Friday, June 16, 2006

IN DEFENSE OF MAGISTERIAL LANGUAGE

The Catholic Church is having a lengthy wrangle over the wording of the mass - their ritual, if you will. In the 1970s, a directive came from the Vatican to "simplify" the ritual, namely, to create a new translation that was closer to the vernacular, to the way people really speak and think, instead of the poetry of the mass as it had appeared in Latin. The new pope has decided that something was lost in that decision, that there is worth and majesty in the original Latin, and that a closer translation to its original Latin form would be more desirable, more affecting, more, well, reverent. In short, it sounds like the new pope has at last recoiled from the dumbing down of the liturgy.

Some interesting quotes:

"Folks are finally beginning to see what a banal translation of the Mass we've been saddled with for so long. The new translation is, I'm happy to say, not so very new-many of the expressions are just revivals of traditional expressions that have been used in English for generations."


"We need to give God the best words we can use. Words shape thoughts and cultures. We should not give God second best just to make things easier."


"Sometimes profound thoughts and truths require long sentences and big words," Harden said. "We don’t want to reduce the wording of the sacred Mass to the level of Time magazine. If people don't understand it, you educate and prepare them."


What a fantastic concept.

Pope Ratzinger has put the hammer down and called for a return to higher standards (in many areas, not just the wording of the mass) and more challenging vocabulary. For all those who point to Masonic ritual and call it too archaic, too long, or too complex for "modern men" to be interested, I find it interesting that the Church is taking the opposite view.

They are raising the standards. They are making it more challenging.

Freemasonry keeps making changes in an effort to appeal to young men, yet we keep doing it without asking young men about it first. We say they don't have time to take the degrees individually. We say the lectures are too long. We say the memorization is too hard. Yet, men who are staying away from Freemasonry don't know about those things. They don't know what Freemasonry IS! The young men who ARE joining our lodges are better educated than any generation of Masons ever before. They've done incredible research about the Craft before knocking on our doors. They are looking for something legendary, something mythical, something timeless. These are the men who grew up fascinated by the minutiae of the Star Wars universe and its organization; of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and its heroic stories and fascinating tapestries of cultures; of the esoteric discussions and philosophical labyrinths of The Matrix. These men are not looking for fast, easy ways to join this most famous and legendary initiatic brotherhood. And when we rush to MAKE it simple and cheap and fast, Freemasonry loses its value and its allure.

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