A little game of the imagination here. I want to pick your brains (or at least your opinions, which may or may not be the same thing!).

Imagine that it is the First Sunday in Advent, 2011. Imagine that this is the day that the new liturgy translation is introduced into the Australian Catholic Churches. Now, what do you imagine will happen exactly?

What do you hear when you arrive at mass that Sunday morning?
What do you see?
What are you given to aid you?
How do you feel?
What preparation have you had for this day?
What does the celebrant do?
What do the musicians and cantors do?
What is the lector doing?
How are the other people around you reacting/finding the experience?

I am asking these questions because I believe that if we can imagine what is necessary to make the overall experience of mass on that day a positive one, I think we will have gotten over the first (and main) hurdle of introducing the new translation. To the extent that the experience of this day goes badly, we will find ourselves engaged in a long and uphill battle. And I don’t believe the task here is simply up to the bishops and the parish priests – although of course, they will be the main “make or break” characters in this process. We too will have responsibilities and roles – certainly this will be the case if we are full, active and conscious participants in the liturgy that day.

So, go ahead: Imagine!

[Update: BTW, see Prof. Neil Ormerod’s article on Cathblog here on the subject of the new translation].

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33 Responses to Imagine…

  1. Tony says:

    What I imagine then, is what I imagine now. I’ll find the changes jarring because they are new and because some of the phrases and expressions are just plain clunky.

    I will probably scratch my head — along with others, I expect — and ask, ‘This was an improvement?’.

    And no, I haven’t jumped aboard the more organised objection to these changes. Frankly, I think there are more important things to worry about and this is just another ‘top down’ approach from a distant leadership that make ‘Yes Minister’ look streamlined and efficient.


    • Schütz says:

      But Tony, could you actually tell me what you expect to happen? Do you expect to be given a booklet? To see the new text on overhead? To have the priest say something about it? Any music in the mass? etc. I want you to imagine not just how you will feel, but what you will actually experience.

      • Tony says:

        In short David, I just don’t know. I don’t have a similar experience of this sort of change to build an imaginary scenario on.

        At the moment the changes aren’t even on the radar of regular mass-goers in my parish.

  2. Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

    Well I’m not an Aussieralian so I suppose I cannot imagine, not to mention, I cannot imagine myself in an RCC church anywhere except if somebody RC that I know dies or gets married.

    Seems really strange, all this over “translations” that present a more accurate rendering in English of the same thing that has been there these last 40 some years since your church began, and was supposedly that of which the “translations” that church has used all this time were translations.

    The Roman rubber room. Get out of it before it kills you.

  3. Peregrinus says:

    It’s a big challenge.

    A generation ago, when the vernacular translation was rolled out, people were interested. They were excited, or they were curious, or they were doubtful, but they were interested. They knew what was happening, and they knew the reasons why it was happening, and they could see that those reasons were weighty. In short, there was no need to persuade them to take an interest in what was happening, and to engage with it.

    The present situation is completely different. There is a widespread belief that no change is necessary, and those who believe that change is necessary are not, I think, the broad masses in the pews. If the objection is that the current translation is not sufficiently “faithful” to the Latin, that is not an objection which weighs with people who are unfamiliar with the Latin text and in any event don’t speak or read Latin themselves. People will wonder why they are being bothered with this, and they may feel that their worshipping habits and worshipping environment is being disrupted to meet the concerns of others For everyone who finds the new language elevated, beautiful, respectful, etc, there will be someone else who finds it stilted, artificial, pretentious, clunky, etc.

    Whatever about their opinions, people are generally conservative in their habits, in the sense that they like to keep on doing what they are familiar with. They need to be “sold” on the need to change their routines, and this is going to be a difficult one to sell, since its not the needs of the worshippers, or at any rate they needs which they themselves perceive, which are driving this change.

    To answer your specific questions, the celebrant, musicians, lectors etc should all be schooled (and rehearsed) in the changes well in advance so that they can follow them on the day smoothly, confidently and with the minimum of disruption.

    The congregation needs to be given texts they can follow along with and read from – complete, full texts. Do not rely on slide projection, which is disruptive. It’s bad enough for hymns, but it will be worse for parts of the liturgy which are supposed to be essentially dialogical between the congregation and the celebrant, and which in any event a proportion of the congregation can’t read unless they have brought the right spectacles. (A fair proportion, when we consider the age profile of most congregations.) Plus, a written text is something people can take away, reread at leisure and familiarise themselves with; we might hope that a proportion of them will.

    (Don’t expect them to bring back the text next week, though; you’ll need a fresh set of texts next week, and the week after, and the week after . . . )

    • Tony says:

      Whatever about their opinions, people are generally conservative in their habits, in the sense that they like to keep on doing what they are familiar with. They need to be “sold” on the need to change their routines, and this is going to be a difficult one to sell, since its not the needs of the worshippers, or at any rate they needs which they themselves perceive, which are driving this change.

      Spot on, Pere.

      I’ve tried hard to get my head around one of the simpler changes, the ‘And with your Spirit’ thing. After much discussion, including some blind alleys, I got to a point where I thunk to myself ‘OK, I see where that’s coming from’.

      To be honest I now can’t remember why I thought that and what convinced me to come to that, albeit, tentative reconciliation. And I’m actually interested!

      • Schütz says:

        Can we stick to the topic, Tony? I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of the new translation here – just what you expect the process for the inevitable introduction will be.

    • Schütz says:

      the celebrant, musicians, lectors etc should all be schooled (and rehearsed) in the changes well in advance so that they can follow them on the day smoothly, confidently and with the minimum of disruption.

      “Should be”? Is this what you imagine will happen?

      Thanks for your reflections on handheld text vs slide projection. That’s the sort of stuff I am interested in at this point.

      • Peregrinus says:

        “Should be”? Is this what you imagine will happen?

        It depends on how seriously the parish already takes liturgy, I think. If they’re concerned to do liturgy well, they’ll be concerned to do this well also. If not, why should we suddenly expect them to become all enthusiastic?

        I think one of the hopes behind this project is that a finer liturgy (as you say, let’s leave aside the question of whether it is actually finer) will inspire a greater commitment to good celebration. Even if this hope is fulfilled, I wouldn’t expect it to be fulfilled on the First Sunday of Advent in 2011; it will be a much more gradual thing, as people feel the effects of praying the new translation.

        I suppose what [i]could[/i] happen in some parishes is that the roll-out of the new translation might provide a focus around which any latent enthusiasm within a parish for renewed commitment to good liturgical practice and standards might crystallise. This will be seen as an opportunity for a fresh start, so to speak, and people might step forward and offer to do the spadework to arrange training, or liturgical workshop, or prayer workshops for those engaged in liturgical ministries, or whatever. But all of that depends on their being that kind of interest in the parish in the first place.

  4. joyfulpapist says:

    We’ve started preparation using the bulletin inserts from the USCCB site. These explain the what is meant to be happening at each part of the Mass. Once we’ve finished these (three more to go) we are then going to go on to do a four column spread across two pages of the bulletin with the old text, the new text, the meaning of that section of the Mass, and the reason for any change.

    I haven’t seen anything like this, though it may be in the new resource. But if need be I’ll create it myself.

    I’m one who is looking forward to the changes, not least because they are an opportunity to remind people about what the Mass is all about – as noted in this post on the Young Fogey’s website:

    • Schütz says:

      That sounds good, JP. I’ve heard that you guys in NZ are introducing this a year earlier than we are. I will be very interested to hear of your experiences as they roll out the new translation. Good to hear that something has started already. That means that things will be more gradual and not “WOLLOP” all on the one day with too much to take in. Please keep us informed.

  5. mrs doyle says:

    JP’s example is great – little by little and week by week would be great.
    If I’m honest though, my over-riding impression is going to be one of shock if the new translation is actually uttered!
    I hate to be a downer, but most parishes can’t even get the current translation right, let alone anything else!
    On a practical note I would like a missal – not an overhead, I hate those things.
    The homily is going to have to be a ripper to explain WHY, and not just HOW and WHEN things are done.

    • Schütz says:

      I agree that a full people’s missal is the way to o. The problem with the need for a missal in our hands is – as I understand it – that the new lectionary won’t be ready yet by this stage, so any missal that is produced won’t actually have the lectionary in it. I may be mis-informed, but I think this will put people off wanting to lay out money for a new missal if they are only going to have to do it all again in a year or so for one with the readings in it.

  6. Gareth says:

    I am going to be cynical and say does it really matter what is going through people’s minds or what people think – because tough it is going to happen anyway and nothing anyone thinks about it will change anythink.

    At the end of the day, I think each person’s and parish’s reaction will depend on how each individuals parish priest explains or communicates the changes to the faithful.

    And before someone snips up with the predictable that the new translastion is simply the work out of touch meanies in Rome who are out of touch with people in the pews REMEMBER

    absurdities such as female altar servers, lay extra-ordinary ministers, suspect distribution of the Holy Eucharist, crappy hymns, liturgical dancing, and every liturigical abuse known to mankind has been rolled out across Australian parish’s and parish’s across the world with the faithful just wondering what precisely is going on and not having such changes properly communicated by their parish priests and told that this was the way the system works, the work of Vatican II and ‘tough’ we had to bear it and to get with the times….

    Well karma is a funny thing…..

  7. PM says:

    The catechesis will need to go deep if it is to root out the pelagiansim and congregationalism that have crept in over the last 40 years. To the objectors’ great surpise, we may even find that an encounter with the transcendent appeals more to young people than a smug and banal collective self-celebaration.

  8. Louise says:

    I think that very little will happen in my parish in terms of general preparation. I know my PP is not impressed with the changes and I think he will moan about it more and more as the time approaches. I do love him, but he is inclined to aggravate a divisive streak in the parish. Oddly enough he (mildly) chastised us all for our “I’m for AD2000” and “I’m for The Tablet” attitiudes! He was pointing out that the “I’m for Apollos, I’m for Peter etc” attitudes have not exactly gone away and it was a good homily, in fact. Yet, bless him, most of us would hardly think about the differences between us, if he didn’t keep bringing them to our attention.

    So, in my parish – there will be precious little prep and most people will be pretty bamboozled, I reckon. PP reckons in any case, that it will affect him more than us, b/c he will have so many changes in his script, whereas we will have considerably fewer.

    What do you hear when you arrive at mass that Sunday morning?

    The usual hymns and music. A bit of a buzz in the congregation, as people wonder what the new translation is going to be like, not just as words on the page, but as the liturgy itself.

    What do you see?

    Congregants more animated than usual (though they are pretty animated normally in our parish). everything else will be much the same.

    What are you given to aid you?
    Probably a booklet.

    How do you feel?
    Happy and excited!

    What preparation have you had for this day?
    Not a lot (as per above)

    What does the celebrant do?
    Celebrate Mass as reverently as he normally does. He might stumble a little over the new words. He may look a little vexed or peeved. He may plead for patience in a little aside at the beginning. He will probably be concentrating pretty hard. And then breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when he can relax a bit during the homily! And at the end!

    What do the musicians and cantors do?
    Pay extra close attention for their cues! They will play as well as they usually do.

    What is the lector doing?
    Concentrating on the words of the reading!

    How are the other people around you reacting/finding the experience?
    Interested/peeved/sniggering/giggling/beaming – depending on their general outlook re: the new translation. Some may be pleasantly surprised. Unless I have read it all and familiarised myself with it, it’s possible I could be taken a bit off guard. I’ll admit, I didn’t quite get the point of the “and with your spirit” (apart from the fact that it is a more accurate translation). But I thought Cdl Pell explained that bit pretty well recently.

    Hope that helps, David.

  9. Christine says:

    Well, on the first Sunday of Advent I think I will feel very blessed to be hearing the new translations as much of the text I remember from childhood in both Lutheran and Catholic worship. It will be like meeting an old friend again and I am very pleased.

    I use the wonderful monthly Magnificat worship aid so I will prepare, as I usually try to do, by going over the readings and commentaries before arriving at Mass.

    Our priests have already begun some basic catechesis on what to expect when the new Missal is implemented. Since the clergy at my parish are Benedictines I’m sure they will be very familiar with the texts already.

    We don’t use overhead projectors or anything like that so we’ll most likely still be using the missalettes in the pew racks.

    We usually have cantors at three of the Masses on Sundays but the full choir sings at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. I don’t imagine that will change.



  10. Brian Coyne says:

    Advent 2011 is probably bad timing as by then most of the statistics for Mass attendances for this six year period will have been collected though they probably will not be published until mid-way through 2012. My expectation though is that come 2015 or whenever the next set of statistics are collected that as a result of this new “more of the same” we will have seen participation rates in Australia decline another couple of percentage points. The question is: when will they learn? When they have finally reached the 5% of remnant participation rates for the Church?

    David, the problem is with you younger blokes and recent arrivals in “the One True Church” is that you never experienced the vibrancy of Catholicism in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. It’s all been “downhill” since then under PJP II the Great and now Benedict. The “Reform of the Reform” has succeeded and is now delivering its true fruits. I trust the Almighty is impressed by the new language. It remains to be seen how impressed the broad masses in the Body of Christ are.

    • Schütz says:

      I understand that an alternative intro date could be Pentecost next year. The question is whether that allows enough time for preparation.

      Your comments about “vibrancy after Vatican II” and “all down hill under JPII and BXVI” are, let us say, one perspective.

      • Peregrinus says:

        I’ve just had a flyer today about a lecture on this subject, which suggests that it will be Pentecost 2011, at least in Perth. But I expect the date will be co-ordinated across all Australian dioceses . . . won’t it?

    • Gareth says:

      Brian: David, the problem is with you younger blokes and recent arrivals in “the One True Church” is that you never experienced the vibrancy of Catholicism in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council

      Gareth: What vibrancy?

      What were people vibrant about – that ‘ annulnments’were now easier? they didn’t have to go to confession regularly anymore? hundreds of priests leaving the priesthood?

      mmm… does seem like a ‘perspective’ to be dismissed.

  11. Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

    Old friend? New missal?

    So where did this old friend go these last 40 years?

    The “new” missal is a translation of the same one as the last.

    It is just laughable. You guys get your first blush of a very mild form of what happened when your missal appeared some decades ago and Judas H Priest. It’s not even a new missal!!

    If there is a discussion of what is “lost”, it is here, not about the TV series!

    Brian is quite right. He may be the kind of Catholic I was at odds with all those decades ago, but at least he sounds like a Catholic. This latter-day revisionism of the revisionism doesn’t have any Catholic ring to it whatever, except The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church.

  12. Christine says:

    David, the problem is with you younger blokes and recent arrivals in “the One True Church” is that you never experienced the vibrancy of Catholicism in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.

    Recent arrival? The “vibrancy” of Catholicism in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II?

    Oh dear. Brian, with all due respect it was exactly the “vibrancy” of what I was seeing in the aftermath of the Council that kept me from heading to Rome until the late 1990’s. I was attending Mass with my Catholic in-laws for quite some time before I officially swam the Tiber and I saw plenty.

    I welcome a return to language that speaks of the numinous rather than some of the post-Vatican II texts that sounded like they were written around a 1970’s campfire.

    At the same time let me make it very clear I have no nostaglia for the preconciliar Church that my Catholic father grew up in, none whatsoever. We are still dealing with the pelagianism of that period.


  13. Frankly, I’m surprised we’re starting in Advent 2010 – it’s not long to prepare, and will be less for those that wait for a lead from the heirarchy.

    The priests have a retreat in July to study and learn about the new translation, and we have received some ‘ads’ from the Archbishop’s office to put into the bulletin, but there has been no catechisis of the people so far. Presumably, this is planned to start after the priests have had their preparation – which gives us four months!

    In fairness, four months might be quite long enough for those who are interested, and those who aren’t probably will miss it all anyway, Easter being over and the next surfacing of the submarine Catholic not due until Christmas.

    Our own initiative is laity driven, though we sought the approval of the parish priest before we started.

    We began putting comments about the new translation into the bulletin several months ago, and as soon as the announcement was made that we were starting this coming Advent, we started using the US resources to get the message out there.

    If I find I have to write the four column thing I’m talking about, I’ll post it on my blog and let you know. I’ll also be watching with interest to see what happens in other parishes.

    However, with all due respect to my bishops and clergy, many of whom I am very fond of, I suspect that those who sit back and wait to be spoonfed are unlikely to fully appreciate the taste of the new liturgy.

    • Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

      Judas H Priest, this is NOT a new liturgy! It is a new translation of the liturgy you already have. You guys have NO idea what it is to get a new liturgy. This is nothing like what that was, nothing, although, as Brian indicated, you might get some faint idea from this as to what that was like.

    • Peter Golding says:

      JP,I am pretty sure you will find our start date for the new missal will be Advent 2011,NOT 2010.
      As you correctly point out,a significant period of catachesis will be needed.
      An information DVD,”One Body One Spirit in Christ” is due for release on June 29.

      • Schütz says:

        Peter, JP is in New Zealand, where I believe they are actually starting the new translations THIS Advent. If this information is correct, then they will serve as a useful “test-case” for our own introduction here in Australia a year later.

        • Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

          Isn’t that great. Put the Mass in the language of the people so they can understand and participate (leave aside of course that it isn’t the same Mass but a new one) then get all into what catechesis and materials are needed so they can understand and participate.

          Maybe a missal in English with facing translation into English?

  14. Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

    Well my, my. Pelagianism has crept in over the last 40 years, except that Pelagianism characterised the preconciliar RCC and that still affects it. Wow.

    There will be no return to language; the language before was Latin, and these are translations. Translations of the very same rite you have now. And the translations you had before came from the same source. It is the same thing, united in all its various schools of thought by rejection of anything but itself.

    It is a curious phenomenon indeed to try to take what you like of Vatican II and recast it in some sort of sense of numinous or whatever from a past you reject. The result is nothing Catholic whatever, neither consonant with what came before, nor Vatican II, but a latter-day yet another metamorphosis claimed to be what the church REALLY teaches, though it has never really taught any such thing pre or post council, but is just now inventing it. By as much violence as it does to the past by saying nothing REALLY changed, so does it do violence to the recent past by saying this is what it REALLY meant, though those who wrote this stuff and led the movements that resulted in this stuff meant no such thing.

    Same old same old: The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church. Which is a “Catholic Church” corresponding to nothing but itself.

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