Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ineffably delicious

A big thanks to the reader who sent me the link to this letter over at Father Z's blog (all emphasis added by Fr. Z.):
Dear Fr. Z,

First, thank you for your blog. I’ve been following it faithfully for about 2 years and I always find something interesting and informative. You are providing a great service to the church! [Thanks!]

I have a few parishioners with whom I meet once a month to talk about the liturgical reform and Benedict’s Papacy. Our fundamental question is whether the Mass we have today is the Mass intended by the Council Fathers. To keep it from descending to opinions, we are limiting our study primarily to magisterial documents. It is informative for them and edifying for me to see an interest in the Church and her liturgy.

This past week we decided to consider the USCCB Norms for distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds:

As a point of observation it is [NB] written by the American bishops [!] and received the recognitio in 2002.

When I reread the document is preparation for our meeting I about swallowed my teeth when I read paragraph 4, especially considering the failed vote to approve the most recent "Grey Book" based on some "high falutin’" word choices.

Here is the first sentence:

4. The eyes of faith enable the believer to recognize the ineffable depths of the mystery that is the Holy Eucharist.

Do you notice the irony? I simply had to stop and let out a good laugh.
I'm not sure if this irony is ineffable or merely sublime, but either way, it's pretty delicious.

Do you realize what it means? It means that the USCCB apparently thinks that John and Mary Catholic are way too stupid to use the exact same language they themselves routinely employ!

It also means that while the Mass ought, presumably, to be written in coarse everyday idiom, something as important as a bishops' document must be written in the highest and most elegant terms.

As a service to And Sometimes Tea readers, I'm providing the following experiment in translation, taking the exalted language in the Bishops' recent statement The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, which is listed here, and modifying some of it to be more accessible to John and Mary Catholic. A section of the document reads:
There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported. A preeminent example is the intentional taking of human life through abortion. It is always morally wrong to destroy innocent human beings. A legal system that allows the right to life to be violated on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

Similarly, direct threats to the dignity of human life such as euthanasia, human cloning, and destructive research on human embryos are also intrinsically evil and must be opposed. Other assaults on human life and dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified. Disrespect for any human life diminishes respect for all human life.
Oh, but that's way too wordy and complex! What were the bishops thinking? "Intrinsically"? "Preeminent"? "Euthanasia"? Why, it's almost as if they thought they were writing for mature, adult, educated Catholics!

Let's fix it, shall we? My changes are in red.
There are some things we must never do, as by-ourself-people or as a big group of us, because they are always against love of God and neighbor. These really bad acts must always be said no to and never said yes to. A really big example is the on purpose taking of human life through abortion. It is always sin and bad wrong to destroy innocent human beings. A law type that allows the right to life to be hurt on the excuse of choice is way messed up.

Similarly, direct threats to the dignity of human life such as killing old or sick folks, human copying, and really bad experiments on tiny humans are also really bad and must be said no to. Other disses on human life and dignity, such as killing whole groups of people, hurting people really bad on purpose, hating people for who they are, and the aiming at regular people in acts of terror or war, are always bad things. Disrespect for any human life makes less the respect for all human life.
There, now, isn't that better? One could almost imagine that document being read aloud at Mass, during the homily.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

SAY IT ISN't SO!!!
LOL!

This whole vocabulary mess with the USCCB is so asinine, well, I am at a loss for words.
O

John Thayer Jensen said...

I deeply fear the consequences of your posting that. Will they pick it up off Google and use it? Will our (New Zealand) bishops think it a good idea to follow and duplicate it?

Yesterday's Mass (today in the States) we had the Magnificat as the canticle. I wonder what they would make of "from henceforth" - "from now on??"

jj

Red Cardigan said...

Or, even worse, will the USCCB hire me to help them dumb down future documents?

:)

John Thayer Jensen said...

Or, even worse, will the USCCB hire me to help them dumb down future documents?

You may tell them - ambiguously - that you are not that dumb :-)