important conversations

Two bloggy friends have opened up important (yet tough) conversations on two topics close to my heart: Steve Bogner on Liturgy and Julie Viera, IHM on perceptions and assumptions about nuns.

New Translations
For those who don't know, our experience at mass is about to change BIG time. The folks in Rome have decided to implement a new literal translation of the liturgy. There's an excellent article by Bishop Donald Trautman in last week's America magazine on the topic. It's worth hunting down a copy if you can. For example, here's the new prayer over the gifts for the Advent Season:
Accept, O Lord, these gifts,
and by your power change them
into the sacrament of salvation,
in which the prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers have an end
and the true Lamb is offered,
he who was born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin.
"Prefiguring? " "Ineffably?" "Involate?" Other great words in the new translation include "gibbet," "sullied," "suffused," and "consubstantial." As Bishop Trautman says in the article: "If the language of the liturgy is inaccessible, how can liturgy catechize and convey the reality of the living, risen Son of of God in the Eucharist?"

Or as Steve Bogner says in his post: "O
f all the issues facing the church today – and there are plenty of big, serious ones – why in the world is... who's in charge of this thing? - why are 'they' spending precious time and resources on such a project that will further alienate and distance people from the Mass?" Read more on Steve's blog...

Nuns: Perceptions & Assumptions
Sister Julie Viera has a post responding to a reader's comment about Nuns being "too wordly" and not wearing habits anymore. I must say I am impressed with Julie's wilingness to open up the discussion about perceptions and assumptions of nuns. There's quite a conversation going on over there that's worth a look.


Anonymous said...

I, too, found Julie's post interesting -- but for much different reasons than you, I'd imagine. The who issue of habits / not habits is, by now, entirely moot. For all practical purposes, nuns no longer have a significant role in the American Church. Look at the comment's to Julie's post -- those who knew nuns knew them years ago (they seem to be referring to their education in the 1960s or early 70s). One person writes that she's met only one nun personally. I am 37 and had the good fortune of being educated by excellent nuns in grade school, but not high school. Most of my contemporaries did not have that and have never met a nun. Most of the children in my parish school have never even seen, let alone met a nun. I agree with you that one can't judge by numbers -- however, there's no denying that sisters simply don't have any role at all in the lives of the vast, vast majority of American Catholics. I don't mean that to be critical, just stating a fact.

However, what I would be critical about is the wholesale abandonment of Catholic education in this country by both women and men religious. Their influence on the American Church was powerful not so much because of their numbers, but because they shaped the religious imagination and culture of generations of Catholics. Their leaving Cathoilic education (almost entirely) has lead to imment collapse of the Catholic school system in this country. A tragic loss -- one that has happened in several parts of the country and is happening now in many others.

Steve said...

There are a few nuns who attend my parish, and I would have never known they were nuns if not for having it come up in conversation. I first thought they were just a few more elderly ladies, probably widows, attending church with their friends. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Jason nSJ said...


While I understand the reaction to some of the words in the new translation, I just can't entirely agree with Bp. Trautman's criticisms.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is a decline in education standards in America, in both secular and parochial schools, by which our language is continually simplified (I really want to say "dumbed down") such that no one can figure out what these words mean anymore.

I don't think these words are so bad in and of themselves, and in fact can add depth of meaning to the liturgy, an opinion which is at opposition to many.

I wish we'd quit accepting a minimum standard in education in America, and start giving our young people the power to use our language beautifully and intelligently.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...


Have you read the new translations? Aside from words no one knows, the languaging and sentence structure is a clunky word for word translation from latin in some places, rather than a flowing English form.

What will be will be, but I'm just worried the mass will become (again) more of a play we watch than a celebration we participate in.

That said, I think it is important to have these conversations so I really value your input. :)

Peace my fellow novice,

Jason nSJ said...

Susan, I agree that we need to have these conversations. We all need to see the other point of view; that some are troubled by the translations (which I have read), while some quite welcome them. I don't think the translation is perfect, but I also think that's not the end of the world.

Also, I like the idea of a translation that's closer to the original Latin. Ours is not the only language being retranslated; there are similar processes taking place for Spanish and Portuguese. So I'm really drawn to the possibility that the Mass we use in English is even more similar to the Mass used in, say, Maputo.

Anyway, as for awkward language and clunky phrasing, have you really paid attention to the Lord's Prayer lately?

I really think we'll be okay. If we survived the first reforms after Vatican II, we'll survive this.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

We will be ok and survive this. I am just not too excited about it and have questions about the whole concept of focusing on this at this time from a pastoral perspective.

Then again, you are the one who will be having to read the words when you are an ordained man of the cloth. I will just have to listen to them. :)