Fr. Stravinskas replies to Fr. Ryan

Ed.: This is turning into a real dustup, and I will do my level best to keep the conversation civil and constructive. At Pray Tell’s invitation, Fr. Stravinskas replies here to PT‘s recent interview with Fr. Ryan. Their ‘conversation’ started in America magazine with Fr. Ryan’s piece, to which  Fr. Stravinskas responded. Got all that? Oh, and there are two petitions at – ach, never mind, just click the first link above if you’ve somehow missed that. And now, Fr. Stravinskas.

I have a “baker’s dozen” worth of responses to Father Ryan:

1. He argues that the vox populi should be a controlling factor in matters liturgical since they are the prime beneficiaries and since they foot the bills. When has that ever been the case in the history of the Church? Of course, what is so amusing about the suggestion is that it is being proposed by people who, thirty years ago, treated popular input to their program with total disdain.
As anyone should know, being involved with liturgical texts calls for many things: acceptance of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3); a wide-ranging knowledge of Scripture and Tradition; an appreciation of liturgical history; linguistic ability. Needless to say, the average lay person (or priest) does not possess these competencies. Nor did most of the members of the original ICEL team, individually or collectively – which was why the end-result was so flawed.

2. Father Ryan suggests that far more people would have signed onto his petition, except for the element of fear. Fear of whom? “The bishops,” he says. Here we are faced with a contradiction because, in his America article, he said that the vast majority of bishops only grudgingly voted in favor of the final text. If that is so, why would they persecute those who thought like them?

3. He expresses his “surprise that more haven’t” signed his online petition. He can’t have it both ways. Either the vox populi is with him, or it’s not. He then proceeds to attribute the slim results to the people not “hav[ing] a clue about the new Missal.” Whose fault is that? Most folks in his camp have tried to guard this project more carefully than the Third Secret of Fatima. Last fall, I was invited to make a presentation on the new translation to a parish community, only to have the pastor told by the diocesan liturgical director that the talk was to be cancelled! The pastor did not acquiesce, and the faithful were positively impressed by the new texts.

4. I am chided as “disingenuous” for failing to mention the 1998 text proferred by ICEL to the American bishops and subsequently sent to the Holy See. I never mentioned it because Father Ryan never mentioned it in the article, to which I was responding. However, I would be happy to comment on it now: It was a defective work, largely a warmed-over version of what we got in 1973, which is why it got panned by the Holy See. If you have essentially the same players, would you not get the same results?
In turn, I feel compelled to chide Father Ryan for not engaging a single one of my critiques of his position or of my defense of the new translation.

5. Father Ryan refers to Liturgiam Authenticam as “highly controversial.” It was controversial only to those who had been used to functioning as loose cannons on deck and long overdue from the perspective of many, a point to which I shall return later. Finally, the Church had provided a clear philosophy of translation.

6. When the “recently retired archbishop” tells us “it’s not about translations,” I agree. I don’t agree that it’s about power, though. The conflict is not about translation, per se; that’s the visible part of the iceberg. The hidden part is a conflict over worldviews and theological perspectives. One group is about using liturgical texts to consolidate doctrine and morality; the other is about using them to change traditional positions to accommodate modernity. And that fundamental divide will not be bridged by having tea together.

7. Which leads to the next point: dialogue vs. diatribe. It’s interesting that when some people want to get their way, insistently and forcefully advancing their agenda, it is called dialogue; when the other side operates in a similar mode, it’s called diatribe. Dialogue is useful to discover commitments and then, where possible, to forge a common position. If the differences are as stark as I maintain above, there is no common meeting ground. For over two decades, the Holy See repeatedly instructed ICEL to change course (and was roundly ignored) and then took drastic measures by denying the recognitio to the funeral and ordination rites for years until significant changes were made.
Endless dialogue gets us nowhere, as Chesterton reminded us: “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

8. I am not shocked at all by the prospect of certain priests refusing to implement the new Missal and/or of “mak[ing] their own changes as they see fit.” As Ecclesiastes teaches us, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Men who will operate in that fashion have, in all likelihood, been doing their own thing for decades already – and doing so with impunity, which emboldens them to continue down the same divisive path. What is sad is that Father Ryan seems to rejoice in that prospect, subtly supporting them, just as his “just wait” petition gave tacit support to the “just say no” approach.

9. What Father Ryan dubs “retrenchment,” I see as “ressourcement,” going back to the sources of the original liturgical movement and the ecclesiastical documents of the entire twentieth century, including and especially Sacrosanctum concilium. Which makes me ask, Just what were “the ground-breaking reforms of the Council”? I am aware of none. Indeed, every one of the liturgical reforms proposed by the Council has a footnote to some prior source. Continuity, not rupture, is the optic through which the Council must be viewed, as has been stressed by every Pope (and synod) of the post-conciliar era.

10. We are told that many petition-signers were “prominent theologians, liturgists, church historians, church leaders, pastors, and administrators.” That smacks of an elitism and even arrogance. Besides that, I didn’t recognize any “prominent” ones, but perhaps I haven’t been reading the right materials.

11. Father Ryan speaks of “when (and if)” the new translation is implemented. The “if” is a strange parenthetical addition, and I’m not sure what we should glean from it.

12. The figure of Blessed John XXIII is brought forward, perhaps to silence opposition. I rejoice in his memory and call to mind his wise apostolic constitution (promulgated on the eve of the Council), Veterum sapientia, in which he mandated a serious return to Latin in every sphere of ecclesial life. He was also the pope who reversed Venerable Pius XII’s approval for the Neo-Vulgate, attempted to shore up clerical discipline in the Diocese of Rome, and added Joseph’s name to the Roman Canon. It is easy to prognosticate about what a dead man would do; it is much harder to confront the reality of what he did do. I often think a nice new Catholic parlor game would be “Will the Real John XXIII Please Stand Up?” with its sequel, “Will the Real Vatican II Please Stand Up?”

13. My last reaction is to the contribution of a blogger, who insightfully calls for serious “philological analysis.” Language is the bearer of meaning. Words are not insignificant, particularly for those who worship the Word-made-Flesh. Those who know Christian history can never assert that “it doesn’t make one iota of a difference” since they know that blood flowed in the streets over “one iota” at Nicea. And if words are not significant, then what’s all the fuss about with this new translation?

Let me say a word about what I’ve learned from the whole process and how I view things at this point. The first thing that surprised me – pleasantly – from the exchange in America was how the preponderance of bloggers there actually supported the new translation. Given the fact that America and its subscribers have never been accused of right-wing extremism, this was most interesting. That says to me that thinking people know that something had to be done to make our worship more transcendental, more beautiful, more faithful to the Tradition and, as the response-blog put it, “we’ve waited long enough.”
Secondly, it seems to me that the Holy See should have been much more decisive much sooner in handling the “translation wars” and should not have been sending mixed signals for a long period of time. Of course, we cannot ignore how the divided-house phenomenon of the American bishops allowed confusion to persist as well. Thankfully, both sides of “The Pond” seem to be on the same page now.
Finally, I believe some “product-testing” of the new translation would have been worthwhile. In all likelihood, that got ruled out when it became clear that an attitude of obstructionism would delay the process of promulgation and implementation until the Second Coming of Christ.
What’s needed now is for all loyal sons and daughters of the Church to get on board, moving forward together, as we were encouraged to do in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II.


129 responses to “Fr. Stravinskas replies to Fr. Ryan”

  1. John Drake Avatar
    John Drake

    Amen, Fr. Stravinskas, and Bravo!

  2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

    Where does one find “fear of the bishops” in the United States?

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      I have heard of theologians in parts of the country who do not state their opinions, even on non-doctrinal issues of how the Church is structured and how it operates, because of bishops’ speaker policies. Theologians fear getting disinvited from doing pastoral work (giving speeches) in dioceses. And I was at the Catholic Academy of Liturgy which decided not to issue a statement of concern about the new translation, though there was a broad consensus in the group, because so many feared for their future work in the Church if they were associated with such a statement.

  3. J Thomas Avatar
    J Thomas

    Blah, Blah…a conversation that has devolved into recriminations. Why I get so tired of “the Church.”

  4. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    “Can’t we all just get along?” What many people do not appreciate is the “Protestantization” of Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council. I don’t know if this is something that ecumenists wanted, but one of the outcries from traditional Catholics from the get-go was that the reformed Mass was Protestant. Of course the euphoria that followed Vatican II, which was a part of the triumphal euphoria of the culture of the 1960’s was that Christian Unity would occur almost immediately because the Catholic Church was giving in and reaching out to Protestants even with our worship and in the secular world technology, like birth control and space aged advances would propel the world into a new era of peace and prosperity. I suspect too in pre-Vatican II times, controversy surrounding doctrine and theology was isolated to professional theologians and did not normally trickle down to the laity. With the information age and blogs, we know it all and immediately, especially the rancor. In any case, the translation we will get is the translation we will get. Let’s be Catholic about it and accept it for the unity of the Church the catholicity that is involved in being in “communion with Rome.” I’ve lived in the south long enough to know what Protestantism looks and smells like. The disunity and pride that so many are advocating in terms of the rightful authority of the Church to promulgate a new translation of the English even if some don’t like it and how it was done as well as rancor about the restoration of the “unreformed” Mass smells and looks familiar to me here in the Protestant south. There are those who are in authority and those who are not in our Tradition. Those who are not can start a new denomination if they want, but don’t we have enough already? What about Christian unity? What about Catholic unity?

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Fr. Allan, I’m trying to believe that you really do like the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on ecumenism, but the tone of your comment almost suggests that you associate it with all that silliness of the 1960s. You write as if it is a bad thing that our liturgy has become more like Protestant liturgies, – I don’t see it that way.
      I guess because you’re from the South you really know what Protestantism is. I gather it’s anything less than complete obedience to every decision of the Pope or curia. But Church history is more ambiguous- your understanding of Catholicism didn’t exist before 1870 (Vatican I). The Catholic bishops of France didn’t implement the Missal of Pius V after Trent until the end of the 19th century – for a couple hundred years previously they issued their own missals. Your understanding would make many people ‘Protestants’ for much of the history of the Catholic Church, including before the 16th century.

      1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        In terms of ecumenism, this is a great blessing for the Church as long as we don’t compromise our own “unity.” There’s much in the Protestant culture of the south that Catholics can certainly imitate, especially their sense of community, evangelization and outreach. Their participative worship is worth emulating as well, whereas their proclivity to congregationalism and an “individualistic” infallibility might be considered ill-advised. In terms of Church history, certainly we are on a pilgrimage. Prior to Nicea, many bishops could legitimately hold heretical beliefs as well as the rank and file laity, but after the Council of Nicea, a change in belief and practice was expected from those whose positions were repudiated at the Council. The Documents of Vatican II are normative for the Church, clergy and laity alike and I suspect we should avoid a “cafeteriaism” even there.

    2. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      For all of the ill-will towards Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on left-leaning blogs, these two men have done more for the cause of Christian unity than anyone else in centuries.

  5. F C Bauerschmidt Avatar

    A few comments:

    4. On the claim that 1998 was ” largely a warmed-over version of what we got in 1973″ — I find this claim somewhat surprising. The orations in particular, but also the Eucharistic Prayers, were changed significantly in the direction of restoring much of the sense of the Latin. True, the people’s parts were on the whole left unchanged, except for attempts to “inclusivize” some of them. I suspect this was the real reason for the rejection.

    5. Some people who most certainly are not “loose canons” (Peter Jeffrey in particular) have been critical of Liturgiam Authenticam. As Fr. Stranvinskas knows, not everything issuing forth from the Vatican is infallible teaching, and some of it is, on occasion, exceptionally lame. Liturgiam Authenticam strikes me as one of the lamer attempts. I believe it is possible to acknowledge the flaws of 1973 without having to affirm LA.

    7. Again, if one looks at the 1998 translation, I think it unfair to say that ICEL’s approach to translation did not develop over time in dialog with Rome. This claim also ignores the fact that ICEL’s work was being done under a different set of translation norms, so I am not sure what exactly the desires of Rome were that ICEL was ignoring.

    I’ll add that I didn’t sign the petition, since I saw it as a futile gesture and thought that energies were better spent on accepting and implementing the inevitable.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Fritz, I had the same reaction to #4 and it made me wonder how familiar Fr. Stravinskas is with the 1998 translation. It is much more like what is about to come that it is like 1973. The different between 1973 and 1998 is marked.

  6. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    I’ll add that Fr Stravinskas’s ninth point strikes me as weak. The classical approach of “ressourcement” involves going back to the Patristic and other pre-Trent sources of liturgy. Ressourcement is generally not understood as Victorian.

    “Which makes me ask, Just what were “the ground-breaking reforms of the Council”?”

    I have read Sacrosanctum Concilium and I can think of several: the emphasis on lay participation, the focus on liturgical formation of the laity, the importance of understandability, the movement toward simplicity and authenticity in art and vesture, the restoration of the permanent diaconate and the catechumenate. Let’s be mindful that reform and innovation are not synonyms–at least not for most of us Catholics.

    Continuity has a certain reputation in some circles, being a certain sexy expression for retrenchment. There are higher values. And if the Church is, as some profess, in certain dire straits today, perhaps we need something less of a continuity with Tridentine measures that have proved themselves less than fruitful, and even at times, a hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel.

    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar
      Jeffrey Herbert


      There are also the “3 Commandments” as they are called which precede all others in SC 22 “General Norms”-

      1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

      2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

      3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

      That last one pretty much makes a hypocrite of anyone claiming that it’s OK to diverge from official texts in “the name of Vatican II”.

      Other than that, I have to agree with you. There were indeed some ground breaking reforms. It’s just a shame that we haven’t gotten around to implementing them yet.

  7. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Father Anthony,
    I am thoroughly familiar with that proposed text and, at the time, wrote that it was a step in the right direction. However, it was a hodge-podge in many ways — with entrenchment on many fronts and halting steps forward.

    Mr. Flowerday,
    I full well know the usual meaning of “ressourcement” and was using it analogically. I have no interest in Victorian accoutrements.
    Every item of the bold, new vision of liturgy from Vatican II that you cite was called for throughout the liturgical movement and in the writings of all the pre-conciliar popes, especially Pius X and Pius XII.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Well, I don’t have a problem with Sacrosanctum Concilium being derivative in part from the great theologians of the Liturgical Movement. The change, for the sixties, as it were, comes from the near-universal endorsement of the world’s bishops, and a refutation of sorts for the Curia.

      I detect something a bit more than the “analogical” in your last post, Fr Stravinskas. My suggestion is to temper the stuff along the lines of “bold, new.” I think you are un-serious about using this language, and what’s more, I haven’t used it either. My criticism of your ninth point stands.

    2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      This might be of interest: the Prayer over the Gifts/Offerings for 11th Sunday.

      1973 (current):
      Lord God, in this bread and wine
      you give us food for body and spirit.
      May the eucharist renew our strength
      and bring us health of mind and body.

      In these gifts, O Lord,
      you provide humankind
      with the food that nourishes
      and the sacrament that gives us life.
      Grant, we pray, that our minds and bodies
      may never lack this strength and support.

      2008 submitted to Rome:
      O God, who in the gifts presented here
      nourish with food and renew with Sacrament
      the twofold nature of the human race,
      grant, we pray,
      that the sustenance of these
      may not fail us in body or in mind.
      Through Christ our Lord.

      I think the final wording which Rome will return to the conferences is still being worked out.


  8. John Drake Avatar
    John Drake

    All in favor of the 2008 version, say “Aye!” Aye!

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Meh. Meh.

    2. Lynn Thomas Avatar
      Lynn Thomas

      Nay, Nay!

  9. Claire Mathieu Avatar

    “gifts presented her”: who is presenting the gifts (doing the giving)? God or us?

    the sustenance of “these”: what does “these” refer to? The twofold nature, the nourishment and renewal, or the gifts?

    “sustenance” has several meanings. Here, does it mean “continuation” or “support” or “supply”?

    “May not fail us”: does it mean: may we not fail to do something? May God not fail to do something for us?

    I just spent a few minutes staring at the 2008 text, and it’s a grammatical challenge.

  10. Robert Dibdale Avatar
    Robert Dibdale

    God bless Fr. Peter S. for a fair and balanced response to Fr. Ryan.

    The habit of the French bishops to only slowly implement Roman & conciliar liturgical decrees reminds me that Archbishop Lefebvre was French too. Something tells me, however, that his actions find less support among present-day US Church professionals.

    Re. ecumenicism and Protestant-like liturgies, Michael Davies went through this in some detail and with sustainable argument in his book”Pope Paul’s New Mass,” 1980 . Also, don’t forget that much of what has been done in the name of ecumenism was a false ecumenism that created much confusion. On that point it might be helpful to recall the difficulty so many ecumenical specialists (Church professionals)had with the Roman decree of 2007 “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church” and even earlier in the much lamented “Dominus Iesu” in 2000. These documents naturally provide a magisterial interpretation of V2’s teaching on ecumenism.

  11. Robert Dibdale Avatar
    Robert Dibdale

    Mr. Flowerday,

    So much needs to be defined. For example, you cite the “movement toward simplicity & authenticity in art and vesture” – what does that mean? I am certain it does not equate to the liturgical minimalism we see today whereby every Mass is virtually identical to a pre-1970 low Mass with a few hymns from OCP thrown in and judging by the Holy Father’s writings on iconography it cannot be seen to support the iconoclasm we saw in the late 1970s.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Robert, I refer you to SC 124 blogged about here:

      I don’t know that we need definitions so much as reasonable discussion and discernment. I would hope that many of us are closer to achieving the ideal of a “high” Mass on every Sunday and holy day, and an appropriate hierarchy of solemnity trickling down to daily Mass as well as funerals and sacramental celebrations.

      My parish does use hymns, but psalm settings are more frequent. We also have very few cantor-led liturgies–maybe the occasional holy day, but even there choirs are the rule.

      My sense is that many conservatives think they have a bead on what’s going on in the Church. Actual practice would seem to indicate otherwise.

  12. Robert Dibdale Avatar
    Robert Dibdale


    Dororthy Sayers would remind us to “define the terms we use”. I do think “simplicity” requires a definition and should be contrasted with liturgical minimalism because “Simplicity” is too subjective word – a Carthusian would interpret it differently than a Benedictine. A Protestant would interpret it differently than a Catholic. A Calvinist differently than an Anglican.
    Todd, you talk about your choir singing at your parish and apply that to parishes generally as somehow being misunderstood by unnamed conservatives. The problem is that a choir does not make a “solemn/high” mass. A Mass is called a sung Mass, when the celebrant sings those parts which the rubrics suggest should be sung by the celebrant and has little to do with the choir. Sadly, most choirs today do nothing more than what their predecessors did during a typical (Sunday) low Mass before 1969 – low mass in ceremonial with the four hymn sandwich: choir singing at the entrance, at the offertory, at communion and at the exit. Today, even more than then, priests sing almost nothing making the sung Mass a rare experience. A solemn Mass uses the propers, a chanting celebrant, with incense at the appropriate times. I note that just as the 1969 missal made it easier to celebrate a solemn Mass the trend toward the low/read Mass remained normative in most parishes with incense regulated to Holy Thursday, funerals, and maybe at Christmas/Easter.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Robert, I have no problem with “simplicity” as such being interpreted by the charism of particular communities. Nevertheless, within a certain relativism, we do have a certain understanding with regard to the conciliar principles of simplicity, or more specifically with regard to SC 124, the triumph of “noble simplicity” over “sumptuous display.” To that point, perhaps it might be time for the retirement of the magna cappa. But that’s fodder for another post.

      Like many internet conservatives and liberals, Robert, I don’t get the sense you are truly willing to listen or to engage others. Most of my colleagues gave up on the four-hymn sandwich of our organists of previous generations, and to the extent we get cooperation with the clergy, indeed have more of a sung Mass than we did fifty or a hundred years ago.

      We no longer have any liturgical designation of a Catholic Mass as “solemn.” Again, the charisms of a community should ideally keep nudging things forward, as they largely have since Vatican II: Scriptural instead of catechetical hymns, more psalmody, more ritual music for the sacraments, an emphasis on singing the Mass rather than singing at the Mass.

      It’s not really a surprise that the preconciliar Low Mass was the template many Catholics adopted for the post-conciliar Mass. It’s what they knew. That said, let’s acknowledge that many parishes and musicians have moved beyond that, even on the progressive side.

    2. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      I was under the impression that “noble simplicity” meant that the Mass was to eliminate as many elements of the 62 Missal as possible and then in turn create as many different rites, symbols, and blessings as possible that can and should be added to each and every Mass, provided these new elements were neither simple nor noble.
      Basically, I don’t see how some can make the claim for noble simplicity and at the same time add all kinds of additions to the liturgy that were never there, are far from simple, and confuse priest and people.

      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        I think you have it right. Your urge to “add all kinds of additions” is out of keeping with the Roman liturgy. Nice to know we have this point settled.

  13. Tim English Avatar
    Tim English

    Fr. Anthony says the following about the 2008 translation submitted to Rome:

    I think the final wording which Rome will return to the conferences is still being worked out.

    I think the final 2008 translation submitted to Rome has already been granted in recto some prior source. ognitio by Rome, so there will only be minor, if any changes in the final wording.

    Fr. Stravinskas commented on several things I want to react to;
    “Father Ryan refers to Liturgiam Authenticam as “highly controversial.” It was controversial only to those who had been used to functioning as loose cannons on deck and long overdue from the perspective of many, a point to which I shall return later. Finally, the Church had provided a clear philosophy of translation.”

    I think the loose cannons are those who are dissenters who are not in communion with the Church’s teachings on any number of subjects. Loose cannons are those priests who in the 1970’s and 80’s who engaged in experimentation because of the lack of direction after SC on the philosophy of translation of the Holy Mass.

    “Which makes me ask, Just what were “the ground-breaking reforms of the Council”? I am aware of none. Indeed, every one of the liturgical reforms proposed by the Council has a footnote to some prior source.

    The only ground breaking reforms of the Council was the idea of the fully conscious and active participation of the faithful, the ability to have the Mass celebrated in a nation’s venacular…

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Tim, there was no “lack of direction after SC on the philosophy of translation.” There was clear direction given in the 1969 Roman instruction Comme le prevoit, which called for paraphrasing and adapting to local culture and, as the ultimate goal, drafting original texts in each vernacular language. This may be a direction you or others don’t like, but it certainly is a clear direction given by Rome.

  14. Alan Hommerding Avatar

    To the point about ecumenism: in the wake of Vatican II, a fair number of Protestant denominations were accused internally of becoming “too Catholic” as they adopted Lectionaries, celebrated the Lord’s Supper and received communion more regularly, re-emphasized initiation as a sacramental system, and so on. It seems that the human need to think of ourselves as being right (or best) is more important than our unity.

  15. Tim English Avatar
    Tim English

    Fr. Stravinskas also stated:

    What Father Ryan dubs “retrenchment,” I see as “ressourcement,” going back to the sources of the original liturgical movement and the ecclesiastical documents of the entire twentieth century, including and especially Sacrosanctum concilium.

    So I think all of this is about returning to our liturgical traditions,and applying the ecclesiastical documents of the entire twentieth centrury, including and most especially sacrosanctum concilium. Sancrosanctum Conciulum was meant as a starting point for the Second Vatican II Council liturgy. From what I understand, there was no GIRM developed from Sancrosanctum Concilum. And the instruction on sacred music and other instructions should have been finalized before the Second Vatican Council liturgy was promulgated.

    Fr. Stravinkas further stated:

    “every one of the liturgical reforms proposed by the Council has a footnote to some prior source.’

    This is exactly why Sancrosanctum Concilium should have been the starting point from which the Novus Ordo was promulgated.

  16. Tim English Avatar
    Tim English

    Fr. Anthony,
    You stated to my response:
    “There was clear direction given in the 1969 Roman instruction Comme le prevoit, which called for paraphrasing and adapting to local culture and, as the ultimate goal, drafting original texts in each vernacular language.”

    Per 2010 Sourcebook for Sundays,Seasons and Weekdays, Liturgy Training Publications, stated;
    “However the document, Comme le Prevoit was imprecise and subject to wide interpretation as to what was allowed.”
    If that was a “clear directive”, then JPII’s Liturgiam Authenticam would have not been necessary. Paraphrasing may have been allowed, but paraphrasing did not keep with the traditional wording of the various rites and prayers that had been in place for hundreds if not thousands of years in the Roman Catholic liturgical tradition. And that is all this is about.

  17. robert dibdale Avatar
    robert dibdale


    I asked you to define what you mean by simplicity. That is an attempt at engagement. Liturgical minimalism is a significant problem that is worthy of engagement especially when one considers noble simplicity. For example, Edmund Bishop advocated noble simplicity in his preference for the Gothic over the Byzantine.
    I’m not certain that we no longer have a designation of a solemn Mass. The Roman rite predates 1970. The GIRM does distinguish between various types of Masses and refers to different ritual actions to accommodate solemn occasions. It seems to be that a solemn Mass takes place when the priest celebrant is assisted by a deacon and/or acolyte. Bishop Peter Elliott gives a model for a “Solemn Mass” in his contemporary book “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite,” chapter 6: where he explains that a solemn Mass is a full celebration of a sung liturgy, with the celebrant assisted by one or two deacons, with incensations, a chanted Gospel reading, a sung Creed and preface, and other ritual elements. The post V2 “Musicam sacram” (1967), paragraph 28 says “the distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained.” More to the point, “For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day (27)”. Additionally, the 2002 GIRM footnotes to Musicam sacram

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      I think the difference with the reformed Mass is that there is much more flexibility whereas with the EF Mass it is rather rigid and clear-cut what is a low, high and solemn high. In the OF one could sing a goodly number of the parts of the Mass even some of the priest’s parts, but choose to leave out some other parts. For example, I would be interested in knowing how many parishes actually sing the Creed and Our Father in English on Sunday. The choreography in the OF is not delineated as in the EF Mass either. I think that a clearer delineation for the OF Mass in terms of the actual Mass being sung would be very helpful along with the new translation, whatever it will be, when we get it.

    2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

      I would point out, with Mr. Dibdale, that the post-1967 Magisterium takes Musicam Sacram as a “live” document (i.e. still in force, to SOME extent).

      1969 – Comme le Prevoit #35
      1970 – Liturgicae Instaurationes #3c
      1980 – Dominicae Cenae #10
      2001 – Liturgiam Authenticam #28
      2002 – GIRM #32, 35, 40, 41, 45, 103, 104, 115, 312
      2003 – JP II Chirograph on Sacred Music (throughout)

    3. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Robert, it would be my premise that “liturgical minimalism,” as I think both you and I understand it, is more an accidental liturgical praxis than a directed one. In other words, the pastor and parishioners have priorities other than liturgy: the parish school, paying off a debt, paving a new parking lot, athletic fields, or hiring a new staff member. What you and others decry as a de-emphasis on the sacred, I would characterize as an accidental iconoclasm.

      I would lean, at least in most American parishes, toward a Shaker sensibility in applying “noble simplicity” to the liturgy. Rather than no vestments or embroidered chasubles, for example, I would prefer a high quality cloth, carefully fit to the priest, with minimal additional “stuff” on it.

      The important principle of progressive solemnity should be studied, discerned, and applied in every parish. I can imagine two parishes serious about liturgy at different places along the continuum from pre-conciliar Low Mass to a fully sung Mass. I suppose I would put less emphasis on what the clergy do and more on the assembly. But in essence, I would agree with you that Elliott’s model fits for Easter or Christmas, but probably not an ordinary time Sunday if the major Sunday festivals are neglected.

      As for the particulars of your documentation, I’ve treated the issue in depth on my own web site. I prefer to begin with the Roman Missal and the GIRM, and work from there with progressive solemnity.

  18. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    For all the rhetoric and counter rhetoric on both sides, the reality seems to be that the mediocrity of the vast middle is just that, the mediocrity of a middle that really doesn’t have an ideological bent.

    The great majority of pastors don’t give the liturgy much of a priority. They just give it routine attention much like before Vatican II.

    Pastors are preoccupied with buildings and grounds, and raising money, and running a non profit corporation much like any Protestant minister would. But they were already doing that well before Vatican II. American congregations are built on voluntary contributions of time and money.

    Pre-Vatican II mediocrity in Latin has become Post Vatican II mediocrity in English. Maybe it looked a little more mysterious in Latin but it wasn’t any better.

  19. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    “Just what were “the ground-breaking reforms of the Council”? I am aware of none.”

    If what you mean by ground-breaking is something never before heard-of in Christian history, you have set an impossible standard then smugly observed that no one has met it. But ground-breaking does not mean hitherto-un-Christian, or utterly lacking within the tradition as a whole. It simply means a significant departure from the status quo ante which has led to developments—as in, one breaks ground in order to build upon it. In this regard, all of the items Todd Flowerday listed are ground-breaking. I don’t need to repeat them. Perhaps it is worth pointing out that there are also such things as ground-breaking changes in priorities, and ground-breaking insights into the tradition. The relative priority accorded to the dignity of the baptized is an example of the first, the prominence of the concept of the paschal mystery is an example of the second.

    I would add some more. Ground-breaking indeed was article 37 of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Certainly in Christian history inculturation had occurred before. But it was never before acknowledged on this level nor given this sort of place in a framework for approaching the liturgy formally and officially. Ground-breaking indeed was the teaching on the Jewish people in Nostra Aetate. Were there no Christians EVER who respected the Jewish people on such terms as the document articulated? Of course not. But this statement was a departure…

    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar
      Jeffrey Herbert


      Art. 37 has a very meaningful caveat.

      “Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit“.

      Our problem has been saying “no” to anything, even if it very obviously doesn’t harmonize with Catholic liturgy.

  20. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    from a GREAT body of evidence that suggested otherwise, and a whole edifice has arisen built on this place where ground was broken. The documents of Vatican II, formally and officially, articulated ground-breaking shifts in our relationships with non-Catholic Christians both East and West, the effects of which have been dramatic. We have seen them in the Catechism and in the great body of official statements generated since that time through ecumenical dialogue, and more. I could list many other examples, but these should suffice.

  21. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Fr. Anthony’s citation of “Comme le prevoit” is a precise example of what I had in mind in terms of the Vatican’s sending “mixed signals” — a disastrous document that sent the entire “vernacularization” project on its ear.

    Then, years later, it had to repudiated, with saying, of course, that it was being repudiated.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Liturgiam Authenticam can be repudiated just the same, too.

  22. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Miss Ferrone’s comments are in the mode of the “discontinuity”/”reinterpretration group — again, nixed by the papal and synodal magisterium of the post-conciliar period.

  23. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Not at all nixed by the magisterium, Fr. Stravinskas, but rather affirmed over and over again—in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in papal statements concerning the Jews, in Varietates Legitimae, and so on. You may wish to insist that none of these things are developments, that everything is actually “the same,” but the facts refute such a claim.

  24. Claire Mathieu Avatar

    The text shown in comment #14 is opaque. If it takes more than 10 minutes to understand a paragraph that can be read aloud in 30 seconds, then we have no hope of ever having enough catechesis to be able to appropriate the words of the Mass and make the prayer ours.

    One solution will be, as we listen to the priest’s unintelligible prayer, to pick up a few words here and there –“gifts”, “nourish”, “Sacrament” for example — and connect the dots to make up our own prayer in our mind. And why not? Maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

    1. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      The Mass or Divine Liturgy (regardless of rite or form) is the prayer of the Universal Church, and never “our own”. The Mass is a means of grace ex opere operato. The grace that freely flows from the Holy Sacrifice does not depend on lay intellectual comprehension of the prayers. Likewise, the Sacrifice of the Mass does not depend on the worthiness of the priest. No person assisting at Mass, clergy or layperson, can change the reality of grace through will or thought.

      The progressive liturgical insistence that the laity must immediately apprehend the prayers of the Mass contradicts centuries of practice in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Does the Eastern priest intentionally obscure the anaphora by reciting it behind doors and a curtain? Does a priest saying the EF intentionally hide the glory of the Canon by reciting it in a whisper? We laity may not hear or see, yet undoubtedly the words and action of the priest conjoin heaven and earth.

      The elevation of didacticism over mystery and revelation has weakened postmodern Roman Catholicism. Learning the Mass is a lifelong pursuit. Why must we insist that all have a superficial knowledge of the Mass immediately upon walking through the church vestibule? We should savor an ongoing discovery of grace rather than demand an instant but superficial knowledge of sublime mystery.

      1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Jordan, hear, hear!

      2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Jordan, I think you misrepresent the progressive side here. God created human intellect, and the search for comprehension and understanding is at the root of theology.

        I think the progressive stance is less a hope for an “immediate” comprehension and more that an understanding is readily available. One might expect little less from a nation of priests.

        As you suggest, the audible and visible are not part of the impartation of God’s grace, and indeed, we know God can work through poverty and in unexpected ways, even direct obfuscation and stubbornness on the part of our shepherds.

        But I would have to see evidence that comprehension blocks the experience of grace for others. Because the reality is that Catholics constitute many sorts of people, including those who perceive God through more direct means: adoring the sacrament, listening to words, and making intellectual and artistic connections through the senses. It’s the same sort of availability as art in churches. Icons and statues aren’t adored constantly, but they are always accessible to receive believers and point them in the right direction.

        Your suggestion that some Catholics are looking for an “instant but superficial” experience is a caricature of liturgical reformers. You do better to argue your own position, rather than blunder the loyal opposition’s.

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        The grace that flows is objective, but individual sanctification is subjective. and it changes as people and cultures change (and you get your own rewardd in this world if you’re suddenly worried about Modernism with that thought).

        Immediate apprehension is not my yardstick as a progressive. But deliberate obscurantism and the “veiling” argument that operates as a post-hoc rationalization of it are not opportune in the OF. I am uninterested in attending a liturgy where the silent canon is featured, however valid it might be.

        And I am always amused about complaints that the OF is too didactic because they are often made by people who complain that the EF is more didactic in other ways.

      4. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        Do we have here another “ground breaking reform” from the Council? For centuries, the liturgy did not have to be comprehensible, and then the Council called for it to be understood?

        As I have said before, the liturgy is the universal worship of the Church. It is done with myriad forms and rites, which direct the mind and heart toward the worship we strive to accomplish. Our lifetime should be spent learning to worship, not learning to perform the rites that might teach us to worship. So I think “immediate comprehension” is a good goal, so that we can move beyond following the little footsteps on the floor to become real dancers. We will not often reach such immediacy, but it is something good to aim for.

      5. Lynn Thomas Avatar
        Lynn Thomas

        Rubbish. The grace may not depend on mere lay intellectual comprehension, but the laity’s ability to perceive and act upon the graces is most assuredly enhanced by comprehension. Perhaps more practically, if they can’t comprehend what’s being said, or find the entire experience of Mass regularly distressing or unsatisfying, they won’t come back. Quality of experience does, in fact, matter, when it comes down to real people in real pews trying to lead real lives.

      6. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
        Fr. Christopher Costigan

        Saint Cyril must be glad he lived in the fourth century. After all, his liturgical and catechetical ideas would never have worked for “the most educated Catholics in history.”

  25. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    Is it wise to call what is happening “repudiation?” Rather isn’t it development or maturation? Certainly future developments might reverse certain things or recover other things in terms of current legislation. “Comme le prevoit” was released in 1969 but I suspect it took a bit of time to develop and clearly broke with SC’s desire that the vernacular be allowed but Latin preserved. So already by 1969 using the logic of “repudiation” a Vatican document was “repudiating “SC in terms of the Latin. It seems also that its principles on new prayers are appropriate apart from a second “opening collect.” We now have many more Eucharistic Prayers which seem to be rather good. Are those being revised? (The ones for special occasions.) There certainly have been developments and documents issued from the Vatican that some might call “repudiations” in terms of other Vat. II documents. Wouldn’t it be better to refer to these as “maturation” rather than “repudiation?”

  26. David Haas Avatar
    David Haas

    It is very sad for me, that with a handful of exceptions, most of the comments here, whether FOR or AGAINST Fr. Ryan’s stance – that the pastoral care of the praying assembly is not being discussed very much here. And that to me, is the major thread going through Fr. Ryan’s cause, which I applaud… is that we cannot just ignore or disregard the people of God in this, using smoke and mirrors to argue back and forth in minutiae about what the “divine liturgy” is or is not in terms of its development, evolution and so forth. Rita is correct – Vatican II, whether some like it it or not, did proclaim at its very essence, a new way of doing things.. not a pure democracy, where people are given a “up or down” vote on things we like and what we don’t like.. but certainly the baptized are to be taken into consideration, with their voice heard, and with their spiritual care at the heart of whatever reforms and changes take place. I would hope that we would be able to at least recognize, that the spirit of John XXIII, the council and the liturgy which came forth from it, that the community is the most important and vital “symbol” and ritual dynamic that prays, sings and gives praise. To ignore them, and to engage in smoke and mirrors that cloud the issue, to me would be an act of elitism in the highest order. Saying “wait” is just asking the church to consider these things, as we contemplate changes that have huge consequences for our life of prayer.

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      I haven’t detected from either side of this particular liturgy war that concern for the laity and their prayer life at Mass are not concerns. I think that is where common ground exists. There also does seem to be divergent views on authority and how it is carried out, both of which I think we can say are also concerned about the nature of the Church, meaning laity and clergy as well as fidelity to Christ. No group here, though, has infallibility except of course if teachings already infallibly defined by the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium of the Church are employed.

  27. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
    Jordan Zarembo

    Re: Todd’s comments at #45. Let me apologize first for my insults. The “immediate apprehension” and “superficial” statements were gratuitous. I would be angry if someone characterized the EF as “meaningless Latin mumbling.”

    My case: I contend that the very basic ICEL translation sacrificed profundity for comprehension with little gain. Perhaps a simple translation unlocked liturgical obscurities for many people. Yet was this outreach worth the cost of literary, doctrinal, and theological depth?

    My snark about “immediate apprehension” stems from my conviction that some in Church value understandability over precision. I do think that translations should be at a level within the reach of most speakers. Yet, terms such as “consubstantial” retain specific theological value. Better to be precise than provide people with vague terms. Not all priests and catechists will explain the “tough words” well. Not all parishioners will understand. Still, doctrinal precision requires their use.

    I’ve been privileged with a classical education. I also learned much of my Latin in the pews and serving at the altar. There is an inexpressible joy in learning a language through worship. Catholic traditionalism sometimes reveals an inordinate intellectual pride that corrodes charity. An unwillingness to acknowledge vernacular liturgy and its role in the modern Church isolates traditional Catholics like myself. This I regret.

  28. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    Jordan: no problem on the snark from me. I know I can engage in it and enrage others. I claim my own regrets on that score.

    Clearly, the translators of the late 60’s and early 70’s considered it a priority to get a vernacular into use quickly. Who knows why? It was likely there were as many reasons as there were committee members.

    We also have to realize that among modern languages, English is employed as a second language in many cultures across the world. I can understand that some things were sacrificed by sixteen bishops’ conferences so that a greater accessibility would result. Perhaps a better case could be made for developing a LA English translation to further translate into other vernaculars and develop a refined MR for cultures in which English is the first language.

    One quick point: Catholicism is quite rich and if our language of worship is lacking in some way, perhaps we turn to other aspects: architecture, music, iconography, the visual arts, or devotions. Clearly not every culture, every faith community will be blessed to have riches in all disciplines across the board.

    And last: while I recognize liturgy as a teacher, my deepest concern with MR3 is that the English translation will be impoverished from an artistic viewpoint. Resorting to Latin-based words can be a lazy strategy. Great artists of language can craft from the simplest vocabulary. Indeed, it might be argued that most of them do.

  29. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Jordan said: My case: I contend that the very basic ICEL translation sacrificed profundity for comprehension with little gain.

    I would dispute that ICEL wanted comprehension as a basic aim. Knowing some of the translators personally, before they went to their eternal reward, I think I can say that what ICEL wanted was a clean, spare text, unencumbered by phraseology which serves to do nothing more than impede the basic prayer impulse. Accessibility, rather than comprehension, would be the correct word.

    Let me give an analogy. The ICEL text, with all its deficiencies, mirrors the clean interior lines of a beautiful modern cathedral, such as the one in Clifton, England, where there is little or no interior decoration — and yet the effect is stunning. In such a building, the imagination has a canvas on which to work. The text we are awaiting with trepidation is the equivalent of a Baroque or Rococo cathedral, adorned with such a profusion of ornamentation that, today, we might even characterise it as being in dubious taste, and which at any rate certainly disguises and even conceals the clean interior lines and leaves no scope to the imagination. I believe that this was a deliberate choice on ICEL’s part, and I applaud it.

    The question, then, for us is as follows: do we wish to return to an 18th-century style which is extravagant and flowery, and therefore risks being condemned as insincere and artificial, or do we wish to pursue a 21st century pathway with a lean, sinewy style that speaks to today’s people without equivocation? The answer, for me, is self-evident.

    1. Lynn Thomas Avatar
      Lynn Thomas

      Mr. Inwood,

      ‘Rococo’ is the better term, I think. Baroque is too unadorned a style to properly describe the language of the new translation. When I visited Germany, one wit I encountered defined ‘Rococo’ as “Baroque gone berserk”. After I visited some of the castles in Bavaria, I could not but agree with her wholeheartedly.

      And in response to your question, I much prefer the 21st century leanness.

    2. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      “In such a building, the imagination has a canvas on which to work.”

      But the texts being translated have a much more directed effect. Your problem is fundamentally not with the translation, but with the underlying texts.

    3. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      This has started to make me wonder what would have happened has our Eastern catholic brothers been forced to rid their churches of icons, gold, color, incense and bells, iconstasis, and instead been forced to celebrate their divine liturgies in bland auditoriums seated in the round so everyone could see the action being performed by the priest/performer on the stage. All chant would be eliminated in favor of modern songs. All useless repetition and “complicated language” eliminated–along with any trace of traditional languages. This would not seem right, would it? It would not hold to their tradition and their liturgy, would it? And yet where we respect ancient tradition in Eastern liturgy we reject it in Western liturgy. It reminds me of the emphasis on “multiculturalism” where every culture is to be accepted and used, except of course middle class Americans who are not allowed to have their own culture.

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        Fr. Costigan, I take it you’re criticizing the Pope, the Council, the Bishops, the Curia, and the people on the ground? You’re painting with a wide brush indeed. There are reasons why our Latin Catholic history developed as it did, there are reasons why the reform came, there are reasons why its implementation was rocky. We’re not Eastern Catholics (with great respect to them). Our discussion from 1903 on took on its own unique features and it evolved rapidly under papal leadership. Are you unhappy with the history of your own rite for the past 107 years? Or what is your point?

  30. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    I also wish to comment on the post, currently # 45, which includes phraseology such as The grace that freely flows from the Holy Sacrifice does not depend on lay intellectual comprehension of the prayers.

    This appears dangerously close to patronising, as well as being completely contrary to the spirit of SC.

    I personally find it very tedious to hear people insistently telling us that the laity must submit to the liturgy. I keep recalling the phrase sacramenta propter homines, and not the other way round. The Church, throughout its 2000-year history, has constantly modified and refined the liturgy so that the liturgy may speak to the people. The reforms of Vatican II were but a continuance of that tradition.

    I see no merit in campaigning for a liturgy which will no longer speak to the people and may even alienate them. But surely, the reply will come, it is for their own good. No, my friends, I reply, liturgia propter homines, not homines propter liturgia.

    If our people are not caught up in the liturgy, then we are quite simply wasting our time. The words “deckchairs” and “Titanic” spring to mind. Our efforts should be devoted to engaging the people in worship, not pursuing an illusory path of so-called doctrinal purity.

  31. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Todd said Clearly, the translators of the late 60’s and early 70’s considered it a priority to get a vernacular into use quickly. Who knows why? It was likely there were as many reasons as there were committee members.

    Well, the reason why is well-documented. The bishops of the world asked for the vernacular, and quickly. Those wise pastors sensed the mood of their people, and responded by petitioning Rome to move swiftly. And so it happened.

    Those who maintain (and I know that Todd is not among them) that the bishops at Vatican II did not vote for all sorts of changes are quite correct — they didn’t, not then. But many of them sensed where things were moving to, and they sure as heck requested those changes pretty quickly afterwards, as they saw the wind of the Spirit blowing through the Church. Once, again, all very well documented.

    Now, we are in a position of taking stock and attempting to learn the lessons of this swift movement in order to move on. The problem is that others have come in at a tangent and are attempting to push us backwards.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Paul is right, of course, on the motivation of bishops. One has only to review the various documents of the immediate post-conciliar period to see where the call for the vernacular was leading.

      As for the various reasons liturgists and others had, I’ve heard that speed was considered of the essence before the curia recovered some control. Or that the stripped down texts were seen as a value artistically. Realistically, I think the desire to respond to the Holy Spirit was part of the equation.

      Paul is also correct that today we also must deal with the reality of the hermenteutic of obstruction rearing its head, as it did before, during, and after practically every council.

      I should also point out that I agree with Father S on “product testing,” though my cynical side would suggest that didn’t pass a smell test–too much like ICEL of the 1980’s. It is a practice of Lectio Divina to return to a text, repetitively, and keeping it in prayer. Is it too much to expect that these texts would be prayed, and prayed deeply, before they would come to use?

      A good case could be made for doing so in the preparation for MR4. Heaven knows we need it.

  32. Richard Hough Avatar
    Richard Hough

    A brilliant response. Forty-five years after Sacrosanctum Concilium we find most Catholics in the pews who cannot recite — or better yet sing — their parts in Latin. And what of chant? These are among of the first points of that blessed conciliar document. Why is this so ignored by those who claim recent liturigical events represent a reversal? What appears to be a reaction for Fr Ryan may in fact be a true renewal of the the Vatican II Council. My children and I have no connection to the “folk” music or other innovations swept in the wake of the liturgical reforms. There’s nothing hip about it and your average suburban parish experience is akin to staring at insects frozen in amber wearing bell bottoms. I submit that we — the people in the pew “footing the bill” — know better and deserve much better from music to translation. Fr Ryan and those supportive of his arguments seem entirely unaware of their condescension and inconsistency. it seems evident that the liturgy and attempt to preserve the clearly inept translations and non-conciliar innovations following the council are but proxies for a deeper cultural problem with the Church. Bravo, Fr Stravinskas.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      For the record, at Fr. Ryan’s cathedral they have an excellent program of high-quality traditional music including Latin chant -there are some generalizations in this comment which seem to insinuate other things.

  33. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Fascinating discussion. Strongly echo Mr. Flowerday, Mr. Inwood, Rita, and Mr. Haas’s analysis and contributions.

    Wanted to add a couple of points and a question:
    – Father’s original posting that characterize and describe the original ICEL members come across as an indictment based on what? The ICEL members I know and knew were very skilled at their vocation and over a 25 year period including the 1998 ICEL version, learned a great deal about translations, different cultural settings, various and different national bodies of catholics. Father’s comments about this group are disturbing and, IMO, based on the history and contributions of this group unfounded and uncalled for. He needs to look at the current ICEL members and their skill level?? (see Bishop Taylor’s book)
    – Father makes no mention of how this ICEL group with 25 years experience was basically fired on the spot and for what reason(s)? No due process; no explanations; ICEL 1998 approved by over 10 national conferences and then a small group isolated in Rome sits on it for 4 years until JPII (did he write this we will never know) approves LA (which, yes, can be easily outdated by the next group at their whim)
    – disagree with arguments around ressourcement. This New Missal goes back to what “orginal” latin standard – help me understand what this perfect latin foundation is?

    Pew-sitter here – more concerned about a presider who can proclaim and preach in english so we can understand/participate…

  34. Edna Savage Avatar
    Edna Savage

    It is in fact well known by scholars that LA was written, probably single-handedly, by Fr Anthony Ward SM, currently Capo d’Ufficio at CDW. He gave himself away by writing an extensive public commentary on it which was in a style so similar that they could only have come from the same hand. His style is also easy to recognize in the latest version of GIRM and in Redemptionis Sacramentum.

    This makes it very easy to understand the sheer ignorance (as I think Peter Jeffrey characterized it) underlying LA, since Fr Ward has no qualifications, whether as a historian, a liturgist or in the field of translation. As far as the new missal is concerned, we may draw conclusions from the fact that Fr Ward is also a consultor to Vox Clara.

  35. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    MANY of the original ICELites were known theological dissenters (e.g., birth control, ordination of women), which is one reason Liturgiam Autenticam required a total vetting of future members, with a nihil obstat. You will recall my first characteristic for a liturgical translator was one who subscribed to the Faith once received.

    By the way, Fr. Ward is no idiot or theological naif. Check his bibliography.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      This is an unfortunate turn in the discussion, and not a very wise one. I’m sure that some people find it an occasion of glee that questionable Catholics of ages past had no pre-knowledge of Humanae Vitae or Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. I think we can rightly protest when important discussions are sidetracked by tactics like this.

    2. Edna Savage Avatar
      Edna Savage

      I confess that I see little evidence of theological sophistication in Fr Ward’s output, which consists mostly of lists of sources, bibliographies, and so on, and it is a fact that LA has been condemned by members of national societies of translators, who, as professionals, we must assume know something of the subject. Any translator working today in the secular world who used formal equivalence instead of dynamic equivalence would very soon find themselves unemployed. To state, as LA does, that dynamic equivalence has now been found wanting and replaced by formal equivalence is simply untrue.

      To accuse the first generation of ICEL members, consultants and workers of being well-known theological dissenters is nothing less than a vicious slander. If Professor Herbert Finberg were still alive and reading this blog, he would undoubtedly already be suing Fr Stravinskas for libel at this very moment.

      I cannot think of a single person from the original ICEL group who expressed any view on the ordination of women at all. The subject had simply not arisen at that time. As far as birth control is concerned, it appears that as much as 85% of the world’s Catholic population does not agree with the Church’s stance on this issue, which begs the question of who it is that is dissenting theologically.

      But all this is, as Mr Flowerday says, moving away from a serious discussion to the area of mud-throwing.

    3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur


      I’ve not not learned anything valuable about ICEL here, but I have learned something valuable about Fr Stravinkas that until now I had no reason of suspecting or wondering about. I suspect it’s not what he intended, but rhetorical misjudgments have a way of being self-subverting.

    4. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      The vetting is not total now, and like most any gathering of Catholics, we can assume a variety of views on women’s ordination and birth control. BTW, some polls in the US show that among Catholics of child-bearing age, about 5% agree with the official position on contraception. Not advocating any position here, just stating some relevant facts. But even more relevant would be a discussion of the topic of the post!

    5. RP Burke Avatar
      RP Burke

      Argumentum ad hominem. An embarrassing logical error from a person of Fr. Stravinskas’s reputation.

  36. Claire Mathieu Avatar

    In comment #44, when I complained about how difficult it was for me to understand the new texts, I was not referring to “sublime mystery” and “revelation” or to “theological depth”, but to basic grammar, such as hearing a pronoun and figuring out which noun it replaces. Surely such grammatical obstacles are undesirable?

    I would say that a close analogy would be a defective audio system: the Mass is happening of course, but the microphone works badly and people must strain to understand only part of what is being said.

    My conjecture is that these new texts will make worship more individual: instead of following what the priest is saying and praying with him, we will each pray in our own words in our head. It seems to me that this will lessen the communion dimension of the Mass, the gathering to pray together as a community. Instead we will be gathering to pray at the same place but more as individuals and less as a community. Also, the priest will be more lonely.

    But it is not essential. If we can bear bad folk music, bland homilies and cinderblock architecture, we can also bear the new missal. There are so many ways to perceive God’s presence that if we have trouble following what the priest is saying, we’ll simply shift our focus to some other dimensions of the Mass.

  37. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Thanks, Edna Savage. I’ve wondered about that. In this small world of ours, it seemed impossible to keep the authorship of LA hidden indefinitely, yet I hadn’t heard an account so definite before.

    If Fr. Stravinskas thinks the current ICEL was interrogated about their views on artificial birth control before being appointed, he is more of a naïf than he would seem to be.

    While I agree with Todd that an ad hominem comment on the former ICEL is a red herring drawn across the path of this discussion, I’d make the point even more forcefully. If we are not going to discuss the fact that Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, a member of the new ICEL–carefully vetted for not being a dissenter?—was recently arrested for the possession of child pornography, then I think we’ll also mark as irrelevant the question of whether members of the old ICEL were 100% in agreement with all church teachings.

    Finally, I think Claire has raised some interesting points. The idea of being thrown on one’s resources for making up the “missing” elements of the texts seems likely. It also seems problematic to me. We can cope, but it’s not any better than cinderblock churches, etc. First, the point Claire makes about community is strong. Doing something together always involves a variety of subjective experiences, but the more the words are themselves obscure, the more divergent the subjective take on it all.

    Also, the greater the obscurity, the more likely it…

  38. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    … is that people will import popular meanings into their subjective understanding, even when these meanings are at odds with the spirit of the prayer. In other words, the opposite effect from what the writers hoped to achieve would occur. The hope was that by experiencing more elevated language, people would be drawn into the one great mystery via contact with higher, sacred things. I foresee instead a crumbling into odd and disparate thoughts and ideas.

    Take for instance the prayer at the Easter Vigil asking for the offerings to be “made spiritual.” Two things will come to people’s minds: spiritual as opposed to corporeal, and spiritual as opposed to religious. Which of these are we praying for? Uh, neither. But what else do people have to make sense of the expression “make spiritual”? Either they will grow accustomed to saying “oh, it doesn’t make sense, so what” or they will grow attached to one or another of the wrong interpretations that are present to their minds.

  39. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    While it may not be on topic, I do think we should all be in favor of ecumenism and that is should begin at home within our Catholic tradition. How can we ever hope for the eventual reunion of communions if we can’t be unified and civil with ourselves. What Fr. Anthony writes above is true and should be marching orders for all of us to teach the faith and make it credible, rather than ranting about liturgy and the things we have no control over. Powerlessness can be very freeing.

  40. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Mr. Flowerday – if I caused this discussion to veer off course, I apologize. In teaching history especially at a graduate level, we spend a great deal of time drilling down into how best to explore source material, how to line it up to create a narrative that has a point. For me, all liturgical discussions are at heart speaking about one’s ecclesiology and it is troubling to me that:
    – for 30 years we have had an increasing consolidation of papal announcements that have removed or covered up very careful and reasoned theological distinctions between the level of authority and compliance which are required or not. We now all but live as if every papal word is infallible including liturgical announcements that are not dogma; not even close to that level. So, this blog is about Father’s response to a priest calling for a “pause”.
    – My point – there are some excellent historical evolutions in thought based on research, ressourment using primary documents/materials. These fall into the category of “revisionist history”….some are very good; some are ideological because they rely upon 2nd or 3rd level sources or just plain opinion.

    I was trying to contect Father’s list of responses to Bishop Taylor’s history of the ICEL; with the chapters in Archbishop Durbin’s autobiography referring to ICEL, to the chapters in Archbishop Weakland’s autobiography. These are primary sources that highlight Father’s lack of percision; sweeping generalizations based on what?;…

  41. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    ctd….and attacks that are not based on facts. In order to understand this whole discussion requires careful research and analysis – not personal attacks. It would be helpful if someone compared the 25 year experience of the original ICEL to this 1998 group appointed in secret and under the Vox Clara umbrella (this is new). One of the difficulties in getting all the facts out is the manner in which Rome produces, approves, and annouces documents – it is not a transparent process (which creates more and more concern these days).

    So, you can argue about the liturgical or ICEL or Roman Missal version differences but they are accidents. The larger and much deeper questions are:
    – what ecclesiology allows a church council that had 4,000+ bishops approve a liturgical evolution be trumped within 30 years by a very small group in secret?
    – again, my question – what is this pure, original Latin foundation that we are trying to translate from in terms of a non-dynamic equivalence (is that even possible?)
    – we can argue about the reform of the reform – but liturgy has evolved for 2,000 years. SC/VII was both a continuity and a disruption. Can someone help me understand how LA (not a conciliar document) can be anything else but a disruption? (all Father Ryan wants is a pause because of how this disruption has happened).
    – finally, this “new” Roman Missal is the wrong focus; wrong time; wrong place. We have much bigger issues around just the skill/competence of…

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Bill, I was not referring to you, but to the sneering suggestion about “ICELites.” I don’t have a problem with a thread that uncovers new ideas and topics–I’ve been doing it on my own site for almost seven years. I think we can also discuss the history and particular credibility of individuals. What I think is reprehensible is the smearing of people with no evidence, hardly even a footnote.

      In my view, Fr Stravinskas should offer an undiluted and direct apology or consider himself shamed and discredited as a spokesperson for Catholicism.

  42. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    On an unrelated but not irrelevant topic.

    I am waiting for that puff of white smoke, and the appearance of the first Third World Pope who will sweep all these issues under the rug, and give us some real world problems to face.

    And on the liturgy: tell us to begin to learn Spanish and include more Spanish in our liturgies.

  43. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    Mr. Rakosky,

    “…tell us to begin to learn Spanish and include more Spanish in our liturgies.”

    There are places, not necessarily in the Southwest, where that’s already happening. In my observation, it only works up to a point, and beyond that point, things fall apart rapidly. Hispanic Catholic culture and Anglo Catholic culture aren’t the same, and mixing the liturgy has to be done carefully.

    Re: The third world pope, I think that might be a very good thing. Certainly, focus on real world problems would be helpful.

  44. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Professor deHaas,
    In the interest of promoting the accuracy you desire, please note that there were not 4000 bishops at Vatican II but just under 2000.

    Mr. Rakosky should note that had Cardinal Arinze been elected Pope, you would have seen what an African would do with liturgy.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      According to Vatican Radio, the average daily attendace of bishops was 2,200, with a peak of 2,392. During the period of the sessions, 242 council Fathers died. (“Council Daybook,” National Catholic Welfare Conference, 3 vol. – I inherited Fr. Godfrey Diekman’s copy).
      In all, 2,860 bishops attended Vatican II according to this site:


  45. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    John XXIII and Vatican II were not predicted, nor JPII and the fall of Communism.

    The unpredictability of the future is a great argument for humility and charity.

  46. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Vatican II (or Vatican I, Part II) was being planned for at least the last decade of Pacelli’s pontificate.

    Some would say (including Papa Woytyla) that Our Lady of Fatima predicted the fall of Communism.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      Others might say that soothsaying is not in keeping with Christian orthodoxy. Our Lady points to her Son, and in her life gives an example of faith. Predictions about the future amount to cocktail talk–little more.

      Father S, you’ve taken some hits today for your last post. No response?

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        Is there no “prophetic” prophecy anymore? (By which I mean, of course, prophecies in the realm of fore-knowledge.)

      2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Fore-knowledge? What has that to do with faith? Special privileged knowledge is the realm of gnosticism.

  47. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    p.s. We’ve come a long way from the new translation of the Mass in this “discussion.”

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      And, Fr Stravinskas, your unnecessary ad hominem certainly helped rudder that course. You succeeded in that mission.

  48. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Mr. Saur, you had better revisit and track the entire thread.

  49. roy van brunt Avatar
    roy van brunt

    Fr S. – I have rarely read a more arrogant and self-assured and uncharitable writing than yours. One would assume that we – the curch – not you the clergy – are supposed to praise you for your wisdom and certainty, and to thank you for washing us in your eloquence. Instead, I will pray that you find decorum, and an appreciation for the fact that we – the church – its people in America anyway – simply do not want to be “prayed at” in the way this translation prescribes, regardless of any perception of its correctness, reverence, or awe. The clergy should pray mightily that this translation will not drive us away. It risks making the concept of proclaimed prayer a mockery of the dialogue with God that it is supposed to be. Amen.

    1. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      Fr. Ruff, remember the other day when we were talking about those who said “we are the church–not the clergy”?

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        I can’t imagine what would make any laity start to use such radical language or move toward such radical views. Surely it’s nothing in the behavior or language of their humble, open-minded, collaboration-minded clergy which provokes them.

    2. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      So last week it was “no intelligent Catholic has ever or would ever say that.” This week it is “the bad clergy made them do it.”

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        You give what looks like an exact quote. Who said it? I know I didn’t.

  50. Edna Savage Avatar
    Edna Savage

    Fr Stravinskas has finally lost it. Vatican II (or Vatican I, Part II) was being planned for at least the last decade of Pacelli’s pontificate.

    This is pure moonshine. The curial cardinals were aghast when John XXIII had his ‘bright idea’. It was the last thing they wanted, and completely unexpected by them.

    Where does he get these things from?

  51. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    Well, the last two “contributions” prove one of the points I made in my original article, namely, that you can’t “dialogue” with people who come from an alien faith perspective. Truth doesn’t matter. And besides, when the “People of God” have spoken, everybody else ought to shut up. So, Father Anthony, I think you should decide to end this “conversation” now. Ooops, sorry, you don’t have the authority to do so since you’re not a part of the Church. Better assemble a pastoral council to decide such things.

  52. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    Father Stravinskas, it was you who refused to respond to those who questioned your first post yesterday. You made statements that rather than supported your argument, attempted to torpedo others and in so doing, sabotaged your own effort at persuasion.

    You won’t get a free pass because of your ordination, but on the other hand, you won’t get called names and have your loyalty to Christ and the Church questioned either.

    Have you nothing to say about your comments on “ICELites”?

  53. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    “I can’t imagine what would make any laity start to use such radical language or move toward such radical views. Surely it’s nothing in the behavior or language of their humble, open-minded, collaboration-minded clergy which provokes them.

    I think I am very glad I wasn’t sipping my drink when I read this…..

  54. Edna Savage Avatar
    Edna Savage

    Fr Stravinskas: Well, the last two “contributions” prove one of the points I made in my original article, namely, that you can’t “dialogue” with people who come from an alien faith perspective. Truth doesn’t matter.

    On the contrary, it matters deeply. The problem is that you don’t appear able to tell the truth yourself, as has been demonstrated several times in this thread. A further problem is that your response to being found out seems to be to try to divert attention by calling someone else names.

    In my experience, dialogue happens when both sides agree to listen to each other, without calling each other names, and when errors of fact or perspective are acknowledged on both sides.

    Lack of dialogue is nothing to do with an alien faith perspective, which is yet more name-calling. It has everything to do with people who are convinced that their opinion is the only one, and who are incapable of learning.

    One of the more laudable attributes of this blog is the way in which dialogue does seem to take place, even between people who may initially think that they are poles apart. It would be good if you too could insinuate yourself into a more open frame of mind, rather than indulging in yet more desperate attempts to prove that you are right and your opponents are wrong. All that does is backfire, and dialogue is stifled once again.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      As you are probably aware, apologetics tends to come in two flavors:

      1. The kind that is designed to rally-the-likeminded; and

      2. The kind that is designed to engage the yet-to-be-persuaded.

      Lest anyone assume that the latter kind is necessarily vague or gauzy with regard to the truth, it very much is not. However, it is necessarily (if it is to be fruitful) free of the kind of rhetorical overkill and ill-will that often characterizes the first kind of apologetics, which is a not very fruitful endeavor (but in the age of the Internet, it gets more hits).

  55. Sebastian Pollock Avatar
    Sebastian Pollock

    Father Stravinskas said “The first thing that surprised me – pleasantly – from the exchange in America was how the preponderance of bloggers there actually supported the new translation.”

    I would suggest that the number of bloggers is no indication of the proportion of support for the new translation. Everyone knows that the traddie bloggers are a tiny but very vocal minority who seem to spend all their time online. Don’t kid yourself, Father S !

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      “Everyone knows that the traddie bloggers are a tiny but very vocal minority who seem to spend all their time online.”

      Meeting ad hominems with ad hominems is just as foul. It’s not clever, nor does it help persuade. But it must feel good to someone.

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        traddie bloggers are a tiny but very vocal minority who seem to spend all their time online

        That sounds like a harsh paraphrase of the February 19th (and following) thread, “A Comment on Comments”:

        “Why do we (and similar blogs) get more comments from conservatives and hardcore traditionalists than from moderates or progressives or liberals? … [A]re all the centrists and leftists too busy to post because they have jobs and are occupied in actual ministry?

        At least four readers (including myself) took a bit of umbrage at the tone of that question.

  56. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Before we leave the original post entirely, I’d like to make three additional points. (1) Fr. Stravinskas complains that Fr. Ryan is inconsistent, saying at once that many people signed his petition, then regretting that so few did. What Fr. Stravinskas fails to note, however, is that these statements are in response to different questions in the interview.

    It’s eminently reasonable for Fr. Ryan to be very pleased with the great response he has received, and at the same time to acknowledge that this represents only a fraction of the people who will eventually be upset when they discover the texts that are being imposed. Far from being inconsistent, this is a consistent position.

    (2) Because Fr. Stravinskas is unfamiliar with the prominent people who signed Fr. Ryan’s petition, I’d suggest that he consult this post at PrayTell, which lists some of them.

    (3) Fr. Stravinskas feels “compelled to chide” Fr. Ryan for not replying to his America article, but why should Fr. Ryan reply? All that Fr. S. did in the America article was to deny what Fr. R. said. There was no argument to reply to.

  57. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Edna – facetiously can think of a number of places – EWTN; Legionnaire’s National Catholic Register; Steubenville, Ave Maria University, etc.

  58. E Vianney Avatar
    E Vianney

    I have to fall on the side of Fr. Stavinskas, especially this statement: “The conflict is not about translation, per se; that’s the visible part of the iceberg. The hidden part is a conflict over worldviews and theological perspectives. One group is about using liturgical texts to consolidate doctrine and morality; the other is about using them to change traditional positions to accommodate modernity. And that fundamental divide will not be bridged by having tea together.”
    At what point will those who argue against the new translation stop doing so? One commenter who is not in favor of it has stated that he will accept it once it comes out. I don’t get that feeling from many others and fear that they will foment discord through their dissent even after this point. It seems to be a forgone conclusion that we will have a new translation so it must be that unseen part of the iceberg that is at the root of all this fuss.
    As I say to my friends who believe in Medjuorgie, will you obey the Church if she rules against it? I say to you, will you obey the Church in this matter?
    I remember a girls high school basketball game I attended a couple of years ago. The #1 ranked team played our girls team which they expected to crush as they had all the other teams they played. With about 1 minute remaining and behind by 15 points, their fans began to chant “we’re number 1”, to which our fans silently pointed in unison to the scoreboard. This is what Fr. Stravinskas is…

  59. Father Peter Stravinskas Avatar
    Father Peter Stravinskas

    I hope what will be my final posting will see the light of day.

    1. I did not ask to respond to Fr. Ryan’s article; I was asked to do so by Fr. Ruff.

    2. Once I submitted it to Fr. Ruff, he “invited” me to modify the language and tone, which “invitation” I declined.

    3. Within a few postings, it was clear that hardly a soul was really open to “dialogue.” In fact, I felt like I was back in my late-1970s seminary, where dialogue was encouraged, UNTIL it challenged a left-wing point of view.

    4. Then everything then (and now 35 years later), all devolved into hateful recriminations and self-contradictory assertions.

    5. Most disappointing of all was how Fr. Ruff weighed in repeatedly on one side of various issues, implicitly attacking me in the process.

    6. Not only did Fr. Ryan not respond to my response to him, he maintained an arrogant Mount Olympus aloofness from the fray throughout. Of course, he found precious little to defend on this very one-sided scene.

    I took several hours to frame my original piece. While others here may have little else to do besides formenting dissent and confusion, I do. So, my last word is, “The Lord be with you.” And in a few months, may we all be saying, “And with your spirit.”

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      It is true – I invited Fr. Straninskas to soften the broad generalizations, overstatements, and ad hominem insinuations (I cited examples) because I thought it would “strengthen your credibility.” He declined. In my estimation his credibility has been lessened in the eyes of several commenters. It didn’t have to be this way.
      I will reply to no. 5, though it seems foolhardy when we appear to be inhabiting parallel universes. I re-read all my comments, and I honestly don’t see any “implicit attack” on Fr. Stravinskas. I corrected some facts on the number of bishops at Vatican II and the vetting process and views of some ICEL workers. Stating facts is not an attack. If my perception is faulty, I’m entirely open to correction. Can anybody cite where I implicitly attacked Fr. Stravinskas?
      Regarding no. 6: Fr. Ryan responded to Fr. Stravinskas’ America response – right here on PT! He is out of the country with minimal internet access these weeks. In any event: how is (alleged) non-response “arrogant”? It’s just silence, isn’t it? What justifies the interpretation “arrogant” or “aloofness”? That seems like an invention to me.
      This is getting bizarre.

  60. Claire Mathieu Avatar

    Looking at Fr. Stravinskas’ original article, I saw this: “Does the average Catholic know what “consubstantial” means? Probably not. But that same Catholic probably does not know what “one in being” means, either. However, because the latter phrase contains three very common English words, that person in the pew thinks he knows its meaning and thus passes over it without a thought. Coming upon “consubstantial,” that same person will be forced to pause over the significance of the term; it will give the priest the opportunity to preach about its profound meaning.”

    As an average Mass-going Catholic, I object to these predictions about our future reactions. In spite of being a “person in the pews”, I am very aware that I do not entirely grasp what “one in being” means, and it has happened more than once that the words sent me into a reverie that distracted me for much of the Eucharistic prayer (unfortunately there is no “pause” button in those real-life events). I conjecture that the predictions quoted above are erroneous or incomplete.

    But there is a way to figure out how people will react, if one really cares: do a test-run and gather reactions after a suitable period of time. However gathering such evidence is a risk for all of us: are we willing to yield to the facts that will be gathered, even if they turn out to not point in the direction that we want?

  61. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Anthony said I corrected some facts on the number of bishops at Vatican II and the vetting process and views of some ICEL workers. Stating facts is not an attack. If my perception is faulty, I’m entirely open to correction.

    Anthony has named the crux of the matter. To paraphrase the climax in the movie A Few Good Men, “You [Fr Stravinskas] can’t handle the truth!” Stating facts, and disputing errors of fact from others, is part of what dialogue is about.

    Anthony also said In any event: how is (alleged) non-response “arrogant”? It’s just silence, isn’t it? What justifies the interpretation “arrogant” or “aloofness”? That seems like an invention to me.
    This is getting bizarre.

    I think Anthony is correct here, too. Additionally, sometimes it is best to remain silent. Posting a reply can add fuel to the flames of another, when self-restraint might have been preferable.

    In my experience, dialogue can often founder when a response has resulted in a lashing-out from the other side, with further distortions/errors of fact. In such cases, perhaps it would have been better in retrospect if the response had not been made.

    At all events, it seems clear that Fr Stravinskas is not really interested in intelligent debate. And that he did not take Anthony’s advice on toning down his original post, and even seems proud of the fact, is quite simply a matter for regret.

  62. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    When I read the majority of comments on this particular post, I have to say that I’ve felt ill at ease for the first time with this blog due to the unnecessary negativity that goes beyond honest disagreement with this, that or the other. The casual inquirer into the Catholic faith would more than likely decide to inquire elsewhere if he or she perceived this to be the state of dialogue and Christian response in the Catholic Church. I’ve experienced, though, a conversion because of all of this. Believe it or not, I’m longing for the good old days of holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” and that olden goldy, “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love.”
    For some places in the English speaking world, implementation of the new translation will be difficult, in other places no. I suspect in those places where the implementation will go more smoothly, leaders in the Church will not add gasoline to the fire of the fear of change or the dictatorship of personal preference in terms of the English language and the theology of “what might have been if only…” to a more mature adherence to legitimate authority in the Church which could lead to a more unified approach to following Christ after we have said or sung “Thanks be to God” or “Deo Gratias,” or whatever language is employed. What if we all just said, let’s roll!”

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      Allan, don’t you think that mature adherence for the Christian comes precisely from the process of questioning and challenging. Once we know why, we can assent to what. If there is no good explanation for why, then adherence must wait.

      My own feeling is that blind adherence, just for the sake of a unified approach, is actually unhealthy.

      1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        I wonder, Paul, how that works in the secular world, especially on the job? I would suspect that even the most liberal, questioning priest who is a pastor would soon find a person on his staff questioning everything and doing his own thing a bit of a nuisance and would offer him some options for change and continuing employment. I wonder how that works in a family that wants to stay together? I wonder how that works in the field of academics, such as science, when one questions everything and has all the wrong answers, do they still get a passing mark? I wonder how that works on a sporting team. What is it about the Church that makes people think that logic and academic integrity should be thrown out the window in favor of an “individualistic” approach to everything that is clearly divisive and contrary to the principals of unity our Lord enunciates especially in the parable of the “house divided.” And no where has anyone called for blind adherence to a translation or any authority figure, just a mature adherence and there is a difference. No one is asking you to leave everything and follow Jesus. Oh, I take that back. I think the apostles blindly followed Jesus and dropped everything to do so.

      2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        Fr. Allan: Showing up for work on time and coming to staff meetings are of a different order than following ones conscience, “the most secret core and sanctuary of a person.” I don’t see it as individualism when one is “alone with God” in following conscience and growing in faith. I think of how, in earlier stages, some people (including clergy) value outward prescriptions and rubrics and dress and titles, but in later stages, a lively sense of God’s love changes ones priorities. Unity in the church doesn’t mean we all stay at stage one of faith development. It means that we respect each other at our difference places along the journey. A pastor might sense some staff or parishioners seem, from their life experience, more mature in their faith and better balanced in their priorities than he. (I’ve sensed this in some of my students, grad and undergrad, compared to me.) This diversity doesn’t threaten unity, it enriches all of us and helps us all grow deeper in faith.

      3. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Most of us have to operate in the world of theory and practicality. In terms of conscience I do think that there is a great difference between accepting a translation of the Mass that is about to become the norm for the English speaking Church and deciding whether or not one will go to war in Afghanistan or General McChrystal making some snarky remarks about his commander in chief. Certainly he has a right to make these remarks but he also will suffer the consequences. I suspect he is prepared for that. The highest level of moral decision making were the ones exhibited by Dr. Martin Luther King. He accepted the consequences of his decisions and was willing to die for them or go to prison. But somehow I think issues of social justice are bit bigger than “saying the black and doing the red.” Ultimately there has to be an authority that calls us to accountability and I suspect we will see that today with President Obama. I suspect we’ll see it in the Church too!

      4. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Well, on the other hand we have the traditionalist movement. Through a special commission, they advocated for years for “their own” liturgy. Though some were associated with schismatics and sedevacantists, did Rome eventually grow tired of their complaints, consider them nuisances, and offer them some options for departure?

        I think we have something far different than a boss-n-employee situation here. But even there, a reasonable and wise employer would address issues before they got to t he stage of being a nuisance. Please, we don’t need Enron and wall street loan sharks as models for the Church!

        In families, the bonds are sacramental and based on love. I think we have something less than that operating between the curia and the faithful. It’s probably time to brace ourselves for another long period of dissatisfaction. And given the regard Fr Z is held in the blogosphere for his weekly agitations for “slavish” translation for the past decade or more, I think we can rightly expect a longer period, a broader base of complaint, and a deeper annoyance for some in the hierarchy.

        And given the climate of complaint in the Church, who would be surprised? No, if this were a business, the curia would have long ago been replaced by stockholders. If this were science, we’d be in the middle of a significant period of experimentation. If this were a healthy family, there would have already been long conversations over the dinner table over it. This is the Church, something different altogether.

      5. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Todd, great, I’ll throw out all of the sound administrative and business practices of the parish today, fire the bookkeeper, stop paying the federal taxes for employees and stop sending the bishop the cathedraticum tax, not to mention insisting that the bishop’s annual appeal doesn’t apply to me and my parish. Oh, I know, I must follow these business practices or be removed from the parish by the bishop or worse be sent to prison by the federal government. But my conscience tells me to do these things and I have to prepare myself to suffer the consequences. But in terms of the faith, morals, canon law and etc. of the Church, I can do my own thing and plead we’re the Church not Enron and I’m following the ultimate authority, my conscience.

      6. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Fr McDonald, I was only suggesting your comparisons weren’t entirely apt here. Ideally, a Christian will adopt a stance of imitating Christ, rather than generals, CEO’s, or even sedevacantists.

        Bottom line is that I think an improved translation would be well-received by the Catholic faithful at this time. If only we had one.

  63. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    Fr. Allan,

    I think it’s fair to suggest that at this point in history, many people are questioning the legitimacy of that authority in the Church. And, I think, not without reason. That being so, the ‘mature adherence’ you speak of may be very slow to arrive.

  64. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Mr. Inwood – good insight. I focused on the phrase “legitimate authority”. Given earlier blogs especially the book by Bishop Taylor; primary sources about the original ICEL and its process/contributions, etc. and the first person accounts of what happened to the 1998 ICEL changes after more than 15+ english speaking conferences of bishops approved it; given the stories about LA and its composer; the formation of Vox Clara and a small number of curial officials from 1996 through 2004; and given the current musical chairs with the “final, new” missal – the facts do not provide much assurance that we have legitimacy here? Is not “A pause” a good idea given this chronology?

  65. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Do not intend to pick on Father but his own comment from earlier got my attention – “Within a few postings, it was clear that hardly a soul was really open to “dialogue.” In fact, I felt like I was back in my late-1970s seminary, where dialogue was encouraged, UNTIL it challenged a left-wing point of view.”
    Working in formation in the 1970-80’s, this type of student was encountered. No amount of facts; documentation, etc. could dislodge them from their biases and pre-conceived notions. W/O getting psychological, graduate theology/seminary is a place you bring your questions; an open mind; willingness to leave behind earlier personal pieties, catechetical repetitions, etc. and realize that you are there to serve and to minister which means you learn to listen to your community. You do not bring pre-conceived “truth”, etc. Would suggest that colleagues currently in formation see this type of left-right polarization before, during, and after ordination more and more – it causes them significant concern and can be seen in First Masses that focus on the LTM; clerical and liturgical dress; almost anything but not exactly the Vatican II concept that a priest is called from the people and will be assigned to serve communities that may not reflect this clerical and personal liturgical traits at all. It creates on-going conflict when that cleric has to lead a community with a very different set of expectations, experience, etc.

    1. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
      Fr. Christopher Costigan

      It seems to be you made father’s point–the seminary professor who looked down on anyone who did not hold his “experience of Vatican II.” What does wearing clerical clothing have to do with not listening and learning–unless for the teacher the clothing meant something else? I haven’t found the passages in VII that stated clerics should not wear clerical clothing. You talk about leaving behind “earlier pieties, catechetical repetitions…” Have you ever used these phrases with your students, “we don’t believe that anymore” or “that is from pre-Vatican II”? From hearing the anecdotal accounts from father and many like him, as well as looking at the empirical evidence of the men who have left the priesthood after being formed in that period, as well as some of the “theology” held at the time–he may have a point.

    2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      Some newly ordained priests will celebrate both an ordinary form Mass and an extraordinary form Mass as their “first Masses”. A parish that hosts a priest’s first extraordinary form Mass exercises their right as people of God in assembly to praise the Lord in a licit form of the Roman rite. While I disagree with your stress on the priest as a person “called from the people”, I am willing to use progressive tropes to describe events such as first Masses (as demonstrated). Rational and charitable conservative/traditional Catholics often appropriate progressive thought and language without polemics.

      The presumption that any conservative disagreement with progressive Catholic thought constitutes psychological difficulties or regression betrays a strong prejudice towards well reasoned but opposing viewpoints. My travels through PT and other progressive circles does not require me to hide my convictions. A rigorous conservative criticism of progressive Catholicism necessarily concedes valid points while holding ground on essential positions. Fr. Stravinskas’ polemics are not necessarily indicative of conservative positions — please do not conflate diverse viewpoints.

      Your snark against new priests’ legitimate aspirations to celebrate the EF betrays an intolerance towards conservative Catholic thought, piety, and liturgy. Please temper your criticism of the legitimate aspirations of some new priests as maladjustment or deluded piety with reasoned critique of conservative and traditional argument.

  66. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    Todd wrote: “Bottom line is that I think an improved translation would be well-received by the Catholic faithful at this time. If only we had one.”

    Of course this could be a Freudian slip on Todd’s part, but does he mean improved translation or Catholic Faithful in terms of “if we only had one?” 🙂

    I think we can rest assured that we have both but both are imperfect.

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