The New Missal – Michael Commane OP
If you’ve been at Mass anytime in the last six weeks you will most likely have noticed changes in many of the prayers.
It’s often said that it is not a good idea to write down one’s thoughts in time of anger. And that indeed is a wise sentiment. But there are always exceptions to rules and I’m going to avail of that exception in this week’s column.
I’ve been using the new missal since its introduction on the first Sunday of Advent. And before I say another word I want to stress that since my priestly ordination in 1974, I’ve always celebrated the liturgy as prescribed.
Celebrating Mass on the first Sunday after Christmas, which was the feast of the Mother of God, I used the new missal.
Though it was not my first time to use it, it was my first time to use the first Eucharist Prayer.
Who is responsible for this change?
By trade I’m a teacher of English, German and religious knowledge. Also I write this column, and I am a contributor to a daily national newspaper. I spent six years working as a sub editor at a newspaper. At present I work as a press officer with Concern Worldwide. So I think it’s fair to say, I have a certain competence when it comes to the English language in both written and spoken form.
While I have no special expertise in liturgy, I do have a post-graduate degree in theology.
But I am at a loss to know what prevenient grace is. And I have to think twice before I understand what ‘oblation’ means
Many of the opening prayers are simply unintelligible. Reading this arcane language one gets lost and simply has no idea what it’s about. It is impossible to pray these words. Sometimes there are up to 50 words in a sentence.
The opening prayer, which they now call the ‘collect’, regularly contains unwieldy long sentences where it is almost impossible to spot the main verb.
The new missal breaks the rules of English. It seems to set up its own rule-book when it comes to the use of capital or upper-case letters. Why should, for instance the word ‘angel’ be uppercased when it is after all a common noun?
By the way, how many people attending Mass know what the word ‘Collect’ means?
Some of the responses that have been introduced are so insignificant, they are silly. Yet, it means people have to familiarise themselves with the changes. It looks like change for the sake of change.
Has it been spotted that the new missal has been printed in Italy. Wonderful. How much money has left Ireland so that this new book is forced down our throats?
But what worries me most of all is something far deeper and more far reaching..
As I have already said, I was ordained a priest in 1974, that’s not far off 40 years, not a short time in anyone’s calculations. And in that time I have been made aware of a ‘culture’, an ‘attitude’, ‘a way of thinking’ that causes me great concern.
I believe that there is something profoundly unhealthy about a ‘piousity’ that seems to give the impression that some people are ‘closer’ to God in the words they use and a particular lifestyle that one might perceive they are living. Sometimes a type of piousness seems to give people the idea that they have special privileges.
More needs to be written and discussed on this subject!
The missal is trying to create some sort of ‘exclusive show’, some sort of canonical snobbery. God love us.
For instance why not call her ‘Mary the Mother of God’ rather than ‘Holy Mary the Mother of God’, as the new missal does?
Harsh to say, but all this ‘holy stuff’ gives me the creeps. And that’s partly from my lived experience as a priest and the nonsense that I have seen. I’d prefer to use the word ‘unhealthy’. I’ll leave it at that for now.
I am flabbergasted that not a single Irish bishop has said a word about the poor quality of living English in the new missal.
Have any provincials or congregational leaders expressed opposition to the missal?
This new missal is making an attempt to introduce the ‘holy lore’. My prayer is that it will fail. Perhaps, more constructively said, I hope it will be re-visited and next time printed in Ireland.