As we continue to adapt to it—and its growing on me, though the traditional Latin Mass is still the high point of Catholic Liturgy—this excellent article from First Things helps with the context we need to keep in mind, the Sacred.
“It was just about a year ago that U.S. parishes began using the new translations of the third edition of the Roman Missal—an implementation process that seems to have gone far more smoothly than some anticipated. Wrinkles remain to be ironed out: There are precious few decent musical settings for the revised Ordinary of the Mass; the occasional celebrant (not infrequently with “S.J.” after his name) feels compelled to share his winsome personality with the congregation by ad-libbing the priestly greetings and prayers of the Mass. Some of the new texts themselves could have used another editorial rinsing, in my judgment. But in the main, the new translations are an immense improvement and seem to have been received as such.
“Why that’s the case is explained with clarity and scholarly insight in a new book by Oratorian Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language (Ignatius Press).
“From the days of Christian antiquity, Fr. Lang explains, liturgical language—the language of the Church at its formal public prayer—has always been understood to be different: different from the language of the marketplace or public square; different from the language of the home. Liturgical language, at its best, is multivalent; it does many things at once.
“It is a language of instruction, teaching Christians to grasp the truths embodied in their prayers.
“It is a language of delight, attracting us to those truths through the beauty, even charm, of the prayed words and their arrangement.
“It is a language of persuasion and encouragement, urging us to conform our lives to the truths we lift up in prayer and spurring us to greater efforts to imitate Christ and the saints.
“It is not, to illustrate the point along the via negativa, the kind of language found in the old Collect for the Twenty-First Sunday of the Year (“Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world . . .”) or in the old Post-Communion Prayer for the Thirtieth Sunday of the year (“May our celebration have an effect in our lives”).”