As I mentioned in my last post, I just spent two days in Decatur, Illinois,at the Diocese of Springfield Adult Enrichment Conference, where the theme, "Entering the Mystery, Renewing the People" was designed in part as a launch for the preparation for implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. The two main speakers, Fr. Richard Fragomeni, and Fr. Paul Turner put a good public face, for the most part, on what has become a mystery in itself: the current status of the texts, which have still not been fully returned to the U.S. Bishops, and around which controversy continues to swirl.
Fr. Fragomeni stressed repeatedly, however, that if the period of implementation is merely seen as being about changing words, we will lose a tremendous opportunity to renew people's understanding of the mystery of the Mass. He urged us to use the texts to engage people in mystagogical reflection, breaking open symbols to reveal their rich potential to engage the imagination.
In the Monday breakout session, he urged us to read poetry to cultivate our imaginations. This, he said, would help us develop the skills to look at the new texts. Now, being a scholar of Renaissance poetry myself, I have to admit that this makes sense. Many people in our culture have lost the ability to connect symbolically with language in a way that opens up the imagination. Priests who have a poetic sensibility will be better able to proclaim the new texts - and members of the Assembly who have allowed their experience of language to open up reality will be better able to receive this proclamation.
It was mildly distressing to hear confirmed what I had read in the blogosphere that if something (helpful) does not appear in the Latin Missal, it will not be in the English one. This includes indicators for "pointing" the chants of the priest's prayers (letting them know on which words the notes change) and other rubrical helps that we have become accustomed to in our current Sacramentary. There will be some improvements, to be sure (parish liturgists will no longer have to labor to put the Easter Vigil texts together by hand to work around the outdated order that predates the current Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, for instance.)
Fr. Turner, in his calmer, more sanguine manner, occasionally engaged in a bit of dry humor about the reported difficulties with the text, but it was in his closing talk that he indicated the full level of his frustration. He listed 12 objections to the current text, and pretty much debunked most of them, or at least softened them, but at the end he did indicate that the level of hysteria in the blogosphere and the reports of "10,000 changes" to the received text sent to Rome is daunting. He cited a poor process, during which ICEL members never met or communicated with Vox Clara members, and more. In the end, however, he seemed to indicate that this, too, shall pass. This was what both speakers brought, and I guess that is the best attitude to take toward the whole thing.