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By Diogenes (articles ) | May 30, 2007

In the May 21st number of America magazine (subscriber only), Bishop Donald Trautman criticizes the revised translation of the Mass soon headed our way. He cites a couple clunky examples from the draft version and contends that the result will be "inaccessible" to the faithful:

All liturgy is pastoral. If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people and expressed in the contemporary language of their culture. To what extent are the new prayers of the Missal truly pastoral? Do these new texts communicate in the living language of the worshiping assembly? How will John and Mary Catholic relate to the new words of the Creed: "consubstantial to the Father" and "incarnate of the Virgin Mary"? Will they understand these words from the various new Collects: "sullied," "unfeigned," "ineffable," "gibbet," "wrought," "thwart"?

No Christian liturgy, ever, has communicated "in the living language of the worshiping assembly" (fifth century Romans did not answer greetings in the street with a chirpy "and with your spirit"). But even were we to concede the accessibility point to Bishop Trautman, his concerns seem largely captious.

Now think: when was the last time you heard a liberal clergyman feel himself constrained to adhere to the approved liturgical texts against his inclinations? The 1974 Sacramentary, which is supposedly obligatory today, is "corrected" wherever and whenever the celebrant finds it wanting. "Pray, sisters and brothers ..." "For our bishop Wilton and for all who minister in your Church ..." "And free us from all unnecessary anxiety ..." Some congregations are more familiar with the deviations than with the norm.

The ironic and unlovely truth is that the only priest today likely to be faithful to the 1974 Sacramentary in celebrating Mass is a priest deeply contemptuous of the Missal from which he must declaim, for only a rigid conservative does not award himself the liberty to soften or sweeten or liven-up the Mass in conformity to political fashion and personal taste, and such a man will almost certainly find ICEL's semi-Pelagian theology distressing and its scout-prayer jauntiness a torment. They more they loathe it, the more punctiliously they do it right.

So lighten up, your Excellency. You've got three decades of bad habits working to your advantage. Even if you lose out here and there respecting the words Rome ultimately approves, the spirit of renewal, like a dog returning to its vomit, will trot back gratefully to yesterday's feeding.

All liturgy is pastoral.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 03, 2007 10:24 PM ET USA

    I didn't know that Red Skelton was a priest.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 4:29 PM ET USA

    The circus might have an opening for a clown. The bishop might fit in better there.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 12:52 PM ET USA

    "Amen" to frjmc. If the officials of my archdiocese had their way, the meeting would become the eighth sacrament.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 10:37 AM ET USA

    "How will John and Mary Catholic relate to the new words of the Creed?" asks the good bishop. The answer is in the work of CATECHESIS, your Excellency. Neither as easy or as fun as simple entertainment, I'll grant you. But considering the legacy of your forebears, the apostles, it is a task that can be undertaken with a reasonable expectation of success. That is, of course, if one were able to find the time. There are SO many meetings, after all....

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 10:12 AM ET USA

    Parochus, the Orate Fratres does allow variation, but the other examples quoted by Di don't. We're lucky enough to have a Latin Mass in our parish each Sunday, so miss most of this, but the priest who says it, an elderly Jesuit and an excellent Latin scholar, has translated 'those who minister...' into Latin, and instead of 'et universo clero' substitutes 'et omnibus ministrantibus in ecclesia tua'. Ultimately, what the Trautpersons of this world object to is not the language, but the theology.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 9:53 AM ET USA

    It is interesting that antonymns for 'captious' include" commendatory, complimentary, encouraging, flattering, laudatory, praising... Pastoral works should seek good and teach God's goodness and not subscribe to self and conflict and disconnect which undermines the authority of Rome. Captiousness would seem not to be the work of the Lord, but perhaps the hand of whom's works are "intended to entrap or confuse." Pray for clarity of teaching especially for such obfuscators of truth.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 7:54 AM ET USA

    Trautman, like many of our bishops, has a low opinion, both of the laity’s language skills, and their knowledge of the teachings of our Church. He also epitomizes one of the key problems facing the Church; its emphasis on the individual. Whatever happened to the Communion of Saints? To the notion that we belong to something larger than ourselves that is based on the faith and lives of those who came before us and that will transcend us? O, that’s right. Catholicism didn’t exist before VCII.

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 3:39 AM ET USA

    In a few places of the English "Sacramentary," variations are allowed. One of them is at "Orate, fratres . . ." The Latin is the Latin, but if the approved book *allows* a variation, then the *Church* allows a variation. Whether one agrees with the rubrics or not, publicly criticizing a Church-approved variation in the liturgy places onself firmly in the camp of *all of the other dissenters.*

  • Posted by: - May. 31, 2007 12:10 AM ET USA

    Gives new meaning to the term "a couple of Bozos"

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 9:13 PM ET USA

    With the possible exceptions of 'consubstantial' and 'gibbet,' if the average American Catholic does not understand the words the good Bishop objects to, then the dumbing down is A LOT more advanced than I thought it was. (Regarding the two possible exceptions, GOOD pastoral practice would insure their meanings are clearly explained.) Bishop Trautman is, indeed, being captious, in both senses of the word, the meanings of which, I am sure, he would have to look up.

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 8:27 PM ET USA's Bishop Trautperindividual. Own it or leave it!

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 8:23 PM ET USA

    As Di pointed out some time ago the need for bishops is somewhat questionable. Do we really need Herr Bp. Troutman to explain the liturgy or could we do better simply going to the Vatican web site. If "Pastoral" is about the care of souls I would have little use for Troutman and his clown nose.

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 7:20 PM ET USA

    ...the continuing saga of the querulous bishop...

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 6:47 PM ET USA

    I find it hard to believe that an American bishop doesn't think the people in the pews know what "sullied" means. If there's one thing we've received catechesis about these past few years, by both word and example, it's the definition of "sullied".

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 6:33 PM ET USA

    In a very few instances, the 1974 sacramentary allows the celebrant the option to use "...these or similar words...." In my opinion, that seemingly innocuous option opened the floodgates. I do not think of myself as "rigid," yet I will not "mess with the Mass," because I know it is not mine to mess with,

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 5:12 PM ET USA

    If the same standards that are being espoused now by the Bishop were held back in the seventys and eightys, they would have followed the liturgy to the 'T'. It was what we were used to then or completely new to all of us through Vatican II revisions. It was never open to interpretation. I guess that since he has become comfortable with his version (bad habits) we must all follow his way.

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 3:32 PM ET USA

    Recent revert Francis Beckwith blames the Masses he attended growing up in the '70s for his apostasy, and for those of many in his generation. People like Trautman never seem to take into account the experience of people like Beckwith, which is a big part of what makes them so outrageous. How can you claim to be "patoral" when you refuse to listen to people who are not telling you what you want to hear? He is either a hypocrite or a fool. I don't see a third option.

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 3:08 PM ET USA

    "If translated texts are to be the authentic prayer of the people, they must be owned by the people" And let us never forget that "the people" are Donald Trautman.