What if we just took stock?

Anyone have any energy left for the missal translation problem? Anyone still hoping for a better outcome? If so, the proposal of PT reader Chris McDonnell merits serious consideration. He wrote to The Tablet last week (see “Letters Extra” online):

Many of us have been highly critical of the new translation of the Mass in recent months, both of the process of preparation of the new texts and of the outcome from those deliberations that has brought us to this point.

This is where we are; the New Translation is in use. Now, how do we manage?

May I suggest a possible way forward? An announcement should be made that the New Translation will be in use for the next five years. During this period, the bishops in the English-speaking world will listen to the objections of everyone involved, both clerical and lay, and accept positive suggestions for improvements, based on experience. A revised translation will be undertaken at the same time, using the three texts we now have available: the one that we had been praying over the last 40 years, that proposed by ICEL in 1998, widely acclaimed, but never introduced, and finally the most recent translation now in use. This should be possible in this time span given all the textual material that already exists.

The resultant text would then be published and offered for discussion and final debate by all before it is approved by the Bishops and then by Rome. This would re-introduce the principle of waiting for informed comment before acceptance, a suggestion first aired by Fr. Michael Ryan in his article in America back in 2010.

I would suggest that now we must have a concrete program that would serve to allay the fears that we will be stuck with this translation for decades or that there might just be another such imposition on us at some time in the future. It would acknowledge, in a positive manner, that all is not well with the new translation and it would bring together the many divergent opinions being expressed into a common cause, unity in our Eucharistic prayer. Is it too much to ask?

Chris McDonnell






116 responses to “What if we just took stock?”

  1. Janet Maestranzi Avatar
    Janet Maestranzi

    Chris, this is a wonderful suggestion, but is it truly feasible, given the intransigence of Rome and the general lack of public criticism of the missal by the English-speaking bishops? I would be much consoled to think that we will not have to suffer this mess of a translation for very long, but are we realistic in hoping for that? Why do we think a process like this would even be possible in the Church? Since when do the hierarchs listen to the people? I don’t mean this to be cynical, but I feel pretty hopeless about it.

  2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    We’re 10 weeks in, and people in my parish are responding with mumbles, if at all. There has been an obvious drop-off in participation. People seem to be voting with their tongues on this one. I’m curious as to how common this response is.

    1. Angela Ackley Avatar
      Angela Ackley

      Very common, Brigid! There are many still firmly stating, “And also with you!” and I don’t see them changing.

  3. Walter G. Sandell Jr. Avatar
    Walter G. Sandell Jr.

    The way things are going with the hierarchy, it doesn’t seem that fifty years will be enough to get their attention. They practice ‘Groupthink,’ and only listen to one another.

  4. Claire Mathieu Avatar
    Claire Mathieu

    Imagine if in your parish the pew cards disappeared: if someone took them and threw them all away. What would the congregation do?

    1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      Two years.

      (Thanks to Chris for the equilibrium of his post.)

    2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      What a naughty idea!

    3. John Drake Avatar
      John Drake

      Well, my parish just removed the pew cards. We’ll see what happens!.

  5. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    I understand that the Lectionary is also to be revised from the current Jerusalm Bible base, at least in certain countries. For the laity the convenience of an “all in one Missal” means that this will be the moment to implement any changes to the revised translation.
    The challenge would be to agree what changes might be appropriate. Now if Fr Ruff and Fr Z, to pick a couple of names not at random, could agree on a change I suspect that most readers would be inclined to support the change.
    In the mean time it does seem best to try to use the approved text and accept, with humility, that given to us. Bickering will not help anybody except the enemies of the Church.

  6. Mitch Powers Avatar
    Mitch Powers

    Today at the Ash Wednesday Blessing service the Priest had prayers to say before the actual Ash distribution and the people responded with “And With Your Spirit”…A few people who have probably not been to Mass since the new translation was implemented but the overwhelming amount knew the revised response. The Church was full with many standing in the back. I think people are taking it in stride and have not answered with their feet. Not my regular parish, and I was surprised.

    1. Jonathan F. Sullivan Avatar

      I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of people in our crowded noon Mass who used the new responses. (This was in a downtown cathedral in a small Midwestern city.) Either we had fewer infrequent Mass attendees, or they actually used the pew cards!

  7. Claire Mathieu Avatar
    Claire Mathieu

    I’m with Janet. Most of the ways forward I can think of involve some open conflicts, which I don’t want to try during Lent, but one exception is the following way forward: diminish the role of the Eucharist in our faith lives, and make up for it by increasing, for example, the role of the Liturgy of the Hours. Lent is a good time to give it a try.

    1. Emily Kloster Avatar
      Emily Kloster

      Huh? Why would you ever want to diminish the role of the Eucharist in your faith life?

      1. Claire Mathieu Avatar
        Claire Mathieu

        Normally during Lent I try to go to Mass on some weekdays. This year instead I will aim for the liturgy of the hours: because the experience of the Mass is diminished for me these days, I am looking for other ways to enrich my prayer life, and am hoping that the morning and evening prayers will bring me more peace.

  8. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    I have been interested to hear about a number of bishops, on both sides of the Atlantic, who are quite happy to say, in private, that they think the new texts they are being asked to pray are quite simply awful — in particular the collects. I have also encountered a significant proportion of clergy who are saying the same thing — again privately.

    Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, what is clearly needed is a transformation from private murmurings to public statements. The only mechanism that I am aware of that is starting to collect hard data rather than anecdotal evidence is the survey — in my case, a diocesan Roman Missal survey. A steady stream of responses shows a wide range of opinions, but already certain trends are clearly discernible. The respondents are mostly lay people, but some clergy have also responded. After the survey closes, at the end of April, the results will be collated and offered to the Bishops’ Conference. I suspect that conferences will be discussing the texts much sooner than in five years’ time. Some say that a revision could come in as little as two years. I hope that data from surveys will assist in this.

    Why much sooner? Well, for one thing the revised texts for Holy Week will be a real wake-up call, if nothing else. Just take a look at the new version of the Crux fidelis, for a start. It is scarcely believable that the “translators” could write it, let alone promulgate it.

    If bishops and priests are prepared to stand up and say what they really think, and insist on change, then it will happen.

    1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      Paul, as we have come to expect of you, a model of balance.

    2. Robert Bruce Avatar
      Robert Bruce

      Just take a look at the new version of the Crux fidelis, for a start. It is scarcely believable that the “translators” could write it, let alone promulgate it.

      This version isn’t all that new; it is substantially the same version proposed in the 1998 Sacramentary, with a few minor wording changes (e.g. “Sweet the timber, sweet the iron” instead of “Lovely timber, lovely iron”) and some additional verses.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        Robert, you are absolutely correct. This text was tucked away in the middle of the 1998 Antiphonal. But it doesn’t alter the fact that it is terrible! Perhaps someone involved with the 1998 Sacramentary could tell us how it came to be.

  9. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
    Jordan Zarembo

    I am split on this suggestion. I respect that many do not like the philological approach and social anthropological suppositions which gird the new translation. There are others, like me, who appreciate the hermeneutical direction of the new missal but consider it a “work in progress”, as if the new translation were buggy beta software deceptively sold as a consumer release.

    Although nigh impossible under Pope Benedict’s reign, it is time for an
    Anglophone rite composed primarily in English with as many or few Latin paraphrases as the working groups desire. comme le prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam both presume a typical Latin substrate. This substrate is inadequate for many English-speaking Catholics today. Rather than try to row against an untenable hermeneutic, more progressive English-speaking Catholics should continue forward more boldly with the 1998 project. The logical end of vernacularization is liturgy conceived entirely in the vernacular idiom. More progressive communities should not be chained to the typical Roman liturgy forever, so long as original compositions are theologically orthodox.

    Not a few of the more conservative clergy and laity might merely prefer a clearer translation of the propers and prefaces of the new translation. If these Catholics are mostly content with the new translation, then they should be permitted to celebrate a touched-up version of the new translation. Even a modest revision of the 2010 translation should not only include the work of periti but also laity and non-specialized clergy.

  10. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
    M. Jackson Osborn

    I speak as one who was (and largely remains) a partisan of the new translation. I speak, also, as one who is more than a little dismayed at belatedly learning how bordering-comical are some of the collects and prayers. Yet, I would rather be en-joyed in making sense of the syntax that others here find deplorable than still to be listening to the pablum we had before. At some point in the future (so history teaches us) there will be yet another translation. But, I wonder how many of the ladies and gentlemen of this blog would be advocating the tactics and holding tenaciously to the grudges they are if, indeed, we still had the comically lame excuse for a translation of which we just got rid – or, if they had gotten the 1998 or some other translation that they had wanted. How long, one might ask (especially during the holy season of Lent), is it acceptable to grind this axe and suffer the spiritual poison that most axe-grinding brings? I can certainly understand the rancour and perplexion that comes from having to worship with language one finds ill-suited: I myself had suffered from it since becoming Catholic 25 years ago. At some point, though, one accepts, as I did, that holy mass itself is no less a reality, and is as great a blessing even though Rome burdened me with a language which was less Catholic and immeasurably less beautiful than the BCP. Finally: be careful how you malign this translation… I maligned what it replaced so much that I began to feel sorry for it, and even began to notice that, here and there, it did have some (though very few) commendable attributes.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      You are beginning to get it. The new preces are bad. Next you will realize that the 1998 preces were good. (The 1973 preces have no fans.)

    2. Jim McKay Avatar
      Jim McKay

      To judge by the continued bitterness and bile in this note, you are the only one “holding tenaciously to the grudges.” Those who were upset when the 1998 approvals went unconfirmed have had only half as long as you to hold on to their grievances, the 2010 less than half of that.

      Perhaps if you stopped providing such a vivid example of tenacity, others would not hold on to their grudges so tightly. Remembering the 30 years of complaining about the Vetus Novus Ordo is all I need to encourage me to continue griping.

      1. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
        M. Jackson Osborn

        JM –
        I accept your reprimand.
        Though I did not see bitterness, but objectivity, in my remarks, you did.
        So, my Lenten rule just got augmented.

  11. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
    M. Jackson Osborn

    Exposure to more than just the order of mass may be cause for me ‘beginning to get it’. But, it is no cause for me to react so petulantly as many do. As I said above, I would rather have the enjoyment of following interesting (or even inept) syntax than yawning at something so plain and simple that it was a boring insult.
    You continue to tout 1998. Again, all I have seen of it is the order of mass, and notice that Gloria (if I remember correctly) is not repaired in its omission of the acclamations. And, weren’t we still expected to say ‘and also with you’ with a straight face? Nor, I think I recall, was Sanctus given a more apt wording. I remember that my thoughts on reading 1998 were ‘what is it that everyone is crowing about?’. The language has hardly any more grace than ’73.
    You say that I am ‘beginning to get it’… do you get what I was commenting about above?

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      You have been very petulant toward critics of the new translation for a long, long time now — even though they had read and quoted in abundance the prayers you now at last see are wanting. The entire defense of the new translations have been based on just such a tactic of non-reading and non-listening.

    2. Peter McCarthy Avatar
      Peter McCarthy

      I’ve found the new prayers to be a mixed bag. Some are good and some are very hard to follow (because the syntax does not correspond to the English language I know). Sometimes I can respond “amen” and other times I’m scratching my head and responding “huh?”. Most interestingly for me, some of the prayers don’t say anything particularly profound–almost like pablum in flowery (or is that elevated and sacral) language.

    3. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar


      Rightly or wrongly, in 1998 there was a deliberate decision made to change the people’s parts as little as possible. The real gains, I think, were made in the Eucharistic Prayers and the collects.

    4. Bill deHaas Avatar
      Bill deHaas

      Sorry, MJO, but when you state: “You continue to tout 1998. Again, all I have seen of it is the order of mass, and notice that Gloria (if I remember correctly) is not repaired in its omission of the acclamations….” you lose all credibility. Many on this blog have participated in developments that lead after 15+ years to the 1998 – they experimented with the 1998; they prayed with the 1998 (all legally sanctioned by good authority). They are qualified to say what you try to say (in ignorance).

      It would be like me stating about your Houston chant experience (having not been there; not really interested in bringing most of that to my parish) that your chant experience is a “yawning and boring insult”.
      At least some here used the 1998 with an actual parish community – they got actual feedback and experience. Was that done at all for 2010 or even your chants?.

      1. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
        M. Jackson Osborn

        BdH –
        With all due respect, I can see that you had a great spiritual and emotional investment in the ’98. In respectfully recognising that and not wishing any more to inadvertantly offend, I can perhaps be forgiven for observing that I am so very glad that (whenever I worship at mass outside Our Lady of Walsingham [which is not infrequently]) I am relieved of wondering with amazement how on earth we are still singing a denuded Gloria, a less than satisfactory Sanctus, and no one even winces as we continue to say ‘and also with you’. You are correct: I cannot legitimately criticise collects, & cet, which I have not seen – but I may legitimately have perturbation over people’s parts which the ’98’s authors thought should be left dumbed down. Why is it that when it comes to ‘the people’ Catholic authorities think so little of their literary and musical capacities? If one knows the text of Gloria (and there is no excuse why all Catholics shouldn’t), he is entitled to grumble if he were given half a loaf because it was thought that that was all he could digest.
        No doubt, I have again given offense. Is it possible for one to disagree with 1998 and not intend to slight those such as you who apparently made a tremendous investment in it only to have their hopes snatched away? I hope so, because if we had the 1998, my own hopes would have been snatched away. This doesn’t make me glad at some of the real errors of what we did get, but it makes me more glad than I was. Let us both hope and pray that a few decades on we will BOTH be glad if they finally get it right.

        (P.S. – ‘boring insult’ was not directed at the ’98 but the ’73… so I was not insulting you or your work. You did intimate that chant does not hold you in thrall: that is your right and I am neither offended nor thinking that you have lost all credibility on that account.)

  12. Philip Endean SJ Avatar
    Philip Endean SJ

    For me, 1998’s decision to leave the people’s parts as they were was a sound one–the couple of changes proposed strike me as needlessly provocative. You don’t make changes in bits that people have off by heart unless you are manifestly improving them. Particularly given the ecumenical considerations, 2008 and 2010 fail lamentably on that score.
    But this line of reasoning, now that the new texts have been imposed, makes me ambivalent about changing the people’s parts back.

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      I agree about not changing them back. I take comfort in the thought that the people’s parts are by far the least bad (and, IMO, in some cases good) parts of the new translation.

    2. Sean Parker Avatar
      Sean Parker

      Surely if the people’s parts were changed after 40 years, the people would be able to handle changing them back after less than one year.

    3. Anthony Lehmann Avatar
      Anthony Lehmann


      Imposed. This word really says it all for me.

      Imposed. Yes indeed.

  13. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    I realized Sunday that my reaction to the new translation has been to more and more ignore what is being said. The prayers of the priest and congregation have become background noise to my own internal meditations. I can’t ignore the sung responses since I am in choir. However, as each week goes by, the music seems more and more strained and clunky. I noticed that someone above was pleased to see acclamations restored to the Gloria. To my untutored ear, it all sounds too wordy. The piling on of phrase after phrase may be appropriate to Latin, but to me the English begins to sound like someone reading the clauses of a contract.

    We had a visiting priest who used the Nicene Creed rather than the Apostles’ Creed. For the first time, I heard the phrase “born of the Father”. Really? All the focus on consubstantial when we declare that the Son was “born of the Father”? My husband didn’t believe me when I asked him about it; he’d been blocking that particular phrase himself!I’m no theologian, but to suggest that the Father gave birth to the Son seems to be in opposition to what I’ve always understood about the Trinity. The phrase also suggests a physical impossibility, unless the Father is far more feminine than some would have us believe!

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Count me as one of those people who, while having serious issues with the translation of the collects, is quite happy to see the Gloria and Sanctus texts more or less repaired (I’d change the syntax of the opening line of the Gloria). I was not persuaded by the decision of the ’98 translators to keep the people’s parts untouched. I understand the concerns, but to me that was to perpetuate some banality, and not for good enough reason. Perhaps because I had been in communities that had spontaneously inclusivized or altered the people’s parts, and because I remember the shift from the’65 to ’70 Missals as a child (in fact, when I encountered the new people’s parts, it was remarkable how I was quite able to recall what I learned as a five year old in 1966 – the new people’s texts are very close to the first English translation we used for 5 years, so I consider them more of a revival than anything else), I’ve long been aware that the people are much more resilient than we give them/us credit for in terms of what they are to say themselves, provided we provide them the resources. And when the time comes to modulate translations again, I have reasonably confidence about that continued resilience.

      The prayers that are but heard and only infrequently are a different matter. And the process was awful, too.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        The decision to leave the people’s parts untouched in 1998 was not the translators’ but the bishops’, as a matter of fact. They were acting pastorally.

    2. Peter Haydon Avatar
      Peter Haydon

      I take your point so I looked at my 1969 creed and there it is: ” I believe on one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before time began…”. So not entirely new now.
      In French it is: “le Fils unique de Dieu, né du Père avant tous les siècles…”.
      So not just an English matter. In Portuguese: ” nascido do Pai”.
      I guess that God is not limited, as we are, by gender or anything else.
      The new translation makes us think. I am tempted to wonder if we should have another soon so as to keep our minds busy.

      1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        Presuming the versions in modern languages are from the Latin, I wonder what the Greek says. To me, the phrase “born to” implies that the Father existed before the Son, which I think is not what is intended.

      2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


        Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ (only-begotten), τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα (born/begotten of) πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων·

        I’ve found discussions online about the translation of the second bolded term as “born” rather than “begotten”. Just Google “greek creed begotten born” and you’ll probably find some.

      3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Jeffrey Pinyan on February 23, 2012 – 5:45 pm

        γεννηθέντα is difficult to render in English given the grammatical limitations of the aforementioned language. The Latin substrate upon which the new English translation of the Nicene Creed is based cannot fully capture the time-aspect complexity of the original Greek. The intricacies of the Nicene symbol are further obscured through the double translation hop from Latin to English.

        γεννηθέντα is an aorist 1 passive participle. The headword is γεννάω (I beget). (Is γεννηθέντα deponent? I suspect it is. LSJ on γεννάω)

        The Latin translation of γεννηθέντα is natum, which is a perfect passive deponent participle. The headword is nascor. While the original Greek codes within the participle the absolute finality of the co-eternal nature of the Father and the only-begotten Son, Latin must make do with an perfect passive participle without an absolute time aspect. The Latin must rely on the complete phrase et ex patre natum ante omnia saecula to complete the time aspect of natum. The Greek participle already encapsulates finality within γεννηθέντα and confirms this finality though an explicit statement.

        The new English translation of the Nicene Creed follows the Latin precedent:

        “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.”

        Granted, γεννηθέντα would be very difficult to render in English since this language has no aorist. Perhaps the closest English approximation of γεννηθέντα in context would be “born of the Father absolutely before all ages.” natum sacrifices a bit of aspect crispness, but is completed by the context of the phrase in which it is situated.

      4. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        et ex patre natum ante omnia saecula

        born of the Father before all ages, says the new trans

        eternally begotten of the Father — much, much better theologically

      5. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Joe O’Leary on February 24, 2012 – 3:59 am

        Thank you Father Joe — you have summarized perfectly what I tried to explain in my usual long winded fashion. I apologize for the philological rabbit-hole.

        What you have written is more in line with the Greek. I also think it is much clearer theologically. Perhaps it would have been better for the translators of the new missal to skip the Latin entirely and simply translate from the Greek. Unfortunately, direct translations from Greek original texts are not permitted under Liturgiam authenticam 23 🙁

      6. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        Ha! We come around the circle.

        The 1970 translation of the Nicene Creed was translated from the Greek — a conscious decision on the part of the translators to go back even further than the Latin that LA touts as the be-all and end-all of everything.

    3. John Scaturex Avatar
      John Scaturex

      “to suggest that the Father gave birth to the Son seems to be in opposition to what I’ve always understood about the Trinity”; you might have to take that up with St Hilary of Poitiers: I understand that he is responsible for the translation “ex Patre natum”. I find the phrase a real springboard for meditation myself …

  14. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    …but “born of the Father before time began” does not imply that at all. You can’t have a sequence in an existance in which there is no time, but an eternal “now” of sorts.

  15. Gerard Flynn Avatar
    Gerard Flynn

    A quotable quote on the new translation:

    “But a fresh new Missal with its often dissonant piety and false-sounding archaisms, hard to understand and hard to read aloud, lay open on the altar, reminding us that nothing is sacred, even the sacred. No one I spoke to, lay or clerical, likes it. Maybe, in time, like people and scandals and the wind, it will go away.”

    Laurence Freeman OSB, The Tablet (7 January 2012) p.12.

    1. Jordan DeJonge Avatar
      Jordan DeJonge

      “nothing is scared, even the sacred”.

      I can tolerate and even sympathize with many criticisms of the new translation. But this is hypocritical to the maximum. The secularization of the sacred- and its virtual disappearance- has been the most immediate and perceptible consequence of the implementation of the New Mass.

      Let’s not pretend that tampering with the English translation is tampering with anything “sacred”. Thinking in such categories has long been thrown out the now opened Conciliar “window” in order to create a relevant rite for the thoroughly participatory masses.

      1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        Do not confuse “sacred” with high culture and/or solemn attitudes. Especially, do not assume that plain and/or simple words are not sacred.

      2. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        I found the quote surprising as well – no one should have been shocked when the Church threw out a forty year old translation in favor of a new one. After all, they tossed out a 400+ year old missal in favor of a new one. The 1970 Missal itself is a demonstration of how “nothing is sacred, even the sacred.”

  16. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    My thanks to the gentlemen who took the time to clarify this for me!

    I wonder what our Creed would sound like today had the Greeks been aware of the Big Bang, or how cells divide. Trying to encapsulate a Mystery in a catch phrase is an impossibility.

  17. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Or what if the Greeks had understood the Heisman Uncertainty Principle? How many problems do we make for ourselves trying to define what can’t be defined in words or numbers?

  18. Gerard Flynn Avatar
    Gerard Flynn

    Yes, Brigid. It’s helpful to remember that no formula of words, even the most revered, such as the creeds, encapsulates fully, much less exhausts, the mystery which it seeks to elucidate.

  19. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
    M. Jackson Osborn

    BR & GF –
    What, indeed, might the Greeks have said to incorporate the findings of XXI. century physics and other science. Undoubtedly, we would have quite a different cosmology! I know people who have lost their faith because of credal and other conflicts with what we now know of the universe and evolution. I view this as very sad and very unnecessary; but, they could not be dissuaded. Somehow, we need to find a way of putting the faith in the context of scientific reality. But, on the other hand, nothing can satisfy those who ultimately do not wish to share the faith; that faith which is really about what and who we are as individual humans, what, ultimately, defines humanity and its destiny, all summed up in Jesus Christ. When all is said and done, ‘I (will continue to) believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible’, & cet. The faith is about these things… string theory and protons are incidental realities on which the faith and our certitude of it are not dependent. I’m sure that some here could state these things better than I have done.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      The more scientists learn about the cosmos, the more it seems that it is impossible to definitively quantify. Thus light is discussed as both a wave and a stream of photons, an electron can be located or its velocity determined, etc. Even that scientific understanding of that great bug-a-boo, evolution, is being tweaked. I would say that the closer one is to God, the less one can confine God to a particular definition. Thus those would would insist that science can answer every question about our universe are as wrong as those who would insist we know all there is to know about God.

    2. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      MJO, that is why I have always believed that we should teach apologetics in Catholic school to show that faith AND reason is possible.
      How many Catholics understand that the Vatican has the largest collection of asteroids in the world, we own and operate the largest telescope and that the developer of the Big Bang theory was Georges Lemaitre, that is FATHER Georges Lemaitre of the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Also Francis Collins, MD, PhD and mapper of the human genome is now president of that academy, that even Stephen Hawkins is a member of that academy and on and on……
      Not enough catechesis in both faith and our church’s contribution to science. It could silence militant atheists and make them look silly.

  20. Chris McDonnell Avatar
    Chris McDonnell

    There have been some interesting comments in response to the posting of my letter to the Tablet, some of the more erudite on the semantics of language are above my pay grade. However, thanks to those who have taken the trouble to clarify points.
    The original intention of the letter was to seek a balanced way forward that would offer all of us a chance to take stock and listen. How about we try to address that issue, for living in the real world is where we are.
    Like it or not it is from here that we must now move forward together in our Eucharistic Prayer.

  21. Janet Maestranzi Avatar
    Janet Maestranzi

    Claire, I share your sentiments exactly regarding the diminishment I now experience at Mass. I no longer attend during the week and I have come to dread Sundays. Despite trying every which way to be open and accepting, and despite my very conscious choice of what parts of the new translation I am willing to pray and not pray, I now find the whole experience of liturgy cold, remote and unprayerful. The English is tortured and mostly alien and the style hardly points to the God of Jesus of Nazareth and the sacrament of his living presence among us…Another thought/question that probably belongs on a different part of the blog and which I cannot fully explicate yet: While we argue about how faithful the translation is to the original Latin, about the unsatisfactory result we now have, and about the disingenuous process that produced it, are we not missing some other, huge issues that should be informing how we pray? For example, what about all the developments that have occurred in theology, biblical studies and liturgical studies since the original Latin was promulgated? What about the immense changes that have occurred in the world since then? Should these not be a part of our reflective, discerning design of how the Eucharist should be celebrated today? What about the formative influence on prayer and belief that the translations we were using have had on people? Do those in power think that these important factors will simply fade away and that people will find it attractive to pray and worship with the new translation because the “Church” has decided that we should become enslaved to the letter? The whole thing stinks of Pharisaism: straining at gnats while swallowing camels…attempting to pretty up the form while neglecting the substance…idolizing a particular aspect of a very complex tradition while ignoring the spirit of the living God. And the people are driven away and scattered. This is not the life-giving power of the Gospel!

    1. Claire Mathieu Avatar
      Claire Mathieu

      Great questions, and Chris McDonnell’s suggestion is interesting too, but what is the point, when our bishops are blindly forging ahead, and our priests are coerced into pretending to support them, at the price of their integrity?

      The Mass is held hostage by the ordained.

      Does anyone know whether Pope Benedict will attend the Eucharistic congress in Dublin, and whether he’ll use the new missal to say the Mass in English?

      1. Edward Rex Avatar
        Edward Rex

        Claire – Benedict used the new mIssal translation last year before it was published when he visited the UK for Newman’s beatification – so I imagine he would use it in Ireland. But I’m a bit confused because I thought he wasnt visiting Ireland? He’s a brave man if he does, that’s all I can say!!!

  22. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
    Dr. Dale Rodriguez

    Well, things may indeed change soon for the old guard.

    From none other than John Allen who reports on the “Vatican leaks” that recently occurred. One telling leak:

    “Another anonymous document, written in German, describing a conversation Cardinal Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Sicily, allegedly had during a trip to China, in which he predicted the pope would be dead within 12 months and replaced with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan.”

    My take is this. If the leak is to believed, the Italians may be in charge again and the Italians are indeed sympathetic, recently telling B16 they would NOT be implementing the changes, then this recent translation may not last long at all.
    Again, just speculation…..

    You can read about the leaks here at:

  23. Janet Maestranzi Avatar
    Janet Maestranzi

    Just read the NCR piece on the Vatican “leaks…”. My God! Do these men occasionally read the Gospel and, if they do, ever simply stop and say (to themselves, at least), “What the hell are we doing????”

    One Gospel verse comes powerfully to mind here: JESUS WEPT

    1. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      Agreed Janet!
      I thank God that I worship Him and pay no attention to the Vatican in the same way Jesus worshiped His Father in heaven without dealing with the pharisees in the Temple.

  24. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar

    I do really maintain that critics of the new translation should form a Society of Paul VI and recruit priests to simply go ahead and offer the “old new” Mass; ultimately, ordain bishops to perpetuate it – the parallel and ironies thereof would be delicious.

    Catholics had the old Latin Mass ripped out of their lives in the 1960’s; those deeply attached to it were patronised, bullied and browbeaten. Those who defied the “ban” on the old rite were persecuted and often driven from their homes (if priests) and parishes. Old people who loved and cherished the Mass in this form went to their graves without it. Thanks be to God, it is again available in many places, outside the “catacombs” of SSPX chapels, hired halls and private homes. Those who enthusiatically championed the new rite and opposed any accommdation for those attached to the older rite, seem often in my experience to be those whining about the loss of their beloved 1970’s liturgy. A doube standard,
    I believe.
    Now hurt feelings and bitterness over the shoddy treatment even “persecution” of traditional Catholics runs deep and many are not inclined to be magnaminous to their persecutors and tormentors.

    But I genuinely see no reason why liberals shouldbt be permitted the liturgy they love. Go off and form your Paul VI Society!

    1. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      “The Latin Mass” and “The Extraordinary Form” are not the same thing. The Mass of Paul VI, the Missa Normativa, the Novus Ordo Mass, the Ordinary Form of the Mass was, of course, first promulgated in Latin, and is still celebrated that way in many places. Some of us feel that it provides a fine link to the deepest traditions of the Church, but without some of the clutter of the Tridentine Mass. It was an arrogant move for those attached to the Extraordinary Form to adopt the term ‘Traditional Latin Mass’ (or TLM), as though the Ordinary Form is anti-traditional or non-traditional.

      The Association for Latin Liturgy promotes this form of the Latin Mass, primarily in the UK.

      1. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
        Nicholas Mitchell

        I am well aware that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite can be and sometimes is offered in Latin. However, for most Catholics, this option was and is simply unavailable. They had no such Latin liturgy to turn to. Moreover, many are, and were, deeply attached to the so-called “Tridentine rite” and it was that beloved rite which was ripped out of their lives and the desire for which was made to seem downright indecent. Offering them the newer form in Latin may have helped many, but few would have or do have aaccess to that. Many were specifically attached and are attached to a different form of the Mass and died without it, or still yearn for it, but are obstructeed at every turn by hostile bishops, priests and professional liturgists, for whom anything gioes BUT that dreaded Mass!

      2. Jonathan Day Avatar
        Jonathan Day

        Nicholas, I should have been both clearer and more charitable. The central point I wanted to make was that the Association for Latin Liturgy functions as a sort of “Paul VI Society” already. Though I stand by what I said, the swipe at the Tridentine Mass (‘cluttered’) and its followers’ use of the ‘TLM’ term (‘arrogant’) was unnecessary.

        There is also Vatican II, Voice of the Church, which is a sort of “John XXIII and Paul VI Society”, though its work goes beyond liturgical matters.

      3. Jordan DeJonge Avatar
        Jordan DeJonge

        But it is not “traditional” in any meaningful usage of that term. It was cobbled together unlike how any other Mass developed in the history of the Roman rite. At least the Tridentine rite was a cohesion of actual in use forms of worship of venerable age and widely present throughout the Catholic world at the time.

        Sometimes “going back” to retrieve practices that no one does anymore (or we think may have done through theoretical re-construction) is a greater sign of decay than a perception of stagnancy in the present. In fact, I rather think that’s the exact critique of those that oppose the restoration of the old rite today.

      4. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        Jordan, the OF can be understood as traditional in the sense that it is in continuity with the Roman Rite as it was pre V2, and that is the essence of what Benedict XVI described as a hermeneutic of continuity. To say it is not traditional is to say there was a rupture, ie use a herm. of discontinuity. So some at least agree that the OF is traditional.

        How does “a cohesion of actual in use forms…” differ from a “cobbled together” rite? I thought cobbling was about taking disparate pieces and connecting them to make a cohesive whole, eg joining several pieces of leather to make a shoe. I don’t see how a “cohesion” is different from a cobbling, let alone why one is better than the other.

  25. Janet Maestranzi Avatar
    Janet Maestranzi

    Nicholas: Your comments point to the sad reality of how authority in the present form of the institutional Church is that of “lording over” others condemned by Jesus in the Gospels. In my opinion, there could and should be many Eucharistic rites in the Church; they exist in our Tradition and there is no reason to not revive this plurality in our time. It is the Creed that unites us, not the translation we use. Where liturgical theology needs to be renewed, let the bishops learn from our best theologians and Scripture scholars in producing rites, AND let them listen to the people, for God’s sake.

  26. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Chris McDonnell writes The original intention of the letter was to seek a balanced way forward that would offer all of us a chance to take stock and listen. How about we try to address that issue, for living in the real world is where we are.

    I renew my suggestion that we simultaneously permit the use of the Old Translation, the Current Translation and the 1998 translation and let people vote with their feet.

    Pastors would be able to choose whatever translation(s) they wanted to use in their parish. The people of the parish would be able to appeal to the bishop if they wanted a translation which the pastor was not using and which was not available in a nearby parish.

    At the same time we should have a mandatory system for collecting attendance measures at all weekend Masses throughout the year. Many Protestant churches do this, and at least one very large local Catholic parish has done this for years. The count is made by the ushers during the first reading.

    Collecting attendance information would begin to force pastors and staff to pay more attention to the people. People should refuse to contribute to the parish unless this is done. The problem is that we continue to alienate people so fewer and fewer people are being forced to contribute more and more to keep up the parish, and the pastoral staff have no incentives to have better worship and keep people in the parish and church.

    If three Missals were in play we might discover that each had its advantages and disadvantages. If some proved more popular than the others we would have a better indication of which directions to the go in the future.

    If all future Missals had to undergo competition with current Missals, their proponents might do a better job of translation and pretesting upon actual congregations.

    1. Mary Burke Avatar
      Mary Burke

      Jack, what you say makes a lot of sense. And there is a precedent, namely, the various rites (effectively, various missals) in use in the Latin Church parallel to the Roman rite, such as the Ambrosian and Dominican, to mention just two examples.

      As long as I could celebrate the eucharist where the missal of Paul VI and/or the 1998 translation was being used, I’d be happy. Let as many as wish use the current translation and good luck to them.

      The problem is not the current translation per se but the fact that we don’t have a viable alternative.

      1. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
        M. Jackson Osborn

        I shant add to what I’ve said already in favour of the new translation or my would-have-been dismay over the ’98’s employment. This, then, is merely to observe that it seems to me that if we were to follow JR’s or MB’s paradigm we would, in effect, be in a pre-Tridentine world, liturgically. I am not suggesting that this would be good or bad. It would likely be some of both. That world, after all, gave us the legendary Sarum rite (use), but also uses that were almost as many in number as there were dioceses, religious orders, and sometimes cities. Clearly, order was needed for the sake of orthodoxy in a world which was becoming increasingly less small and yet more easily influenced with faster and more profuse information. Thus, there is a similar, if not greater, need in today’s world in which local heterodoxies could thrive in an atmosphere not unlike that being suggested by my esteemed friends on this blog. On the other hand, I am experiencing the answer to a life-long prayer over the Anglican use ordinariates, and am thankful beyond measure that I can worship with the literary-liturgical-spiritual masterpiece up with which I grew and which I always knew to be Catholic even though the Romans kept trying to tell me it wasn’t. Whether you are or are not ‘put off’ with ‘dated’ pronouns and verb forms, you would, I should hope, recognise that the BCP and its Anglican use version, the Book of Divine Worship, is something that makes ’73, ’98’, and now 2011 all go begging hopelessly. As several of us have remarked more than once in these discussions: what we need is a 21st century Cranmer, and, I don’t see one on the horizon. (One final observation: whould those advocating the multiplication of rites/uses/translations be doing so had they got the translation they wanted?)

  27. Felipe Gasper Avatar
    Felipe Gasper

    I’m a little late to this discussion, but I firstly have to agree with the criticism of the new “Crux fidelis”: it’s awful! A (flagrant) dangling participle?!? Honestly, I’m grateful to be in an environment where the “thou” form is encouraged, and we can sing the Percy Dearmer translation and not have it be awkward. Dearmer’s is a *fantastic* translation.

    Whatever happens with the new Lectionary, I *really* hope they fix things like, “O most blessed light divine, shine within these hearts of … YOURS”. (Pentecost sequence) Yech.

    I’ve long thought that a revision of the current translation that excludes the people’s parts is a reasonable step to address many, if not all, of the reservations that a lot of well-respected people (clergy and laity alike) have expressed about the translation. I find myself hoping that this comes to pass, actually, though I do concur with MJO that the new texts are still, by and large, improvements over ’73, including the collects.

    I’ve noted with irony that what many people actually want out of their liturgy is a “non-Roman” Rite, something more fundamentally akin to the Anglican Use, where English is itself considered the liturgy’s native tongue. I’m not sure, though, that it’s really the best idea.

    Both the Roman Rite and the Anglican Use (well, Rite One AU, anyway) employ language that is exterior to common parlance: of course Latin is not common speech, but neither is Cranmer nor ICEL/VC-2010. While this can be seen as a stumbling block to participation, it also prevents any one individual from “owning” the liturgical language. I personally see that as a GOOD thing.

    I have come to Anglican Use liturgy as a lifelong Roman Catholic and, thus, have always been “coming to” this new-to-me liturgical language with a sense of deference to a tradition/practice that is unquestionably beyond my individuality. When questions arise of the way to do this or that, I find myself less…

  28. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
    M. Jackson Osborn

    Good work, Felipe! Viva Percy Dearmer!

  29. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    The great advantage of Catholicism in the postindustrial consumer world is its diversity of spirituality, especially its potential diversity of Rites.

    I came to this conclusion in the 1950s before Vatican II when I had access to the Byzantine Tradition as it was coming into English, and read about Western liturgical diversity before Trent in Gueringer’s Liturgical Year. I though it a tragedy that we had given up that liturgical diversity.

    However it may have been providential that we did not go to vernacular languages and did not keep liturgical diversity at a time when “nationalism” was such a force and could have produced many national churches separate from Rome of questionable orthodoxy like the Anglican. (but then we might have had Gallican, Celtic, etc. Churches and Liturgies today).

    I am not in favor of liturgical diversity between dioceses but I am in favor of a variety of Missals within a language, including an Anglican Missal among those options. More Missal options would hopefully cut down on priests free lancing the text. A variety of Missals within languages would be a reminder that there is more than one way to celebrate the liturgy.

    We have a great number of Eastern Rites in the USA, I would like it to be easier for Roman Rite people to migrate to Eastern Rites (but not in the opposite direction), and would like the Eastern Rites in the USA to have a married priesthood. The Orthodox Church in America now has more converts than cradle Orthodox in both in its laity and its priests.

    The culture wars within Catholicism are about people trying to impose their spirituality upon others. I am for diversity in worship and spirituality.

    Can. 214 Christ’s faithful have the right to worship God according to the provisions of their own rite approved by the lawful Pastors of the Church; they also have the right to follow their own form of spiritual life, provided it is in accord with Church teaching.

  30. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
    Dr. Dale Rodriguez

    Ah what the heck.
    Let’s go back to the early church and let the Eucharistic prayer/Canon be ad libbed. Those churches with conservative following can what they want and those parishes w/ a progressive following can have what they want.

  31. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Jack Feehily

    Nicholas Mitchell is entitled to his opinion, but I believe he grossly distorts what happened as a result of SC when he says the Tridentine Mass was ripped out out people’s lives. I wonder if he would say that of the changes effected by the Missal associated with the Council of Trent and Pius V?

    The highest authority in the Church of Peter, an ecumenical council together with the Pope, called for the reform of the Roman Rite. There’s a lot of nonsense said about who did what after the council, but we know that Pope Paul VI signed SC and promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae. Were there some people who didn’t like the “new Mass”. Certainly there were, but to be honest with you I don’t remember hearing from a single one of them other than a random nostalgic complaint. But there were people like LeFebvre and his fellow dissidents (isn’t that what we call Catholics who dissent from official church teachings and practices?) who led people into schism by claiming the the new Mass was not valid.

    Funny how everyone in authority swore the old form of the Mass was abrogated until some suggested and then declared that it wasn’t. I’m wondering to what extent we will go to please a relatively small number of Catholics who resist change?

    1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      . But there were people like LeFebvre and his fellow dissidents (isn’t that what we call Catholics who dissent from official church teachings and practices?) who led people into schism by claiming the the new Mass was not valid.

      Except that it’s not the position of the SSPX that the “new Mass” is invalid.

      1. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        However, the celebrant must intend to do what the Church does. The Novus Ordo Missae will no longer in and of itself guarantee that the celebrant has this intention. That will depend on his personal faith (generally unknown to those assisting, but more and more doubtful as the crisis in the Church is prolonged).

        Therefore, these Masses can be of doubtful validity, and more so with time.

        This is from the website of the SSPX in the US. You are right that it does not say the new Mass is invalid, JF is correct in that they try to lead people away from it by casting doubt on its validity.

  32. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
    Nicholas Mitchell

    If one looks at what is said at Sacrosanctum Concilium – the actual Conciliar decree – one sees that the Fathers painted in rather broad strokes. The actual changes as they panned out went much further than SC states or even suggests – its very ambiguity allowing the “experts” to – sorry, there is another way I can put it – wreak their havoc. On top of that, the actual manner in which the Novus Ordo is offered in 99% of parishes is hardly the Latin version of the 1970 Roman Missal as piomulgated. Outside the realms of the studies and libraries of liturgists and a few locales, the two liturgies are hardly close enough to be seen as really the same.
    True, the Holy Father of the day, promulgated the 1970 Missal, as was his right. But Popes can ALSO be guilty of imprudence, bad jadgement, etc – indeed, I am sure that many here would strongly agree – at least as far as “allowing” the old Roman rite again, or mamandating the new translatioin is concerned!
    The dismissive contempt with which some speak of the older rite is sad – I can understand it not being ones cup of tea, and genuinely preferring the newer rite, but the vitriol is out of place. “What was sacred for us then, is sacred for us now”.I know many who were heartbroken at the loss of the older rite and were treated with contempt for yearning for it – or EVEN, heaven forbid, for asking for the Novus Ordo (Ordinary Form) in Latin, or with chant. The bitterness with which my own family and friends were attacked NOT for wanting the older rite (that came later), but just for wanting to be able to attend Mass in a form as promulgated by Rome, gives pause. Bitterly to suppress the use of an old, venerable rite, which nourished the faith of many generations, as if it were somnething bad and harmful and indecent, is sick.

    To be sure, many traditionalists are known to “give as good as they get” and the vitriol hurled at the newer rite by some extremists is awful – but have you ever considered where this…

    1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      The development of a vernacular liturgy which has effectively replaced the Latin use of the Novus ordo is the result of broader cultural issues than the liturgy itself. For example, here in Ireland, the Government decided in 1973 that Latin would no longer be a requirement for University entry. The decision sounded the knell of Latin such that 40 years later a fraction of 1% of school-leavers take Latin through all six years of second-level education. We can hope for another renaissance but it doesn’t look likely any time soon. In France and Germany the situation is more healthy with many students taking Latin and Greek to Bac and Abitur levels.

      The Council fathers couldn’t have foreseen this cultural development. Liturgy reflects life and the one constant about life is that it changes.

    2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      “The actual changes as they panned out went much further than SC states or even suggests.”

      No, Nicholas. No. See this post, which shows that the ambiguity allowed for the changes that happened, indeed, the changes could have gone further:


      See this post which shows that there is a “spirit” of Vatican II which is an innovative attitude unlike the language of any previous ecumenical council:



  33. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
    Nicholas Mitchell

    I am aware, Father, that the decree itself employs ambiguous language and can be interpreted to allow for the radical changes that ensued – you are, in fact, quite right. I expressed myself poorly. (Although, how are the Council’s wishes honoured insofar as retention of Latin and plainchant is concerneed?). However, that very ambiguity raises the question as to how many of the Council Fathers anticipated or foresaw the radical nature of the changes, and what percentage, rather, foresaw not much beyond the Mass as it was in 1965.
    As for the “spirit” of Vatican II – well, best not get me started on that! I am one of those that believe that this “spirit” – used to justify and motivate any agenda not expressly mandated or even thought of by the Council Fathers, should be exorcised! To me, layman to be sure, it means worldliness, contempt for tradition, iconoclasm, revolution, rationalism, you name it! (Not to mention a blank cheque to make a cheque to make any changes the experts dreamt of, regardless of the faith and piety of the people, or the wishes of the Council Fathers themselves! As the old joke goes as to the difference between a liturgist and a terrorst….what is the difference? You can negotiate with a terrorist! – No offence intended!)

    1. Jim McKay Avatar
      Jim McKay

      The dismissive contempt with which you speak of the spirit of Vatican ii is just sad. It betrays an ignorance of the event, from Bl John XXIII’S “open the windows” to the thousands of people who prayed for “a New Pentecost” in the official prayer for the Council. From the beginning it was seen as something new, something that would renew the face of the Church.

      Your “Protestant” attempt to put a text above the way the text is lived and understood is truly ironic. The Holy Spirit is the hope of the Church! Any talk that pushes us toward literalism, and away from spirit, is likely to lead away from a robust Catholicism.

  34. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
    Dale Rodriguez

    Nicholas, can you be more specific and list actual examples and the churches that, in your words, have exhibited “worldliness, contempt for tradition, iconoclasm, revolution, rationalism, you name it! (Not to mention a blank cheque to make a cheque to make any changes the experts dreamt of, regardless of the faith and piety of the people, or the wishes of the Council Fathers themselves!”

    Specific examples please so I can go online and see for myself. In the US, I have lived in New England, the Midwest and the South, I have attended many churches and I have NEVER seen ” revolution, rationalism”. I would like to see what that looks like.
    If no examples then what I am hearing is just gossip and bellyaching from the far right.
    Also, your joke about liturgists and terrorists, well…. not much ideological difference between some in the SSPX and Islamofacism when it comes to the Jews, both deny the holocaust..

  35. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Dr. Dale – think Nicholas is referring to what he reads on Southern Orders.

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      And thanks to you Bill, Southern Orders gets well over 1000 hits a day compared to only about 800 only a week or so ago!
      Please leave a comment or two won’t you!

    2. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      Well, I’ve had the “crud” this week, so thank you for your concern!

    3. Bill deHaas Avatar

      Fr. Allan – it was the chicken in whatever.

      Well, who knows – you might replace Fr. Z and use that to support your pursuit of the episcopal ring in some great dioceses like Lincoln, NE?

    4. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      I thought about my pasta sauce and the crud connection too! But your Fr. Z and Lincoln comment makes me blush!

  36. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
    Nicholas Mitchell

    Dale and Bill – Iconoclasm: maybe the situation is different in the US, but here in South Africa, and according to many Catholic friends and family throughout the world, by no means all or even the majority of them traditionalists, churches the world over were wreckovated – altars ripped out, statues thrown away, altar rails trashed, murals painted battleship grey, beautiful churches made to look like barns inside – if this isn’t oiconoclasm, what is? There is a broad contempt for beauty, devotion, the signs of holiness, in favour of the stark and utilitarian and downright ugly. A lot of this seems to be ideologically based. On a broader level, people speak of a “spirit of Vatican II”, as if there are two different religions – one pre-Council, another post-Council. The former is of no relevance, or signioficance, and scorn is heaped on “the bad old days” – the Rosary, popular devotions, saints, shrines, pilgrimages, traditional prayer forms and disciplines are oh-so-pre-Vatican II. This of course lies more in the spirit than the letter, but if you think this is non-existent, well, I’d love to live where you do.

    Revolution: To me, it seems obvious that, in practice, for many people, there are two different religions at work – the Catholic religion as it was prior to Vatican II, and a new religion, with different beliefs and values, since. To be sure, this is more the ethos, the spirit, rather than the lettter of the actual conciliar or magisterial texts, but it is a new religion, even promoted here, and on places like National Catholic Reporter. One wonders if we belong to the same church, and hold the same faith as our ancestors. And no, I am not referring only to “externals”, disciplines and man-made traditions, but actual doctrine and belief. How many people accept the church’s teaching authority, on matters of sexual morality? How many adhere to the church’s teaching on family planning?Accept all the dogmas and teachings of the church, even the…

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      I for one am very devoted to many of the forms of “the bad old days”. My kitchen, living room, library, dining room and home office all feature symbols of the faith such as crucifixes, icons and statues. When I travel on business, my husband and I seek out local shrines to make pilgrimage.

      But – just as these are surface symbols of faith, representative of my deeper devotion within, I believe that in rejecting some of the man-made rules, I am closer to the meaning of Faith. We are all of us at a crossroads, faced with sticking to what we once knew or stepping forward in the belief that the Spirit is still guiding us. I believe it’s the UCC that uses the motto “God is still speaking.” The question is, “are we still listening?”

      People made many mistakes after Vatican II, both in what they did and how they went about it. But there are honest mistakes, and then there is the deliberate collection of grievances. We need to learn from the mistakes, and let go of the grievances.

    2. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dale Rodriguez

      Again, no documentation, no specific names or places that I can see for myself. Until you’re more specific Nicholas I will assume it’s just your opinion or boilerplate gossip from an ill informed site.
      Oh, btw, I remember pre Vatican II and it was indeed a different church, I couldn’t even tell you the scripture name of God the Father, I thought it was Abraham! But I was really good at those worthless devotions. Yes, those were the “bad old days”.
      One of the most beautiful Cathedrals is Holy Name in Chicago, that is after the old Tridentine altar and altar rails were removed. The previous stone altar and rails were cold and ugly. However, the remodeling in 1969 (ikes from the ’60’s) was a lot more BEAUTIFUL. Same goes for the Cathedral of St. Jude in St. Petersburg Florida. The old altar was a marble mensa on a square platform with a bullet shaped tabernacle. They sawed off around 3 feet (1 meter) from each end and converted into an altar of repose for the tabernacle. They then installed a beautiful 10 foot long wooden altar with cross/wheat/grapes carvings, absolutely breathtaking. Much more beautiful now. AND it’s not gossip because you can google these churches and see for yourself.

      1. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        Perhaps it is too subjective or generational, but I would disgree about the remodelling of Holy Name in Chicago – it was far more beautiful before. The Cathedral in Milwaukee is another good example of an unfortunate renovation that did not respect the architectural integrety of the building.

        I’ve never seen an example of a pre-Vatican II church that actually looked better after it was renovated. I have seen some beautiful churches constructed post VII, but most of the renovations are quite poor and deserve to be undone at some point.

      2. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        De gustibus non disputandum.

      3. Thomas Dalby Avatar
        Thomas Dalby

        You’ve only got to look at the hideous rubbish cluttering up the sanctuary in Pisa cathedral for a starting point.

        The British satirical magazine “Private Eye” had a column detailing the violent desecration of the Catholic churches of Britain throughout the seventies and eighties (they managed to find enough material for a weekly column); even grade 1 listed Pugin interiors, like Nottingham cathedral were not exempt from the flood of Artex and Formica that was unleashed from the 1970s onwards.

      4. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Thomas, ” Rubbish” in the Cathedral of Pisa??? Are you kidding? Did you see this yourself or is this taken from some nutty site?
        The “post Vatican II” images from that cathedral are breathtaking. At virtual tourist there are 142 comments, some by historians, architects and visitors: although I didn’t read them all I did get quite a ways through them before I became bored from all of the accolades about the cathedral duomo. The images from many sites were beautiful. The Duomo doesn’t have just one architectural style but there have been many influences including Arab and Byzantine elements, classical and Lombard forms with cultural traditions of Tuscany.
        you state the same about “Nottingham cathedral”. I think you mean the Cathedral church of St. Barnabas in Nottingham. Again are you kidding? Again lots of praise, even had the “Benedictine altar” setup w/ 7 candles and a crucifix ( not to my taste).
        You took your information from a British satirical magazine, more boilerplate.

      5. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Hello Jack, Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago more beautiful before the Vatican II remodeling?
        Maybe it’s generational.

        I dunno….. I think the Vatican II remodeling was an improvement 🙂 but that is my opinion.
        For those who have not been to the cathedral here are some before and after images.

        Pre 1969 remodel Cathedral Chicago image:

        Post Vatican II 1969 remodeling:



        In any event I’m sure you will remember, as I do, where I was when it was announced that the cathedral was on fire and burning. Made my heart grew cold for a moment! But thank God it survived!

      6. Thomas Dalby Avatar
        Thomas Dalby


        I have spent a lot of time in Pisa, and yes, I really do mean that I think that the modern altar, lecturn and other fittings are (i) utterly hideous and (ii) entirely out of place. I’ll also point out that the website you’re referencing talks about the Campo dei Miracoli as a whole, not just the cathedral, and none of the comments (from my brief skim) seem to deal with the modern fittings.

        I do mean St Barnabas, a church that I am deeply familiar with. The current interior arrangement dates back some fifteen years and certainly is an improvement on what was there when I first started hearing Mass there in the eighties, but this was a Pugin interior: the sanctuary fittings were ripped out in the seventies and the walls whitewashed. What we have now is a lot better, but still only a dim reflection of the original interior.

        I don’t know where you’ve got the “seven candles” from, btw, I’ve only ever seen four. Perhaps you saw that on some nutty website?

        My point about “Private Eye”, which expends a lot of effort on investigative reporting as well as satire, was that the Church provided them with ample material for two decades of reporting; being well travelled in the UK (and on the continent) I don’t need to rely on it for my information, I’ve seen plenty of interiors that were brutalised during that era with my own eyes.

      7. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
        Nicholas Mitchell

        Thank you, Dale, for confirmimg what I already suspected – you and I belong to different religions. I hold to the same faith as my Catholic ancestors, whom I do not hold in contempt as superstitious troglodytes; “worthless devotions”?! Need I say more? It seems to me that your church came into being since 1965. Mine has developed, to be sure, but in continuity with the past, not in rupture or rejection.

      8. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Yes Nicholas, my church is different than yours. Mine extends back to the early church before devotions. As a matter of fact I don’t think you belong to the RC either because my catechism states that I don’t have to believe in devotions. Maybe you should consider the SSPX because you certainly sound like one.

      9. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Thomas Darby states about my comment:” I don’t know where you’ve got the “seven candles” from, btw, I’ve only ever seen four. Perhaps you saw that on some nutty website?”

        Well, that nutty website was the Cathedral’s website and the 7 candles can be seen here:
        and here:
        and here:

        Need more Tom?

      10. Thomas Dalby Avatar
        Thomas Dalby

        Thanks, Dale. I haven’t seen those before, there are usually just four on the altar (including at the 11:15 Latin (OF) Mass).

  37. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar
    Nicholas Mitchell

    ….even the “hard” and unpopular ones!

    It is common knowledge – or would you deny it? – that most sexually active Catholics disregard the church’s teaching on contraception. How many (as in what percentage) Catholics attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day? Come to think of it – how many unreservedly accept all the church’s teachings and laws (even if they fall from time to time – we are all sinners!). Neglect of the church’s teaching and slavish embrace of the values and mores of the secular world is rampant. Maybe the Church is just worse off where I am.

  38. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
    M. Jackson Osborn

    Mary Burke :
    De gustibus non disputandum.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    MB – what a tired old snaggle of a saying to drag out! Always, it seems, in defense of the indefensibly awful. (Then, perhaps, you meant it in exasperation over rampant tastelessness?! Yes! You must have.)

    Though some here contest the tales of woe concerning what some mis-guided Vatican Two mis-interpreters did to Catholic churches, I must say that I have seen plenty of tasteless wreckage done by Catholics themselves which would have done the Inter-regnum Puritans proud. Sorry, no documentation: oft times one simply witnesses abuse in total puzzlement and sadness, and does not make a written record of it. Such records abound for those who are not sickened to read them… or wish to refute them out of defense of ugliness. One thing is sure, and that is that of ugliness there can be do disputing that it is ugly.
    (There are, in fact, those who know that ugly is ugly and like it!)

    1. Mary Burke Avatar
      Mary Burke

      Beauty is in the eye and ear of the beholder and hearer.

      1. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
        M. Jackson Osborn

        MB – It seems to me that there is a question of objective reality here. If one is seeing and hearing trashy art and music, then beauty is not in his or her eye nor ear: ugliness is. The person may or may not be enjoying the experience, but either way it cannot be said that he is beholding beauty. Some ‘art’, and some ‘music’ IS objectively bad, or ugly.

      2. Kim Rodgers Avatar
        Kim Rodgers

        MJO, well I guess we agree that ugliness is an “about objective reality”.
        That pic above of Holy Cathedral before Vatican II is indeed just plain ugly, reminds me of a dungeon, dark and stone cold.

    2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      If it makes you feel any better, a lot of post Vatican II buildings are being cluttered with attempts to make them look like a baroque cathedral!

      1. M. Jackson Osborn Avatar
        M. Jackson Osborn

        BR – I’m not sure whom you are addressing with mention of faux baroque architecture, but it, too, is often, if not ugly, then in rather bad taste. Oddly, it really does, apparently, make some people feel better, even though what they are viewing is not objectively beautiful. One does, I think, have to be on some level gullible in order to be favourably influenced by such Potempkin magic.

  39. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar

    Well you said it, Dale – a different religion. And where do I say that one has to have a penchant for all manner of devotions? There are so many. And what do you mean by “devotion” to begin with? I have no difficulty with the concept of certain devotions (eg Rosary, Divine Mercy, Eucharistic adoration, Stations) having a strong following and others less so, even of some dying a natural death. The practice of a particular devotion is not a prerequisite of salvation. HOWEVER the contempt which you seem to show devotions approved and still practised by the Church (“worthless devotions”) is, I am sorry, unworthy of a Catholic, and offensive to boot. I pray that you are not of the ilk of – who was it? I think Richard McBrien – who called Eucharistic adoration a “spiritual and theological step backwards”. Those who think thus and who believe one is praying to a cookie, where Christ is no more present than elsewhere, truly belong to a different faith to mine, and do not profess a faith mandated by Vatican II, unless it be a spurious “spirit” of that Council. No, Dale, you seem to reject with contempt the Church as it was before Vatican II, and only thereafter as it conforms to your ideas. I don’t. To be sure, devotions and disciplines change, and there is development, but not a brand new religion, with different dogmas, different teachings. Eucharistic adoration or the rosary (for example) not being ones cup of tea is one thing. To scorn those who practise these, and the Church that gave them to us is another. And it is deeper than liturgy and devotions – in my experience those supporting “rupture” are those who reject the teaching authority of the church on other issues too. As for the SSPX – may they soon be reconciled. Will you formally sever your remaining ties to Rome should that blessed day occur?

    1. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      Well Nicholas you seem to ascribe all sorts of things to me including what Fr. McBrien states even though I didn’t say anything of the sort.

      May I suggest anger management and 3 Hail Mary’s for your sin of calumny?

      Again, show me where the catechism states that I must have devotions? Exact page please.
      And you state that if the SSPX returns to the fold that it would be a “blessed event”? LOL, yes all we need are those holocaust deniers and right wingers. Seen the pic of the SSPX priest giving the nazi salute?

      You’re from South Africa? Land of apartheid…. didn’t some Catholics form the “South African Catholic Defense League” to condemn Catholic leaders who opposed apartheid and this league also condemned school integration???
      Yup, SSPX would fit in nicely.

      Again, those catechism sections requiring the faithful to be involved in devotions ….

  40. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar

    In conclusion of my previous remark, Dale:

    1. If the Church was so wrong and so misguided for so long – at least a millenium, to some “golden age” – how or why should we trust the Church of today. Just a thought.
    2. It occurs to me that those who idolise the earliest centuries of the church are very selective in what they wish to emulate. Public penances anyone?
    3. The “spirit of Vatican II” is awfully convenient as it can be made to mean anything ones wishes – or ones favourite theologians wish. I have seen it used to justify so much in contradiction to what the councul sais – from denial of defined dogma from the ambo of my parish church by our parish priest, to support for artificial contraception, same sex marriage, sex before marriage, belief that the Eucharistic species are mere symbols of Our Lord, denial that the magisterium has any authority over sexuality….and this does not count what one reads online, in books, periodicals and the like….I prefer to stick with what the council actually taught, and adhering to it at the level of assent required.

    1. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      Make that 5 Hail Mary’s and anger management.

  41. Kim Rodgers Avatar
    Kim Rodgers

    Fr Allan, maybe too much of that “liquid sunshine” in your red sauce that is making you blush?

  42. Nicholas Mitchell Avatar


    I think it is you who need anger management classes – and reading lessons. Nowhere did I say that your are obliged to practise devotions – did you even read my last post? What I have a problem with is your express opinion as to the “worthlessness” of devotions – how unworthy of a Catholic! It is one thing to have little or no interest in devotions; another to condemn same as “worthless”.
    Had you bothered to read what I said, you would have noted that I did not say you were of Richard McBrien’s ilk – but hoped that you were not. It was not an unreasonable prayer to offer, given your contempt for devotions and (it is fair to conclude) thus for Eucharistic adoration.
    As for the SSPX: surely, as a Christian, you want and pray for the unity of the Church, then again, maybe not. I am well acquainted with this group and though there are indeed “bad apples” referring to this group as a kind of neo-Nazi outfit is calumnious. I do not foresee the individuals notorious for such views being among those involved in a regularisation. Just my opinion. Right-wingers? What makes left-wingers any better? The sspx priests and faithful I know have diverse political views. Politics should not be a prerequisite for union with Christ’s Church.
    Finally – South Africa – your comments are abusive and offfensive and not deserving of a serious response.

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