Monday 3 December 2012

To Christ the Prince of Peace

There is an online survey being run by the Tablet on "Has the new Mass won you over?" As Fr Tim Finigan points out, the new translation is not a new Mass but why not follow his advice and fill in the survey.  Like Laurence England, I am one of the 100% satisfied (according to the survey questions).  The Tablet railed against the new translation  so obviously thinks it will now be unpopular a year after its introduction.  Although why such a phrase as "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed" should be disliked is beyond me.  Not only is it a more accurate translation of what the Latin text actually says but it is a direct Scriptural reference.  But I digress.

What I don't like is the idea that we can have a survey or a focus group and then change what the Church does / teaches / prays.  Lacking an understanding of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ and with a tendency in recent years to move away from an understanding of the Church as a spiritual entity, engaged in a spiritual battle, earth centered and not heaven focussed, we have mimicked the world and because in liturgy we experience the Church as this world instead of other world, we have come to treat it like any other worldly institution.  Very often like some sort of political party or unpopular government, forever in a mid-term crisis.  The Tablet survey reeks of democracy.  I'm not totally against democracy but it is not as simple as its championed to be.  Just recently in England we voted for Police Commissioners - except we didn't because hardly anyone actually voted, (in one polling station, not a single soul!) so what sort of a mandate is that.  Not forgetting that Hitler was elected and our own democratic system has legalised the murder of the unborn and is moving little by little to infringe upon the ability of Christians to live and speak according to their Faith.  Parliament has never allowed a referendum on capital punishment in this country because surveys have always shown it would be voted back in.

By chance I listened to "Heart and Soul" on the BBC World Service last night - a program about the rise of the Evangelical Church in Brazil, especially the Gospel Prosperity brand.  One priest who has been successfully bringing Catholics back to Mass says, "The liberation Theology was the main thing responsible for the demise of the catholic church in Brazil... Theology of Liberation was too worried about social issues.  They forgot the importance of prayer."  (20.9 minutes in.)  An indictment of the Church forgetting its spiritual mission.

I'm not sure what The Tablet hopes to accomplish by such a survey, the deed is done, Rome has spoken.  Personally, I think translations should only appear down one side of  a peoples' missal and not at all in the one on the altar - a permanent reminder that the Church is not like any other institution on earth.  

I was glad to read on Forest Murmurs that the Congregation for Clergy has ruled that the priest in Belleville Diocese USA who thought he could alter the texts of the Mass supposedly "to make it easier for his parishioners to understand" has rightly been removed from priestly duties by his bishop. Surely, it's great hubris to think you can come up with better versions of the Mass off the top of your head than those charged by the successor of Peter to do so.

While we might want to take some examples of good practice from the worldly sphere, I don't believe the Church can be forced into secular models of governance.  The image of the Church on earth must reflect it's heavenly counterpart.  I do not want to celebrate a feast of Christ the Prime Minister, nor Christ the President, nor Christ the Oligarch, nor Christ the Dictator, nor Christ the Chairperson. We keep the feast of Christ the Universal King, Christ the Prince of Peace.  Politicians want votes because they can be voted out.  Kings can't be voted out, so Our King asks only for our love and loyalty.

1 comment:

Genty said...

The Tablet poll is irrelevant as it stands. However, taken together with the dissenting priests it may be a marker by the extreme "spirit of V2" cohort anticipating the Pope's demise and making it clear that his successor had better not continue the Benedictine reforms if he knows what's good for him.
What they don't yet realise is that the caravan has moved on and their snipes and stones are falling on to the empty spaces of the desert.