The new, more accurate English translation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass finally comes online tonight, as the New Roman Missal becomes obligatory for the First Sunday of Advent.  That this translation took nine years to draft and implement after the the current edition of the normative Latin Missal was published may be noteworthy for the triumph of episcopal bureaucracy over common sense, but no matter.  Here it is.

And this is a good thing.  I don’t want to say otherwise.  It is important that the majority of Catholics who, for whatever reason– historical or hysterical– attend the Ordinary Form, pray the prayers as close to the original language as possible.  For one reason, it only seems right for a Universal Church to have a Universal Liturgy.  Also, one avoids unnecessary questions about validity (“…pro multis…”).  And, frankly, the language used is more beautiful, more elevated, and will give an impetus to ditch some of the worst ’70s ditties and perhaps install some sacred music in its place.

This rearranging of deck chairs may make the Titanic more pleasant and comfortable as she goes down.  But the reality remains that the iceberg has been hit; the ship is taking on water and listing badly.  The only way out of the disaster is to get off the ship and into the lifeboats.  There are many already in the water– the societies dedicated to the Extraordinary Form, the Diocesan personal parishes and Sunday Masses, the growing number of priests offering the traditional Mass in their parishes publicly and privately, houses of traditional religious orders.  The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was the distress call, and the Carpathia has yet to arrive.  When the Extraordinary Form is no longer so-called due to the frequency of its celebration-that is, when it is required to be celebrated at least once on Sundays and Holy Days at every parish– it then will have arrived.  Then all Catholics will have the choice to enter the lifeboat or to go down with the ship.

My hope is that the more accurate, more reverent, more elevated translation will raise the hearts of Catholics and perhaps get them to ask themselves some serious questions.  Why it took 42 years to even get a decent translation– translation— of the Ordo of Mass should prompt other questions about the “reforms” in general.  I could go on, but won’t.  I will only note that the virulence of the opposition to this more accurate translation of the original by the same crowd who eagerly traded in the Mass of the Ages for this mess of pottage should be taken as a sign that I could be on to something here.

One thing the liturgical progressives lack is any sense of irony.  I was amused by several articles lamenting the “changes” to the Ordinary Form.  As an example, Our Sunday Visitor posted two excerpts, one from the Jesuits and one from a blog:

With a mere six days to go before the Roman Missal, Third Edition is implemented in English-speaking parishes, some commentators are saying goodbye to its predecessor.

Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor of America magazine, offers these words on the In All Things blog as part of his “elegy for the Sacramentary:
Any significant change is like a little death; and so any change brings about the need for some grieving. You sell a house and buy a new one; and you are sad about the loss of the old one–even if your new house is more spacious. You move from one job to another; and you shed a few tears at the loss of old colleagues–even if you’re looking forward to the new position. You graduate from high school to college, and even if it’s your top choice, you cry at your graduation.

It would be odd, therefore, not to acknowledge some sadness over the passing of something so central to our lives as what will soon be called the “old” Sacramentary. Even if you are eagerly anticipating the new translations, something significant is moving into the past, and being lost.

So let me say something: I will miss the old prayers, even as I look forward to the new. I’m 50 years old, which means that by the time I was conscious of the Eucharist, say around 1968, the Mass was being celebrated in English. I dimly remember saying things like, “It is right and just” as a very young boy, which was most likely a holdover from the earliest translations of the Mass after the Second Vatican Council. But, for the most part, my entire Catholic life has been shaped by the familiar prayers of the Sacramentary, the book that we are leaving behind this coming Sunday.

Sister Julie of “A Nun’s Life” blog also has a post saying goodbye to what she terms the Roman Missal 2.0:

For now and for this week, however, I will cherish my last Mass with the current Roman Missal. Roman Missal 2.0, you’ve been my constant companion. I have celebrated with you, cried with you, and witnessed some of the most beautiful landmarks of my Catholic life with you. You were there when my siblings married their spouses, my nephews were baptized, and my parents renewed their vows. You were there when my friends became Catholic or were ordained or got married or when we celebrated their Mass of Resurrection. You were there when my IHM sisters celebrated Jubilee and when I professed my vows as an IHM Sister. I am grateful for you, Mass 2.0. Goodbye.

I’m glad for their sakes that they do not have to lament the loss of the entire Rite of Mass– more than 1,700 years old– in order to provide a platform in which to feature the music of Cat Stevens.  But no matter.  Things are beginning to get better, however slowly.

Two cheers for the new translation!