The first session of the annual priests’s gathering began this week at the Nottawasaga Resort near Alliston, Ontario. Some 175 priests came together for this first week of the seminar. Another group will come next week. The topic of this year’s seminar is the new translation in English of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal of the liturgy (2002). The keynote speaker was Bishop Doug Crosby of Corner Brook and Labrador, Newfoundland. Bishop Crosby was for the last nine years the Canadian Bishops’ representative on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). He has worked with the committee organizing this seminar (of which I am a member) to take up the challenge of giving the priests an overview of what the new translation hopes to accomplish and more importantly the “why” of the new translation. He very aptly put it as I have heard other priests state: With all that the Church is going through, with so many challenges, why are we focused on translations? Isn’t like re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic? This is not to imply the image of a sinking ship but rather a sense of lack of priorities. Bishop Crosby also took on the feeling of many priests who simply are tired and wonder why they should care.
The heart of the presentation was that the new translation was a gift. As St. Paul tells us, he has passed on the faith he has received from Jesus Christ. We too need to do what we can to faithfully pass on this great gift in the best and most beautiful manner possible. The new translation seeks to convey the power and beauty and richness of our tradition and Scripture. Many changes in the translation include a recovery of scriptural texts.
The bishop also challenged the priests to a state of mind that may set the tone for the reception of these changes by our communities. Besides receiving them as a gift he challenged us to humility. This isn’t about “me” it’s about us… about US in the universal sense… we are bearers of something so much bigger than us. He also invited us to be open and to have a spirit of “kenosis” to allow ourselves to enter into something new.
The presentation was well received and tomorrow several of our Canadian experts in liturgy will begin to get more into the nitty gritty of it all. Bishop Crosby will remain with us to moderate the process and then will come back next week when the next group of priests (another 175) begin the seminar anew.