The Fault, Fault, Fault Line

The new “closer to Latin” translation of the Roman Missal seems to be another salvo in the “smaller, purer” campaign being currently mounted by Ratzinger and Co. in the Mother Church. Mary Hunt, writing in Religion Dispatches about attacks on socially-active priests and theologian nuns, says that the “large tent of the church” is now a tepee” and “soon to be a pup tent.” Although, if I may be this way, I would suggest that a “pup tent” would only be big enough for, say, one adult and one child. I needn’t go any further.

The New York Times reports that the long-rumored new translation is going to happen soon. It gives examples of the new language of the New Roman Missal. The new Confiteor, a confessional prayer at the beginning of the service, originally reads “I have sinned though my own fault in my thoughts and in my deeds [I always say ‘words’ there but maybe that’s just me], in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” I always thought that what I have failed to do part was rather devastating and a good reminder of how devastating Sins of Omission may be.

The new one says “I have greatly [italics mine: unnecessary, since we have a system of ranking sins, you should know where you stand, sinwise] sinned in my thoughts and in my words [hey!], in what I have done and what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my own grievous fault.”

This “fault, fault, fault” line, which kinda messes up the “what I have failed to do” part, is redundant and, frankly, self-indulgent. This is where I feel that small switches might well be distributed for a light public self-mortification. Or: bring your own! I’d like to discreetly remove mine from my handbag, eyes cast downward. That, along with making us say words like “consubstantiation” and “dewfall” might separate out more of the chaff, or at least point out who’s actually attending and paying attention. No more mumbling along, CEO’s. (That’s Christmas-and-Easter-Onlys, for all you unwashed.)

What I want to know this: does this mean we still have to shake hands with everyone?

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.