Re “Grading the Missal” (5/28): I am a pastor of a large urban parish. Six months after the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal, my all-too-common experience is that, rather than more fully engaging the people in the pews in the celebration of Eucharist, the new translation, especially the translation of the proper prayers, leaves many in the assembly struggling to understand what they have just heard. Others have simply stopped listening.
Whatever else the new translation may accomplish, I am unable to see how it contributes to the primary aim of the liturgical restoration of Vatican II: the full, conscious and active participation by all the people in the church’s liturgical celebrations.
Mark F. Horak, S.J.
The articles in the 5/28 issue provide many examples of the struggles our priests are having using the new Missal. But what about the laity? Most in church are polite, but so many just are not participating. It’s not only our inability to use the strange words, convoluted sentences, disjointed cadence and plainsong chanting; it’s the lack of feeling, of spiritual connection, that is missing. I have observed the congregation in my church during parts of the Mass, like the plainsong chanted Gloria, just standing, mouthing the words, letting the choir struggle with the music. People are not inspired and energized in the Lord. They feel beaten down into a compliance they don’t understand. When they leave church instead of being joyful, they are subdued. We in the pews continue to wonder why.
To the finely balanced and clear view expressed by Sister Patricia Cary, O.Carm. (Letters, 5/28), for the need for our male leaders to connect more to “secular” people in the real world, especially women, I would add a simple idea. In the spirit of taking a sabbatical or making a retreat, our male leaders should immerse themselves for two weeks with a young family with at least two children under 4 years old. A bishop would move in with that family and shoulder responsibility for the young children, with the presence and help of the children’s parent(s).
Our bishops rightly emphasize life, authentic teaching and love that goes the full distance, requited or not. My sense is that when the two weeks were over, they would be grateful for being even more in unity with the people they serve. They would have a deeper awareness of the language they choose and a more certain grasp of what the priorities must be. And we, whom they serve and whom they desire to instruct, would sense the difference. Who knows where that might lead?
Robert B. Murray
Public Relations Disaster
Thank you to the Most Rev. Joseph M. Sullivan, former auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, for his letter about the criticism of the L.C.W.R. (“Renewal Service,” 5/28). He concludes, “If anyone can rescue the church from this public relations disaster, I believe it is women religious.” His message is refreshing, hopeful and even courageous, but sadly he is in the minority. Where are all the other retired members of the clergy? Currently active priests may have too much to risk if they speak out publicly.
Bishop Sullivan calls it a public relations disaster. It is more than a public relations disaster when people are silenced when gender issues are mentioned, let alone questioned. The latest attack to come out of Rome only heightens the level of tension, anxiety and deep sorrow felt by all of us who remain.
Kathleen Spreen Christenson
Many thanks to Michael Naughton for leading me to read the Vatican document, “Vocation of the Business Leader.” His article, “The Ethical Executive” (5/21) was a delicious appetizer, but the work produced by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was a complete meal!
This was the analysis and reflection I’ve been searching to find for a long time—a profound, wide-ranging look into the purpose and practice of business, especially finance. Business is a key dimension of God’s plans for human flourishing and the joy of all creation. This article should be required reading for every M.B.A. student at a Catholic college and for every executive who claims a life of faith.
How to Really Help the Poor
Concerning “What Ryan Missed,” by George Beyer (americamagazine.org, 6/4), I personally oppose Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget and support more antipoverty spending on the federal level, financed by higher taxes on the middle class and up, but it is simply wrong to imply that Catholic social doctrine requires such policy positions.
It is telling that the author mischaracterizes No. 48 of John Paul II’s encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” It actually outlines strong limits on government provision for the poor. While this citation is grounds for opposing social spending cuts in the middle of the current deep recession, it is hardly an endorsement of the permanently expanded social service states of Europe. And Pope Benedict has echoed these cautions in his own encyclicals, so there are legitimate Catholic grounds for debate about the proper size of government.
What is beyond debate is that we as a church are failing to live out solidarity with the poor both domestically and globally. Missing from both Ryan’s speech and this article is any exhortation that we take responsibility for loving the poor directly. Where are the Peter Maurins and Dorothy Days of today to challenge us to care for the poor “at a personal sacrifice” instead of arguing about what other people should do?