Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Some thoughts on the new translation and the South African experience

St Malachy and his family are just back from an extended holiday in South Africa.

The new English translation of the Missal is already (partially) in use in that country and I understand it's been a rough ride.

During our holiday we had the opportunity of attending Mass at two different parishes over 5 weeks, including the Easter Triduum. Also, St Malachy went to a number of week days Masses at both parishes. Our experiences at the two parishes (which are probably less than 5 miles apart) could not have been more different.

In parish number one it was evident before the greeting was over that the new translation was very much partially in use! I'd say the response to the greeting was a 50/50 split between "And also with you" and the new "And with your spirit". The Confiteor could best be described as interesting with most people having sinned through their own fault with a smaller number having greatly sinned through their threefold fault! And so it went on including use of the present translation of "pro multis" in the words of consecration as "...for all".

On the other hand, in parish number two, the new translation was very much in use. The responses of the people were clear and confident. The entire experience was utterly different. Incidentally parish 2 also seems a more welcoming place (although that's a very subjective view).

So what was the underlying reason for the difference between the two parishes? I would say two things:
1. Catechism - it was evident in parish 2 that the people had some explanation of the reason for the changes; and
2. The attitude of the parish priest. Clearly in parish 1 the priest - incidentally an important man in the diocese - is of the "What if we just said wait" variety.

I suspect we have interesting times ahead!