Father Edward Beck, a contributor to both Crux and CNN, offered a less sanguine take.
“The prayers seem to address a distant, majestic God to the exclusion of a personal relationship,” Beck told me. “It almost sounds like a British royal wordsmith. It could use a bit more Brooklyn – in a grammatically correct way, of course.”
Beck also said there seems to be a strong “emphasis on sin, and bowing and scraping. I’m not sure the prayers are indicative enough of a God who calls us to loving service and freedom.”
How did we get from this reverence in a most inhospitable place for the Liturgy
To this horrible caricature of the Mass in a most hospitable place?
There have been many unintended results of Vatican II primarily due to the poor interpretation of the Council that in turn led to the even poorer implementation of the Council itself which for many people seem like a new religion being imposed upon Catholics.
But once Pandora's Box was open, meaning that what most Catholics of whatever perspective believed could not be changed, began to change, this led to the grotesque polarization in the Church not known since the Reformation.
It led to a number of wars, the ecumenical wars, the interfaith wars, the habit wars, and the liturgy wars. Did Vatican II really want to foment wars in the Church. No! But that is what happened.
Of all the things in the Church that should bring peace, tranquility and a sense of purpose and direction, the Liturgy, be it the Mass, the Divine Office or devotions that flow from these, the liturgy itself became a bloody war field and still is today to a certain extent but with greater maturity.
Thus John Allen of Crux writes (My comments in red):
‘Liturgy wars’ have gone quiet, but they’ve hardly gone awayThis week, a press release washed up in my in-box from the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), about a recent visit to their offices by a Vatican official. ICEL is a mixed commission of bishops’ conferences in countries where English is used in the liturgy, and its job is to translate texts for worship.
My finger was poised on the delete button, when it suddenly struck me just how remarkable it is that ICEL is no longer a hot potato. Not so long ago, at the peak of what came to be known as the “liturgy wars,” that definitely wasn’t the case.
The term “liturgy wars” refers to a series of battles over the sound, look and feel of Catholic worship in English, which crested in the 1990s and 2000s.
The battle lines broke between progressives in favor of a reformed, “Vatican II” style, reflecting modern sensibilities and new theological insights, and conservatives who felt the post-Vatican II overhaul of the liturgy gave too much away to secular modernity, often employing pretty-sounding ecumenical formulae dubious in terms of fidelity to both tradition and the actual Latin text.
Adding fuel to the fire were two other factors:
In part, liturgical controversies pivot on aesthetics – judgments about what’s poetic vs. pedantic, what’s artful vs. awful, what sounds or looks good. Since all that’s basically subjective, there’s just no way to make everyone happy. (This is true--Vatican II's poor implementation placed the focus of liturgical renewal on individual tastes rather than common liturgical laws as it concerns the celebration of the Mass, music and architecture, not to mention new lay ministries where aesthetics of liturgical clothing were left to the lay people, meaning they could dress any old way to serve the Mass because their lay clothes spoke of their status in the Church. Prior to Vatican II, even with diverse architecture there were laws concerning how the sanctuary was to be designed, where the altar was, how high up and what was over the altar and how one dressed for Mass, clergy or lay--even to the point that women covered their head with something. Today anything goes almost.)
Unlike other topics, where most people don’t consider themselves experts, everybody’s been to Mass, and so everybody has an opinion about how it ought to be done.
Incalculable hours were spent over two decades debating issues such as inclusive language, meaning if it’s okay to say “man” for “people,” or whether the Latin phrase pro multis in the Eucharistic prayer should be “for all” or “for many.” Countless conferences were held, essays written, blogs posted, and it seemed for a while the debate would never end. (Who fomented all these distractions?--certainly not the laity, it was elitist professional theologians in general and liturgical theologians in particular, especially those who held workshops throughout the country where another elitist group of clergy and religious and a handful of laity attended and then with unilateral authoritarianism implemented what they heard at these workshops back in parishes and got the laity all riled up.)
ICEL was one of the battlegrounds, as control over its agenda and vision became part of the broader tensions.
All this culminated in the late 2000s with a new English translation of the Roman Missal, the collection of prayers and other texts used in the Mass. It featured a few signature transitions towards “sacred” language – “And with your spirit” in favor of “And also with you,” for instance, and “consubstantial with the Father” rather than “one in being.”
The new missal was implemented on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, meaning this fall will mark the five-year anniversary.
Where do we stand today? Although the liturgical front is less noisy, mostly because decisions were finally made, my own completely unscientific survey suggests opinions are basically as divided as before.
Here, for instance, is Jesuit Father James Martin, America’s most popular Catholic spiritual writer, on the new translation:
“I’m very sorry to say that, in my experience, many Catholics, priests included, find the language at various points clunky, unwieldy, inelegant, stilted, and even confusing,” Martin told me. “As a priest, I find it much harder to pray the Mass, and sometimes … I even have a hard time understanding what exactly I’m praying for.” (Overall Fr. Martin, the new translation is glorious especially the fixed parts to include the hard words you elitists don't think the laity will ever understand like consubstantial and the like. There are clunky parts to be sure but these could be easily remedied in future editions of the missal and simply placing commas or semi-colons could help in dealing with run on sentences. Syntax could be adjusted and no one would even know in the pews. I have not had one single complaint from a parishioner about the wording of any prayers in the Missal even those that are truly poor and confusing. Again, Fr. Martin is the elitist class imposing his confusion and arrogance on the general populace!)
“And,” Martin added, “I’m speaking as someone who works with words for a living … It’s a source of great sadness for me.” (a typical elitist remark!)
On the other hand, here’s Monsignor James Moroney, rector of St. John’s Seminary in Boston, a former chief of staff for the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Liturgy and an adviser to the Vatican’s Vox Clara commission:
“Despite the efforts of some to create widespread dissatisfaction with the new translation, its implementation has been far smoother than even its strongest proponents could have predicted,” he said in reply to my query. (I wonder who the Monsignor is speaking, pray tell, who could that be? Yes, Praytell whose moderator had an axe to grind and used his blog to do it and foment even more liturgical wars. What a disservice Praytell did during the time leading up to the implementation and afterward. Fortunately, blogs like that and even mine are read by less than .00000001% of Catholics throughout the world, but elitists think their blogs and opinions affect everyone.)
“For the first time since the great experiment in vernacularization of the liturgy, we are actually praying the same thing as the Latin prayers. Considering the antiquity and universal usage of these prayers, these new translations are an effective sign and instrument of unity of a Church that prays what it believes across time and space,” Moroney said. (Amen Monsignor Moroney, the Liturgical and linguistic spirituality of the Mass has been given back to English speaking Catholics stolen from them by those with a corrupt agenda who first translated the Mass from Latin to English. What most of us did not know was that the Latin version of the revised Mass contained a great continuity with the previous Roman Missal but the vernacular translations did not!)
Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, also a veteran of the bishops’ conference and now president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, said the transition in some ways has enriched the liturgical experience. (Amen! Amen! Amen! to that!)
“Many parishes offered great catechesis, not only about the changes in texts but on the broader topic of the liturgy, and that has borne fruit as people learned more about what we do and why we do it when we celebrate the Mass,” he said.
Father Edward Beck, a contributor to both Crux and CNN, offered a less sanguine take.
“The prayers seem to address a distant, majestic God to the exclusion of a personal relationship,” Beck told me. “It almost sounds like a British royal wordsmith. It could use a bit more Brooklyn – in a grammatically correct way, of course.” (Father Beck is the problem not the solution to the liturgical crisis in the Church and one can see his elitist concerns, one that wants God not to be majestic and a false dichotomy that a glorious vernacular translation of the Mass or even Latin itself would exclude a personal relationship with God, What bull---t!)
Beck also said there seems to be a strong “emphasis on sin, and bowing and scraping. I’m not sure the prayers are indicative enough of a God who calls us to loving service and freedom.” (Father Beck's mentality is what was behind the loss of reverence in the Mass following Vatican II--what he says is the problem that has led to the liturgy wars! Thank you John Allen--this simple sentence sums it all up and the insidious smoke of Satan that entered into the fabric of the revised vernacular liturgy not designed by the Magisterium in the original Latin revision but by elitist theologians like Beck who promoted this insidious mentality about sin, bowing and scraping being bad for the liturgy in the revised English!!!!)
If I asked 100 other people, I’d likely get 100 other opinions.
What’s the moral of the story? Maybe, it’s this: The “liturgy wars” may have gone quiet, but they’ve hardly gone away.
As long as Catholics take liturgy seriously – as long as we care about how we worship, because it shapes what we believe and who we are – we’ll never be done arguing over it. That may breed heartburn once in a while, but it’s the reflux of a deep passion.