Yes, indeed we’re not in Kansas anymore, but rather in the wonderful Nottawasaga Inn of Alliston, Ontario attending the second installment of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s 2009 Priests’ Seminar. This year’s topic is in some sorts the second part of last year’s introduction to the New Roman Missal.
Some of you may know that towards the end of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, a new Latin translation of the mass was approved with some adjustments to norms and procedures. This revision has led to the need for an official English translation. This time, the translations are being carefully monitored to reflect more closely the meaning of the original. This care includes a close following (some would say slavish) to the Latin sentence structure, which may or may not work in English. There has been a lot of controversy about this process of translation and what some may perceive as a “hidden agenda” to turn things back in the church’s liturgy.
I must admit that I was of that opinion, thus the Toto and Kansas reference. This is a wildly different age for the church where the more conservative minority voices in the church seem to have a greater say in what the majority will pray.
And then I began to work on last year’s seminar and met Bishop Doug Crosby from Newfoundland. He’s a delightful man who took the time to explain well what was going on and helped us get the right speakers. I’m not going to go into details (you can search for my last year posts, above!), but by the end I was pretty much sold on the translation. It is more faithful to the scripture, more faithful to the church’s ancient prayers, and has more inclusive language. Yes, it’s different than the more contemporary style of our usage of English, but it still works.
Tonight’s opening of the seminar was held with a keynote speech by Archbishop Terry Prendergast, SJ. I guess it’s really Terrance, but I just can’t see myself calling him that. Terry was a professor at Regis College and lived on my street in Toronto when I was a formation director. He was also a coordinator for the Vatican visitation of all our houses of formation back in the 90’s (which feels like ages ago!). Anyway, Archbishop Prendergast (a wonderful man, since he’s a native of Montreal — Ahuntsic to be more precise, St. Rita’s parish) is a member of Vox Clara which is the Holy See’s think tank on the translations of the mass. It assists the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and the bishops of the world and the Vatican in figuring out how to proceed.
Archbishop Prendergast showed us some examples of the new texts and encouraged us to be open and to enter into these texts in prayer. He also encouraged us to be united so that we can present to the People of God these worthy translations with a minimum of trauma or drama!
Again, as I wrote earlier, I was at first a bit suspicious about these changes, but for the most part I like them and am looking forward to the new texts. Some really fine people have worked on them and brought a balanced theological perspective. My only disappointment comes from seeing the photo of the Vox Clara group and noticing that there are no women experts. Including capable women is always important when we are dealing with church issues.
On another note: Archbishop Collins greeting us tonight and there is talk that the two new Bishops-elect for Toronto will join the Archbishop and Bishops Boissoneau and Hundt for a visit with us tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.