Sunday, February 6, 2011

Done. Maybe.

I am feeling a little sad right now. The way that one feels when you've gotten your hopes up that a liturgical abuse is going to be corrected, only to have them dashed, yet again, when the priest enthusiastically joins in the butchered version of the Our Father that passes for a prayer at our parish on Sunday mornings, singing even the words which have been changed so they "fit the music" (at least I imagine that's the excuse for changing the "Words Jesus Taught Us").

I don't think I'm all that picky about things like this. Priests are human and I wouldn't recognize 99% of liturgical abuses (and for my sanity, that's probably for the best). But when the abuse is so simple a three year old could pick it out, there's a major problem.

I've been listening to this travesty for four years now and I'm starting to understand, one different levels, why this is so upsetting. At one level it's upsetting when anyone in a parish just decides that they're going to change the Mass. I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the thought process that must go on to decide we're going to sing different words to the Our Father, when the words are clearly prescribed.

Is that pride? I know that, if I were the one making the decision and I assessed it, I would think I would have to confess pride. I don't know what it is for the person making the decision, because I have no idea what they're thinking and I pray that they just "like how it sounds." And that leads me to the next problem that I have with the changes...

We sing:

"Lead us not into temptation but forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, Father Hear Our Prayer. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us, deliver us, from all that is evil, Hear our Prayer."

and then:

"For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, Father almighty, hear our prayer."

Okay let's examine the words here. They add "Father Hear Our Prayer," and extra "deliver us" and "Hear Our Prayer" and lastly, "Father almighty, hear our prayer." And of course we're changing "deliver us from evil" to "deliver us from all that is evil," which I do believe has a pointedly different meaning.

I think changing "from evil" to from "all that is evil" is another example of how many people would like to downplay exactly what evil is and how it exists as a real solid presence in our world. I'm not sure I'm articulating it well, but when I hear, "deliver us from evil" I think of Satan. When I hear "deliver us from all that is evil," I think there's a greater room for interpretation. The singer or hearer could mean Satan. But not necessarily (at least that how it strikes me when I hear it each week). When I hear it, instead of thinking of Satan and Hell, I think less of Evil as a real tangible presence and more as "the bad choices that people make or 'bad vibes'."

I know I'm falling short of explaining exactly why this change bothers me so much, but I do know this:

The spoken words and translations are the way they are for a reason. When they are changed, it should be from careful consideration and agreement from our shepherd's. Not because someone, on a whim, likes the way this sounds. As Father Z says, "Do the Black, Say the Red." I'm not sure exactly why this is so tough.

I did email Fr. Z. and asked him my question about singing the Our Father and his response was: "Look at the lyrics and then look at the actually words approved for Mass. If they are not the same, there is a problem."

I'm tired of being upset about this. I've prayed about. I've tried not to be bothered (but because I think it's a problem that needs to be fixed so it's hard to really let go of the issue). And so we're making a change. At least, we might be. Paul is going to talk with our new priest about it and get his take on the issue. If the status quo remains we're going to schedule our weekly (okay, they're usually more like monthly, but they may be becoming weekly) trips to "The City" for Sundays and we're going to drive an hour to attend Mass. I'm hoping that doesn't happen, but I'm tired of hearing the words that Jesus taught us, twisted and changed for some reason that I'm not sure I want to understand (in the interest of being charitable I'll leave it at that and try to push away my additional thoughts on the matter).

I'll still attend week days Masses at our home parish (we say the Our Father on those days, thank goodness), volunteer in the office and serve on the committees. And I'll pray that someone can undo the damage that's been done that makes people think that adding the words "us" to the Our Father over and over again, is okay. In the end this changes the Our Father on another level to, turning the attention towards the speaker and changing the tone of the prayer from a plea into a demand.

I just wish our self-absorbed culture's narcissism could leave the Mass as it is.


  1. Such abuses are much more rare in the Tridentine form of the Mass, as the rubrics are much stricter. Many of your anxieties could be calmed if you had one nearby to attend or worked towards requesting on in the area. It sounds like you have to travel quite a distance for one though. It's great your are standing firm against the changes in the words. It's amazing how changing "mere" words can make all the difference. God instills in us those uneasy feelings for a reason.

  2. It is the sensus Catholicus, the Catholic sense, that operates like radar to alert us to these kinds of errors. As Andrea G alluded to, the rubrics of the traditional Latin Mass (the one known, with good reason, as the Mass of all times) are safeguards against this kind of self-interpretation on the part of the clergy. I will keep you and your family in my prayers, Cam. Saint Margaret Clitherow, pray for us.

  3. Totally with you on this, Cam. Sometimes we should stay and carry on - sometimes you can't ignore what amounts to heresy - am I wrong about that? That church is so pretty!

  4. I tried sending this comment before, so sorry if it comes through twice.

    Jesus gave us the words of the Our Father. Who, in their right mind, thinks they have the authority to CHANGE THE WORDS OF THAT PRAYER?!

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    My husband would be frothing at the mouth at this, and he would drive us a couple of hours to find something better--that stuff just makes his blood boil.

    Good luck--know how you feel. You have every right to be saddened.

  5. Just for the record, this adulterated sung version is definitely a national phenomenon, as I am in the Dallas, TX area and I have definitely heard it hear several times. And I also get a little upset when this sung version of the Our Father is played, if for no other reason than it's just darn confusing to change the words to a prayer most people have known from childhood! I will pray that y'all will find a solution to this that will bring you peace.

  6. You care so much because Mass is important, and it's important to you. I have a friend whose sister (then w/a young family) was suffering the same sort of trial as you are, and my friend told her, "If the guy who you hired to redo your bathroom had a stud popping through, you wouldn't ignore it. Why would you 'live with' an error in something that's so much more important?"
    The added driving is a nuisance, but your children will get the clear message (when they're older) that their parents REALLY DO value the Faith.

  7. At our 10.30am mass the Our Father is sung - I find myself going to 8.3am mass to avoid it. In our parish everyone holds hands (even across pews) as well during it and I find myself DREADING it during the lead up as this was not what I have been used to at all and I find it really uncomfortable. So we usually sit on our own (it is a huge church) and luckily we have an earlier mass to go to where it is spoken. Everything else in our parish is AMAZING and I love the passion of everyone there... but there are some things that I feel really distract me when I don't want to be distracted.

    Thanks for this post!

  8. I know exactly what you mean about the two phrases referencing evil and I think you did a great job explaining it. I'm with you completely, and I think that it's a very important distinction to make.

    A lot of people whom I know are generally accepting of my Catholicism, but they are shocked when they find out that I believe in Satan and the actual force of evil, and am actively terrified of it. I can't understand not being concerned about it. What about history would make anyone believe that evil isn't real?

  9. So you are ready to dump the whole Catholic faith because somebody made the Lord's Prayer song in a beautiful fashion to give thanks onto the Lord? I find that a little ironic. I understand you are concerned with tradition, but the Lord God is not concerned with tradition he is concerned with your praise and love and if singing joyous hymns onto the Lord in the name of the Lord, in your belief in him and Jesus Christ your savior, then you are singing onto him. Let your praise be sung, and show your ability to love the Lord and not the tradition you are adorning, but him.

  10. No one ever said anything about leaving the Catholic faith my friend. That's just silly. I mean, other than you. And it had far less to do with the singing (I've been to beautiful Masses with beautiful sung Our Father's) than the changing of the actual words of the prayer. Is that appropriate? Not at all. At least, not for the laity. That should involve councils and people far above the pay grade of our local guitar strummer.

    Maybe you should read a post before you comment. Because I really feel like you totally missed the point.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!