But for one Mass at Corpus Christi, the parish church of never fully adopted the more modern version of the Mass that the church’s hierarchy is now ordering replaced. , little if anything is expected to change. That is because this small church, with its intellectual history and fierce stubborn streak,
For example, starting this weekend, all parishes will be saying, “And with your spirit,” as Corpus Christi’s has been saying for decades. And where there are small differences between the new translation and Corpus Christi’s version, which stems from the 1960s, Corpus Christi is expecting to stay with its own words.
“There are a lot of us who feel that the last 35 years of translation has been very banal and pedestrian, and the way that one wants to address God in a liturgy should not be pedestrian,” said Brenda Fairaday, a parishioner here since the 1970s and an ardent defender of the church’s liturgy. The new translation, she said, “is better,” but at times reads as if it was translated by a nonnative English speaker: “It needs severe editing,” she said.
How Corpus Christi has managed to do its own thing in a church that insists, as a general rule, on uniformity in the Mass is steeped in local lore. But most agree it began with the progressive priest who built the current church in the 1930s, the Rev. George Barry Ford, who is perhaps best known for inspiring Thomas Merton, the renowned 20th-century Catholic mystic and writer, to convert to Catholicism when he was a Columbia student.
Long before the station a priest in the pews to translate the mass into English as the main priest performed the sacred rites in Latin, parishioners said. The congregation would respond to parts of the Mass in English, highly unusual for the time. permitted Mass in the vernacular, Father Ford would
“Elements of our Mass, when we started doing it here, were very progressive at the time,” said Bill Derby, a eucharistic minister at the church. “Then we kept doing them when the tide changed and became way more modern. And now they are going back to what we have been doing all along.”
In the 1960s, the parish priest was Msgr. Myles M. Bourke, a liturgist who directed the first English translation of the New American Bible. Informed by his own work, he solidified the mix of Gregorian chant, classical hymns and English-language liturgy that is still in use. The well-worn 1966 hymnals in the pews contain a translation of the Mass close to the one that Rome is unveiling.
In recent years, Corpus Christi’s current pastor, the Rev. Raymond M. Rafferty, switched most of the Masses to the modern, accepted translation, in part, he said, because “I found there was a cacophony at the Masses: some were saying the old and some the new.” But he maintained the traditions of the parish in the 11:15 a.m. Mass on Sundays.
“With the type of music that we do, it fit with the music,” Father Rafferty said. Many chants come from a 1978 Latin text, Liber Cantualis, and they also add some contemporary commissioned pieces. “It’s quite amazing how well the congregation can do these hymns,” he said.
There have been attempts over the years to steer the liturgy more in line with “downtown,” meaning the seat of the archdiocese, at St. Patrick’s, Mr. Derby said. (“Ain’t going to happen,” said Kathy Darling, a Corpus Christi parishioner since 1971.) But in the end, Mr. Derby said, the parishioners say what is in their hearts.
The Rev. Daniel J. Merz, associate director of the secretariat of Divine Worship at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is in charge of putting the new liturgy in place, was surprised this week to hear of the small parish church that was already saying some of it.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it’s more important to have peace in the church than uniformity.”
I'm going to look into that, actually, contact them. It would be a huge deal/precedent (even if they are saying "and with your spirit" instead of "and with thy spirit" and the guy was a translator of the
I've been meaning to do a post on the possibilities of organic development and how a more "hands-off" approach from the Vatican could be prevented from collapsing into total liturgical decadence, trying to find the happy medium between legitimate innovation and adaptation on the one hand and "abuse" that devolves into kumbayah clown Masses and giant puppets on the other (which reminds me: I actually attended a Reggae Mass last night, lol. Not as bad as you might think but, then, my musical tastes and liturgical wet dreams have already been made clear here, so perhaps I'm not entirely objective.)
Basically, I think "restarting" the idea of local tradition and organic development would have to involve an approach that weeded out the bad, but wasn't the sort of textual-positivist liturgical totalitarianism that the "say the black, do the red" crowd proposes; in other words, the governance on the matter would have become proscriptive, not prescriptive. And the example of this parish has given me a lot to think about in that regard.