. Just as problematic for Trautman was the recent decision to change the words of consecration that refer to Christ’s blood being shed “for all” to “for many.” That change could be easily misinterpreted as denying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ died for all people.

Bishop Trautman challenged Catholic liturgical scholars of North America to assist the bishops in promoting a liturgy that is accessible and pastorally aware. He urged them, in a spirit of respect and love for the Church, to be courageous in questioning those developments that would render the liturgy incomprehensible and betray the intention of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

I've spent a lot of time pouring over the new is faithful to most English translations of the Scripture--and that is what these responses that we are saying are taken from.

When we gather at Mass we gather as the Body of Christ--we die to ourselves. We do not speak our own words but by and large the Word of God taken directly from Scripture--as the Body of Christ we speak with His Word, not ours. We do not move as we'd like but our gestures in unison move as one Body--again the Body of Christ. I sure wish that Bishop Trautman had spent time encouraging liturgists to catechize people versus sowing discord among them.

By the way, if you don't want your parish to be blind sided by these changes--invite me to come to your parish and speak a very simple message about why they are being made and the nature of full and active particpation as the Body of Christ in the reformed Rite--my new book A Pocket Guide to the Mass will provide an excellent resource for those looking for the Biblical basis for the words we speak at Mass, as well as what the gestures and postures mean--look for it in March of this year.


  1. "My answer: Never! The 70's are fact that was last century."

    Amen to that!

  2. As for "For Many" vice "For All", scripture says pro multis "For Many" in the Latin, and the Greek ss polloi, which is "For Many". So why do so many people have a problem with it?
    As for the theological aspect it is not complicated. Christ died for the salvation of all. Some have refused the salvation offered by my Lord, so while he has made salvation available "for all", because they have refused it he has died "for many."

  3. Michael, I don't suppose you are suggesting that prophecy as a spiritual gift has come to an end because Catholic things have been shaken up in the last half-century, are you?

    By the same token, one might say that those who promoted the 1962 Rite in disobedience in the 70's and 80's were sowing a measure of dissent, too. Would you counsel the current reform2 movement to quit agitating and put their nose to the grindstone, too?

    I don't see any particular problem in a professional setting to be critical of the upcoming Roman Missal. We've had criticisim of the 1967-75 work from both the left and the right over the past thirty years or more. Is this latest incarnation of the RM to be treated any differently?

    I do applaud you for eschewing the bitterness and name-calling so often seen this week in the Catholic bloggerhood. I get the sense you are more prepared for an honest and forthright give-and-take on a disputed matter than nearly everyone else is.

  4. The prophetic voice in the Church raised against injustice--yes! The prophetic voice from those who have a charism to teach and enlighten us on the Mysteries--no---there is no injustice here.
    The greatest problem is that the Church has turned its prophetic voice inward, rather than outward. Think of Martin Luther King Jr. whose holiday we celebrate on Monday--that is the prophetic voice of the Church at work. We need that today as always--but from liturgist we need help in standing in awe of the Sacred Mysteries and Who we encounter there so that we may all learn to go out into the world and encounter that same Mystery there--and to speak out in a prophetic voice when that Mystery is profaned.


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