A headline on The Tablet home page caught my eye, Time to say `yes` by Michael G. Ryan. Two years ago, he published an article in the Jesuit weekly America called “What if we said ‘Wait’”. He begged the Bishops to allow for more time to dialogue and test the revised Missal before it was released. This prompted a world-wide online petition signed by 22,000 (including me).
So, has Fr. Ryan had a conversion experience? Is he now supporting the revised Missal, and encouraging us all to embrace it with faithful and trusting obedience? Not quite!
In conversations with fellow priests, he has learned that many will be taking liberties with the Missal to avoid any of the language that sounds stilted, is non- inclusive, or awkward. Basically, they will try to avoid disturbing the parishioners’ sensitivities by making their own, personal edits. But Fr. Ryan has a different strategy in mind. He is encouraging all priests to stick to the new translation verbatim. If it sounds strange, so be it. If it comes across as too dated and awkward, so be it. He writes,
No, I will make no changes because I am convinced that, after all the years of wrangling and behind-the-scenes manoeuvring (including the shelving of the elegant and accessible 1998 Icel translation), the only way the new Missal will have its full impact is if the People of God can judge it for themselves without edits of any kind.
This is another way of saying that the new Missal should be allowed to stand on its own and be judged for what it is, not for what we priests decide to make of it. I am of the opinion that the Missal will in time – I’m guessing not a long time – be judged deficient, but an informed judgement will never be made if we priests, even for the best of motives, give our people not the new Missal but our version of it. So we should do whatever is necessary to prepare our people for the new Missal but not take on the responsibility for making it work by doctoring or diluting it.
In other words, let’s avoid the temptation to put clothes on the emperor. While some pastors and liturgists are busy regaling the beauty of the new translation, a wee voice from the pews will honestly and bluntly point out the deficiencies. And other voices are bound to join in. An interesting strategy!