26 September 2011

Liturgiam Authenticam

I bought Peter Jeffery's book "Translating Tradition" over a year ago, but only gave it a cursory glance. Hyped up on caffeine last night (should have ordered decaf!), I worked through 3/4ths of the book.

I don't agree with everything he says--I agree with another reviewer who opined that Dr. Jeffery "over-interprets" the document in certain respects.

I think that the issues he has with the document are not actually with its directions for literal translation. He agrees, and I do too, that more literal translation of the liturgy into English is a good thing. The problem is with how LA talks about the history of liturgy and what that reveals about the thought processes of people who are in charge of our liturgical directives.

There is one other thing that I agree with Dr. Jeffery about. I am not going to deny that the Church has the right to change the liturgy. She absolutely does. But like Dr. Jeffery, I think that the reasons for doing so should be laid out openly and honestly. Those reasons clearly don't have much to do with actual history.

The problem isn't with the new translation. It's a good thing. But it's like putting a band-aid on a broken limb. And the brokenness of the current liturgy is really what Dr. Jeffery was getting at, although he didn't come out and say it. The idealogical problem began much earlier. Even the 1962 Missal is flawed from this perspective, though it's a lot better than the OF.

The more I read, the more extreme my views on this get. I am not a Lefebvrist, and I never will be. I will continue to attend Mass according to the Ordinary Form. The Ordinary Form is a valid liturgy. It's just very, very far from being the ideal for the Roman Rite. I would be happy if most of the 20th- and 21st-century alterations to the Mass and Divine Office were thrown out (although I do think the revision of the Holy Week liturgies was a good thing).

It gets harder, in some respects, to reconcile my scholarly life with what I see at Mass every week. Sometimes I'm good at focusing on the Lord and ignoring the deficiencies of our liturgical expression. Other times, I am angry that we are not giving our very best. I don't like to be angry at Mass. Maybe someday I won't have reason to be any more.

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