Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reflections on the "New" Mass

After a few years of hearing about it, and a barrage of really terrible media coverage in recent weeks, the new translation of the Roman Missal was finally rolled out this weekend.

In general, it went exactly as I expected it would. We stumbled over ourselves. The priest tripped over his tongue. We laughed a lot as a congregation. And we left with the same saving graces we always do.

All that said, it'll take a few weeks for me to really soak everything in and make an informed opinion. This past week was hard to judge as the priest at my boyfriend's parish had a thick Polish accent -- I'm looking forward to checking things out at home this coming weekend.

I love the new Confiteor -- the triple "mea culpa" missing was a huge flaw, and it's really great to see it in the English with the beating of our breasts. That moment was very powerful. It goes without saying that I pray I'll never experience that in mortal sin...ha.

The Creed was definitely full of weirdness, but the actual language in concrete and expressive. It's not exactly conversational, but there's tons of meaning packed into it. In fact, that can be said of the entire translation -- very specific and sensory.

I really disliked the use of "it is right and just" instead of "it is right to give Him thanks and praise." Compared to the flow of the rest of the translation, this statement feels clipped and short, like there's something missing.

The only thing that really bothered me though was the change is what used to be "In Your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety..."

Now, the priest says "save us from all disasters," which, while relevant, has a completely new meaning. As someone who has previously struggled with anxiety, the old line was always such a huge comfort to me. I'm sad to see it go.

While a lot of people will be scratching their heads for a while -- especially all the C+E Catholics that will show up next month -- I believe the translators accomplished what they set out to do: craft something more faithful and eloquent that lifts our souls to God.

Just don't ask me to like "and with your spirit." Ever. ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The past week or so has been a whirlwind of people to meet, places to go, and food to consume ... only now do I actually have the time to sit, catch my breath and reflect on it all.

God is so good. The depth of His providence this year especially has blown my mind.

A year ago, I made it a point to build as many emotional walls as I could. I needed to protect myself from that cold, scary world that was waiting after my education was complete. I needed to protect myself from men who could hurt me if I trusted them with my heart. And most of all, I needed to protect myself from ... myself. All of the brokenness, unresolved issues and fear would have to wait until later. 

After graduation as depression and bitterness settled in, He used a slew of family emergencies to help me see that I love my family more than anything; that I need their support to get me through, even when it hurts to admit. I'm holding them all a lot closer this year -- life is too short, too precious, to not appreciate.

He used my new, "grownup" job to teach me that, self-perceptions aside, I'm not a hotshot and I don't know everything. I'm going to make mistakes daily, but also learn from them. The same goes for every area of my life. I'm not perfect, but I get a little stronger every day. That's what counts: that I am always growing and moving forward.

He used Hurricane Irene to teach me about the darkness in my soul. I woke up to the fact that, at the end of this life, I will stand before Him alone. I am completely dependent on His mercy. I finally sought it through that weekend, and since then He has set me free of so much that was weighing me down.

He used the driver's manual that sat for months gathering dust on my desk to motivate me toward independence and conquering my fears. A few weeks ago, I passed my driver's test and got my license, a goal I wasn't sure I'd ever reach. God helps those who help themselves.

Most recently, He's given me an amazing man and used him to teach me so much. I am learning that I am strong. That complete surrender to God, love and vulnerability shows you how to live fully. That intimacy doesn't have to end in sin, use, and brokenness. That joy and hope are daily decisions that accomplish much.

Writing it all out fills me with a humility that's hard to articulate. He gives me more than I could ask for ... and still wants to give me more.

How amazing is that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Kirk Cameron, faith and fear

I seldom use this blog as a soap box for venting, but I hope just this once I can be excused. I've been meaning to write about someone extremely popular in the evangelical world.

His name is Kirk Cameron. If you're immediately thinking of the young, sarcastic heartthrob of the 80s sitcom "Growing Pains," you've got the same guy.

During his tenure on the show, Cameron had a radical conversion experience that led him to Christ. Awesome.

His castmates would say years later that Cameron often pushed his new zeal on them, and ties remained strained in several cases, if not broken entirely.

After "Growing Pains" was canceled in 1992, Cameron focused his acting career on Christian films and preaching. First came the post-Rapture "Left Behind" movies, fire-and-brimstone imaginings of what life would be like for the unsaved before the Second Coming of Christ. Hello, sensationalism.

Recently, he starred in "Fireproof," a drama about a broken marriage healed through faith. (Keep your eyes open: I may review it here soon.)

A few years ago, Cameron hooked up with itinerant minister Ray Comfort. The two founded The Way of the Master, a ministry equipping Christians to go out there and WIN SOME SOULS.

Ahem. Let me give you an example of his methods.

Have you ever told a lie? Someone who has told a lie is a liar. And what does the Bible say of liars, you ask? I'll tell you: they're not fit for the Kingdom of God. They go to hell -- just like you will, if you don't accept Jesus right now. Today. What do you choose?

This is The Way of the Master -- Cameron's way -- of telling people about the mercy of Christ. I imagine he's been successful, but have to ask one question: do any of these people come to Jesus because they want to? Because they're ready to be forgiven and loved? Or do they come out of fear?

Unfortunately, I've seen countless people get saved this way, and they either fall away shortly thereafter or continue on with a stunted, warped view of who Jesus is and what our faith is really about.

This way of thinking was pushed on me years ago and I resisted, knowing that I could only embrace Christianity if I did it for me. The friends I keep from those early days were the ones who loved me right then, as I was, paganism and brokenness be damned. That's what He did, after all. Love. Not condemn.

Fear-mongering may be effective, but it's also cruel and damaging. God is waiting to cover us with mercy and dignity, not drop the guillotine.

I just hope those souls Cameron "wins" know that, too.