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Thoughts from a Liturgical Crank

  /   Wednesday November 23, 2005  

I’ve heard bits and pieces about the November USCCB meeting. I have to admit that I’m only somewhat interested in it. As suggested by Karl Keating and Jeffrey Mirus, it seems that they spend too much time on things that aren’t matters of faith or really aren’t an issue. After all, if support of the death penalty by Catholics has been dropping, it’s difficult for me to understand why we need this document about it. Besides, Bishop DiMarzo of Brooklyn rightly said that this isn’t a matter of faith.

Anyway, let me stop ranting and raving and get to what I’d really like to discuss. If you’ve read my previous posts on liturgy, you will know that I am a liturgical crank. I get easily distracted by the things that are being done wrong in the Mass. I long for a liturgy that is beautiful and reverent and attended primarily by people who sincerely want to worship Our Lord. So, I did have quite a bit of interest in the new translation.

I favor a more formal and “stilted” translation that does not reflect “everyday speech.” I read a book by one priest who referred to such as “elevated language.” As I reflect on other aspects of the Mass, I can’t help but think that we would use something other than the everyday language at what Vatican II describes as the summit to which all of our other activities are directed.

For example, look at the building where Sunday Mass is celebrated. It is (or should be) used for almost no other purpose than Mass or other sacraments or prayer. It’s hard to imagine (though I’m sure it’s happened) the church being used to perform a play or conduct a board meeting. Still less could I imagine the altar being used after Mass as the table for a prayer breakfast.

Take a look at the clothes a priest is wearing at Mass. Could you imagine a priest sitting on an airplane or at a basketball game in his chausible? What about the sacred vessels used for Mass? I find it hard to imagine that any priest or lay person would, after an early Mass, then take the patten and pour his Golden Grahams and milk into it to have breakfast. If the priest gets thirsty later, it’s difficult to imagine him pouring his coffee or orange juice into a chalice that just minutes before contained the Precious Blood.

Therefore, I can only see that it is fitting that the language used at Mass be language that isn’t in regular use in daily life. The Mass is on a much higher plane than anything else we could be doing that day or week. It is such a sacred moment that the things in use at Mass are used for no other purpose. We have a real need in our society to recover the sense of the sacred. While I don’t think the use of language alone will do it, with proper catechesis it will help.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized




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[…] doesn’t reflect the way we normally speak. My own view on this argument can be found on this post from 2005. And to think, the waiting had been going on for years at the time of this […]

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