Thursday, September 9, 2010

Roman Missal Implementation: Is it Change or is it Renewal of the Old?

(Apologies for the long silence on this blog. This is an incredibly busy time of year for those in diocesan catechetical offices, with all the parish start-up issues. It rather saps the energy.)

Back to the discussion  of  how parish leaders need to prepare for change with the upcoming implementation of the Roman Missal. In my last post, I referred to the article in With One Voice by Bishop Kicanas, who issued a call for change-agent tactics. Nobody likes change - especially in this era of rapid technological change - when most would prefer that the Church be an island of comfort and stability. I have discussed before in this space the issue of the pace of cultural change and how it affects the Church.  I posited then that there are two responses: to go forward or to hang back.

So, what is this process? Is it change, or is it renewal of the old? The implementation of the new texts is a case in which we are being called both to move forward to embrace a new future, but also to retrench and renew the liturgy as we do it. That, in effect, may make\ it twice as difficult. Some will see this simply as unwelcome change. Some will see it as recovery of something which was always there and never should have been changed in the first place - that the post-Vatican II translation was a temporary aberration.  Some will see it as one step forward, two steps back. All of these are valid feelings - but these may constitute the lines of polarization which are already developing in the Church over the issue of the Revised Roman Missal.

This is a complexity that goes beyond a simple call to change. Diocesan and parish ministers will be dealing with people all over the spectrum of opinion and acceptance.  This is not a case of all of us moving forward together as one people facing a single issue. Some people already see the new texts as a step backward. Some are overjoyed and see them as what is truly just and right and should have been all along. In the wake of the final approval by Rome, accompanied with additional changes which some have labeled as being even further from the Latin than the currently used text, some are frankly confused as to exactly how the translation principles of Liturgiam Authenticam have been applied.

In this "lull" between the approval and the implementation, it is good to take stock of the many issues and opinions we face and will continue to face as this thing moves forward. I hate to say it, but while change agency skills will definitely be important, perhaps the most important skills will remain, as they always have, the pastoral listening skills that every parish and diocesan minister needs.  We will need to listen to our people and assess the range of attitudes. Moving forward without acknowledging the confusion and diversity of opinions could make this a more difficult task.

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