When the translation isn’t about you

When the translation isn’t about you

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf links to and fisks a newspaper op-ed bemoaning the vote by the US bishops on the new translation of the Mass. In particular, the writer dislikes the change to the words, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the words and I shall be healed.” Read the whole thing, but it boils down to ignorance of Scripture and a self-centered approach to worship.

If I could point to the single biggest reason why so few Catholics go to Mass and why so many of the rest endure it, rather than joyfully enter into it, this would be why: Because we—and by this I include so many conservatives and Traditionalists as well—are more concerned about what the Mass does for us and we fail to see the point that we go to Mass to offer our worship to God. Just look at the words from the op-ed writer’s column:

Mass is the starting point for my week. A renewal that I participate in. The words, the music, the people - they ground me. ... There is one point in every Mass that is pivotal to me. It is when my heart opens and I feel myself at the feet of God, praying for his mercy. ... Tears form in my eyes every time I say these words. Every time. ... My world could be upside down, as awful as anything, but when I say those words in anticipation of Communion, I feel the hand of God in my life. I feel his forgiveness. I feel his love. And now? Now, the church wants to change these words to, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” My roof? Where is the emotion in that? Where is the feeling? What does it even mean?

And there you have it. Me. I. My. We act like teens who take our Father for granted even as we demand money for the mall and keys to the car. It’s all about our needs even as we fail to offer him the love He deserves just because He is.

This is why so many people say they don’t go to Mass: Because they don’t “get anything out of it.” The fact that you get anything out of Mass is secondary. The Mass is there for you to put something in: Your worship and sacrifice. Neither is the Mass our own private playground that must appeal to our aesthetics. A priest celebrating the Mass on the hood of Hummvee with one other soldier in a desert wasteland is offering as sublime a Mass as the highest of high Tridentine Masses.

In the end, it’s just not about you.

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