inclusive language in the lectionary

Today`s gospel reading is the story of Jesus inviting Peter and Andrew to be `fishers of men`. I use our Canadian Living With Christ  missalette for the daily readings. Our Canadian lectionary uses the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. But I misplaced November`s issue and have been reading the online versions from the USA. Today`s gospel reading reminded me of the differences in language between the Bibles that are used for our lectionaries. On January 24th, I posted a reflection on fishers of men, or people?  on the issue of inclusive language in our liturgy.

The NRSV translation had to go  through some revisions before getting official recognition from the Vatican. The process is explained on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) web-site. 

“The Lectionary is the result of important cooperation between members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and officials of the Holy See. While most of the Lectionary text has not been altered, changes have been made so that the Word proclaimed in our churches will be clearer or more accurate. “

A Back-grounder on the Canadian Lectionary  (link is available on the same page) states

The Commission also wanted to be faithful to the wish of the Second Vatican Council that it would be preferable to have a version of Sacred Scripture which all Christians could use in common. To do this would be in keeping with the opening paragraph of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which saw as one of the principal goals of liturgical renewal “to nurture whatever can contribute to the unity of all who believe in Christ” (Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 1).
With these criteria in mind (suitability for public proclamation, fidelity to the original Scriptural text, possibility of ecumenical use), the Commission recommended the adoption of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible as the basis of the Canadian Lectionary. (emphases mine)

The principle used for inclusive language was

When the original language was clearly intended to include both males and females, the translation was to be inclusive; when the original language was clearly meant to be gender specific, this was to be respected in the translation.

Cooperation and collaboration between our Bishops conference and the officials at the Vatican. A desire for opening doors for ecumenical unity. A respectful use of inclusive language while remaining faithful to the integrity of scriptural scholarship. And an acknowledgement that the language used must be suitable for public proclamation.

We did the Lectionary right.

the missal came…and no explosion

Three cheers to our pastor and choir. The new Roman Missal was introduced into our parish today with no fanfare. We were not burdened with lengthy explanations and rationalizations. A new mass setting was waiting for us in the pew, along with a card  of prayer responses. We stumbled over the first couple of `and with your spirits`, but by the end of mass everyone responded with one voice. The Eucharistic prayers were read carefully and slowly. I cringed at the dense wording and lengthy sentences, but others either weren`t perturbed or didn`t notice. Hubby said that he rather appreciated hearing things in a new way.

I appreciated the lack of fanfare. There was no nagging or correcting. The new translation was not praised as a great gift from on high. It was something that we had to do, and we got down and did it – graciously and simply.

So, is this it? We’ll see. It wasn’t an all out bomb. (At least not in my parish experience.) But I don’t think it’s a complete dud, either. For now, I’m happy that the new translation did not trump the liturgical beauty of this Advent season.

I would love to hear what your experiences were. What was it like in your parish today? How was the new missal introduced? How was it received?  




a nod from the new missal

I always get into a depressive funk in the days prior to a turn of a decade birthday. I dread waking up in the morning knowing that I will be thirty…then forty…then fifty. But, when the day finally arrives, the sun is still in the sky and the world is still spinning around it. I survive another milestone birthday, and feel no worse for the experience. It wasn’t so bad after all!

I’m hoping the same will happen this Sunday. Perhaps all my worries and fears about the new missal will dissipate into nothingness. Perhaps it will be a non-event, barely noticed by those in the pews. Perhaps…

Our diocese has spent the last several years undergoing a so-called liturgical renewal. The purpose, we were told, was to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the liturgy. All we experienced was an obsessive focus on new rules and regulations; from sitting and standing to the liturgically correct way to pass a collection basket.

And, it was announced that we had to make a profound bow before receiving communion. A profound bow is a graceful and meaningful gesture when done simply and naturally, as in many Asian cultures. But it doesn’t come naturally to most North Americans. It`s also a physical challenge for the increasing number of elders in our pews. Numerous bulletin inserts and announcements from the pulpit reminded us of the need to bow, and the right and proper way to do so. (We were slow learners!) As communion lines inched along, we were told to bow while the person in front of us was receiving to speed things along. Now we found ourselves bowing to someone`s back-side!

After all the fuss made over the bow the new missal now decrees that a simple nod of the head as a gesture of respect should be performed before receiving communion. Really???

So, yes! I have underlying issues that have been ignited even more with the new missal. We have already experienced annoyance, upheaval, and anger from having liturgical `renewal` imposed on us. We could have brushed it off as much ado about nothing. But it was an annoying and distracting energy waster. With all the issues facing our church, this is what we`re focusing on? There was anger and frustration at the top-down imposition and lack of consultation with these new regulations. And, it was insulting to be treated as children, with patronizing appeals to unity and obedience.

I was chatting with a friend, a religious sister, about the upcoming changes. Her passion is working with the poor. She tries not to worry about pastors and liturgical politics. She goes to mass for the food. She needs the nourishment of the Eucharist, to be fed and energized for the work she is called to do. She is able to brush aside all the silliness.

I have pondered her words, wondering if I can dig deep within and embrace this attitude myself. But, I`m still struggling.

Making do with a faulty translation..  from the National Catholic Reporter  suggests that we,

Keep these texts, study them. But do not use them to nurse a grudge. If we become bitter and arrested in anger, then we will be losers. 

Ironically, these lines come at the end of an editorial that gives a synopsis of all that is wrong with the new missal. It is hard to put all of that aside and embrace this translation with an open mind and heart.