Father knows best

My mother stopped going to church when they started saying the Mass in English. I would have too, except that I’d already thrown myself out in violent protest years before.

I loved the Latin, the incense, the fancy priestly robes, the rituals, the secret place they kept the chalice, the way they covered the statues in purple cloths, unveiling them on Easter. I just couldn’t take the dogma, the certainty that all those men knew best.

I especially loved my missal. It had Latin on one side, and English on the other. I’d read along as the priest intoned, trying not to look at the English till I’d figured out the translation in my head.

Dominus vobiscum.

Et cum spiritu tuo.

So beautiful.

“The Lord be with you,” the priest says now, in English, and the congregation responds, “And also with you.”

“And also with you?” How clunky, how ugly, and whatever happened to the spiritu part?

Now I see they’ve finally fixed it. “And with your spirit,” the congregation is told to say in the new Roman Missal – just like what I remember.

But lots of priests don’t like it, the Times tells us. As one of them says:

“The problem is syntax and word order. The sentences are too complicated, the pronouns are so far away from their antecedent you can’t even tell what the pronoun refers to.”

Maybe the problem is that the grade level of the new translation is 15, versus 9 for the old one, as a priest in Ireland discovered.

It’s important not to have to think too much, if you’re Catholic.

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