21 November 2005

A New Liturgy

A couple of posts over at Pontifications, one by Al Kimel titled Re-enchanting the Mass and another by Anthony Esolen called On the Proposed Changes to the Roman Missal have given me a lot of hope for the Catholic Church. Supposedly, there is a new translation of the Latin rite in the works which will bring the language of the liturgy more in keeping with the Latin by making the translation more literal rather than "dynamically equivalent." With the jettisoning of dynamic equivalence we will be able to say things like "And with your spirit" rather than the tepid "And also with you." These changes will make it much more like the Rite I liturgy practiced by the Anglican-Episcopal Church in the Book of Common Prayer, which in my opinion, is among the most beautiful of all liturgical expressions. With this change, whenever it comes, I will rejoice greatly, as I deeply regret losing contact with the Rite I when I cross the Tiber.

Equally interesting though is the argument that is being made that the new translation of the rite will bring about more devout responses from the laity, since by taking out the everyday language, the mass will be taken out of an everyday experience and become more deliberate, and hopefully, more pious. The comparison has also been made to the way poetry functions, that it does so by attenuating language making it special, even opaque so that it means more than what it says, so that how it means is as important as what it means.

What it suggests of course is that the content--worship--cannot be separated from the means--words, music, gesture, just like you can't separate water from a water baloon or from a glass and still have a joke and a drink. You have a puddle, which means something else again. Instead forms are being stripped away and nothing is left because the meaning needs the form for it to exist. It becomes incarnate in the form.

It's a heady topic, one that I could only begin to scratch the surface of here. But I am glad to know that changes are afoot. I only want to know when will the new liturgy arrive? And when will they stop making us sing those insipid modern hymns?

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