Changing the words of Mass

In 2011 I wrote:

Like the TV detective Monk, I have a gift that is also a curse: I pay very close attention at Mass.

So when the priest veers away from the approved text, I hear it and fume. Used to. Now I go into my free-fly zone. Frequently.

In this zone, I wool-gather, daydream, write columns and imaginary sermons, etc. This means that one minute I’m saying “Lord hear our prayer” with the other faithful, next minute that I know about, I am rising for the Our Father.

Awful, I know. Can only say I’m working on it.

The paying close attention thing is a bigger problem.

The priest subs out “His” for “God’s,” “disciples” for “friends,” “Almighty God” for “Almighty Father,” etc. Two of these reduce masculine references, sparing feminist sensibilities. The other is apparently meant to de-emphasize levels of authority in favor of intimacy.

Irritating, if you are a listener like me, who has leaned toward close listening for years, even before becoming a reporter and having to get things straight: listen, listen, scribble, scribble.

Our friends  at the Vatican paid attention to this phenomenon. In 2004 they called it a “reprobated practice by which priests, deacons or the faithful . . . alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce.”

They said this in a disciplinary document, “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” issuing a must-cease order in the matter because such freelancing with the liturgy makes its celebration “unstable” and distorts its meaning.

I think so.

Unstable because worshipers who pay attention never know what they will hear from the man with the microphone up front.

Distorts meaning in various ways, including (egregiously) in the matter of the centrally located doxology.

That’s when the priest says in a fairly dramatic wind-up to the canon, “Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.”

To which the people say the Great Amen, affirming trinitarianism, telling the world we are not Unitarians, not Arians, that we think Jesus is God the Son. It’s a very important case of lex orandi lex credendi. As we pray, so we believe.

I have heard, however, “Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in, all glory and honor is yours, almighty God, for ever and ever.” For “Father,” God. It doesn’t deny the Trinity, of course, but it undercuts the liturgical expression. Why? Apparently to cut back on masculine references.

The priest sidesteps the fatherhood of God in favor of the politically correct non-reference to gender. It’s part of the church’s save-the-women project.

As for the Lord’s Prayer, I am waiting for “Our Parent, who art in heaven,” etc.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Free-lancing at the altar


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