Grumpy Old Catholics

Today in Mass, I sat next to a lady who has an issue with the new Missal. As the mass progressed, her ‘and also with you’ got louder. She also seemed to enjoy looking around while the rest of us responded with the correct ‘and with your spirit.’  And it wasn’t just this response.

She also doesn’t seem to want to take ownership for sins that she committed ‘through our fault, through our fault, through our most grievous fault.’  The Gloria? Naah. The Creed? Again, loud and proud – and wrong.  I have to admit it was disturbing and more than a little annoying. Mass should be about a choir of believers speaking in one voice, not a cacophony.

If it weren’t for her defiant looks, I would have chalked it up to confusion or perhaps a lack of attendance. Recently, I heard someone ask when ‘they changed everything’ at Mass, so I guess it’s not that uncommon. No, she knew what she was doing and she was goading people into calling her out, reveling in her disobedience.  I don’t see where such a thing is good – after all, Lucifer was one of God’s top angels before his disobedience cost him everything.

I wasn’t about to disturb my enjoyment of partaking in the Blessed Eucharist by indulging her, so I said a quick prayer for her, another for the resentment I felt (I usually ask Joseph to help give me patience, and he is always willing to lend a hand), and restored some measure of grace before I left. Besides,  I couldn’t have confronted her if I wanted to – she was one of the ‘grab and go’ folk…those who treat communion  like it’s drive-though food and make a beeline for the nearest exit.

I did leave wondering what her problem was. So I did a bit of digging. And I found that she is likely not alone. Here are a few gems I uncovered from discontented Catholics.

“It’s a huge mistake.”

“Consubstantial? What is that word?”

“It’s ridiculous. I’ve been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They’re word changes. They’re semantics.” This same woman also was quoted by the AP reporter as refusing to “learn the damn prayers.” Nice.

So what is the problem? Is it that some people fear change? I don’t think so. We have seen change before without such controversy. No, brothers and sisters, I think it goes deeper than this.

A half century ago, a ecumenical committee wrote the English missal. Yes, indeed, ecumenical – this means that non-Catholics had a hand in our Missal.  There was a lot of emphasis on ‘feel good’ and ‘gender non-specific’ language.  The new missal used a translation that cleaves much closer to the Latin.  So “Lord have mercy” became “for we have sinned against You’. Oh my.  How dare the new Missal actually impugn the community of being sinners?

‘One in being’ was replaced with ‘consubstantial’. Isn’t that just word-smithing? Nope. The ‘one in being’ is very ecumenical, lot’s of things are ‘one in being’ with God. That is what we all hope for, isn’t it? Isn’t that what Heaven truly is – a state of being one with the Father? Of course it is.  Because God the Father is the source of all Creation, all things are ‘in being’ with Him. So, if all things are in being with the Father, why is Christ anything special? He is, which is why the committee fixed the sloppy – and wayward language to consubstantial. Consubstantial comes from the Latin consubstantialem which means ‘of the same substance’. So, they could have said ‘, begotten, not made, of the same substance with the Father’ – but that doesn’t just have a good meter.  Inevitably, people complained about using a word ‘nobody’ understood. Well, I actually did, and I am sure I wasn’t alone, but that’s another story. What did we used to do when we had a word we didn’t understand? We asked someone or looked it up. How sad that people have become so accustomed to having everything – even the Liturgy – spoon-fed to them that a little mystery was intolerable.

One older gentleman made a cogent remark:

Being that this is only the third time in our church history that a new Roman missal is being issued, it tells me that we are truly blessed with the treasure of always growing in the faith and the Holy Spirit is guiding us to deeper and deeper for Christ and his church.

So it’s not wholly a case of ‘Grumpy old Catholics’ – though a nationwide survey conducted in 2011 indicates that this sentiment was not universal among older Catholics:

  • 62 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds say they are “excited” about the new missal, compared with 39 percent of single Catholics who are 51 and older.
  • Twice as many Baby Boomers as Gen Yers say they are “disappointed” by the change in missal: 9 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds vs.18 percent of those who are 51 and older.

Overall, the sentiment for the new Missal was as follows:

  • 48 percent of single Catholics are “excited,” saying, “It’ll deepen our understanding of the sacred liturgy.”
  • 34 percent of single Catholics are “neutral, trying to keep an open mind.”
  • 14 percent are “disappointed,” saying, “Why scrap something so deeply ingrained in us?”
  • 4 percent say they “couldn’t care less.”

I would love to see this survey duplicated by Catholic Match. I wonder if the Boomers and older are still somewhat more disaffected. And  – while surveys never really answer these questions – I wonder why? Could it be that the ‘liberalism’ of the Catholic church in the United States emanated from the adoption of Vatican II by some left-leaning bishops? Could it be resentment over the recent steps to correct the fundamental flaws that have become endemic to practically two generations of American Catholics – lay and religious? This probably has a lot to do with the refusal to be obedient. Too bad  – because ultimately, Catholics are called to be obedient to the Magisterium, to the Catechism, and to the great and glorious traditions of our Catholic faith.

Like it or not, brothers and sisters, this is our Liturgy, and as that lovely quote asserts, it is an opportunity to grow in faith and to be ‘guided…deeper and deeper for Christ and his church.’ So, pray for the dissenters that their hearts might turn to the beauty, elegant simplicity, and grace of this liturgy.

Me? To misquote Dick Clark…”I give it a ten…you can pray to it.’

God bless you all!



  7 comments for “Grumpy Old Catholics

  1. And Also With You
    September 15, 2012 at 6:35 am

    No, the new missal is not my liturgy and never will be. I'll be back when they change the liturgy back to the way it was in the middle of 2011.

    • September 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

      This is unfortunate, but perhaps it’s better that you don’t attend Mass until you come to wisdom about the validity of these ‘changes’.

      The new missal is in keeping with the translation every other English-speaking nation has adopted. Ours was hijacked by those who believed in ‘transforming’ the Catholic Church in the US into something ‘beyond Christ’. Remember, this is a stated goal of several leaders in the LCWR.,

      The translation was a bad one – and intentionally so. By watering down the language, there was an attempt to diminish the Catholic Mass until we become little more than just another flavor of Christianity – like dozens of Protestant denominations. Sorry, we are the One True Church, holy and Apostolic.

      I also find it distressing that you think that you are more important than the community who participates in Mass with you. Through your intransigence, you create a discordant voice in the choir. Instead of a community of worshipers, you have set yourself apart and disrupt that unity of spirit and purpose. How unfortunate for you that you take an act of worship and turn it into an exercise of defiance.

      Thank you for proving my thesis. My essay is justified by your comments and your silly name and fake email address.

      California, eh? No wonder you are unhappy. You might want to try that church in Oakland where the priest dresses up like Barney and conducts masses made up like a clown. I am sure that he doesn’t bother with the new Missal.

  2. Kevin
    February 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Although you don't seem to see it, unfortunately there is quite a lot that is wrong with the new translation. The one example you highlight is a case in point: consubstantial comes from a word which means "of the same substance" which is an odd thing to say about God. God is not a substance. We should use language that elevates– not bring God down to the material world. The intent is to say that Jesus and The Father are the one God, the same essence, the same Being — not made of the same stuff. It may be that consubstantial can mean this in Latin or that Latin doesn't have as many ways to say "being" — but in English it is incorrect (not to mention totally messes with the rhythm of the spoken words — so it loses its beauty and its simple truth).
    I suspect that there will be further changes to correct these problems — assuming we don't move back to Latin-only.
    Because of character length constraint — I will continue in another post.

    • Kevin
      February 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Using different words in the liturgy does not necessarily make one "disobedient". We can obey God and follow His commands without having to be in lock-step with what the bishops say. (In fact, sometimes we may need to). My father used to never do the "sign of peace". He would strike his breast 3 times during Lamb of God and then wait quietly with closed eyes while the congregation was busy shaking hands at the behest of the priest. He was not being disobedient. He was following his heart and worshipping in a way that brought him closer to God. I find that the new translation distracts me from what is important (e.g., hearing the priest recite the word "chalice" 3 times in a row not only feels too removed from what Jesus actually said/did, but really disrupts the focus).

      • Kevin
        February 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

        continued again:
        I think you need to be a little more understanding. We've prayed a certain way for 40+ years — and the older way was part of our identity as Catholics. My wedding, my father's funeral, my daughter's baptisms all used the earlier translation — it felt like a part of me and I was a part of a larger thing. I haven't heard really any good reasons to change it and yet we are supposed to just "obey" as if we are robots. In fact, we have spirits too — not just the priest.
        Your post also suggests that you are more concerned with differentiating Catholicism from other Christian faith traditions than anything else. Why? Ecumenism is not a bad thing. In fact, our Church is considered to be in a state of sin because we are divided. It is an honorable pursuit to work toward greater unity and agreement as long as we are true to the core values and teachings. By the way: many of the protestant churches changed their language to be more like the Roman Catholic, not the other way around. After we changed, they went from "And with thy spirit" to "And also with you".
        God bless.

      • February 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        Thanks for your observations and contribution. I certainly understand what you are saying. My complaint is addressed to those who make the conscious choice to loudly and arrogantly employ the old usage. I see a lot of people who aren't regular church goers stumble over the new usage – and I don't have a problem with it. I do have an issue with those who go to Mass regularly and seek to disrupt the shared liturgy. We have liturgy to join us as one people worshiping in one voice. A person forgetting the odd 'And with your spirit' is different then one shouting 'and also with you' and glaring around the church to see if everyone heard you.

        As to ecumenicism, I have no problem with it, but I am Catholic. Being Catholic means a degree of obedience. There are certain actions – in and out of the pews – that Catholics are expected to cleave to. As to being 'lock-step' with our Bishops – as long as the bishop is acting within the Magisterium and his authority, we are indeed expected to be in 'lock-step' in certain matters. This too is part of being Catholic.

    • February 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Consubstantiality is a term that has a long history in Christology. It was coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes and is used to describe the nature of the Divine Persons of the Trinity. Consubstantiality or – if you prefer the Greek homoousian – was incorporated into the Nicene Creed and has been part of the Magisterium since 325. This language articulates the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as disctinct but co-equal and co-substantial Persons.

      The revision actually brings the Missal and our prayers back into line with the intent as articulated in the Council of Nicaea. Frankly, the 'one in being' was nebulous at best and could be considered to be somewhat Sabellian in nature – one of our earlier and most fundamental heresies. It stated that Christ and God were essential one person and the division is like two sides of a coin. This is not Catholic teaching.

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