Monday, November 20, 2006

On Divine Worship

Goodbye, BCL, hello, BCDW.

As part of the reconfiguration approved at last week's Baltimore meeting, the USCCB gave its formal blessing to tthe evolution of its Committee on the Liturgy into the Committee for Divine Worship. Once the realignment is completed, the new BCDW will be tasked with an expanded purview, including added oversight for such entities as shrines and the Charismatic movement which, until the consolidation takes effect, will have been handled by committees of their own, now suppressed.

Still running under the BCL moniker, the new edition of the office's Newsletter has been circulating, with a wrap on the November meeting and some other goodies.

As first reported here Friday night, launching a feeding frenzy in its wake, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has communicated at the "direction" of Benedict XVI that the rendering of the Latin "pro vobis et pro multis" in the liturgical consecration of the cup is to be rendered as "for you and for many" in future translations of the Missale Romanum.

An October 17 letter to the presidents of the episcopal conferences from the dicastery's prefect, Cardinal Francis Arinze, said that while, "indeed, the formula 'for all' would undoubtedly correspond to a correct interpretation of the Lord's intention expressed in the text," the national groupings of bishops were "requested" to lay the groundwork "for the introduction of a precise vernacular translation of the formula pro multis (e.g., 'for many,' 'per molti,' etc.)" in the next translation that they submit for approval to the Holy See.

Observant readers will remember that, when the new rendering of the Order of Mass was approved last June, proposed amendments from two US bishops advocating "for the many" as the revised rendering were held up by the BCL, citing the Holy See's "expressed intention" to address the pro multis question on its own in due course. Rome's recognitio of the Order of Mass is expected as early as next March, but the bulk of the project remains to receive final review and approval from the English-speaking conferences; namely, the Propers of Seasons and the Saints. Longtimers will also remember hearing that it's likely not the last change Rome will introduce to the amended text that's been sent their way.

While, in its entirety, the new Missal is eyed for a 2009 rollout at the parish level, several of the translation battle's marquee players are keen to see the first Mass using the new rendering -- "for many" included -- celebrated by the Pope himself when Benedict travels to Sydney to celebrate World Youth Day 2008. In the meantime, however, the bishops also remind that "Absolutely no changes" to the institution narrative or any other normative text as currently laid out "may be made until the new translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Bishops and confirmed by the Holy See" in full.

A recent consultation was reported on in Leeds between the top officials responsible for liturgy from the US, England and Wales and Australia as they begun planning an extensive joint catechetical outreach to prepare the faithful in those countries for the implementation of the new Missal. And, elsewhere, the committee clarifies the place of the Kiss of Peace at Mass, apparently having received "received numerous questions concerning [its] omission" by priest-celebrants in the US.

"The Order of Mass makes clear that the invitation to exchange a sign of peace is given 'if the occasion so suggests' (ex opportunitate)," the response says. "The Priest may, for example, omit the sign of peace when an exchange of a sign of peace would be difficult in the light of the physical condition or arrangement of those present, or if it would present a health danger."

At the same time, the clarification emphasizes that "the sign of peace should never be omitted due to the personal preferences of the Priest," citing the General Instruction of the Roman Missal's exhortation that "in planning the celebration of Mass, [the celebrant] should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations."

In said context, no comment was made, however, on those celebrants whose inclination is to offer three fingers to the faithful at the sign of peace, keeping the "consecrated digits" of thumb and forefinger to themselves.

(Yes, this happens. In the Pauline Rite. More often than you'd think. And you couldn't make it up if you wanted to.)

While it passed with the support of 88% of the Latin bishops in attendance in Baltimore, the newsletter reiterated that the Directory on Music and the Liturgy for the United States will not take the form of a repertory of texts or "white list," as "the practicality of such a task in the United States of America is questionable in the light of the number of published hymns and new compositions regularly commissioned." The new Directory, therefore, is geared toward "providing more global descriptions of principles and criteria" and will shortly be submitted to the Holy See for the necessary recognitio.