WHAT kind of language do English Catholics want in the liturgy? What form can we expect the permanent Mass texts planned by the hierarchies of all English-speaking countries to take?
At a conservative estimate the Advisory Committee on English in the Liturgy which is responsible for the international Mass text now being prepared will have to sift through the comments of at least 100,000 priests, religious and lay people to find the answer to these questions.
We would not presume to prejudge the final version. However, on the basis of some 200 replies received at the CATHOLIC HERALD in response to the two Mass texts printed on April 22, some trends in thought have become apparent. On this basis we have produced a composite of comment.
Every shade of opinion is represented--clerical and lay, men and women, young and old. Some like one or other of the texts, some like neither and give their own translations. All agree that the English for the new liturgy must be simple and noble, the best possible.
After tabulation of all criticisms and suggestions, the Ordinary of the Mass was translated in accordance with readers' wishes and the result can be seen right.
There was an almost universal desire to be rid of words like "begotten", "consubstantial" and "essence" but few attempted to provide alternatives. It was suggested that these words are so full of theological implications they will have to be accepted as part of a Christian's vocabulary.
Opinion on the use of "You" and "Thou" is fairly evenly divided. Reasons for this are varied: some think that "thou" conveys a greater sense of dignity: others prefer it because "this is what we are used to", though these people generally admit that "you" is more desirable in a modern liturgy.
Those who come out in favour of "you" feel that "thou" would perpetuate the idea of the Church being wedded to a language of the past. "Thou" is archaic, they say, and with every year that passes it will become more removed from the kind of language that ordinary people use.
"Too much bobbing up and down" is a comment that turns up time after time. The majority of people appear to think that many of the present "stage directions" are unnecessary.
Many suggested that the priest should give a definite sign at the end of the Epistle and Gospel or finish it with a set formula so that the congregation could make the response together.
A group of teenagers from Yorkshire wanted Encyclicals and news-letters from other parishes to replace the Epistle. They felt these would have greater relevance to the present day.
The Bishops have invited all Catholics to help form the liturgical texts of the future and there is still time for you to send your comments. These should reach the Editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD by June 20.