The Oh-So-Thoughtful-Church is Still Steamed about the Translation

If you read the dissident or otherwise discontented Catholic blogs and websites you will know those folks are steamed about practically everything.

A year ago they were beside themselves at the prospects and then the implementation of a long-needed new translation of the Missal. The English translation was generally considered not only weak but out of step with the Universal Church.

It is well known that the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) charged with a new translation was suspect and eventually had the project taken from them and handed to a small group of priests who burrowed away in offices on K Street in Washington DC. You would see them presiding at the noon Mass at the Catholic Information Center (CIC), the Archdiocesan bookshop and chapel run by Opus Dei. They were beautifully spoken Englishmen and well thought of by Father William Stetson, the Opus Dei priest who ran the CIC at that time, further evidence that the new translation would be solid.

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You would have thought the world was coming to an end if you read the fragrant blogs and websites of the Oh-So-Thoughtful-Always Questioning-Church. They hated everything about it. The advance copy of the translations that came out because Australia jumped the gun really got their engines running. They ran petition drives. They wrote op-eds. They ran campaigns for priests to ignore the new translations.

Two recent polls take the temperature of American Catholics about the new translations, which are now a year old.  One poll shows the dissidents are still angry and even leaving the Church over it. But another poll demonstrates that they are all alone in their unhappiness and that most folks actually like the new translation.

An online survey just released by U.S. Catholic shows their readership has not gotten over the changes. They call it “stilted, awkward, unnatural, strange, choppy, clumsy, obtuse, wooden, tortured, terrible, ridiculous, inaccessible and abominable.”

Forty-nine percent of respondents “still dislike the new translations and [are] unhappy that I’ll have to put up with them for the foreseeable future.” Twenty-two percent said they “intentionally continue to respond at Mass using the old translations”, kind of like those crusty nuns who practically shout out “God” rather than choke out “Him.” Twenty-five percent report that they know people who have actually left the Church over the new translations. And 54% really want to go back to the old translations.

Read their comments and you can assume these people exist both demographically and psychographically on the farthest and most unfortunate edge of the baby boom.

Joseph Weber of Arlington Heights, Illinois says, “The new translations have placed the laity further from the center of the Eucharistic celebration. We have again become spectators to a ‘magic show’.” Joan Jennings of Baltimore insists,  “Jesus did not use a chalice. He used a cup.” Reyanna Rice compares listening to the Mass today to “an hour of fingernails being dragged across a blackboard.”

They hate “consubstantial.” They find it difficult to say and that it’s harder to understand then “one in being”. They hate “that you should enter under my roof.” They think the “I” in the creed, an accurate translation if there ever was one, is “individualistic.” And the mea culpa? Well, nothing is their fault.

But most of all, they hate that the Vatican took the translation taken away from their lefty liturgical pals. One suspects if their guys did this translation, they would be thrilled.

Online polls generally demonstrate the profile of people who already visit the site. You can be sure that orthodox Catholics do not visit the website of U.S. Catholic. So we can be sure they are alone in their bitterness because a larger and more reliable poll shows it.

The recently released study conducted by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) shows that 70% either agree or strongly agree, “The new translation of the Mass is a good thing.” Of Catholics who actually attend Mass weekly 84% think the new translation is a good thing.

Ninety-five percent of regular Mass-goers said the prayers of the Mass “inspired me to be a more faithful Catholic in my daily life.” 88% of those who attend Mass less than weekly agreed. Indeed, 71% of those who go “a few times a year” agreed with this statement. These numbers have ticked down since the implementation of the new translation, but not much.

There seems to be a subset of American Catholics who are so upset with the Church that whatever the Church asks makes them angry. They responded angrily when the Church directed that the Agnus Dei could only refer to Jesus as “Lamb of God” and not with the freelance accretions “prince of peace” and “bread of life.” They were quite upset when a priest in Illinois was forced to resign because he insisted on improvising the prayers of the Mass.

It has taken years to walk back the damage done to the Church by the deformers following Vatican II. Their experimentations, including those in the liturgy, drove millions from the Church. These steps back to sanity are much-needed baby-steps that are welcomed by mostly everyone except the dead-enders of the failed revolution.

There remains much to be done. For instance, why oh why can’t there be a Vatican commission or something to stop those lectors from emoting as if they are thespians on a stage? Can’t you just hear the thoughtful Catholics howling if that happened?

And what about that usher in my Church who insists on tugging at people’s elbows urging them to step it up and get into the communion line? Does he really think we don’t know what to do?

And what about the pre-Mass “sermon” delivered by one of those emoting lectors? Are they supposed to set our mood because they turn mine a decidedly sour.

And seriously, would someone help me to memorize the new Creed and the Gloria? I am still using that darn card.


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