Missal Defense


This year, thanks to the adoption of the new translation of the Roman Missal, the First Sunday of Advent is looming like a date with a root canal. As I mentioned in my recent lament on this topic (“Up against the Wall,” July 15), the new missal is intended to steer us back toward a more traditional liturgy. Those who welcome such a move look forward, as one commentator put it, to “a new sense of dignity and decorum,” promoted through “reforms such as an altar orientation toward the East, kneeling for Communion, and better and more dignified vestments and furnishings.”

As a priest who does not welcome these changes, I’m under pressure. No, I’m not having trouble choosing which laminated in-pew response card to install. The problems are a lot bigger than that. I am wondering, for instance, how to reconcile a parish staff grumpy about the changes with a largely unsuspecting parish populace. Or what to do when attempting to explain this Trojan horse of a translation and the pointed agenda it may be hosting. In short, how does one make a sale when it’s tough to believe in the product?

As for parishioner reaction, I expect it to be mixed. Some—those who have been following this issue, faithfully reading their subscriptions to independent publications—will understand what worries priests like me about the new missal. On the other hand, some who have been teetering on the rail since the sexual-abuse scandals, alienated from the church to the point of leaving it,...

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About the Author

Fr. Nonomen (a pseudonym) is the pastor of a suburban parish. He has been a priest for more than twenty years.