The Christmas season having ended, we find ourselves again in the tempus per annum, unfortunately Englished as 'Ordinary Time.' My first--and very influential--liturgy teacher used to refer to the typical day of low solemnity as the 'rainy Tuesday in Ordinary Time.' And so here it is. As the first day with the new translation when one is free to offer 'any Mass' as the Ordo puts it, a 'feria of the iv class' in an older dispensation, I decided to pray one of the new Mass forumularies for the dead this morning, offering the Mass for the the recently deceased father of one of the friars. Requiescat in pace.
After Mass I was thinking about how the prayers seemed like an improvement, and how they were more supplicative and contained less presumption about the deceased having already arrived at the beatific vision. But you know what? When I went back and looked at the old prayers, they weren't much different. I thought I would be writing a post about how the new prayers better recognized continued purification after death and the need to pray for the dead on their continued journey to the fullness of salvation. I was going to sing the praises of the new translation, saying that it would help restore a pastoral consciousness of the Last Things. As it turned out, there wasn't much in the old prayers to accuse them of failing in these things.
So I guess one has to say that the widespread error of presumption with regard to the state of the departed after bodily death is not the fault of the liturgy, or at least of the liturgy as the Church presents it (How the liturgy is celebrated, mis-celebrated, and abused is another matter.) Conversely, then, one has to say that the new translation won't auto-magically fix the problem. Thus we arrive, by extension, at a general principle: the new English translation of the Roman Missal will not magically solve all the pastoral and theological problems with which the Church is afflicted.
The new Missal isn't a savior. We have one of those already.