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August 7, 2004

The Retreat

Pictures from the retreat.

The retreat talks -- A+
The location -- A+
The Comraderie -- A+
The meals -- A+
Having long spaces of free time for prayer and reflection -- priceless
The Liturgies -- C-

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at August 7, 2004 11:34 AM

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Very interesting thoughts.
Even without having been there, I can almost hear it.
One of my dearest friends essentially makes up the Eucharistic Prayer as he goes along. I feel as if I must attend Mass again after I have visited his community, as if I have not participated in a valid Mass, the words are so strange.
As a performer I have struggled with the fact that the values of ritual are almost diametrically opposed to the values of performing.
In the latter, I think, everything must seem as if said, as if sung, for the very first time; in the former, as if it always has, and always will be exactly the same, as if it COULD not be other than it is. In performing, you take words written by another and try make them your own. In ritual, you make yourself belong to the words, to the Word.

(And as to the cheesy and insipid music, you have my sympathy.)

Glad you're safely back home!

Posted by: Geri at August 7, 2004 4:38 PM

ah, Father Jeff,

there is more inclusive and less inclusive language, often, at least when we refer to the human persons and persons who make up the body of Christ. there are more or less pastorally effective renderings consistent with the original texts.

it is hard to wait for the translations to catch up with the depths of the riches in scripture or in the official texts, but things do move, and there is good that comes from it.

you are old enough, I think, to have some memory of the first translations of the eucharistic prayer into English, in which the institution narrative said that the blood of Christ was shed for all men. it took almost 10 years, but the bishops did shepherd through a revision of the official translation. fortunately for many of us, the process was begun during the pontificate of Paul VI and final approval was early in the reign of John Paul II.

it is possible to hold in one hand that "It is right to give him thanks and praise." is the current officially approved translation and to hold in the other hand that it takes unwarranted liberties and imposes some humans' opinions on the Latin "Dignum et justum est." however, doing so pretty much leaves one isolated in the middle, because some don't like to hear that the official translation ought to and could be changed, while others stop using it and substitute word changes because of its gross inadequacies.

the sacramentary is the product of reflection and collaboration of human beings.

we Roman Catholics have only been doing this in our own language for 30+ years, so the vineyard has yet to bear mature fruit. more fertilizer, more pruning, and more patient cultivation are needed to yield a better vintage.

if there were evaluations of the retreat, and a question about the liturgies was included, it would be interesting to see a summary of the results. I'm not saying opinion polls should dictate liturgy, but your assertion that the retreat leader's presiding style drives many away is probably an overstatement, especially for most of the settings in which he works.

please hang in there and attend these things. in the end, I give you accolades for participation in such community experiences.

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at August 8, 2004 5:18 PM

It is difficult to publicly criticize a person whom one admires and for whom one has great affection and respect. I found,however,the liturgies to be jarring, unsettling, and especially distracting. The use of inclusive pronouns has become distracting to me, but it is a small distraction. A bigger distraction took my mind off of what was happening and focused it on what was being said. Immersed in the mystery that was unfolding, I was frequently jolted out of my prayerful state by an exexpected word or phrase. I particularly was unsettled by the absence of the titles that the liturgy uses when referring to God - Lord, Father. Had I been a Lector at any of the liturgies, I think (I hope) I would have rebelled after the proclamation by saying, "The Word of the Lord" rather than "The Word of God"

Posted by: Peggy Doherty at August 9, 2004 11:20 AM

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing a concelebrating nun. ;-)

Posted by: Martin at August 9, 2004 8:27 PM

Peace, all.

At its root, the endeavor of inclusive language is a striving for accuracy: to say what we mean and mean what we say. Distraction runs both ways.

I too yearn for better liturgical translations, but sadly, the effort to be accurate has been shot through with politics. While it is true that the texts of liturgy belong to the Church and not to us, it must also be pointed out that even bodies such as the CDWS, ICEL, and Vox Clara have no more ownership of these texts than any ordinary lay person or liturgist. The people who make up these bodies are stewards and caretakers of what they have been entrusted with. Any person with a basic understanding of Latin can see the places in which great liberties have been taken to overemphasize the masculine. These need to be changed.

And lastly, more is needed for the fruitful and spiritual celebration of liturgy than attention to rubrics. Faithfulness to authorized texts is the first step, perhaps, not the only one, nor the most important one.

Posted by: Todd at August 11, 2004 9:23 AM

Sometimes the quest for “inclusive language” corresponds with a quest for “accuracy” (e.g., overcoming the masculine implications of the traditional English translation of “homines"), but it often goes much further (e.g., diminishing if not eliminating references to God as Father, as Fr. Jeff related). Depersonalizing God or rewriting salvation history does not lead us closer to salvation. Overemphasizing the relative imperfections of common words does not really help either.

The improvement of the translations should proceed in a well-ordered way, not by isolated individuals or communities, but through the organs of the universal community entrusted with this responsibility with contributions from all its parts. Individuals should not let impatience fray the bonds of unity.

Fidelity to common language and rubrics is essential but only a minimum at best. A bare minimum is never fully satisfying: we must bring more than the minimum without sacrificing the essentials.

Posted by: penitens at August 11, 2004 2:28 PM