Twitter is a funny business. Over the past couple of days I've gained about sixty new followers, all because of what is becoming my most successful tweet ever:
"I find it funny that most priests complaining about the new translation are the same ones who change the words we have now."
When I say that this tweet was successful I mean that it has been "retweeted" by others to all of their followers. I often get a retweet or two for pithy assertions and off-beat sayings, but this one has been retweeted fifty times. When one's tweet thus reaches out into Twitter through this retweeting, that's when potential new followers become aware of you.
It was an idle comment, for sure, but one that I meant. Mostly it was about amusement. As I listen to priests complain about how unspeakable, unprayable, unintelligible, exclusive, and unpastoral the new English translation of the Mass is supposed to be, I can't help but notice that the priests who complain the most are the ones who most often need to adjust the liturgical texts we have now. So, on the one hand, if they really like the translation we have had all these years, why do they feel the need to adjust it? On the other hand, what are they worried about, since they will probably 'adjust' the words of the new translation in the same way they have been doing up to now?
So the issues are deeper than translation, or perhaps the deeper issues come to an expression in the problem of translation. The tweet reveals that underneath arguments about what is pastoral or not, prayable or not, are deeper arguments about the nature and purpose of liturgy, the authority of the individual priest with regard to the givens and tradition of divine worship, and even the concept of truth.
As I have been saying for a while, it's the clergy who will have the hardest time with this transition, not the people. Last Saturday when I was visiting with my parents I went to morning Mass at the local parish. Twenty minutes. No general intercessions, no sign of peace. The priest banged through Eucharistic Prayer II from memory, without ever turning the page from the preface. Probably he's been doing that for years. That's exactly the sort of priest for whom the new translation will be a jarring experience.