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July 02, 2007

Speak Up

I have now received many positive responses to my article, How Accessible Are the New Mass Translations? (5/21). I am truly edified by these letter writers who have had to look up my address or locate my e-mail to communicate with me. There are obviously strong feelings among your readership about liturgical issues.

Most, however, who have contacted me asked to whom they should write so they may speak up. Since the U.S. bishops vote to approve liturgical texts, your local bishop(s) would be a logical choice. In addition, the bishops who serve on Vox Clara and advise the Holy See on ICEL translations would be an appropriate reference:

H.E. Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia
222 North 17th Street, Suite 1207
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1299

Most Rev. Oscar H. Lipscomb
Archbishop of Mobile
P.O. Box 1966
Mobile, AL 36633-1966

Most Rev. Alfred C. Hughes
Archbishop of New Orleans
7887 Walmsley Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125-3496

Also, the American bishop who serves on the ICEL board would be an appropriate person to hear such views:

Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson
777 Valley Road
Clifton, NJ 07013

America magazine is a true blessing. You are providing the forum to raise up contemporary church issues.

(Most Rev.) Donald W. Trautman

Erie, Pa.

Thick, Coarse and Rustic

I appreciate Bishop Donald Trautmans recent article How Accessible Are the New Mass Translations? (5/21). Some of the most atrocious examples he cites from the new liturgy texts remind me of the very worst literal translations in the Latin-English Missals we used in the 1940s and 50s.

Back then, they were most useful sources for jokes, humor and doggerel ridicule and satire in the seminary, as were the anguished English refectory readings from the Roman Martyrology.

If this ICEL draft is approved and implemented for the English-speaking world, I believe it will be adding a new twist to an earlier tradition of macaronic literature, in which several languages and cultures are mixed and thrown together the way flour, cheese and butter are used to make thick, coarse and rustic Italian maccaroni. This multilingual literary mélange led to all kinds of gross humor, parody and satire of biblical and liturgical texts, sermons and religious themes (see Macaronic Sermons, by Siegfried Wenzel).

The ICEL draft is an unfortunate mix of odd, old English words with more understandable and everyday English usage; the very worst of the awful, old Missal literal-translation English and the more understandable and contemporary ICEL English texts we have been using for the past 40-some years.

It seems this inferior draft will become official, at great expense to parishes, religious communities and individuals and with great profit to copyright owners and book publishers. It may provide some religious humor and satire, as things poorly and/or outrageously done often do. This reform of the reform will also need to be reformed in the future, and most probably will not last as long as the current ICEL liturgical texts have lasted.

I am grateful to Bishop Trautman for his courageous and outspoken leadership as chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy. I am deeply grateful to him for inviting and challenging us to speak up. My only hope is that the ICEL will not contribute to more macaronic (or moronic) literature, but that good, plain-speaking English Catholics will judge what is good and what is bad English in our liturgical prayer.

(Rev.) Paul A. Milanowski

East Grand Rapids, Mich.

Glorious Complex Sentences

Thank you for publishing Bishop Trautmans important observations in How Accessible Are the New Mass Translations? (5/21).

Examples the bishop cites of some words and sentences have a resonance with me, because I was an English literature major as an undergraduate. Having analyzed many poems of G. M. Hopkins, Henry Vaughan, George Herbert and John Donne, I love the language in those excerpts.

My major author was Samuel Johnson, and my genre was essay. The essays of Johnson, Addison, Pope and Swift abound in the most glorious complex sentences. I used those sentences teaching high school English to show grace and unravel complexity and to get young people to think.

Bishop Trautman is quite right, I would say, without considering myself elitist, that John and Mary Catholic would find Hopkinss vocabulary and Johnsons sentence structure both beyond understanding and at the same time unnerving.

Having done parish work, many people tell me that they wish the church would make up her mind and stop fiddling with worship.

The point Bishop Trautman raises about the lack of consultation with the cultures and scholars of a country is very trenchant. The faithful who come to church are 21st-century educated people, with careers and positions. They are accustomed to being treated as adults. Many devoted, older Catholics still feel that opportunities for prayer are not in evidence.

The bishop ends his article with Church of God, judge for yourselves. Speak up, speak up. May I request that the bishop or your readers suggest ways I may speak up?

I feel that the avenues whereby those members who have not received the sacrament of holy orders may participate in the mission of the church to evangelize with and on an adult plane together with those in orders are not enough, and are not plumbed for their full potential.

From sharing the Scriptures with adults, I find many people thirsting for depths in their faith, frustrated by exclusion and humiliatingly considered second-rate members at best.

To allow the sacred congregation to mandate the language to join us to our maker in this our day, when we do not even know who the persons are who make up this congregation, and whether they can feel the nuance of our language, to me is making little of the world in which we live and making little of the faithful. Gently Bishop Trautman says, It would be pastorally prudent if the laity were involved in the process.

I know that we discuss pastorally, and that word can be manipulated. The congregation obviously feels the nuance of the Latin.

My religious congregation provided me with the opportunity to study G. M. Hopkins at Catholic University, so I may have the tools to ponder the nuance of Gods Grandeur. From Bishop Trautmans article it is clear that the American bishops do not know, nor were those bishops on the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on Liturgy even consulted.

This is a matter that touches the heart, and one cannot trivialize the human heart. Our prayer and our worship, for all the eternal, overwhelming revelation of the love of our maker for us, ought to be understandable to the members of that body in which it is celebrated at all ages.

Would there be someone who may suggest ways to speak up?

James Loxham, F.S.C.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Welcome Affiliation

Nativity-Model Schools Go International, by George M. Anderson, S.J., (5/7) reports that the success of the NativityMiguel Networks middle schools captured the attention of our counterparts in other countries. It rightly points out that each new start-up school undergoes a lengthy study to determine the feasability of the project.

Each NativityMiguel school has a founding story: a team of educators, religious and lay, along with business people who were frustrated by the scores of families who wanted, but could not afford, to have their children attend a faith-based school in their community.

Just as Josef Horehled, S.J., did in the Czech Republic, their feasibility research uncovered other NativityMiguel model schools serving the poor.

The goal of the NativityMiguel Network is to guide member schools as they grow, strengthen their mission, establish best practices, measure outcomes and ensure success both academically and financially.

The network currently serves over 4,400 children within our 27 states nationally. While the network is not actively looking to open schools internationally, we do welcome the affiliation with schools like Ustis Nativity School.

(Msgr.) John W. Jordan

Washington, D.C.

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