27 March 2010

A Letter to the Archbishop

I sent this to the archbishop. Comments are off on this post.

Your Grace:

I understand the difficulties you must have as the archbishop of Canada’s largest English-speaking archdiocese. I will keep you in my prayers, but since I don’t know exactly what to pray for, I will ask Our Blessed Lady to intercede for you.

I look forward to the mise en rigeur of the new translation of the English version Liturgy of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. But I fear that the new translation will mean nothing for our archdiocese.

From my experience, it would seem that parish priests have, for decades, altered the wording of the Sacred Liturgy willy-nilly, according to their own tastes.

The earliest example I can remember was from 20 years ago, when I attended Mass in Port Credit (Mississauga), the pastor would, during the Eucharistic Prayer say “… worthy to be in your presence and serve you…” as opposed to the words in the EP “… worthy to stand in your presence and serve you…” Twenty years ago I noticed the change, but didn’t think too much of it. It seemed innocuous, minor, an
insignificant change. But it was the first step on a slippery slope, a sign of what was to come. Over the course of the years, I have worshipped at different parishes, for different reasons (weddings, funerals, confirmations, first communions of different family members.) And I find that not one church
celebrates mass the same way as another. Each has differences.

Now my parish priest, under his own authority has decided that the grammar in the Rite of Peace needs to be changed and more inclusive, I assume because he says: “… You said to your Apostles, and you say to us: I leave you peace, I give you my peace…” instead of “… You said to your Apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.”

So you see, the new translation will mean nothing, since pastors are of the opinion that the words of the Liturgy can be changed on their own authority.

But grammar and semantics is not the only problem. My pastor has now taken it upon himself to change the Order of the Liturgy. He has instructed the congregation to sing the Gospel acclamation before and after the proclamation of the Gospel. His reasoning is that the Word of God should be praised. I find no fault in his logic, except for the simple fact that he has no authority to make that change. I could not find the option listed anywhere in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. When I asked Father where it was offered, he admitted that it
wasn’t written anywhere, it was just something done at some places (or parishes
– I can’t remember his exact word) to praise the Word of God before and after
hearing it proclaimed. I then told him my husband and I felt uncomfortable doing
something not in the GIRM, and asked if we were obligated to obey him in this
matter. And he said, no, but said that singing the acclamation (either: alleluia or Praise to you…) twice was not a bad thing, in fact it praises God more. He is right; it is NOT a bad thing, but since it isn’t in the GIRM the insertion is not authorized by Rome. Is it licit?

So now, a Parish Priest has the authority to change not only the grammar or vocabulary, but also the Order of the Liturgy. This results in different parishes, and therefore different Roman Catholics celebrating the Liturgy differently.

How is it that the Ordinary Form of Catholic masses in Toronto are not universal and the same in all parishes?

Until the parish priests know no options are allowed, other than those permitted in the GIRM, the new translation will not matter, and will not succeed.