Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Critiquing the new translation alongside earlier ones

I'm still reading Anscar Chupungco's critique of the official English translation of Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I:
ICEL2010 takes liberty with the Latin text in unum corpus congregentur in Christo, a quo omnis auferatur divisio, whose literal meaning is: “they may be gathered into one Body in Christ, from which may every division be {482} removed.” It is obvious that a quo refers to corpus, not to Christo. There can be no division in Christ in the first place. (A Commentary on the Order of Mass, pp. 481-482)
That is a good literal translation of the Latin provided by Fr. Chupungco (a Benedictine monk). The English text he is critiquing, from the new English translation of the Roman Missal, is "they may be gathered into one Body in Christ who heals every division." He goes on to say:
The Latin text does not say that Christ “heals” every division. The verb “to heal” is not a dynamic equivalent, much less a literal translation of auferatur. What is prayed for is that all division be eliminated from the community, the body gathered into one in Christ. (Ibid, p. 482)
He has a valid point here. The verb auferre means generally "to remove". It appears in a penitential prayer of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (commonly called the Tridentine Mass), aufer a nobis... ("Take away our iniquities from us...").

I wonder, though, why here in the commentary on translation, mention is not made of earlier translations (e.g. 1975 and 1998) of the same Latin text; comparing the 2010 text to earlier translations happens quite frequently in this particular commentary. The two earlier translations I have noted (1975 and 1998) employed dynamic equivalency, and yet they rendered the phrase in question as "healed of all division" and "in whom all divisions are healed". Perhaps this is why a comparison or remark is absent.

While Fr. Chupungco is correct that "healed" does not translate (literally or dynamically) auferatur, I would dare to suggest that "healed of all division(s)" does dynamically (though not quite literally) translate omnis auferatur divisio. For, in this case, the divisions are in a body, a body which is meant to be perfectly united, perfectly one, utterly undivided. The removal, therefore, of divisions in this body appropriately be called "healing".

Translating the Sanctus

The Adoremus Bulletin had an article nine years ago about the proper translation of Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. This article pointed out that while "Deus" is a noun in the nominative (subject of a verb) and vocative (direct address) cases, "Dominus" is only properly a nominative noun. The vocative form of "Dominus" is "Domine", as in Miserere, Domine.

This means the strictly literal translation of the first line of the Sanctus is really "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts," instead of what we're used to, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts."

So I was a bit surprised when reading Anscar Chupungco's analysis of the new English translation, wherein he writes:
In compliance with the norms of formal correspondence advocated by [Liturgiam Authenticam], the English Sanctus for [Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I] in ICEL2010 (“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts”) appropriately corrects its 2007 gray book translation of this prayer (Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts). (A Commentary on the Order of Mass, p. 478)
There are a number of other inaccuracies in the final translation of the Latin text which the numerous authors in the Commentary have pointed out, but I was surprised at this one.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Biblical exegesis and interfaith sensitivity

I'm reading a new massive commentary on the Roman Missal by the Liturgical Press. It's very helpful for my research on the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers, but every now and then it rubs me the wrong way with statements like these (emphasis added):
A mystagogy of EP IV needs to point out that the early church or a patristic typological interpretation of OT passages can be problematic for contemporary interfaith sensibilities. Appreciation of the prayer does need to carry with it a certain note of caution concerning its appropriation of Jewish salvation history. In other words, contemporary exegesis of OT texts lets the Hebrew Scriptures stand on their own terms. That being said, the biblical approach of EP IV can be valued and appreciated on its own terms as long as one is aware of the contemporary critique. It is important to note that the NT texts themselves often approach the Hebrew Scriptures typologically. (A Commentary on the Order of Mass of The Roman Missal: A New English Translation, pp. 427-428)
While contemporary interfaith sensibilities might justly govern interfaith activities, there is no need to abandon the scriptural tradition of the Church in reading the Old Testament in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Yes, this is not just an "early church" tradition (as in going back to, say, St. Ignatius of Antioch), it is a scriptural Church tradition:  the evangelists did it, the apostles did it, John the Baptist did it, and Jesus Himself did it.  I see no reason to avoid typological interpretation of the Bible in a mystagogical context.

Perhaps this will come off sounding insensitive, but do we risk losing parts of our authentic Catholic identity, to use a Johannine phrase, "for fear of the Jews"?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Translation: Awkward wording in the doxology

While I am for the most part pleased with the new English translation of the Roman Missal — what I've read and heard of it — there are a few awkwardly worded sections.

In this post, I'd like to examine one example: the concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the old translation, the priest said:
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father,
forever and ever.
This is a decent (although not exact) translation of the Latin, which reads:
Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso,
est tibi Deo Patri omnipoténti,
in unitáte Spíritus Sancti,
omnis honor, et glória,
per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.
If you haven't noticed, I'm putting the prepositions in bold. Here is a strict word-for-word translation:
By him, and with him, and in him,
is to you God Father almighty,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honor and glory,
during all ages of ages.
And here's how it is rendered in the new translation:
Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
forever and ever.
As you can see, the individual lines of the prayer have been re-arranged to match their order in the Latin, but I think it ends up being a little anti-climactic. The order of the Latin phrases is not, in this case, necessary to the form of the prayer; this is not a collect, for example, where the prayer takes the form of "O God, who did X, we ask you, grant us Y."

There is another problem which exists in both the old and the new translation: a missing preposition. This may not seem like a big deal, but the Latin does not simply say that all glory and honor is the Father's; it specifically says that all glory and honor is (that is, it goes) to the Father by (through), in, and with the Son, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This small detail is not captured by either translation, and can be tricky to convey in natural-sounding English.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Does the new translation of the Mass over-emphasize our sinfulness?

My parish prayed the Confiteor at Mass this morning.  One thing I have read complaints about, in the new translation, is that the Confiteor over-emphasizes our sinfulness.  "I have greatly sinned ... through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

Did you happen to notice, new translation aside, the First Reading from this morning's Mass?
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Geez, Isaiah!  Lighten up, would you?  And yet, the First Reading ends thus:
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
And so ends the Confiteor, or whatever Penitential Act is used:  we acknowledge that God is almighty in His mercy, capable of granting us forgiveness of our sins, and ready to do so.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Praying the Mass" receives Seal of Approval from the Catholic Writers' Guild

I'm happy to report that the first two volumes of my series on the Mass have received the Catholic Writers' Guild Seal of Approval.  As we move forward into the new liturgical year using a new translation, I hope that people find thorough and enriching resources to help them receive the new words and personalize them in their own prayer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The commandments of Jesus

The new English translation of the Roman Missal is about to come into use in the United States.  It has been in partial use in England since September.  It appears, however, that not only Roman Catholics have prepared to switch from the current Sacramentary to the new Roman Missal.  Some Anglicans are (or were) getting ready to make the change as well.  But the Anglican Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, is not at all supportive of that initiative; in a pastoral letter released last Friday, he made this clear:
For those who remain [in the Church of England] there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the Eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.


Priests and parishes which do adopt the new rites – with their marked divergences from the ELLC texts and in the altered circumstances created by the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans to join the Ordinariate – are making a clear statement of their disassociation not only from the Church of England but from the Roman Communion as well.
You can read the letter yourself.  There is one small detail from the letter I wish to focus on, certainly not the main thrust of the letter by any means, but a Christian meme I have heard from time to time.  Bishop Chartres said that "among the very few commandments that [Jesus] gave to us is 'Do this in remembrance of me.'"

Jesus did tell His disciples — and us — to do quite a bit!
  • Do not swear at all (Matthew 5:33ff)
  • Do not repay evil for evil (Matthew 5:38ff)
  • Give to those who ask of you (Matthew 5:42)
  • Do your acts of charity in secret (Matthew 6:2ff)
  • Do not lay up treasure on earth (Matthew 6:19ff)
  • Do not be anxious about anything (Matthew 6:25ff)
  • Do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12)
That's just a brief selection from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is depicted as the new Moses.  As Moses received and dispensed the commandments of God, so too Jesus issues commandments.  There's more in the rest of the Gospels and the remainder of the New Testament.

Especially during this week following the Feast of Christ the King, I think we should avoid a reductionist view of the Gospel, of the commandments of our Lord.  There's more to it than simply "Do this in memory of me."  There are, of course, the two greatest commandments which sum up the whole of the law and the prophets, and without which that awesome Eucharistic commandment is of no avail.  And, as St. Paul reminds us, love is the fulfilling of the law.

So perhaps we can say Jesus did give us few commandments — love God and love your neighbor — and then explained in detail just how we are to do so.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Winner of Godspell ticket-drawing....

I ran my randomizer on the three (sad face) people who were entered into the ticket drawing:

  DB<1> @poss = qw( mymusicboxes monica joecleary );

  DB<2> x $poss[rand @poss];
0  'monica'

So there you have it (along with some free Perl debugger code).  The winner is monica.

So now monica needs to get in contact with me and I will send her the voucher for two free tickets.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Godspell in two acts

On Sunday evening, I went to see the musical Godspell with my oldest brother, Fr. Charlie, at The Circle in the Square theater at 50th and Broadway.  I received two complimentary tickets from the show's production company (Davenport Theatrical Enterprises) with the request that I blog about the show afterwards.

I'm going to approach this post in two acts: first an entertainment review, then an evangelical assessment.  There's even an intermission.  On to Act One!

The Entertainment Review
The show is performed in the intimate setting of The Circle in the Square downstairs theater.  This is a small circular stage, surrounded by seats on all sides.  Such a setting always introduces challenges to a production; you don't want the actors to have their backs to a quarter of the audience for too long.  But the setting also provides for a dynamic use of the stage space, as well as some playful self-aware riffs, such as the embellishment on Turn Back, O Man's "See ya later, I'm going to the front of the the-a-ter."
Hunter Parrish (l) as Jesus
and Wallace Smith as John / Judas
The stage is covered in trap doors which are used to great effect twice in the production, first during Prepare Ye (along with a comedic exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist), and then during We Beseech Thee... but I won't tell you how.  Just in front of the stage, on opposite sides, were cushion seats — not chairs, just cushions on the floor.  These might have been uncomfortable (and suitable only for younger attendees) but they were just one element of audience participation which occurred throughout the first act.  Much of the audience got the chance to mill about on the stage when some light refreshments were served during the intermission.

Tower of Babble
The show has been rather well contemporized:  the opening number (Tower of Babble) employs social media devices (today's enablers of babble, as my brother pointed out), well-known celebrities and public persons are impersonated and often playfully mocked (including Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, and even President Obama), and plenty of pop-culture references are infused throughout (including a reference to "Occupy Wall Street", a bit of the wedding procession dance, and a rather fitting incorporation of LMFAO's panegyric to alcohol and sex, Shots).  The vignettes in between the songs are done in a variety of styles, including hip-hop and game shows.

The updating of the show for today's (younger) audience is where the show takes its greatest risks, usually succeeding, although sometimes falling a little flat.  There are a couple of uses of "Jesus Christ" as exclamations, but these are very well-timed, obviously ironic, and ultimately non-offensive.  The "exclusive language" (e.g. "man", "he", "him") was retained in the songs, and in the vignettes which were not completely revised for other reasons; the archaic "Thee"s and "Thou"s are still there too.  There is also some degree of retention of the 70s origin of the musical, although not to the extreme.  As mentioned earlier, there were plenty of pop culture references — not that I got them all — and most worked well, although a few seemed forced and did not garner much of a reaction from the audience (such as a reference to iPad tablets being used in heaven because Steve Jobs is there now).  The updating of the vignettes also posed a problem of transitioning between a vignette and the song that followed it.  The transitions were a bit sudden in the first act, but I did not notice any such problems in the second act.

Telly Leung on piano
The cast was incredible and boasts several talented Broadway debuts.  Their voices were clear and powerful, and Telly Leung stands out in my memory as having a beautiful voice and an impressive range to go with it; his post-intermission singing took me by surprise.  Along with their voices were their passionate and emotional performances of the show's songs.  The audience was clapping and moving and singing along with them.  The Last Suppper scene is particularly poignant, as the disciples individually reminisce with Jesus via some gesture related to a song they sang or a vignette they featured in, before He embraces them warmly.

All in all, a very enjoyable Broadway experience, and a delightfully refreshing fare.  Playing beneath Wicked, no less!

First, if you would like to buy tickets at a reduced rate for the show, just click here, or enter the discount code GSPRD719 when you order them.

Second, if you would like to win two free tickets, either comment on this blog-post, share it on your own blog, or re-tweet this tweet of mine.  (That's three ways you can enter, and you may use all three to enter the drawing three times, but I won't accept more than three entries per person.  And no cheating... you're trying to win tickets to a musical based on the Gospel according to Matthew, for heaven's sake!)  I'll do a random drawing at the end of the week and the winner will be announced here and on Twitter.

If you want something to eat or drink, if you've already had something to eat or drink and need to use the restroom, now's the time.  Then come back for Act Two.

The Evangelical Assessment
No matter how you slice it, Godspell is a religiously-themed musical.  It's based on the Gospel according to Matthew, and not in a merely thematic sense, but in a dramatic sense:  you will hear several of the parables and teachings of Jesus Christ proclaimed in a positive manner in a Broadway theater.  Yes, it is couched in a half-modern, half-vintage setting, and it is paid entertainment — you pay to get in, and the actors get paid to perform their roles — but the musical gets its message in part from Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Godspell is an entertaining presentation of some of the Gospel, but does it work as an evangelical outreach to non-believers?  Does it inspire non-Christians to take not only the message of Jesus Christ, but Jesus Himself, seriously?

The Gospel as encountered in the show is, of course, not the complete Gospel, nor even the whole of the Gospel according to Matthew.  To be sure, much of Matthew's Gospel is incorporated.  (Roughly: Matthew 3:1-15; 4:3-10; 5:1-48; 6:1-6, 19-34; 7:1-12; 13:1-8, 18-23; 21:23-32; 22:16-21, 36-40; 23:1-39; 24:4-8; 26:20-22, 25-29, 34, 36-56; along with a crucifixion scene and Luke 10:30-37 (the Good Samaritan), 15:11-32 (the Prodigal Son), 16:19-31 (the rich man and Lazarus), and John 8:2-11 (the woman caught in adultery).)  The songs also draw heavily on the Psalms and hymns.

But these scriptural excerpts are only Jesus' parables and teachings and commandments.  As powerful and important as they are, there are no miracles represented, except as alluded to in local performances; for example, the 2011 Broadway revival makes a reference to the wedding at Cana, as a gag.

There is also little explicit recognition of Jesus as the Messiah or of His divine nature, although it is there if you are perceptive; for example, John's opening song is Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord, and the crucifixion includes the wording of "O God, you're dying".  Both, I think, are deliberately ambiguous: you can interpret them as saying that Jesus helps prepare the way of the Lord (but is not Himself the Lord) and the ensemble is using "O God" as an exclamation; or you could say Jesus is the Lord Whose way John is preparing, and the ensemble addresses Jesus as "O God" as He hangs on the cross.  (More explicitly, Jesus says "I send you prophets" in Alas For You. But does the average theater-goer pick up on the implication of that?)

There is also officially no representation of Jesus' Resurrection in the musical, although some local performances choose to add it.

So if you take the Gospel, remove the birth stories and the resurrection, omit the miracles, and leave out the other supernatural events (such as the voice of God the Father at the Jordan), you essentially have the Jefferson Bible; that is, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Jefferson's attempt to extract Jesus' doctrine from the New Testament, avoiding any supernatural aspects.  The Jesus that remains, while speaking the truth, is potentially not distinguishable from any other prophetic and charismatic leader who angers the officials and is put to death as a result: just another prophet in a long line of prophets.

Jesus' message in Godspell is clear: repent of your sins, forgive others who wrong you, live virtuously, and above all, love God. He mentions Hell and eternal punishment several times.

But the show does not provide an adequate or intelligible segue from Jesus' teaching to His death. During the song By My Side, it is mentioned that Judas begins to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus, but it is not said why. Jesus' tirade against the Pharisees from Matthew 23 is well-represented in the musical (especially through the song Alas for You) but it's not clear that those Pharisees have enticed Judas to betray Jesus, and why exactly they want Him dead. The Last Supper scene includes mention of a "covenant" but without any other context: what is a "covenant", what is the blood of a covenant, and why is Jesus suddenly having a special meal with His disciples? The result is that the crucifixion is simply the death of the disciples' leader, but not the death of his message and teachings which live on in the disciples.

So from that perspective, Godspell is about (part of) the message of Jesus, and not about Jesus Himself. I think that hinders its ability to evangelize non-Christians. (Not that I think the musical was written to be a means of Christian evangelization, but it is sometimes employed by Christians for that purpose.)

That being said, Godpsell preaches the message that God is love.  If people can take that message home with them, and if that message can be a good seed in the fertile soil of their souls, then the evangelical power of Godspell is immeasurable.  Consider the song We Beseech Thee from the musical (lyrics adapted from the Thomas Henson Pollock hymn, Father, Hear Thy Children's Call): "Come sing about love / that made us first to be. / Come sing about love / that made the stone and tree." The same Love Who made the universe made us each to be, and made man to be at all.  And the cast sings about Love so energetically, so passionately, so powerfully.  If only Christians could sing about Love — and speak, and act, and live about Love — with as much enthusiasm and conviction, the collective Christian witness would have unimaginable and far-reaching effects.

There's one difference, though.  I do not say this as a slight against the cast of Godspell, but they're paid to sing about Love.  As Christians, we are not paid to sing about Love; at least, we are not guaranteed any worldly reward.  Is that what stops us?  I hope not.  Let's starting singing about Love again.  Do it today, on your way home from work or school, as you prepare dinner or do the dishes, as you tuck your children into bed, as blog and tweet and surf the web.  Sing about Love.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Preparing the way of the Lord

This Sunday afternoon, after watching the Giants trounce the Dolphins, I will be boarding a train to NYC, foregoing the evening match between the Cowboys and the Eagles, to have dinner with my brother and then see Godspell at the Circle in the Square on Broadway.

A few weeks ago I received an email from the promotions director of the theatrical company producing the musical, offering me two free tickets so long as I blog about it.  And lately it seems like I need a motivation to blog about something!  (Work and home life have kept me on my toes and off blogger.)

So on Monday or Tuesday, expect another post with my review and commentary on the new production of Godspell.  (I was in a community production of it back in the late 90s, and I've been pretty fond of the musical since I first heard it, so I'm quite excited to see a new production of it.)

In the meantime, if you are in the NYC area and would like to get discounted tickets to the show, just go to http://tinyurl.com/GodspellBloggerDiscount, or go to Godspell.com and enter the promotional code GSPRD719 when you buy your tickets.

(And here's a mother's review of the show, writing from the perspective of a woman caring for an autistic daughter.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bible Study for College Students

For the past two weeks, I've been leading a Bible study for students at Rider University (in Lawrenceville, NJ).  We meet Thursday evenings; we look at the upcoming Sunday's Mass readings, and try to understand them in their context and their relation to each other, as well as apply them to our lives today.

Tomorrow we're looking at pericopes from Isaiah 25, Philippians 4, and Matthew 23.  Do you see anything in these readings that stands out as applying in a particular way to college students?  (Phil 4:12-13 reminds me of food and money in the college context...)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Malachi 1:11 in Patristic literature

  • Didache 14 - "But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. [...] For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice."
  • Cyprian, Treatise 12, I:16 - "That the ancient sacrifice should be made void, and a new one should be celebrated"
  • Augustine, Letter 93:20 - "against all your brethren that are found among all nations, to whom the prophets, and Christ, and the apostles bear witness in the words of Scripture"
  • Augustine, Letter 185:5 - "the Church spread abroad throughout the world"
  • Lactantius, Epitome of the Divine Institutes 48 - "Of the Disinheriting of the Jews, and the Adoption of the Gentiles"
  • Augustine, Answer to Petilian the Donatist 191 - "that living sacrifice of which it is said, 'Offer unto God thanksgiving'"
  • Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV:17:5 - "the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, [...] concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand [...] indicating in the plainest manner [...] that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him"
  • Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 41 - "He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist"
  • Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho 117 - "the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world"
  • Athanasius, Letter 4:4 - "Now He willed it to be in every place"
  • Athanasius, Letter 11:11 - "when the whole Catholic Church which is in every place"
  • Irenaeus, Fragment 37 - "the Lord instituted a new oblation in the new covenant"
  • Augustine, Tractates on John 35:7 - "Thou dost not come, O Jew, to a pure sacrifice"
  • Augustine, City of God XVIII:35 - "Since we can already see this sacrifice offered to God in every place, from the rising of the sun to his going down"
  • Tertullian, Against Marcion IV:1 - "Forasmuch then as he said, that from the Creator there would come other laws, and other words, and new dispensations of covenants, indicating also that the very sacrifices were to receive higher offices, and that among all nations"
  • Lactantius, Divine Institutes IV:11 - "that He might transfer the sacred religion of God to the Gentiles"
  • Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 18:25 - "the Churches of Christ are increased over all the world"
  • John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith IV:13 - "This surely is that pure and bloodless sacrifice which the Lord through the prophet said is offered to Him from the rising to the setting of the sun"
  • Tertullian, Against Marcion III:22 - "Now, inasmuch as all these things are also found among you, and the sign upon the forehead, and the sacraments of the church, and the offerings of the pure sacrifice"
  • Apostolic Constitutions VI:XXIII - "Instead of a bloody sacrifice, He has appointed that reasonable and unbloody mystical one of His body and blood, which is performed to represent the death of the Lord by symbols. Instead of the divine service confined to one place, He has commanded and appointed that He should be glorified from sunrising to sunsetting in every place of His dominion."
  • Apostolic Constitutions VII:XXX - "On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord's day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jerome: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ"

(Reposted from two years ago...)

I've heard that quote of St. Jerome's many times. But I wanted to know its context. It comes from his introduction to the book of the Prophet Isaiah. It's written in Latin, of course, but it didn't take me long to find a decent English translation of it.
[I obey] the precepts of Christ who says "examine the Scriptures" (John 5:39) and "seek and you will find." (Matt 7:7)  Let me not hear with the Jews: "you are wrong because you do not know scriptures nor the power of God." (Matt. 22:29)  For if, according to the apostle Paul, Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24) and who does not know Scripture does not know the power or the wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Communion under both kinds

The diocese of Phoenix has been making news lately, because of the decision of Bishop Olmsted to implement the new edition of the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States (old edition here, new edition not online yet), abbreviated NDRHC.  The diocese has decided, for numerous reasons, to reduce the frequency of Communion under both kinds.  The diocese made the announcement through a news release and a Q&A.  While both of the diocese's documents have some flaws (typos, poorly worded phrases, important words being omitted), they are certainly worth reading in their entirety.

I'd like to take this opportunity to step back to look at some history and the documentation on Communion under both kinds.

Communion under the form of bread alone for the laity (and for any non-celebrating priest) became customary in the 11th century.  At the Council of Constance in 1415 it was decreed that the laity were not to receive from the chalice, under pain of sin!
Certain people, in some parts of the world, have rashly dared to assert that the christian people ought to receive the holy sacrament of the eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine. They communicate the laity everywhere not only under the form of bread but also under that of wine, and they stubbornly assert that they should communicate even after a meal, or else without the need of a fast, contrary to the church's custom which has been laudably and sensibly approved, from the church's head downwards, but which they damnably try to repudiate as sacrilegious.

Therefore this present general council of Constance, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, wishing to provide for the safety of the faithful against this error, after long deliberation by many persons learned in divine and human law, declares, decrees and defines that, although Christ instituted this venerable sacrament after a meal and ministered it to his apostles under the forms of both bread and wine, nevertheless and notwithstanding this, the praiseworthy authority of the sacred canons and the approved custom of the church have and do retain that this sacrament ought not to be celebrated after a meal nor received by the faithful without fasting, except in cases of sickness or some other necessity as permitted by law or by the church.

Moreover, just as this custom was sensibly introduced in order to avoid various dangers and scandals, so with similar or even greater reason was it possible to introduce and sensibly observe the custom that, although this sacrament was received by the faithful under both kinds in the early church, nevertheless later it was received under both kinds only by those confecting it, and by the laity only under the form of bread. For it should be very firmly believed, and in no way doubted, that the whole body and blood of Christ are truly contained under both the form of bread and the form of wine.

Therefore, since this custom was introduced for good reasons by the church and holy fathers, and has been observed for a very long time, it should be held as a law which nobody may repudiate or alter at will without the church's permission. To say that the observance of this custom or law is sacrilegious or illicit must be regarded as erroneous. Those who stubbornly assert the opposite of the aforesaid are to be confined as heretics and severely punished by the local bishops or their officials or the inquisitors of heresy in the kingdoms or provinces in which anything is attempted or presumed against this decree, according to the canonical and legitimate sanctions that have been wisely established in favour of the catholic faith against heretics and their supporters. (Session 13)
This was, in my opinion, a rather severe reaction to a rather reasonable request, that all the faithful should be permitted to receive Communion under both kinds.  Now, perhaps this needn't be done all the time, and the Church firmly believes that Communion under a single kind is not an incomplete Communion, but to forbid the laity from receiving under the form of wine seems unreasonable to me.  (To be fair, the "request" was a demand that the faithful ought (always) to receive under both kinds, which was deemed unreasonable.)

Less than 150 years later, the Council of Trent reconsidered the question of Communion under both kinds in Session 21, but merely affirmed doctrines concerning concomitance and the lack of necessity for one (other than the celebrating priest) to receive Communion specifically under both kinds:
The two articles proposed on another occasion but not yet discussed, namely,
  1. whether the reasons which moved the holy Catholic Church to decree that laymen and priests not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread only, are so stringent that under no circumstances is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and
  2. whether, in case it appears advisable and consonant with Christian charity that the use of the chalice be conceded to a person, nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions,
the same holy council reserves for examination and definition to another time, at the earliest opportunity that shall present itself.
The matter of the concession of the chalice was brought up in the next session, with the following result:
Moreover, since the same holy council in the preceding session reserved to another and more convenient time the examination and definition of two articles which had been proposed on another occasion and had then not yet been discussed, namely,
  1. whether the reasons which induced the holy Catholic Church to decide that lay people and also priests when not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread, are so to be retained that under no condition is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and
  2. whether in case, for reasons befitting and consonant with Christian charity, it appears that the use of the chalice is to be conceded to any nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions;
it has now, in its desire to provide for the salvation of those on whose behalf the petition is made, decreed that the entire matter be referred to our most holy Lord [the Pope], as in the present decree it does refer it, who in accordance with his singular prudence will do what he shall judge beneficial for the Christian commonwealth and salutary for those who petition for the use of the chalice.
In other words:  the Council of Trent left the decision up to the Pope, who at that time decided not to change the discipline.  Whether individuals were permitted to receive from the chalice by making a petition, I do not know.

Fast forward to the Second Vatican Council.  The first document, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, opened the door to Communion under both kinds:
55. [...] The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
By 1970, a list of specific instances when Communion under both kinds would be permitted was devised.  Another document from 1970 permits bishops to allow Communion under both kinds on other occasions, but under the following conditions: "Ordinaries are not to grant blanket permission but, within the limits set by the conference of bishops, are to specify the instances and celebrations for this form of communion. To be excluded are occasions when the number of communicants is great. The permission should be for specific, structured, and homogeneous assemblies."

The GIRM from 1975 gives similar instructions:
242. [...] [C]onferences of bishops have the power to decide to what extent and under what considerations and conditions Ordinaries may allow communion under both kinds in other instances that are of special significance in the spiritual life of any community or group of the faithful. Within such limits, Ordinaries may designate the particular instances, but on condition that they grant permission not indiscriminately but for clearly defined celebrations and that they point out matters for caution. They are also to exclude occasions when there will be a large number of communicants. The groups receiving this permission must also be specific, well-ordered, and homogeneous.
However, the US adaptation of the GIRM included "weekday Masses" in the list of occasions at which the chalice could be conceded, and in 1978, the US Bishops extended this to all holy days of obligation (Sundays included).

That this exceeded the intentions of the Holy See was made clear in 1980 in the document Inaestimabile Donum:
With regard to Communion under both kinds, the norms laid down by the Church must be observed [...] Episcopal conferences and ordinaries also are not to go beyond what is laid down in the present discipline: the granting of permission for Communion under both kinds is not to be indiscriminate, and the celebrations in question are to be specified precisely; the groups that use this faculty are to be clearly defined, well disciplined, and homogeneous.
Permission for Communion under both kinds on weekday and Sunday Masses does not fit that description. It was not until 1984 that Rome officially permitted the diocese of the US to distribute Communion under both kinds under their own conditions, and this is now reflected in the Latin GIRM:
283. Communio sub utraque specie permittitur, praeter casus in libris ritualibus expositos:
  1. sacerdotibus qui sacrum celebrare vel concelebrare non possunt;
  2. diacono et ceteris qui aliquod officium in Missa implent;
  3. sodalibus communitatum in Missa conventuali vel in illa quae «communitatis» dicitur, alumnis seminariorum, omnibus qui exercitiis spiritualibus vacant vel conventum spiritualem aut pastoralem participant.
Episcopus dioecesanus normas circa Communionem sub utraque specie pro sua dioecesi definire potest, etiam in ecclesiis religiosorum et in parvis coetibus servandas. Eidem Episcopo facultas datur Communionem sub utraque specie permittendi, quoties id sacerdoti celebranti opportunum videatur, dummodo fideles bene instructi sint et absit omne periculum profanationis Sacramenti vel ritus difficilior evadat, ob multitudinem participantium aliamve causam.

Quod autem ad modum distribuendi fidelibus sacram Communionem sub utraque specie, et ad facultatis extensionem Conferentiae Episcoporum normas edere possunt, actis a Sede Apostolica recognitis.
In the English translation of the GIRM (with US adaptations), this reads as follows:
283. In addition to those cases given in the ritual books, Communion under both kinds is permitted for:
  1. Priests who are not able to celebrate or concelebrate Mass;
  2. the Deacon and others who perform some duty at the Mass;
  3. members of communities at the Conventual Mass or the “community” Mass, along with seminarians, and all those engaged in a retreat or taking part in a spiritual or pastoral gathering.
The Diocesan Bishop may establish norms for Communion under both kinds for his own diocese, which are also to be observed in churches of religious and at celebrations with small groups. The Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted as its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or for some other cause.

In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America are to be followed (particularly nos. 27-54).
This brings us, finally, to these US Norms for Holy Communion.  After an introductory section on Holy Communion in general, the norms recapitulate what the GIRM says about specific occasions on which Communion under both kind may be offered, and about the bishop drawing up norms for his diocese and even permitting pastors of individual parishes to allow Communion under both species as they see fit (NDRHC 22-24).

The norms stress the need for proper formation (catechesis) on the Eucharist (25):
  1. the ecclesial nature of the Eucharist as the common possession of the whole Church;
  2. the Eucharist as the memorial of Christ's sacrifice, his death and resurrection, and as the sacred banquet;
  3. the real presence of Christ in the eucharistic elements, whole and entire--in each element of consecrated bread and wine (the doctrine of concomitance);
  4. the kinds of reverence due at all times to the sacrament, whether within the eucharistic Liturgy or outside the celebration; and
  5. the role that ordinary and, if necessary, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are assigned in the eucharistic assembly
The norms then address the matter of the ministers (ordinary and extraordinary) of Holy Communion (26-28).  Also mentioned are reverence (29), proper planning (30-31), preparations (32-35), and then liturgical directives starting with the Preparation of the Gifts through to the purification of the sacred vessels (36-55); the document ends with a concluding paragraph (56).

But back in paragraph 24, after quoting the GIRM, the US norms state this:
In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary minister[s] might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species or for using intinction instead of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice.
This part of paragraph 24 intersects with the list of reasons given by the diocese of Phoenix for limiting Holy Communion under both forms to certain times and under certain conditions (Q&A #4):
  1. To protect the Sacred Species from profanation (careless treatment, spillage, swilling, etc.);
  2. The practice is not in any way necessary for salvation — it is a fuller sign of Holy Communion, but not a fuller reality of Christ Himself than what is received under the form of bread alone;
  3. The practice is used to emphasize special feast days and other special moments in the lives of the faithful;
  4. The unity of the practice throughout the world is an act of solidarity in the universal Church — rich and poor countries alike; and
  5. In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion; when both forms of Communion are used frequently, "extraordinary" ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.
I want to close by pointing out that members of the faithful who are homebound or in hospitals routinely receive Communion under a single species, and that at non-eucharistic liturgies where Communion is distributed (e.g. Good Friday) it is distributed under the form of bread alone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How would you teach third-graders about the Church?

In two weeks' time I will be a catechist for third-graders at my parish, St. Hedwig's in Trenton.  The curriculum for the year (using the Sadlier series) is "We are the Church".  So I get to teach these third-graders about the Catholic Church: the who, the what, the how, the why.

On the first day, I'm going to ask them a few easy questions to get their brains working: what is the Church, who started it, who belongs to it?  But then I'm going to step back and ask them a more basic question: what does the word "church" mean?

How would you talk to the third-graders about the Church?  What language would you use (or avoid)?  What points of history and theology would you make (or pass over)?  And, most importantly, how would you relate it to them so that it's not a bunch of head-knowledge, but helps them grow as individual Catholics in that Church?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Approaching the altar

The faithful [...] understood well that they all partook both in the offering of the Mass and in the receiving of the Eucharist, both in sacrifice-oblation and sacrifice-banquet. The ancient ceremonial brought this out very plainly. The faithful approached the altar at the Offertory and at the Communion, first to give and later to receive. The Mass was both their gift to God through Christ and God's gift to them through Christ.

Fr. Busch, Orate Fratres vol. II, no. 5
quoted in Fr. Martin Hellriegel's The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, p. 41 (1944)

The Gospel at Mass

When, for example, on the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost we hear the Gospel of the "Widow of Naim" we must take it not only historically (as it occurred 1900 years ago) but also liturgically (as it is happening now). Today Mother Church brings her dead (or crippled) children back to the compassionate Jesus who by His life-restoring, life-perfecting mysteries will heal these sons and daughters and given them back to their Mother, the Church, turning her sadness into gladness. Weep not, good Woman, here is your son, your daughter, restored to life!

The Gospel (chanted or read in Holy Mass) is not only instruction, it is also revelation. In human form the divine becomes present. As often as the holy Gospel is announced, Christ the Lord steps into our midst. "Jesus in the midst of His disciples!" If the Gospel were instruction only, the frequent repetition of certain Gospel-portions might be considered unnecessary. But because it is an appearance of Christ, a revelation of the Lord, an "epiphany" of our God-King, it is as refreshing as the daily rising sun, old yet ever new. No matter how often a passage be read (liturgically, not just privately), no matter how well we might know its contents, it is for us another opportunity to say: Gloria tibi! Laus tibi! to Christ our Lord again becoming present in our midst.

Fr. Martin Hellriegel, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, p. 34 (1944)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Different methods of translation

These texts come from various translations of the Roman Missal, courtesy Fr. Z. They are the collect for September 9, the memorial of St. Peter Claver.

Latin (2002 Missale Romanum)
Deus, qui beatum Petrum servorum servum effecisti
eumque mira in eis iuvandis caritate et patientia roborasti,
eius nobis intercessione concede,
ut, qua Iesu Christi sunt, quaerentes,
proximos opere et veritate diligamus.

English (1973 English translation)
God of mercy and love,
you offer all peoples
the dignity of sharing in your life.
By the example and prayers of Saint Peter Claver,
strengthen us to overcome all racial hatreds
and to love each other as brothers and sisters.

English (2011 English translation)
O God, who made Saint Peter Claver a slave of slaves
and strengthened him with wonderful charity and patience
as he came to their help,
grant, through his intercession,
that, seeking the things of Jesus Christ,
we may love our neighbor in deeds and in truth.

Quite a difference in method of translation, eh?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

"And with your spirit" and the new Gloria

Thursday morning at 8:10 AM (Eastern) tune into your local EWTN radio affiliate to hear me speaking with Brian Patrick of the Son Rise Morning Show about the new English translation of the Mass, specifically our response "And with your spirit" and the changes to the Gloria.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Plum Barbecue Sauce

It's slow-going at The Cross Reference.  It's been over a month since I posted here... but I've got a lot going on, between work, home, book-research, earthquakes, hurricanes, and roast pork tenderloins with plum barbecue sauce.

Yes, delicious pork with delicious plum sauce.  Check out the recipe at my wife's blog, The Pursuit of Vegetables.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Euthanasia and compassion

There are two words or phrases that are bandied about when euthanasia is brought up in a positive light: "compassion" and "putting someone out of his/her misery". One is wrong (and dreadfully so) and one is correct (and dreadfully so).

It is not "compassionate" to euthanize someone; at least, not according to what "compassion" means. It comes from the Latin com- ("with") passio -> patior ("suffer, endure"). To be compassionate toward someone is to suffer with them, not to remove their suffering (and their life along with it). Euthanasia is utterly anti-compassionate.

But euthanizing someone certainly does "put him out of his misery." Again, we must consider what "misery" and "miserable" really mean. The Latin root is miser ("pitiable"): misereo means "to show pity" and miserabilis means "worthy of pity." To show pity to someone means to show mercy to them. Indeed, the word "mercy" comes from the Latin misericors (misereo + cor "heart"), essentially meaning "a heart that shows pity". So yes, euthanizing a man puts him out of his misery! It removes from him the need to be shown mercy to; it removes from him that which compels another who has a heart to show him mercy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pius X, XI, and XII on congregational singing at Mass

Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times. (Tra le sollecitudini, Pius X, 1903)

In order that the faithful may more actively participate in divine worship, let them be made once more to sing the Gregorian Chant, so far as it belongs to them to take part in it. It is most important that when the faithful assist at the sacred ceremonies, or when pious sodalities take part with the clergy in a procession, they should not be merely detached and silent spectators, but, filled with a deep sense of the beauty of the Liturgy, they should sing alternately with the clergy or the choir, as it is prescribed. If this is done, then it will no longer happen that the people either make no answer at all to the public prayers -- whether in the language of the Liturgy or in the vernacular -- or at best utter the responses in a low and subdued manner. (Divini Cultus, Pius XI, 1928)

Therefore, they are to be praised who, with the idea of getting the Christian people to take part more easily and more fruitfully in the Mass, strive to make them familiar with the "Roman Missal," so that the faithful, united with the priest, may pray together in the very words and sentiments of the Church. They also are to be commended who strive to make the liturgy even in an external way a sacred act in which all who are present may share. This can be done [...] in high Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant. (Mediator Dei, Pius XII, 1947)

It is the duty of all those to whom Christ the Lord has entrusted the task of guarding and dispensing the Church's riches to preserve this precious treasure of Gregorian chant diligently and to impart it generously to the Christian people. [...] May it thus come about that the Christian people begin even on this earth to sing that song of praise it will sing forever in heaven. (Musicae Sacrae, Pius XII, 1955)

In solemn Mass there are three degrees of the participation of the faithful: a) First, the congregation can sing the liturgical responses. These are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias. Every effort must be made that the faithful of the entire world learn to sing these responses. b) Secondly, the congregation can sing the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei. Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts, particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies. But if they are unable to sing all these parts, there is no reason why they cannot sing the easier ones: Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei; the choir, then, can sing the Gloria, and Credo. In connection with this, the following Gregorian melodies, because of their simplicity, should be learned by the faithful throughout the world: the Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei of Mass XVI from the Roman Gradual; the Gloria in excelsis Deo, and Ite, missa est-Deo gratias of Mass XV; and either Credo I or Credo III. In this way it will be possible to achieve that most highly desirable goal of having the Christian faithful throughout the world manifest their common faith by active participation in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and by common and joyful song. c) Thirdly, if those present are well trained in Gregorian chant, they can sing the parts of the Proper of the Mass. This form of participation should be carried out particularly in religious congregations and seminaries. (De Musica Sacra, Sacred Congregation for Rites (during Pius XII), 1958)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Looking for the following books...

If you own any of the following books, and would be willing to part with it briefly so that I can read them and take notes from them, I would be most grateful!

Leave a comment letting me know which book(s) you can provide.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Is the Eucharist a sacrifice "before" it is a meal?

The following is from a series of comments made on a post on the Pray Tell Blog.  The comments have been edited slightly to keep the conversation focused on the matter of the Eucharist as a sacrifice "before" (my language) it is a meal.

Gerard Flynn: The offering, made by the community, of the body and blood of the Lord, to God, which takes places after the institution narrative, constitutes the sacrifice of the mass. It is the kernel of that which allows the mass to be called a sacrifice.

Jeffrey Pinyan: Certainly — it’s what makes the Mass a sacrifice. It’s what makes the Eucharist a sacrifice to God before It is a banquet for us.

Gerard Flynn: There is no basis for your claim that the eucharist is a sacrifice before it is a banquet. Your use of the word ‘before’ is ambiguous since, on the one hand, it may simply be an indication that X is anterior to Y. However, on the other hand, it may be interpreted in a qualitative, rather than in a temporal sense. In either case, it is unhelpful.

Jeffrey Pinyan: I don’t think that my claim is baseless or unhelpful. Chronologically speaking, the Eucharist is offered to (and received by) God as a sacrifice in the anaphora, and only after the anaphora is the Eucharist offered to (and received by) us as a communal banquet. Qualitatively speaking (from the Catholic perspective), does not the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice? It’s not just Jesus’ favorite or last meal, or a meal to remember Him by. It is a sacrificial meal, not just of His Body and Blood, but of the Body which He gave and the Blood which He poured out. The Eucharist, being in the forms of bread and wine, is clearly meant to be received by us, to be eaten. I lament that western Catholics generally lost sight of that for centuries. But I think it is easier to lose sight of the Eucharist as being a sacrifice which we offer to God, and I would lament the loss of this understanding.

Gerard Flynn: If you simply mean that the eucharist is a sacrifice before it is a meal, in an anterior sense, the point is so trite and inocuous that it doesn’t deserve to have any cyber ink spilt over it.

Jeffrey Pinyan: I think it’s worth noting that such an important part of the anaphora, the offering of the Eucharist to God, can be missed if we’re not paying attention. It’s what makes the Mass a sacrifice and not just a factory for producing Communion. It’s hard to miss the Communion Rite, but it’s easy to miss the offering in the anaphora.

Gerald Flynn: Furthermore, to claim that God receives the sacrifice before the eucharist is consumed is to conflate and confuse the two spheres of human existence (time) and divine existence (eternity). It is anthropomorphic nonsense to speak of anteriority in this context.

Jeffrey Pinyan: Then keep the perspective temporal — we offer it to God before we presume to receive it ourselves. Or, you could say that God gets the first-fruits of the Eucharist.

At this point, Tom Poelker replied to my "qualitatively" point from my second response, which I'll repeat here:

Jeffrey Pinyan: Qualitatively speaking (from the Catholic perspective), does not the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice? It’s not just Jesus’ favorite or last meal, or a meal to remember Him by. It is a sacrificial meal, not just of His Body and Blood, but of the Body which He gave and the Blood which He poured out.

Tom Poelker: Could someone better versed in Scripture and history than I please check this? Was not the Eucharist celebrated as a meal long before it was cited as a sacrifice? Was not the Eucharist valued as a memorial meal before it was valued as a sacrifice? If I am remembering this correctly,then it is impossible that “the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice.”

Jeffrey Pinyan: The first Eucharist anticipated, or pre-presented, the sacrifice of the Cross. Christ called the bread His body “which IS given” and the wine His blood “which IS [being] poured out”. Our liturgical texts use the future tense because of the Clementine Vulgate, I think, but the Greek uses present passive participles.

Tom Poelker: Why are you not addressing the original perceptions of the Eucharist instead of repeating the later theological thoughts about it? This is exactly what I was trying to get away from, in seeking more information about what is known from Paul and Luke and the writings of the next generation or two. When did this looking back and connecting it to sacrifice begin, if I am correct that it is not the earliest frame of reference?

At this point, I decided to provide some scriptural starting points from which Tom and I could continue our discussion.

Jeffrey Pinyan: Tom, earlier, you had asked: “Was not the Eucharist celebrated as a meal long before it was cited as a sacrifice? Was not the Eucharist valued as a memorial meal before it was valued as a sacrifice?” Is the core of the matter whether Christians considered the Eucharist a sacrifice offered to God, or whether they considered the Eucharist to be sacrificial?

Here are some verses which I think display a first-or-second-generation perception of sacrifice in the (first) Eucharist.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28)

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mk 14:24)

“This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:19-20)

“Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7)

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)

“This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. ” (1 Cor 11:24-26)

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” (Heb 13:10)

[Christians quickly (at least by Justin Martyr's time) saw the Eucharist as the fulfillment of Mal 1:11. That seems to say something about the nature of the Eucharist as an offering/sacrifice to God.]

Then I provided commentary on those verses.

Jeffrey Pinyan: Jesus says the bread is His body “which is (given) for” us; He refers to His blood as the “blood of the covenant”, or to the cup as “the new covenant in my blood.”

His institution of the Eucharist is marked by sacrificial language (especially when you consider the verb tense in the Greek) — the bread and wine become present manifestations of His future Passion. The “covenant” language evokes Exodus 24: “And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you …’” The blood comes from a sacrifice; my apologies if this point is trite or inocuous.

When Jesus says that we should “do this in remembrance” of Him, part of the “this” is the making present of the covenant-sacrifice by means of bread and wine. And it is not only being made present to us, but to the Father as well. This is why Paul can say that we participate in Christ’s body and blood via the bread and cup, and how we “proclaim the Lord’s death” by celebrating the Eucharist (and specifically by eating it).

The eating then brings us the “pasch” imagery. Jesus is our pasch, our Passover Lamb. Not only did the Israelites sacrifice a lamb and then eat it, but they smeared its blood on their doorposts, in effect “showing” the sacrifice to God. The Passover was at once a meal and a sacrifice, inextricably linked: if you sacrificed it but did not eat it, you were not following the commandment (and who knows if you would have ended up dead?); if you ate the meal without sacrificing the lamb (and smearing its blood), the meal was not a covenant meal at all.

So the Passover’s efficacy as a meal was rooted in it being a sacrifice, while its efficacy as a sacrifice was only realized if it was eaten as a meal.

Finally, the obscure mention of “an altar” from which Christians have a right to eat (I do not think I am out of bounds to say that) in Hebrews 13 implies a sacrifice offered on that altar, the fruits of which are consumed by those offering.

Friday, July 01, 2011

NEW Catechism Search

I've spent the past two weeks developing a new version of my Catechism search engine.  You can see the results of my labors here: http://www.catholiccrossreference.com/tools/

The Compendium, Lectionary, and Document search engines will be similarly updated during the month of July.

Friday, June 24, 2011

John is the voice: The Nativity of John the Baptist

The following is from St. Augustine's sermon #293:

John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever. Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.

Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains? Where is John’s baptism today? It served its purpose, and it went away. Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate. It is in Christ that we all believe; we hope for salvation in him. This is the message the voice cried out.

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him”.

What does prepare the way mean, if not “pray well”? What does prepare the way mean, if not “be humble in your thoughts”? We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ”, you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself.

He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two more books on the new translation of the Mass

In addition to the three books I mentioned earlier, there are two more that have recently come to my attention.  Magnificat has one coming out this month (The Roman Missal Companion), and another local author (Mary Poust, from the diocese of Metuchen, my former stomping grounds) published a book on the Mass and prayer in March, The Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tools back online!

Thanks to the generous offer from Ryan M. (who I know through the Catholic Answers Forums), my Catechism, Lectionary, and Magisterial Documents search tools now have a new home, with an easy-to-remember address (as recommended by John):  www.CatholicCrossReference.com

I will be making several enhancements to the web site over the next two weeks, but the tools are operational right now.  Look for a shiny "official" release on July 1 (the Feast of the Sacred Heart and the Feast of the Most Precious Blood).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Books on the new translation of the Mass

I've just finished reading Mystical Body, Mystical Voice.  I've already read A Biblical Walk Through the Mass and The Mass.  These are the three other books on the new translation I'm aware of.  In the near future (July?) I will post reviews of each of these books.  I'll also highlight how my books differ from these others.

Have a blessed Pentecost!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tools offline

Update:  The tools are back online at http://www.catholiccrossreference.com/

For the past two weeks or so, my Catechism, Lectionary, and Document search tools have been offline.  This is a server problem which is outside of my control.  The administrator of the web server which hosts my programs is attempting to resolve the issue.

The technical details:  the web server did not restart after a power outage and is not booting up completely.  The hard disk is expected to be recoverable (meaning my code is not lost), but I do not have a time-table for this.

I've received a few emails about this and have responded individually, but this is the most convenient way for me to get this information across to my readers and those who use the programs.  When a solution has been found, I'll announce it here.

One possible solution was provided by a generous reader who offered free server hosting for the tool.  I may very well take him up on this offer.  Any recommendations for a good domain name for a web site hosting Catechism, Lectionary, and Church Document search tools?  Memorable and easy-to-type are good qualities to aim for...

What Anthony Weiner can teach us

After a rather lengthy absence from blogging — between my personal life and my work, including a coding binge during April so that I could take a nearly three-week vacation in May (including two glorious weeks in England... post coming on that later) — I'm back on the scene.

By now you have heard of Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-D) and "Weinergate".  Long story short: congressman has sexually explicit conversations with several women online and on the phone, and accidentally sends a woman an inappropriate picture via a public tweet.  (He meant it to be a direct message, a private tweet.)  In a panic, he began concocting a fable that his Twitter account was hacked, and that he was the victim of some hoax or prank.  Yesterday, he set the record straight and took responsibility for his actions; he was visibly distressed during his public apology, which appeared heartfelt.

What can we learn from this?  What can be gained by looking at this little (?) scandal from a Catholic perspective?  A little foray into the Catechism of the Catholic Church (II.2.2.4 — The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, specifically nn. 1451-1454) sheds light on the matter.

When it comes to sin and reconciliation, Catholic theology calls the sinner's first step towards reconciliation contrition.  The Catechism defines it as "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again." (CCC 1451)  The Catechism goes further and distinguishes between two kinds of contrition:  imperfect and perfect.

Imperfect contrition is what we express when we consider the ugliness of sin or, more likely (I think), the eternal ramifications that our sins have on our own selves.  Yes, I'm talking about "the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner." (CCC 1453)  This imperfect contrition (also called attrition) is a contrition which grows out of fear.  This sort of contrition is not the ideal, but it is still a gift of God, a movement of the Holy Spirit within us:  it is sufficient for our honest entreaty to God for pardon and forgiveness, which is brought to completion in sacramental confession.  Imperfect contrition is infinitely and eternally better than no contrition!

The ideal, however, is perfect contrition.  While imperfect contrition is derived from fear of Hell, perfect contrition is derived from love of God, "a love by which God is loved above all else." (CCC 1452)  Instead of thinking of ourselves and the mess we've gotten into, we think of God and how, by sinning, we have offended Him, Who is "all good and deserving of all [our] love", as one popular Act of Contrition puts it.  This contrition moves us to be sorry for our sins out of our love for such a great and merciful God, a God Who endured the Passion and Crucifixion for us, because of our sins.

So what does this have to do with Rep. Weiner, the scandal, and the public apology?

If we take Rep. Weiner at his word, he is "deeply sorry" for the "terrible mistakes" he had made.  He is aware of "the pain this has caused" his wife, family, constituents, friends, supporters, and staff.  (Realize that his staff was told to lie about the situation — whether they knew it or not, they were spreading mistruths by advancing the "hacking" fable.)  He admits to not telling the truth and to doing things he "deeply regret[s]", and he apologizes for it.  He is "deeply ashamed of [his] terrible judgment and actions."  One would hope he will not make this errors in judgment in the future; that is, that he has a "firm purpose of amendment."  (He did not make this clear in his statement.)

Rep. Weiner is showing contrition for his sins, even if he didn't say it that way.  But let us consider why he is contrite:  due to a small accident of his keyboard, his actions were suddenly made public, brought to light.  I'm sure he would have preferred no one else ever knew about these things.  But because his conduct is becoming public knowledge, he feels remorse for what he has done.  I think we could consider that "imperfect contrition".  Who knows if he would have ever been moved to contrition if that inappropriate picture had been privately (rather than publicly) transmitted?

But let us not find ourselves in Anthony's situation of having a private mess made public, compounding our sin with more sin (such as lying), compelling us to come clean.  We should not wait for imperfect contrition, for a soul-shuddering fear of Hell to move us to ask God for pardon.  We must want to love God more fully so that our fear diminishes — as St. John so eloquently wrote in 1 John 4:18, perfect love casts out fear.  Let us learn from Anthony's mistakes, and our own, and approach the throne of grace and mercy, not looking over the precipice to the depths below, but looking ahead and up at our loving Father.  May we receive the grace to be truly and perfectly contrite for our sins.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Day After Tomorrow (Family Radio Edition)

If this post appears, it's a pretty good indicator that the "May 21, 2011" Judgment Day prediction advanced by Mr. Harold Camping was the latest in a long line of incorrect guesses about when Jesus Christ would return.

Jesus said on several occasions that He would return at an hour we do not expect.*  See Matthew 24-25 for a few examples.  He also made it clear that we cannot know the day nor the hour of His return:  [The disciples] asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"  He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:6-7)

Anyone claiming to have such knowledge is claiming knowledge beyond that which was given to the Apostles, knowledge that Jesus Himself appears to have disavowed in His human nature.  In Catholic terms, they're claiming to have an additional revelation that surpasses the deposit of faith which God placed in the Church.

* The trick to prevent Jesus from ever returning is to always be expecting Him to return, thus preventing Him from returning at an hour you do not expect.  But I'm sure we have better things to do with our time!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Son Rise Morning Show, Tuesday, 7:45 AM (ET)

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN radio this Tuesday morning at 7:45, to talk about my second book on the Mass and the new translation, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the Priest.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Books on the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite

Starting in June, I will begin work on the third volume of Praying the Mass, which looks at the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite (and their new English translation in the third edition of the Roman Missal).  As of right now, I am not planning on including the Eucharistic Prayers for Children, but I may change my mind about that.

What follows is my research list; these are books that do at least one of the following:
  • provide a commentary on the whole Mass (including the Roman Canon and/or other Eucharistic Prayers)
  • provide a commentary on the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite (whether just the Roman Canon or other Eucharistic Prayers as well)
If you know of any books not on this list that you think I should get, please provide them in the comment-box!
  • The Bible and the Liturgy (Danielou)
  • The Bible and the Mass (Stravinskas)
  • The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform (Vagaggini)
  • Catholics and the Eucharist (Clark)
  • The Church at Prayer (Martimort)
  • A Commentary on the Prefaces and the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal (Soubigou)
  • Discovering the Mass (Calvet)
  • The Eucharistic Prayer (Jungmann)
  • The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite (Mazza)
  • Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (von Cochem)
  • Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass (Gueranger)
  • The Great Prayer (Williamson)
  • The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Gihr)
  • The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Hellriegel)
  • How to Understand the Mass (Lefebvre)
  • The Liturgy of the Mass (Parsch)
  • Loving and Living the Mass (Kocik)
  • The Mass (Deiss)
  • The Mass (Fortescue)
  • The Mass (Jungmann)
  • The Mass (Oury)
  • The Mass of All Time (Lefebvre)
  • The Mass and its Folklore (Matthews)
  • The Mass of the Roman Rite (Jungmann)
  • The Mass and the Saints (Crean)
  • New Mass (Roguet)
  • The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer (Mazza)
  • Prayers of the Eucharist (Jasper and Cuming)
  • The Reform of the Liturgy (Bugnini)
  • The Splendour of the Liturgy (Zundel)
  • Study the Mass (Parsch)
  • Understanding the Mass (Belmonte)
  • The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue (Davies)

Eucharistic Prayer Inserts for Ritual Masses

LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Hanc ígitur oblatiónem
servitútis nostrae,
sed et famulórum tuórum N et N
totiúsque famíliae tuae,
quae pro illis tuam
exórat maiestátem,
quaesumus, Dómine,
ut placátus accípias:
et sicut eos
ad diem nuptiárum
perveníre tribuísti, sic
(tuo múnere desideráta sóbole
gaudére profícias, atque)
ad optátam sériem próvehas
benígnus annórum.
(Per Christum
Dóminum nostrum.
Therefore, Lord, we pray:
graciously accept
this oblation of our service,
that of
your servants N. and N.
and of your whole family,
who entreat your majesty
on their behalf;
and as you have granted them
to reach their wedding day, so
(make them rejoice in your gift
of the children they desire and)
bring them in your kindness
to the length of days
for which they hope.
(Through Christ
our Lord.
Therefore, Lord, we pray:
graciously accept
this oblation of our service,
the offering of
your servants N. and N.
and of your whole family,
who entreat your majesty
on their behalf;
and as you have brought them
to their wedding day, so
(gladden them with your gift
of the children they desire and)
bring them in your kindness
to the length of days
for which they hope.
(Through Christ
our Lord.
LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Recordáre quoque,
Dómine, N et N,
quos ad diem nuptiárum
perveníre tribuísti:
ut grátia tua
in mútua dilectióne
et pace permáneant.
Remember also,
Lord, N. and N.,
whom you have brought
to their wedding day,
so that by your grace
they may abide
in mutual love and peace.
Be mindful also,
Lord, of N. and N.,
whom you have brought
to their wedding day,
so that by your grace
they may abide
in mutual love and in peace.
LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Confórta, quaesumus,
in grátia Matrimónii
N. et N.,
quos ad diem nuptiárum
felíciter adduxísti,
ut fodus quod in
conspéctu tuo firmavérunt,
te protegénte,
in vita
semper consérvent.
Strengthen, we pray,
in the grace of Marriage
N. and N.,
whom happily you have brought
to the day of their wedding,
that with your protection
they may always be faithful
in their lives
to the covenant they have sealed
in your presence.
Strengthen, we pray,
in the grace of Marriage
N. and N.,
whom you have brought happily
to their wedding day,
that under your protection
they may always be faithful
in their lives
to the covenant they have sealed
in your presence.

LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Meménto, Dómine,
famulórum famularúmque tuárum,
qui eléctos tuos susceptúri sunt
ad sanctam grátiam baptísmi tui,
et [recitantur nomina
patrinorum et matrinarum]
et ómnium circumstántium,
quorum tibi fides
cógnita est…

Hanc ígitur oblatiónem, Dómine,
ut propítius suscípias,
quam tibi offérimus
pro fámulis et famulábus tuis,
quos ad aetérnam vitam
et beátum grátiae tuae donum
atque vocáre dignátus es.
(Per Christum
Dóminum nostrum.
Remember, Lord,
your servants
who are to present your chosen ones
for the holy grace of your Baptism,
[here the names of the godparents
are read out]
and all gathered here,
whose faith and devotion
are known to you.

Therefore, Lord, we pray:
graciously accept this oblation
of our service,
which we make to you
for your servants
whom you have been pleased
to number, to choose
and to call for eternal life
and for the blessed gift
of your grace.
(Through Christ
our Lord.
Remember, Lord,
your servants
who are to present your chosen ones
for the holy grace of your Baptism,
[here the names of the godparents
are read out]
and all gathered here,
whose faith and devotion
are known to you.

Therefore, Lord, we pray:
graciously accept this oblation

which we make to you
for your servants,
whom you have been pleased
to enroll, choose
and call for eternal life
and for the blessed gift
of your grace.
(Through Christ
our Lord.
LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Recordáre quoque, Dómine,
servórum tuórum,
qui hos eléctos susceptúri sunt
ad fontem regeneratiónis.
Remember also, Lord,
your servants
who are to present these chosen ones
at the font of rebirth.
Remember also, Lord,
your servants
who are to present these chosen ones
at the font of rebirth.
LatinEnglish 2008English 2010
Adiuva grátia tua,
quaesumus, Dómine,
servos tuos,
ut hos eléctos
verbo et exémplo perdúcant
ad vitam novam
in Christo,
Dómino nostro.
Assist your servants
with your grace,
O Lord, we pray,
that they may lead
these chosen ones
by word and example
to new life
in Christ, our Lord.
Assist your servants
with your grace,
O Lord, we pray,
that they may lead
these chosen ones
by word and example
to new life
in Christ, our Lord.