Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Grace, You're Wrong

Pity poor old Archbishop Doyle: just a few weeks back, when visiting my parish, he apparently went out of his way to tell priest and people that in reading the Scriptures at Mass, the phrase used must not be "A reading from..." but simply, strangely, "From..." – which is plainly contradicted by both the old and the new translations of the Mass, as easily confirmable online (see the musical settings ICEL provides, for the Old Testament and Acts, the Epistle and Revelation, and the Gospel: I assume no one would be so mad as to claim that "A reading" is only to be uttered when sung).  Indeed, the General Instruction to the Lectionary says:

121. The formula to be used is always: “A reading from the Book of…” “A reading from the Letter of…” or “A reading from the holy Gospel according to…” and not: “The beginning of…” (unless this seems advisable in particular instances) nor: “The continuation of…”

Still more embarrassingly for His Grace, the 2007 Australian edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal – which he must surely have seen and discussed as a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, since the Conference had to seek approval from Rome for the local adaptations made, none of which mandate what he claims – most explicitly states that the priest when reading the Gospel begins by saying:

134. At the ambo, the priest opens the book and... says: Lectio sancti Evangelii (A reading from the holy Gospel)...

Someone was asleep at meetings it appears!

 This bizarre determination not to say "A reading" – which is self-evidently the English for the Latin word Lectio that prefaces all readings from the Bible in the modern Mass – is traceable, I suspect, to some busy-body liturgy consultant who has neither Latin, nor an ability to think with the Church (its remote origins probably stem from the U.S.A. via Queensland): it is just the sort of mistaken idea that a person would seize on if they were insufficiently educated in the true principles of liturgy, probably as the result of a throwaway line from a lecturer.  (It may also have something to do with the 1992  Canadian lectionary – whose rules of course have no authority here.)  Neither that person, nor apparently His Grace, have bothered to read through the new translation of the Mass sufficiently carefully so as to realize their blunder.  It is rather poor for him who is the chief liturgist of his diocese to make so odd an error, let alone foist it on the people.

Certainly, wherever in Australia and New Zealand I've attended Mass, in backwards Tasmania alone have I ever come across this strange shibboleth: I would appreciate it if anyone who has encountered this mistake elsewhere could leave a comment detailing their experience thereof.  I am quite at a loss to know why this aversion to saying "A reading" arose, although I do know it's been trendy here for a decade or more.  Perhaps it is a last leftover of the aborted new translation of the Missal by bad old ICEL in the 1990's?  That would be typical of the outlook of this Archdiocese.

To add insult to injury, the new edition of the proper Mass for St Mary of the Cross quite explicitly says that each reading indeed begins with "A reading from..."

At least Doyle's retiring any time now, and hopefully the next Ordinary will be less clueless.  One can but pray.

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