Hit the Road
Ginny Daly’s “Cycles of Life” (1/31) on bike riding is great. I too can attest to the value of bike riding. Several years ago and several tens of pounds overweight and approaching diabetes caused by obesity, I got back on the bike. Now, many tens of pounds lighter and with my cholesterol level much reduced, bike rides have become an important part of my life. Long solo rides are times to share and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Besides, the beauty of our land is much better at bike speeds than at interstate highway speeds. I recommend, as an example of this, the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park.
Jim LaCasse, S.J.
Lost in Translation
In response to Steven P. Millies in “Bringing Liturgy to Life” (2/7): Has someone suggested that Jesus spoke in some arcane “sacral” way different from everyday speech? I don’t think so. The best translations reflect his clarity and directness. But some of the new revision wording seems “precious” in a way that smacks of religious jargon that merely obfuscates. The insertion of unfamiliar words into well-known passages works like linguistic speed-bumps. As a sociologist, I notice that shifting demographics show a disproportionate aging population ahead. Even those with dementia respond well to the current liturgies, but the catechesis for these thousands of aging and infirm faithful may become frustrating all around.
(Rev.) Robert J. Mahoney
Kansas City, Mo.
A Ritual Gone Stale
The new translation of the liturgy discussed in Steven P. Millies’s “Bringing Liturgy to Life” (2/7) is a great opportunity to explain the Mass. Given what we believe is happening in the eucharistic liturgy, is it wrong to use language that we would not hear on the street, in a bus terminal or at a sporting event? More precious language is exactly what is called for. As challenging as the new translation may seem to some, Professor Millies is right; it will soon be here. The attitude of those responsible for the translation will translate into the attitude of those who receive it. It is an opportunity to engage in catechesis that will not only increase our own faith, but will also—simply because it is a change—increase appreciation of that which for some has become mechanical and stale.
Holding On to Hope
Introduced to America while visiting a friend, I read with surprise “Two People, One State” (11/15) by Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. I am Jewish and lived in Israel a number of years, and I compliment the author on his underlying tone of hope.
The argument for the one state solution has a creditable history, lost in the sectarianism that consumes us today. The voices in favor—Judah Magnes, founder of Hebrew University, Buber and Arendt— were shouted down. But imagine Gaza and what’s left of the West Bank in a two state solution and you have a “bantamized” construction so impractical and have perpetuated the inequalities of today. Those who propose the one state in essence focus on the ethical question of equality. If you have a religious state and you are not of that religion, what becomes of you? Integration can work. They don’t have to love each other at first, but let’s get them to stop killing each other.
In Tunisia and Egypt, I am buoyed by the optimism in the streets. The United States has placed itself on the side of human rights in Egypt, but we have given Mubarak $1.3 billion dollars a year and Israel $4 billion a year, both mostly for military equipment. If the changes we hope for are going to happen, the unconditional flow of dollars to Israel will have to be altered.
Some Know It All
Reading “Tomorrow’s Theologians,” by Paul Crowley, S.J. (2/7), it occurred to me that theology, as the study of the nature of God, must be a developing and open-ended study. When I studied at a Franciscan college years ago, theology was presented as “facts” taught by the Catholic Church. As I grew in grace, I learned to understand better the first grade catechism question, Why did God make us? It is an ongoing process, in which we humans can never know God completely. Our “knowing” is greater than the knowledge of mind alone. Perhaps the expression “relationship in faith” comes close to describing what happens. I sometimes wonder why scientific studies acknowledge that there is more to learn, while some “theologians” give the impression that all theology has already been learned.
Lost in the Present
I deeply appreciate Father Crowley’s insights in “Tomorrow’s Theologians” (2/7), and I know he writes from the point of view of a Jesuit in higher studies theology. As an Asian student, I recognize what he describes, but my greatest concern is that the “integral” perspective he espouses may mean a nonengagement with the theological heritage of the past.
Languages Change Behavior
Re your report in Signs of the Times on the open letter of Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., to the U.S. bishops (2/14): I have retired to Ireland, where the priests have asked the Vatican to include them out, as in Germany. My own dislikes for the new translations include the following: The imposition and the straitjacket of a dead language, Latin, on living modern cultures is ridiculous; and the Latin is low Latin, later than the Greek and not as beautiful. The lack of inclusive language is outrageous in this day and age. About 30 years ago, bishops in Minnesota declared sexism a sin in the same way that racism is sinful. We deal with racism by changing the language so that we can change the behavior. This should be the ideal time to use inclusive language. The whole point of the vernacular was to allow the poetry, imagery and beauty of each national language to be part of the country’s faith and prayer.
(Rev.) Harry Behan
St. Peter, Minn.
I Know the Spirit Works
In response to Father Ruff’s letter (2/14), one might ask, Who cares about this new translation? Check out the over 20,000 signatures on “What If We Just Said Wait?” (whatifwejustsaidwait.org). Perhaps top-down decision making in Rome worked in the Middle Ages, but it does not work for American churchgoers in the 21st century. We are the church. As a theologian and a baptized Catholic, I know the Spirit works through me and the laity. It would be a shame if the American Catholic church was losing financial contributors to other denominations, but that is happening more and more. This archaic, self-selecting, celibate male club has proven its dysfunction in many ways, especially recently. It is time for a change. Let us pray for God’s grace to do it.
Lock the Barn Door
Father Ruff’s letter (2/14) comes too late; the horse is already out of the barn. I wonder how much money has been and will be spent preparing for the new English missal translation. Could it be better spent providing homes and shelters for pregnant women who do not wish to abort their babies but who live in abusive situations? Cared for, and with parenting and career counseling, these women could put a new and most welcome face on the pro-life scene. Will a more literal translation of the missal bring Christ into our world?
Josephine A. Daley