Friday, June 16, 2006

Those Wacky Roman Catholics

Just read this article about how the Catholic bishops of the US voted to change the english rendition of the liturgy of the Mass so that it's closer to the "original" Latin (because, you know, Jesus and the apostles spoke Latin, and all). During my four years at a Catholic highschool, we had our monthly student-body Masses, so I'm not a stranger to the liturgy, although since our masses consisted of 750 boys on bleachers in an un-air-conditioned gym, I suspect they were somewhat diluted in essence (in particular, no kneeling). However, I do remember the "The Lord be with you / and also with you" response, rendering it in my own head with a thick Brooklyn accent as "Da lwad be witcha / an' also witchoo". Apparently that has changed now to "The Lord be with you / and with your Spirit", which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.

Anywho, the thesis of the article seems to be that this will drastically affect the way Catholics worship. This all seems very strange to me, an Evangelical Protestant. Don't get me wrong -- if this is the way you worship, and it is truly Spirit-led and heart-felt, then far be it from me to disparage it. However, I don't understand how one could be "turned off" of church attendance just because the words you are supposed to say, week in and week out, have been tweaked slightly. For me, worship of the Lord has always been an extemporaneous thing, unique from one time to the next.

I'm curious to hear the perspective of some Catholics on this, particularly in how it will affect their worship experience. Maybe the Mazur boys men will chime in?



Anonymous Paul Mazur said...


I am the first Mazur that is responding to your call-out. Unfortunately, I am the only non-Catholic Mazurlander. I was "lost" and was born again in an Evangelistic denomination in KY. However, I would like to say that I appreciate the Catholic Church's decision to be super anal about translation. That is part of their perceived responsibility. There has to be authority in all teaching. One of my major concerns about the church I am a member of is that there is no authoritative counsel of what is "true". So if the Catholic Church sees itself as the arbiter of Church teaching, then they should teach it seriously. And thus they have. Bravo! They are self-consistent.

-Paul Mazur

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Marty said...

I'd heard from Catholic apologetics blogger Jimmy Akin that they were about to come out with the new mass. Then I read the story in the newspaper and was a bit confused about what the fuss was. I was a young massgoer when the Mass stopped being regularly said in Latin. In those early days, the words I remember seem to be closer to the new translation. I distinctly remember the words after the Agnus Dei being "Lord I am not worthy that thou should come under my roof..." When I stopped being a lapsed Catholic about 15 years ago, I noticed that they had changed and simplified the sentence. The "old-old" and "new" sentence are both closer to the source, which is the story of Jesus and the Centurian in Luke 7. Why the "old" deviated for some 30 years or so, I have no idea. The other passage mentioned in the wire story is also much closer to the original Latin, "Dominus vobiscum", "Et cum spritu tuo" that I still remember from my childhood. And I think that the first English translation was closer to this than the intervening one.

The purists among the Episcopalians (what are there, like, three left?) have excersized themselves about their liturgy, which is similar to the Catholic one. See this page.

All in all, I'm glad they are getting back to the roots. I think parishes should offer at least one mass a month in Latin. But to most Catholics, it will not be the major cultural event it's being played out to be in both the general and the Catholic media.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

As far as I'm concerned, the closer to the original Latin, the better. The more of a universal standard, the better. They should not allow any local interpretation or manipulation of the Liturgy. It should be like McDonalds; the burger in Duluth tastes EXACTLY like the one in Salt Lake. Only the guy behind the counter looks different. But it's not about him, is it? It's about the burger, RIGHT? See what I'm saying?

BTW, attendance at Catholic masses may be decreasing, but I heard that at the conservative/traditional parishes it's increasing. So the changes (reversions to be more accurate)may be a good thing. People are tired of clergy like that CA priest who insists that you can't kneel at the mass. It's a Catholic church. It's Mass. You kneel. If you don't like kneeling, you have 1000 other Christian denominations to choose from.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Marty said...

PS: The reason I remember the words that were said after the Agnus Dei from back about 40 years ago is that in my little kid mind, I first thought that the "under my roof" referred to the Communion host about to be placed under the roof of my mouth. Weird what tkids think of.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Paul Mazur said...


Attendance at Protestant churches is increasing at the conservative ones(mie being one of them). I think that is not just coincidental. I think that growth occurs where the people are trying to stay close to the Word. The general public will be contrary, but that's what isso confounding to the non-believers.


5:27 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

My own church is growing at a break-neck pace. 4 services per weekend, and at least two of those are standing-room-only, even in the summers when all the students are gone. In the Spring they even experimented with a 5th service. It's definitely what most would consider "conservative", although I heard a couple members (shockingly, to me) refer to it as a "liberal church". Upon questioning, they really only meant that compared to their Mennonite upbringing, so I felt better after that. Turns out they largely meant that in terms of worship style rather than any theological content. However, we do practice "religious liberty" -- the idea that, where the Bible speaks, it is the supreme (in fact, only) authority, and where it does not speak, the believer is left to decide for himself (using Biblical principles, of course). Funny how even then a conservative agenda finds itself supported quite well.

7:52 AM  

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