It is obvious that the new translation will not be welcomed with open arms by everybody. There will be some who do not think the effort goes far enough, that even permitting the vernacular at all is a huge mistake, that even if it were in Latin the Novus Ordo isn't salvageable. Their mirror opposites are those who will reject the new translation on the grounds that it goes too far, that it works against the "Spirit of Vatican II" by removing trite and childish language in favor of poetic and formal, adult speech, and that it cramps the freewheeling, anything-goes liturgical style they've come to think of as their right.
I had hoped that my own parish would be spared some of the coming liturgical wars over the new translation--that its general spirit of docile acceptance would carry most of the parishioners through the adjustment period, and that with good instruction the parish would eventually come to appreciate and even embrace the new translation as a fitting work of the Church in her maternal care for her children. Alas, an incident that occurred this weekend has shown me how misplaced that hope really was. I am unfortunately not at liberty to discuss the incident in detail, especially as I did not personally witness it, but it has to do with a really unseemly display of anger directed at our dear pastor for his permitting a tiny spark of more traditional worship in the parish in the recent past. More than that I'm not able to say at present, though I hope to be able to share the whole story someday.
What the incident revealed, though, is that our parish has its share of people who really do think of the Church in terms of what has been called the "hermeneutic of rupture," described very well here by Dr. Jeff Mirus:
I like Dr. Mirus's description of the Mass--that those adhering to a "hermeneutic of rupture" were, as he put it, "...celebrating the Novus Ordo as if it were not a continuation of what Catholics in former ages had meant by the Mass, but a radically new rite of community self-praise..." because that, to me, sums up in a nutshell what has been seriously, deeply deficient not about the Novus Ordo itself, but about how it has been celebrated for so long by so many. Having had the privilege of attending more than a few Novus Ordo Masses characterized by as much pomp, reverence and solemnity as any Extraordinary Form Mass could display, I do not think that the problem with the Novus Ordo is the Mass itself; having also had the misfortune of attending plenty of Masses in which the priest-celebrant clearly thought of himself as a witty and clever emcee at a rousing form of entertainment with vaguely spiritual undertones no deeper than anything Oprah might offer, I am certain of it.
What is certain is that a great many within the Church were already infected with Modernism and too closely allied with larger secularizing trends. Some of these were present at the Council itself, and through their influence both as advisors to the bishops (periti) and as reporters to the general public, they sought to sway the Council’s deliberations in the direction they desired. After the close of the Council, undaunted by what the conciliar documents actually said, this same group of intellectuals was able to twist the Council to its own purposes, effecting in many ways a false renewal based on the so-called “spirit” of Vatican II.
In religious life (abandonment of habits, rules and charisms in favor of sociology), in catechesis (jettisoning Catholic doctrine in favor of modern feelings), in theology (reinterpreting theological tradition based on secular ideas and secular sins), in liturgy (celebrating the Novus Ordo as if it were not a continuation of what Catholics in former ages had meant by the Mass, but a radically new rite of community self-praise)—and in every other area from seminary training to diocesan administration—the Modernists and secularists rode the euphoric worldly wave of the surrounding culture to ever-increasing influence and ultimate dominance in Church affairs throughout the West, at least in most places short of the Vatican itself.
Thus had an ecclesiastical culture characterized by a “hermeneutic of rupture” come to characterize the daily experience of the vast majority of faithful Catholics throughout Europe and North America.
And the problem, the reason for the coming storm on the liturgy, is that plenty of people not very much older than I am really, really like an Oprahified Mass. They go to Mass not with any serious intention of entering into the Church's highest form of prayer, a fourfold prayer of petition, propitiation, thanksgiving and adoration, but to be praised, affirmed, and told how special they are by the whole community. The focus is not at all on God, but on the human self--and it's no wonder, really, that Sunday Mass attendance has fallen to around 30% of Catholics in America, when you consider how much easier and more comfortable it is to worship one's self by sleeping in on a Sunday morning, treating oneself to something nice at the mall, or going out for pancakes and coffee than by spending an hour in church.
Of the ones who do still show up, though, there are many who want and expect a Mass that doesn't mention God or sin more than strictly necessary, but where everybody gets clapped for sooner or later. These are the people who are going to throw whining, screaming temper-tantrums when it becomes obvious that all this talk of a "new translation" of the Mass wasn't just a blurb in the bulletin or some optional instruction that won't really impact anybody, but a mandate to the entire English-speaking world to reform the English used at Mass, and bring the prayers in English more in line with the prayer of the Roman Rite. I fully expect that some people will think that this is an attempt by "Rome" to control or take away "our Mass," which in their minds isn't actually connected to anything the Roman Catholic Church does, but is, instead, some sort of free-standing liturgical prayer made up by some cool American priests back in the 1970s. Of course, it's probably not their fault that they formed that impression in the first place, but that it has been allowed to fester so long in a welter of gross ignorance is really too bad.
And the worst part is that these sorts of people probably expect that what has worked for them in the past will work now: that if they simply stamp their feet and scowl or fuss long enough, their pastor or bishop will appease them by reverting to the former translation. It's going to come as a complete shock, I expect, to many of them to discover that their pastors or bishops have no power whatsoever to refuse to use the new translation, or to return to a practice of using the old one. They may threaten to leave the Church--they may even go ahead and do it--and the new translation will be implemented and used all the same.
I had thought that our little mission parish would be spared much of the drama that will accompany the new translation of the Mass come November 27, but I was probably being too optimistic. There is a storm coming, after all, and as the winds of change begin softly to blow away the trite and trendy and ugly and irreverent out of our churches we will start to see some of our fellow Catholics clinging desperately to the phantom they called the "Spirit of Vatican II," but who was really a mad illusion all along.