So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cardinal George: The Liturgy, along with Sacred Scripture, is the primary carrier of the tradition that unites us to Christ.

Excerpt from an Oct. 28th Mary Ann Walsh interview in America Magazine with Cardinal Archbishop George of Chicago who is due to yield pastoral leadership of his Archdiocese to his successor, Archbishop-elect Blaise Cupich, on Nov. 18, 2014.

H/T to the Courtyard at the Blog of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma.

8. You were prominent in the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and the development of the new liturgical translations. Now that they have been in use for nearly two years, are you satisfied with the translations pastorally and theologically?

Cardinal George: It’s hard for me to give an unbiased judgment on the value of the new translations. First of all, the first full translation of the missal of Paul VI was ideologically charged (Indeed! Dynamic equivalence employed by the "experts" was a sham strategy that produced mere paraphrases of the sacred texts.). Since the liturgy, along with Sacred Scripture, is the primary carrier of the tradition that unites us to Christ, the loss of the theology of grace, the domestication of God, the paraphrasing that deliberately omitted nuances of understanding, the deliberate omission of biblical references in the liturgical text itself, etc., left the church for forty years without a way of worship that adequately expressed our faith. This was clear for those of us who used the Roman missal in Spanish during those years; their translation was far more adequate.

The bishops had the obligation to see that the translation into English of the third edition of the Roman Missal was faithful and also able to be used communally. I believe it has been well done. Some of the expressions in the Prefaces are a bit “clunky,” but the collects are truly beautiful if a priest takes the time to interiorize the structure of dependent clauses and use his voice so that the prayer is comprehensible to the faithful (It is only relevant that the prayers be "comprehensible to the people" in order that the people may join their intention to the intention of the priest. People need not understand every word in order to participate in the sacerdotal prayers that "collect" our individual intentions and present them to God. Despite the impression some priests might give by directing their gaze and mannerisms toward the people, the priest is offering prayers to God, not the people. The prayers, offered on our behalf, should approach something of the beauty and majesty of God in order to point us in His direction.). Normally, people paid little attention to the collect; they couldn’t tell you what the priest said as soon as they sat down. Hopefully, a more deliberate style of declamation with a more adequate text will help draw people into a climate of worship and prepare them to hear the Word of God in Scripture (We still suffer from an overemphasis on accessibility that marginalizes an aesthetic of beauty and charm. In other words, we tend to define intelligibility according to a narrow and hollow rationalism that excludes our capacity to think and act in more robust ways in response to God's initiative. The Catholic Church has always used beautiful poetry as a vehicle to entice people into communion with God. The previous paraphrase of the Liturgy imposed on English speaking Catholics assumed people were incapable of rising to prayer than engages the mind and heart and conforms the person to the True, the Good and the Beautiful. The previous translators of the Mass set the bar ridiculously and insultingly low. If accessibility is the golden calf of worship, we should then ask what is the standard for accessibility? In our liturgical worship, are we to pray with words only a small child might understand, or use expressions that only someone with a fourth grade education might comprehend? No, we are to pray to God with a confident faith, i.e., a mature mind with the trusting heart of a child. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.—1 Corinthians 13:11. Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 18:3. A solution to an unnecessary confusion regarding the purpose of liturgical prayer would be to have the priest praying the Mass ad orientem so there is no doubt to Whom the prayers are directed.). The canons are very well done, even the most difficult, Canon One (It has a name—, i.e., the venerable Roman Canon!), because it is a compilation from various sources. Criticism of the scientific inaccuracy of the word “dewfall” in Canon II is a bit absurd coming from those who easily accept and speak of “sunset.”

Some of the criticisms have an extrinsic rationale. The bishops’ choice of experts meant that many (with an agenda or orientation to dynamic equivalence) who had been more involved in the work of ICEL previously were no longer engaged. The loss of a work to which one had given oneself is always hurtful. Some others just opposed any exercise of episcopal authority; in principle, the bishops were just supposed to rubber-stamp what the “experts” were doing (May the Lord move the bishops to remove from their liturgical commissions those "experts" who routinely saddle us with substandard hymn/song texts that frequently have us praying to ourselves!). Some, surprisingly, objected to the re-introduction of the biblical metaphors and allusions, while others underestimated, I believe, the native intelligence of the average English-speaking worshiper. There were a few more justified criticisms of the process, which was open in places to accusations of last-minute manipulation. I have to say that I enjoyed going back and working through Latin texts, something I hadn’t done since minor seminary.

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