September 22, 2006

Be Our Guest / Anthony Basso

Gospel compels us to move out of our comfort zone

How very sad that a recent reader felt the need to call upon the magisterium of the Church to “reprioritize” its agenda (The Criterion, Sept. 15 issue). This hardly seems the prerogative of a lay person. That the Holy See continues to revise the vernacular translations of the order of the Mass does not, in any way, indicate that helping the poor, the ill and the suffering is a low priority for the hierarchy.

The reader, in fact, points out that the revision of the texts is the work of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, whose purpose is, as its name indicates, to tend to the worship and sacraments that provide for the spiritual needs of our broken world. The letter writer obviously has overlooked the existence and efforts of so many pontifical councils within the Roman curia dedicated to meeting the world’s physical needs.

Furthermore, that our world is full of ill and suffering souls is no excuse for us to not have a sublime liturgy using reverent language. The poor, Christ tells us, will always be with us. That should not keep us from celebrating the sacrament of our salvation with great dignity.

Rather than complaining of the strong fragrance or high cost of such “precious oil,” we should focus our attention on the commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice. (See Jn 12:1-8.) Concerning the translation in question—“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof … ”—this is by no means an innovation, but rather a more accurate translation of the Latin of the Novus Ordo propagated by the Second Vatican Council.

The argument goes on to suggest that a new translation might not be relevant to the Catholic population of the “global south,” a point of no validity since this line is a direct quote from Scripture, which is relevant in any hemisphere.

Might it be an uncomfortable transition to the revised translation? Yes. But does that mean we should allow ourselves to perpetuate that which is inaccurate simply for the sake of being comfortable? Absolutely not! The Gospel compels us to move out of our comfort zone, to pick up our cross and follow Christ daily.

This same reader laments the lack of lay input in the text revisions. Our Mother the Church is not, and has not ever been, a democracy, but rather a monarchy, ruled by Christ—the king of kings and entrusted to the stewardship of the Roman pontiff and episcopal college.

(Anthony Basso is a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.)†


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