Mr Paul Danon (December 8) asks, very reasonably, what has "direction on the Sign of Peace to do with the translation of the Liturgy?"
The answer is that just as the ICEL language is a constant source of irritation, so also does the disturbance caused at the Sign of Peace break into one's recollection before Holy Communion -after all, one must in common courtesy be alert, lest one rejects a neighbour's greeting.
This used to be done with great decorum by the clergy at High Mass, but now that the whole congregation is included, can we not agree that the appropriate time to exchange greetings is on the way into Church, or at least at the beginning of Mass?
Mr Danon is also quite correct in saying that "vernacular translation" means exactly what it says; if the ICEL produced a translation instead of a paraphrase there would be less cause for complaint; perhaps the Association for English Worship will be able to produce a form of words befitting the dignity ot the Mass.
The inaccuracy of the ICEL version is, however, a separate issue from its style of English, and is perhaps more important, as Mr Lynch points out.
As for simplicity, even modern English has yet to achieve one form for singular and plural, subject and object, of the first personal pronoun, except perhaps the ICEL, who try, by rendering "I" as "We". The real simplicity is one which neither adds to nor subtracts from the essential meaning enshrined in the Latin. And as to reverence, I find Mr Danon's question very puzzling. Does he mean that when he attends Mass he prays to "all those persons" he "loves and respects"? If not (which I hope is the case) then why confuse the issue by introducing them?
The point is that at Mass we pray; and prayer, let us not forget, is the raising up of the mind and heart to God; and God is the Supreme Being, who alone exists of Himself and is infinite in all perfections. 1 apologise for stating what was merely common knowledge when the Catechism was widely taught, but surely it emphasises that we must use a special form of language when addressing this God.
If we persist in addressing this Supreme Being in common language, we run the very real risk of forgetting His infinite greatness. What can be better than to use the archaic second person singular, which even the ICEL lacked the resolution to abandon in the Our Father?
Buckden, (Dr) Michael Morris Huntingdon.
Once again Fr Clifford Howell (December 15) has read statements into my letters which I did not make. Now he is saying that I protested that I did not mean what I had previously said.
I certainly meant what I said, but in my second letter I was merely trying to make my meaning clearer because it had become confused by Fr Howell's treatment of it.
Fr Howell tells us that many Catholic scholars consider the Roman Canon to be inferior to Eucharistics Prayers II, III and IV and that an appointed study group considered "dropping it altogether % further, that it must have been its inferiority and not its Catholic teaching which made the Anglican bishop 1 mentioned avoid its use (though Cranmer "dropped" it for its Catholic teaching).
All of that is a classical and literal example of going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Lastly, Fr Howell wants some peritus to be on hand to refute any criticisms of the "reforms" which may appear in your columns — criticisms, I may say, which give great pain to those who make them out of love of the Faith and of the Sacrifice of their Redeemer constantly perpetuated, and who still believe the lex orandi should echo the lea credendl — love and belief no doubt shared by Fr Howell.
May God preserve us from "many Catholic scholars" and any study group who cannot see the fruits of the "reforms" which the church has already suffered. Jerome Burrough Boar's Hill, Oxford.