Sunday, November 27, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Whatsits

Today marked not only the beginning of the new liturgical year, but also the date the new English translation of the Roman Missal takes effect in the United States.  Now what we are hearing at Mass is a lot closer to the original Latin, and in a more elevated style of language better suited to the solemnity of the occasion.  In fact, there are many parts of the Mass, particularly the propers, that we will now hear for the first time, ever: if you have been following Fr. Z.'s weekly scrutinies of the proper prayers, and especially the collects, you are aware that much of what we have been hearing is not a translation at all, but something totally different and made up out of whole cloth.  And if you've been following Fr. Richard Simon's Rev. Know-It-All series on the new translation, you are aware of some of the theological distortions with which the now-obsolete translation was replete.  These are some of the ills which the Third Edition is meant to remedy.

Which brings us to some of the ongoing though futile complaints about the changes.  Today A.P. runs a story about the launch of the new translation.  Several of those whose opinions were solicited for the story had positive responses; but then there were those who just had to rush their ignorance and defiance into print.  One Maribeth Lynch, a publisher aged 51, described herself as "distraught" about the changes and -- according to the story -- "would refuse to 'learn the damn prayers.'"  It goes on:
"It's ridiculous. I've been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They're word changes. They're semantics," she said. The priest "spent 40 minutes today on the changes instead of on the important stuff, like changing water into wine."
A publisher needs to be explained the importance of words in the formation of knowledge and ideas?  Is changing water into wine really what happens at Mass?  Is the new translation even more deficient than we thought?  Hopefully she just misspoke.

Still, it is clear that 50 years as a Catholic have failed to teach Miss Lynch a thing or two.  Like the Source of the Catholic Church's authority, and the gravity of every Catholic's obligation to obey the same.  Like the fact that in the matter of giving God the worship that is His due, nothing is small and everything counts.  Like the fact that how we pray shapes what we believe, and what we believe shapes how we live.

Miss Lynch, learn the "damn prayers."  You, and people who think like you, are the reason we need this new translation.  It is precisely to restore to you the inheritance that has been stolen from you that so much time, talent and treasure have been poured into this project.  When your Mother the Church takes away the fetid gruel you have been feeding on and replaces it with steak and potatoes, the appropriate response is gratitude.

UPDATE: Interesting, the HuffPo version of the A.P. story has Maribeth Lynch saying something rather different, to wit:

"It's ridiculous. I've been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They're word changes. They're semantics," she said.

"It's confusion. All it's doing is causing confusion," she said. "You want to go to church and be confused?"
Still silly, yet somehow less silly than the quote from the local TV station.

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