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.