The New Roman Missal - Part 2
This is the second part of an article by Neil Darragh which looks at the New Roman Missal, due to be introduced on the first Sunday of Advent
It would be easy to overreact to this new Missal. It does seem bizarre to propose that our liturgical and spiritual life is improved if the Maori and English we speak at Mass are closer to Latin. It is worth noting nevertheless that if the new Missal is worse than the current one, it is only slightly worse. It is not more authoritarian than the current Missal. In this respect it is exactly the same. Its language is only sometimes more archaic and clerical than the current Missal. The two versions are both translations that lack the power of direct communication in contemporary English.
It is difficult then to argue for retaining the current Missal in opposition to the new one because the current one is only marginally better anyway. What the present discussion does demonstrate though is the need to find a way forward that takes us ahead of both these impoverished texts. If this is to happen, there are three issues that should concern us:
a) how much uniformity do we need anyway?
b) what dangers are there here for personal integrity, especially that of priests?
c) can we regard the new Missal as a flawed but valuable resource for liturgy?
uniformity in liturgy
The new Missal changes some of the words we are used to praying together in the congregational parts of the Mass. Some people may prefer the old words; others may prefer the new ones. But then there doesn’t seem to be any reason why everyone has to say the same thing anyway. If some people agree that ‘And with your Spirit’ (new version) is a good way of responding to the priest’s greeting, there is no reason why they shouldn’t respond in that fashion. Others may prefer the currently familiar ‘And also with you’. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why people shouldn’t say that too – or some other suitable response.
It need not be regarded as chaos when people use different words; it may be simply variety. If some people say ‘I believe in God’ (new version) while others say ‘We believe in God’ (current version), we can respect this variety irrespective of which version appears on the overhead or in the Mass booklet. Some of the longer prayers like the ‘I confess’ and the ‘Gloria’ have so many word changes they may indeed result in some chaos, but in these cases there are alternative prayers that can replace them.
The new version has at least provoked us into noticing that we do not all have to say the same thing. And if the official version is singularly uncreative, that is no excuse for the congregation to be uniformly uncreative. There is, in any case, ample opportunity for people to respond in new and creative, yet liturgically valid ways, as long as we don’t insist that everyone be the same.
the issue of integrity
There is a serious issue here that affects particularly the integrity of priests. Everyone’s integrity is under challenge to some degree of course, but the priest’s integrity is threatened on two fronts. Firstly, he prays alone quite often during the Mass and more word changes appear there than in the congregational parts of the Mass. Secondly, priests are the ones presenting the new Missal to the people and their explanations of it can slip easily into dishonesty for the sake of unity.
The priests who will come out of this with their integrity most intact are those who believe this is simply a matter of obedience. In this view, the language we use at Mass is not of great importance. What is of importance is that we carry out what has been decided by church authority. The issue here is simply one of obedience and they will implement the new Missal as required by law.
The priests whose integrity will be most damaged by this new Missal are those who do not believe that this new translation is better or that language is unimportant, but who do nevertheless attempt to persuade people that this new text is good for them. Plausible reasons already put in circulation are that it retains some of the treasury of old Latin prayers, that it makes some of the prayers closer to scripture, that it is closer to the Latin, and that we need to create a new sacred language.
There is a third alternative and it involves simply doing more what many priests already do. Most priests already adapt and add to the current prayers of the Missal so as to make the Mass more communicative and more prayerful in contemporary New Zealand congregations. They will just need to do more of this with the new Missal.
There is no need for priests to try to convince their parishioners that the new Missal is liturgically better than the one they have been used to. They can simply treat this in a practical way as something we can respond to creatively. The priest proposes that he will do his part to make the priest’s parts of the Mass more intelligible without being bound to every word in the official text and invites people to help him do this. He also invites creative discussion about how to improve the common congregational prayers.
a flawed but valuable resource
The third alternative described above means regarding the new Missal as a flawed but valuable resource. We can be responsible and collaborative members of a universal church without being bound to every word in the official texts of the Mass. Priests are not often great poets however. They are not chosen for this and it is not one of the requirements of ordination. Idiosyncratic and personalized adaptations by priests and other ministers are likely to be worse than Latin translations. A way forward that seeks a language at Mass that is beautifully crafted and easily understood will need close collaboration of priests and people in the local church.
Neil Darragh is a priest of the Auckland Diocese and a well known theologian and teacher
Two informed opinions about the nature of water resources within New Zealand, and especially the South Island, are debated. - Nicky Chapman
“Kei te ora wai,kei to ora te whenua, kei to ora te tangata.” If the water is healthy, the land and the people are nourished.
For Christians, ‘living waters’ are the ever-renewing and abundant inner source of the Spirit of Life. This speaks to us because humans love water. Just look at children anywhere playing in it. I grew up in the Catlins. We spent hours catching ‘crawlies’, trying to catch cockabullies, and swimming in the river (while dreading the eels). Now, many of us cannot know such natural pleasures and learning. According to the Ministry for the Environment “the amount of pollution in many of our lowland streams from diffuse sources, such as urban stormwater, animal effluent and fertiliser run-off, has greatly increased in the past 20 years. Most of this increase can be attributed to the intensification of agricultural land, notably the widespread conversion of low-intensity sheep farms and forestry to dairying.” (www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/water/freshwater/agricultural-impacts.html) Two men who have a particularly good knowledge of my familial Otago/Southland waterways and farms are David Blair and Alex Hunter.
David Blair has lived his passion for the environment through working for the Department of Conservation (DOC), for the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, his company which plants thousands of native trees annually, and his public advocacy for improving our waterways.
Alex Hunter is a dairy-farm consultant, and a shareholder in one of the most contentious dairy farm projects in the country – South Coast Dairy by Curio Bay in the Catlins. Alex and the four other shareholding families are determined to demonstrate the positive environmental effects of a well-run dairy farm.
I spoke to David first, after reading his letters to the Otago Daily Times claiming, for example, that “the furore about mining in National Parks is a minor consideration compared to the risk we are taking with our water resource.”
When did you first notice the quality of our rivers and streams had deteriorated? What has caused this?
“I was born in 1947. As a child I swam in and drank water from every river and small stream near my home in South Otago and on trips up country to Ashburton with my family in the summer when we stopped at every waterway (the old car overheated a lot) and had a swim.
“As a teenager and young man I fished and caught whitebait in all of our local rivers. The Waipahi was a delight as was the Pomahaka, the Puerua, the Owaka and the Catlins.
“Sometime around the 70s farming began to intensify and more and more marginal land was brought into pasture. The smaller creeks began to be straightened, the streamside vegetation removed and gradual deterioration through stock-trampling began to take place. The larger streams held on longer because of the regular flushing during rain periods. Tile and mole drainage systems were instituted on farms as the National Government encouraged production through subsidies.
“The removal of the farming subsidies under the Lange Labour Government paused development. Concurrently a tiny awareness of matters environmental began to emerge with some landowners protecting wetlands and unique natural features. Dairying was a strong contributor to the economy, but it wasn’t until a large business interest morphed into Fonterra that the herd size increased from 50 Ayrshires or Jerseys to Friesians by the hundreds.
“Fonterra, Federated Farmers and the Government, aware that the combined urine and poos from these cows and the added artificial fertiliser to keep up all-year milking would have an effect on our aquatic environment, decided that they needed a voluntary standard to mitigate any damage. The Clean Streams Accord resulted. It was a total failure as regional councils throughout the land found that compliance for discharge was at best poor and essentially very damaging to all waterways throughout New Zealand.
“A human measure is that now a drink cannot be taken from any of our lowland streams and a swim is a risk in 75 percent of lowland streams and rivers. To summarise: none of the streams between Dunedin and Christchurch can be swum in, let alone be drunk from. There are no fish as the water has been replaced by a stagnant slimy film.”
Why haven’t our regional councils been able to prevent it?
“Regional councils administer the Resource Management Act. This Act is not remedial or progressive. Essentially landowners can make decisions on what they do with their land and water based on the local body rules. This is not objective and within the Act loopholes can be found to carry out farming activities which by their very nature will have an adverse effect on water quality. The mere act of carrying 600 cow herds on land that will drain to streams and then rivers has substantially increased the pollution by coliform and chemical contamination even without added nitrogen. Most of the damage is done by non-point discharge to waterways – general seepage rather than drain or pipe discharge.
“There has been no real money spent on research to prevent this travesty. The National Government doesn’t want to rock the boat while the dairy industry fills the coffers.”
What are your predictions?
“I foresee a total loss of all of our smaller lowland streams and the eutrophication [algal bloom killing other life] of all shallow lakes unless the intensification of farming can be slowed down and restricted to suitable sites. Further, if the Local Government Amendment Act 2002 Amendment Bill which provides for councils to contract water services to private companies for up to 35 years (up from the current maximum of 15 years) gets through, it would be a total disaster for New Zealand.
“Water trading would cause the loss of family farms and horticultural businesses and, as in the USA, the primary produce industry would fall into the hands of a small number of wealthy corporations and families. Water is the new currency, and if it can be controlled by finance in any shape or form, manipulation will take place.
“I see no need for councils to contract water services to private companies. Water services should be held in trust by local bodies for all of us.”
What can be done?
“Public pressure should be brought to bear. Dairying gets cheap water and currently doesn’t have to pay for any carbon emission costs. The population has been denied clean water. We also need to protest about losing our water rights to private companies through the proposed law change. The Government is subsidising industry research including sustainability. We all have to keep them up to keeping promises to do something. We need to put a lot of pressure on the large dairy companies headed by Fonterra who could have encouraged better behaviour but did nothing. It is only the threat of market forces dictating good agricultural practice that has forced them to act now. They have immense power to ensure compliance and fortunately are now beginning to see the big picture.
“We need to promote better farming methods. It is likely that production can remain up if farmers provide more shelter, fewer cows looked after better, and wetlands on their farms. I am sure there are farmers who feel uneasy and want to change.”
After speaking to David, I asked Alex Hunter about dairying and damaged waterways. He claimed that to single out dairy farming is unfair, and that the dairy industry itself is getting tough on any polluting dairy farmers.
What has been your experience with South Coast Dairy?
“We converted a farm from sheep to dairy farming at Curio Bay. It was very controversial. We had huge trouble getting consents. Again it is all to do with the perception. I think the perception and the reality are two different things, so it is important to get the message across that dairying is not ‘dirty’.”
What have you done on that farm to protect the water?
“We’ve done a lot of fencing. We’ve fenced off all the waterways – there’s a big lake on one side of the farm – and the gullies, the wetlands and the sand dunes. There is an amazing rare podocarp forest on the sand dune, so that has all been fenced off. Riparian strips are really important. We put in wide ones to make sure they were going to be good filtering areas.
“We’ve tapped into springs, done some drainage, and a lot of planting. That’s probably the most outstanding thing. We’ve planted shrubs and flaxes and marram grass on the sand dunes to stop erosion. The amount of water we can take from the bore is limited.
“The effluent goes into a pond, and then it goes back on the land. It’s very valuable fertiliser. We need to have storage because there are stringent conditions upon our using it. We can’t put effluent on if the soil conditions are extremely wet because it will run off, so we’ve put in moisture metering equipment. The nutrients need to stay within the root zone of the plants and get taken up. And we’re not allowed to spread effluent when the wind-speed is over a certain velocity.”
Are these compliance costs too high to make it worthwhile?
“It has been a huge thing. We were supposed to be farming a year earlier so there’s been a cost to that, for sure. We’ve also had to employ all sorts of consultants. The process is there for everyone but we had to jump through a lot more hoops. It is a new farm in a new dairying area – a sensitive coastal area and there were a lot of people who objected and we had to do a lot more work than the average person.”
What kind of help and advice did you get?
“The Sustainability Office in Environment Southland [the Southland Regional Council] was fantastic. We’ve had help from Landcare Research, DOC, and even Fish and Game. All these people came to the party when they saw that we were serious about wanting to have an environmentally sustainable dairy farm in a very sensitive area. Russel Norman of the Greens, however, refused to see us when he came to meet the objectors.”
How big is the farm?
“It’s 201 hectares, and stocks about 400 cows, which is a lower rate than normal. This isn’t a central Southland flat farm. It’s a farm on the coast, and it’s never going to be a really high producing farm.”
How long have you been farming there?
“We’ve had it for two years but it has only been in dairy this season. They measured the water quality for E coli before we converted it, and since, and the water levels are improving already. People were worried about the penguins and the dolphins and that there was going to be all this discharge going to sea – that’s not true. However there is a new development with 20 new cribs on the beachfront there, and they are putting all that effluent adjacent to our farm – now that’s not talked about.”
What do you say to the Ministry for the Environment’s website linking intensive dairying to water pollution?
“All I can say to you is that I think most farmers are taking it very seriously. There are some pretty serious targets being put in place by industry, and we are talking about Fonterra, Dairy New Zealand, and Federated Farmers. The ten-year consent renewals are coming up now for dairy farmers in Southland. As a consultant I am seeing what they need to meet the new conditions, and they are going to have to spend $80 – $100,000 per farm to use the 90-day storage system that we are using at Curio Bay.”
So you can say that Environment Southland is getting tougher?
“You could say that, but I don’t see them as policemen. They are getting tough on those who are not doing anything, but are willing to help those who are willing to change.”
There are many kinds of deserts – in our oceans and waterways as well as on land. As Pope Benedict XVI noted in the homily at his Inaugural Mass: the external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast.
Our Government has begun a strategic process called New Start for Fresh Water. Perhaps our personal involvement ensuring its success could be seen as spiritually healing. To see the joy of children playing in clean ‘wild’ water certainly is.
Nicky Chapman is a mother, writer and editor living in Port Chalmers, Dunedin
Mary Mackillop and the sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth, Whanganui
Sister Catherine Shelton reflects on the beginnings of the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth and the gift of their way of life to Aotearoa
“My soul proclaims your greatness, O my God.”
Mary of Nazareth delights in her God. She is totally open, allowing God’s power to work in her. She knows and accepts that she is blessed and can and must pass that blessing on to the world of the future and to future generations. “Truly wonderful” said Mary MacKillop, “are the ways of God” (1873). Both women tell us about Jesus and about ourselves. It is for this that we recognise a saint in our midst. It is for this that we celebrate canonisation.
The Sisters of St Joseph, Whanganui, did not ‘grow up’ with Mary MacKillop. For reasons historians are beginning to understand better today, and that God alone knows the deepest purposes of, two Josephite congregations with different forms of government had come into being by 1876. One was the already established Institute of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in Adelaide under the authority of Mary MacKillop as Superior General.
The other was a small group in the Bathurst Diocese, led by Hyacinth Quinlan, one of Mary’s community, who had chosen – probably under some duress – to remain under the authority of the Bishop rather than return to Adelaide with the rest of the Sisters. The Whanganui foundation was made from this latter branch in 1880 and became known as Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth. These pioneer Sisters of St Joseph to Aotearoa had no contact with Mary MacKillop and only sparse contact by letter for a few years with Father Julian Tenison Woods, co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph. It would be almost 100 years before we re-connected at depth with the spirit of either Julian or Mary.
Mary of Nazareth we knew well. The joyful spirit of her canticle inspired and challenged us through the heady aftermath of the second Vatican Council. We enthusiastically embraced the call to reframe the dream of our founders in the light of needs around us crying out for response. “Fiat,” said Mary of Nazareth. “Believe the whisperings of God to your own heart,” wrote Mary of the Cross (1868).
These were women we could identify with – ordinary women – but women who knew themselves blessed. They also knew, if not fully understanding, that this blessing connected them intimately to God’s dream for a transformed world of justice and compassion.
Mary of the Gospel and the Gospel-inspired Mary MacKillop converge as one. Having little stake in systems of power, they readily attune to the Gospel message. Both women knew what it meant to experience hardship and lack of privilege. They stand in solidarity with those oppressed by abuse of wealth, status and power – “the poorest and most neglected parts of God’s vineyard” (Mary MacKillop, 1900). They listen to the word of God and when the time is right, they speak and act; they take a stand.
The poorest and most neglected parts of God’s vineyard that we face today are still those of literal poverty and oppression. The poor are still the nobodies of this world who are without authority and have limited power: women, children, immigrants, refugees, those with physical and mental disabilities, indigenous peoples, increasingly the frail aged and those looking for permanent work: all those who are prevented by discriminatory structures from participating fully in the determination of their own destiny.
Added to the ranks of the vulnerable today is the integrity of the earth. We know more clearly now that when human beings have refused to recognise the interrelatedness of all creation, when the environment has been disregarded, there is a simultaneous creation of a poor underclass. These are the issues and concerns which occupy us today.
Neither Mary was called upon to struggle with global warming or the extinction of species. They faced the concrete realities of their day as we do. The mission, though, is the same: to witness actively to that love which builds up God’s kin-dom of justice and compassion; to live a Gospel-imagined life. In practice, it means daily chipping away at the ‘empire’, those pockets of society – whether civil or ecclesial – that are unjust, oppressive, doctrinaire or greedy in the face of others’ unmet basic needs or of earth’s destruction. It means being creative about subverting the status quo and destabilising the ‘ways of the world.’ The Gospel turns everything upside down.
Mary MacKillop and Mary of Nazareth knew this truth from the inside out. The kin-dom is about reversal of fortunes. It means living against the grain; it means entering deeply into the paschal mystery where we come to know the character of our God whose power is in ‘weakness.’ Mary of the Cross MacKillop, our saint, has been there before us. We think she would be right at home in Whanganui. We welcome her compassionate heart among us.
Catherine Shelton is a Black Josephite sister, living in Whanganui where she gives retreats and spiritual direction.