Friday, December 2, 2011

Awaiting with eager anticipation

It's here! It's here!

Shopping season? Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Well, yes, all of those have been here and gone.

The beginning of Advent? closer ...

How about the introduction of the New Roman Missal! or, if you are following the coverage in the secular media, the "Biggest, Most Stupendous Change in the History of Catholicism!"

Well, probably it is not that. Now that we all have been through it for a week, what is your reaction?

I, for one, am pretty thrilled. I think the new language is challenging, and I love the new Eucharistic prayer. For the first time in my 47 years I am hearing things in a new way, and certainly that forces me to listen more carefully, to follow along, and to ditch the "Catholic Auto-Pilot" we all fall into from time to time. Talk about "active participation"! I believe the folks in the pews last week had a much more "active participation" with the Holy Mass than they have had in years.

So why am I so excited about the new translation? Let's cherry-pick a few things and look at them a little more closely.

First, how about a show of hands of all those who had an "And also with you" moment last week? I certainly did - first time I heard "The Lord be with you", the Catholic Auto-Pilot kicked in and I responded, in my loud, booming voice (and much to the delight of my kids) "And also with you!"

But how about if we take a closer look at the new phrase, "And with your Spirit". Nothing is more challenging to our Catholic Faith in the modern age than the spirit (small "s") of materialism. For many of the people who inhabit the English-speaking world, the only things that matter are the things that can be touched, seen, and/or measured. And in this world-view, other people are just other "things" - to be used as desired until they are no longer useful. "And also with you" does nothing to elevate this world view. "Right back at ya!" might almost do as well.

But "and with your Spirit" - well, that is a whole other prayer. It acknowledges that the other *has a spirit*! No materialism allowed - you are praying for an immortal soul - a soul that will exist for all time. This prayer acknowledges that there are things beyond the immediate touch of our five senses. And that the fondest desire we can have for another is that the Lord is with their Spirit.

This leads to one last (at least for this post) observation - the acknowledgement of "invisible" things. In the old translation, we used to acknowledge God as the "maker of all things, seen and unseen." A bad translation of the official Latin visibílium ómnium et invisibílium. Something that is unseen can later be seen - if I hide in the Sacristy, I am unseen; but if I come out, I can then be seen. As the Latin states, God is in fact the maker of all, visible and invisible. Something that is invisible is not just unseen - it is unseeable. It is not just hidden from us, to possibly be revealed later - it cannot be seen - it is invisible.

In each of these new prayers, we see a concrete reminder that the world we live in is not the only world - is not, to our true Catholic sensibilities, even the important world. The new, corrected translation makes this explicit, in the prayers we say every week.

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