U.S. bishops turbo-charge rote prayers

| June 16, 2006 | 4 Replies

The U.S. Catholic bishops have a lot to be concerned about these days.  The Church has been closing numerous parishes.  Fewer people are going to Mass.  Catholics are struggling with the meaning of ancient Catholic doctrines.

It was with this backdrop that the bishops held their “vigorous debate” over another pressing matter.  After all the dust settled, though, the resolution could finally be announced.  Thanks to the bishops’ effort, freshly tweaked rote prayers can now be uttered at Catholic Mass.  Bishop Donald Trautman declared that these new prayers were “the most significant liturgical action to come before this body for many years.”

  • Instead of saying:  “The Lord be with you” / “And also with you,” Catholics will now say: “The Lord be with you” / “And with your spirit.”
  • At confession, instead of admitting aloud that they have sinned “through my own fault” parishioners will now add “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”
  • As part of the Nicene Creed, the opening words “We believe” would become “I believe.” [this is the prayer by which Catholics declare that they believe in such things as virgin birth and that the Catholic church is the only true church ]
  • In the Eucharistic Prayer, instead of saying “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might” Catholics must now say “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts.”

In a world filled with hunger, violence, sickness and despair, then, the bishops set aside the time to develop and debate the nuances of new and improved canned prayers for those Catholics who still show up on Sundays.  This great effort is surprising, though, given that parishioners utter such prayers thoughtlessly and without expression.  If you don’t believe me, go to any Mass and listen.

It must have been difficult to focus on those tedious edits, tweaking a word here and there and then doing it all over again and again until that final contentious vote.  Doing monotonous work that renders no apparent benefit to anyone is likely make one’s mind wonder.  In fact, if one had to spend all that time sitting in meetings deliberating over his vote about changing a few words, one might understandably be led to daydream about diversions like pedophilia, or tormenting gays, or prohibiting potentially life-saving stem-cell research or conjuring up new ways to punish the people who dare to have sex without trying to get pregnant. 

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Category: Psychology Cognition, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. hatter says:

    I work in mass media, and had to restrain myself in how I wrote my copy regarding this 'issue.' Mindless ancient repetitive nonsense is about change! That crap you utter in church, because you think you have to, has been re-translated! Here's how my copy turned out:

    "have you been saying your prayers wrong…all along? Catholic Mass is about to get a makeover!"

    I wonder if they're all going to hell because of the poor latin translation. What a sad state of affairs.

  2. Erika Price says:

    On a slightly related note, I've heard comments that Catholic churches in my area have confirmed children at progressively younger ages due to declining attendance. Hook 'em while you still have 'em, the logic goes. I can't vouch for this trend personally though. I choose to take that move as a sign of the church's desperation, and a sign that maybe a few of those unattending Catholics actually have abandoned religiosity, though more than likely most of them have just shirked on the work of religion while still using it as an excuse for their moral and political positions.

    But back on topic, the triviality of the Catholic Church's leadership somehow continually baffles me. First the much ado about nothing the church made of a fictional movie, and now "heated debate" on the semantics of meaningless jibberish.

  3. friend of erich&#039 says:

    At confession, instead of admitting aloud that they have sinned “through my own fault” parishioners will now add “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

    I hope the Bishops will clarify if confessions using the previously prescribed words are now null and void such that reconfession of past sins with the new wording is necessary.

  4. hogiemo says:

    The changes relate to an apparent retrenchment in the face of what many believe to be an humanistic turn among the faithful. Benedict believes, as did JPII, that there is an increased need for doctrinal stringency in the face of such. The changes reflect back to the time of my youth when in the Latin Mass we said; "et cum spiritu tuo" (with apologies, it's been 42 years) which translates as the bishops have said. We also said the "Confetior" as altarboys which had the line "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" which translates as the bishops have directed for the sacrament of reconciliation.

    I remember when the Mass had changes to remove the word "welfare" from it and we don't have "the mystery of faith" in the consecration of the wine. What is constant is the commitment of the faithful to become perfect possessions of God despite worldly concerns. The prayers are not wholly thoughtless and without expression. I often weep openly, thanking God for the miracle of my family as they show He must be in love with me.

    Yes, the Church has imperfect servants but, it strives to focus upon that perfect expression of God's love to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Nicean Creed does reaffirm our Catholic belief in Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit but, the one holy catholic church it speaks of is with a small "c" for universal (notwithstanding Cardinal Ratzinger's statements to the contrary). The bishops discuss these matters as they relate to the sacraments but, the Church has always served the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the oppressed. Benedict's first writings are on love. Certainly some might see the current archbishop of St. Louis as using politics and a dissenting parish as distractions from the abuse crisis but, all are not like him.

    I pray for healing for those which the Church has harmed, and for the Church. Compassion, generosity and mercy are at the core of Jesus' teachings and I pray those which lead the Church not to lose their way. For myself, I see the world at a crossroads where we must choose our way, which will make the world of our children. If we seek to do no harm, let us first do what we can for the children. I choose now to instruct my children in my faith with compassion, generosity and mercy toward all. I will make sure that they have an awareness of other cultures and faiths and they may, as I did, choose their own way. I chose to remain Catholic.

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