Liturgical Word Play

When you're trying to focus your attention, there's nothing worse than silly, needless distractions. Today at Mass, during the recitation of the Creed I could hear, amidst the unison of worshippers in attendance the dissenting voice of a lone woman who decided to replace every masculine pronoun in the Creed that referred to God with the word, "God." So, for instance, instead of "Through Him all things were made." She would say, "Through God all things were made." And instead of "And with the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified", in reference to the Holy Spirit, she said, "And with the Father and the Son God is worshipped and glorified". And so on. It was so distracting.

massThe rise in inclusive language is not really new in the Church. Many Catholics have grown inured to the omission in the creed of "men" in the part that reads, "For us men and for our salvation…" After all, women might feel excluded, so we should just use the more inclusive "us". And instead of the simple and ancient term of affection, "Brethren," used repeatedly in the Epistles of Saint Paul, we now have to listen to "Sisters and brothers," to assuage the exclusion felt by a sister worshipper. And then there's the Sanctus prayer, that reads in part, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Not long ago, I heard a guy behind me say, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord."

Where does this end? It's all so absurd. But as bad as it's been in the past, my experience today raised things to a new level of inanity. I've never heard such a stubborn and methodic insistence to surgically remove every masculine pronoun in a prayer or profession as I encountered today with this woman. I couldn't help glancing over my shoulder to get a look at the offender, and in the process probably providing her with the attention she sought. I expected to see a 1960's type (you know what I mean), but much to my surprise, there sat an elderly woman, with a cute handkerchief wrapped neatly over her white hair. How on earth, I wondered, did this nice old lady become so smitten with the insanity that is the political correctness movement in America? This pronoun game she was playing was nonsensical. It was vexing but also somewhat risible. I could only think, "Doesn't she know how ridiculous she sounds?"

Several years back, Jacques Barzun wrote, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. It's a hefty book that traces over the last 500 years of Western Civilization. In it, Barzun takes a crisp swipe at the petulant advocates of political correctness in contemporary academia. The all-to-familiar preoccupation, for instance, to drop the use of the noun "man" or "mankind" when referring to, well, mankind, and replace it instead with the innocuous term, "humankind" is particularly maddening, according to Bazun, who writes strictly as an academic and historian, not as a conservative or liberal. For centuries, he argues, whenever "man" was used in writing to refer to everyone, whether academic or theological in nature, it was automatically understood to refer to all humanity. It was something so obvious that it didn't require a patronizing explanation or quick-fix cosmetics to make it more acceptable. The trend today, to include a "he or she", or "humankind", is not only patronizing but it's deeply distracting, even from a literary point of view because it is superfluous. Can't it be assumed that I am intelligent enough to discern certain things, like when "man" is being used to refer to everyone or "he" to refer to both boys and girls? I guess not. But to have to endure this silliness during the Liturgy is simply too much. It's yet another reason why we should welcome the Latin revival underway in the Church.

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  • Guest

    Amazing. You must go to my church as I *just* heard a similarly aged woman doing the same thing which WAS quite distracting (although I was amazed at how many times a male pronoun was used in the Mass based on her responses).

    If you're OK with the "Father" and the "Son", I don't see the problem with male pronouns. If you're not OK with the former, then I think you have a bigger problem than the word choices in the Mass!

  • Guest

    That inclusive language thing drives me crazy, and you're absolutely right that it is distracting!  There is one parish in my diocese that does this for many of the prayers, and I avoid going there because it takes so much effort for me to say the prayers correctly when surrounded by the parishioners who insist on the inclusive language.  I didn't realize that the creed used to say "for us men and our salvation".  In that case, I don't mind because I think "for us and our salvation" flows better.  But as far as the other prayers, they're fine the way they are, and as a woman, I don't feel left out.  

  • Guest

    Also the reason the USCCB has seen fit NOT to begin using the New Revised Standard Version lectionary (Canadian bishops snuck that one under Holy See's radar some years ago. Not that the newest revision of the NAB is a whole lot better. Psalm 8 is especially discomforting to read in the "revised" version. Gimme that old RSV reading any day!). Still, at my parish one particular priest, when it comes time to recite the Creed, will recite "For us {   } and for our salvation…" omitting the word "men." Everybody else says the word "men" out loud, but as his lapel mike is on, his pause between "us" and "and" is conspicuous. Thankfully that's the only aggregious instance I have experienced where an overt effort  at "inclusivity" is distracting (for me anyway. I doubt 1 parishioner out of 100 in attendance even notices).

  • Guest

    Hi James,

    I wrote to Cardinael Pell in Australia on this subject. He is working with the English translation of the liturgy. He understood, he wrote back, and didn't really commit himself to anything and he's one of the good ones.

     We'll see

    Great article though. I'm sending it to all of my friends around the globe. 

     

    AndyP/Doria2   Yonkers,  NY

     

     

     

  • Guest

    That's funny, I've never in my life heard "for us MEN and our salvation", not just in my own diocese, but also on Cape Cod where we vacation.  I honestly never knew that was how the original creed was written.  It doesn't seem to flow as well.

  • Guest

    <<<I doubt 1 parishioner out of 100 in attendance even notices.>>>

     

    dennisofraleigh, I find that even more disturbing… and sad.

  • Guest

    I'm all for inclusive language. We are what we speak. Ask any 8 year old the sex of God and he/she will likely reply, "A man." Ask the same question to people in the forties and you'll likely get the same reply. Ever wonder why? By having the exclusive language be male, we've taught ourselves that God is male. Not what the Bible nor what the Church teaches since God transcends sexuality as is therefore neither male nor female.

    It's a pain to change, but change is needed.

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    nitd20,

    The simplest extension of good catechesis to ‘him/her’ would impress the student (as you yourself have clearly learned) that God is Man only in Christ. God in His Kingdom needs no sex – or, is that ‘gender’? Sorry, I get the PC stuff SO confused, what with simple, rational, commonsense terms I learned.

    But, the Man Christ referred to God most often as ‘My Father’ – not ‘Whoever I am addressing’. And, I never understood ‘brethren’ as meaning anything but ‘family’ or ‘church’ or ‘parish’ or ‘community’ or ‘circle’. However I may get confused over which of those Saint Paul (and others) was sometimes addressing, I did not think he was only talking to men. But, even today, I will hear another address a mixed-sex crowd as ‘you guys’ – a kind of colloquial slovenliness – not any of us thinking that the speaker is talking only to and/or about the men about.

    Our English language – a melange of melanges – has suffered enough over the centuries – and especially the last century – that torturing it more for such puerile purposes is maddening.

    And, don’t get me started on the camouflage we call ‘euphemisms’.

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    Sadder and more disturbing than 1 in 100 parishoners probably don't notice, or the comment "Doesn't she know how ridiculous she sounds," is the judgmental attitude of the writers of these statements.  I've read comments from CE postings where kids are called bratty and spoiled, and look at these postings along the same lines and have to double check that I'm on a Catholic site.

  • Guest

    We have to remember that this whole "God/gender" debate among Catholic liturgists is of fairly recent vintage, having been driven for the most part by the radical feminist wing, esp. in Catholic academia. They are the ones who write the books published by many of the major Catholic publishing houses (Ave Maria, Liturgical Press, etc.) in which complain about the "sexist" Catholic heirarchy and in the next breath  argue for the complete emasculation of God as defined in the Creed, esp. as "Father." Remember the big brouhaha over some attempts to change the Trinitariain formula from "Father, Son, Holy Spirit" to "Creator, Redeemer, Advocate," or something similiarly absurd?

     The scripture translation gender "revisions" originated from the same strident, anti-Magisterial, feminist wing of comtemporary Catholic thought. This was definitely NOT the product of a "grass-roots" Catholic women's issue bubbling up from complaints from the Catholic women in the pews. Fact is, most practicing Christian women (Protestant and Catholic) didn't think anything of it when the Bible references were mostly in the mail gender until the rad-fems told them "This should be a major issue for you, TOO! Why aren't you in as much angst as we are? Never mind. We'll work on the Church liturgists and translators and get this "problem" fixed."

    As for the "for us men" phrase it's in our parish hymnal, and in the Universal Catechism:

    456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."

  • Guest

    Pristinus is right on this (as he is on so many other things). Jesus taught us to call God “Our Father.” We further bless ourselves “In the Name of the Father…” While God may transcend sexuality, we refer to Him in the gender (grammatical) He evidently prefers.

    Michael

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”

    “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – GK Chesterton

  • Guest

    http://www.christineschult.com

     

    excellent article!  I featured it on my blog.

     

    Christine 

  • Guest

    My family and I attended Mass where our pastor would say "…He was born of the Virgin Mary and became human" instead of "man." (My husband would mutter sarcastically under his breath that this was to emphasize that Our Lord did not become a Ferengi or something like that). This was very difficult and offensive for our family, so my husband and I and our kids would always say loudly "man" when we came to that line in the Creed. These changes were certainly NOT what Vatican II intended when it allowed the Mass to be translated into the vernacular, yet so many priests feel they have free license to say whatever they want. Rubrics seem to have little importance in a lot of parishes (and inclusive language isn't the only problem). Thank you, James, for writing this article and opening the discussion about this – we need to stay vigilant and prayerful so we can preserve the Truth.

  • Guest

    I'm afraid we do have these bratty and spoiled catholics who are so uncomfortable in their own sexuality and the traditional understanding of the language that they just have to make themselves sound rediculous just to assuage their own shortcomings. (Whew, pardon the run on sentence) It's the only way I can get a word in edgewise past these inclusionary exclusionists. I think a lot of them are former or current nuns without habits as well as bad habits. (pardon the wordplay also)

  • Guest

    I WAR against political correctness because it's a false religion founded by atheists to divide people by race, gender, class etc.

    Btw James, the two last names thing is a little effeminate looking …. Just trying to help you out, Bra.

  • Guest

    It usually doesn't stop here.  When inclusive language is used, much of the liturgy is ad-libed and made up.  In the extreme situations, one wonders if he or she is actually at a Catholic mass.

     

    The real intent is to destroy the masculinity of Jesus and the male priesthood with the purpose of trying to justify and evolve women priests.

  • Guest

    I'm a former English teacher and book-lover, so this "inclusive language" is one of my pet peeves Frown.  Such usage indicates an ignorance of literary style, and a total lack of knowledge about the grammatical structure and development  of the English language.  The theological implications I leave to those more qualified for comment.  Must admit I've never heard any of these linguistic shenanigans at Mass, but as an organist I cringe whenever encountering the changes (most of them disastrous) wrought in the lyrics of hymns by this silly practice.  It just doesn't sit right — and it sounds contrived and just plain dumb. I have no problem with Jesus' Manhood, nor does it bother me to call God Father,  Any true man would never be ashamed to show his "maternal" side.  When our sons were infants, my husband loved playing with them and changing their diapers, and I never for a moment thought that diminished his masculinity.  This political correctness has done a great deal to damage contemporary English style, and unfortunately much contemporary writing is imbued with this stupidity.  I agree with the poster above who mentioned declaring war on this stuff — down with it! Bah, humbug, on inclusive language!

  • Guest

    novusodordoseclorum, did you read my entire post?  I said that I was opposed to inclusive language.  I wasn't saying that good flow should be a requirement for prayers.  I was making an OBSERVATION that I had never heard that line in the creed include men.  It sounds awkward to me, probably because I've never heard it that way.  When I read about it in the article, I assumed that it was a rarity to have it still said that way, but then I read another commenter who is used to it being read that way, so I once again voiced my surprise.  How I have gone 38 years without hearing it said that way, when apparently many parishes still include the men, is beyond me.

     

    Heaven Help Us: I wrote a comment last week about bratty and spoiled kids, so I guess you're talking about me.  If it's any consolation to you, I was already chastised by another commenter.  Fact:  there are bratty and spoiled kids in the world.  They weren't born that way, and it doesn't mean that they aren't loved by God and don't have dignity as human beings.  But it happens.  There are people who spoil their kids, and consequently the kids act bratty.  Does being Catholic mean that I shouldn't notice this?   On the contrary, a Catholic site is where people exchange ideas about childrearing philosophies so that their kids won't be spoiled and act bratty.  It's not un-Catholic to call a spade a spade.  We are never to judge the state of a person's soul, only God can do that.  Judging behavior is completely different.

     

     

  • Guest

    "The real intent is to destroy the masculinity of Jesus.."

     

    HA HA HA HA!! …….ehh…….mmm…… HA HA HAH HA!!

  • Guest

    I have been at war with PC for years. It got me in trouble with a theology teacher once. He did not like it when I disagreed with him that the phrase "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" should be rendered as "In the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sancifier." He was flustered when I pointed out that these changes radically altered the theology, as taught by the Church for 2000 years, was altered to one of fuction rather than relationship.

     

    That is the over arching problem. PC destroys the relational ideals needed to keep families and society running. Function is replacing relationships. People are reduced to objects that are interchangable. Individuals are no longer unique. PC gender is a void. Male and female roles are interchangeable. Anyone can do whatever is needed. When I hear that I just ask, "In the normal course of events. Men sing bass and tenor; women sing alto and soprano. What do you think the Messiah would sound like if this were not true, and only sopranos or only basses sang the Halleluia Chorus?" The truth is that we need our differences to create harmony.

     

    Peace and all good, Richard

  • Guest

    I lived in a dysfunctional diocese for 8 years.  I saw how priests were made to answer to women religious for the content of their homilies and how women religious were placed in charge of vocations.  Needless to say, any young man who supported the opinions of the Holy Father was denied entrance to the seminary, being called rigid and uncompassionate.

    The bishop has stated he hoped women will become priests and  allowed them to give homilies.  He allowed all sorts of abuses at one particular parish for almost 20 years.  Women elevated the host @ the consecration and held "unofficial" penance services. When the bishop finally was forced to end these abuses, the people, ordained and unordained, who were used to unlimited power and expression formed their own church and at least of of the women was "ordained".  So when I hear inclusive language, I feel this is like entering a swiming pool with lukewarm water.  If someone tries to enter a pool with hot water, they will die and avoid the water.  But if the water is lukewarm and the heat is slowly increased, after the person is in it, they will die of the heat, and will never know it because they are used to unhealthy conditions. 

    So when I hear inclusive language at mass, I know what's coming down the road.

  • Guest

    HA HA HA HA!! …….ehh…….mmm…… HA HA HAH HA!!

  • Guest

    Claire,

    I had to go back and find where I had read the "bratty and spoiled" kid remarks and in rereading your comments on that particular article I still felt that the words were harsh and judgmental. Having been blessed with many children, all now grown, I can tell you that never once did any of them ask about the amount of gifts received by other children at Christmas time or even for birthdays or whatever occasion.  It hasn't always been easy but we've just always tried to teach our children to be thankful for what God had given us and our family.  That seemed to have been the start of the "bratty and spoiled" exchange where you somehow determined that parents were buying things for their children to replace time not spent. 

    I just think that some of the words used in these posts are harsh and even if some people feel it is their right or duty to judge behavior (as you apparently believe) we ought still remember that Christ cautioned that only the one without sin should cast the first stone at the sinner.  I think it was a pretty straightforward warning. 

    I do wish you a blessed Advent season.

  • Guest

    Since the theme of this thread is wordplay I'll just pile-on and call Claire a meannie. I still remember how she got me to divulge my birthday.

    Yes, I know all about the Adam sindrome.

  • Guest

    Heaven Help Us,

    I didn't say ALL parents spoil their kids, or that ALL parents buy things for their children instead of spending time with them. But this does happen. I'm very happy for you that your children never asked about the discrepancy of the amount of gifts they've received compared to their friends. When I was a teenager, my friend's little brother asked about this, and it stuck out in my mind. I have been trying to have children for years, and while waiting to be blessed, I have spent a lot of time preparing for the challenges of parenthood. Doing so gives me something positive to focus on while I'm trying to keep from falling apart this Christmas season, remembering that I was supposed to be 7 months pregnant with the identical twins that I finally conceived after years of trying. Patrice's article reminded me of my friend's little brother's question and gave me a good idea of how to handle it if I am ever asked that question by a child. Maybe it will never come up. But I found it helpful to think of an answer that I can give if it does.

    Yes, Jesus said "those without sin cast the first stone". I am not casting stones here. Casting stones=condemnation. Jesus was warning about condemning/judging the state of a person's soul, not judging actions. I am not condemning anyone. I was not even talking about anyone in particular. I was talking about a well-known phenomenon in our society in which SOME people are materialistic and demonstrate their love through things rather than spending time with their kids. This results in spoiled kids and bratty behavior. Are you trying to say that in the whole world there is not one spoiled child, and that no child has ever acted bratty? You find me to be judgmental? Well YOU are being judgmental toward ME. On this site there is a lot of talk about parenting trends within the secular world that are less than ideal, and there are lots of exchanges of ideas on how to better parent our children. It's hard to have a discussion about positive parenting practices without examining the negative ones. I could understand your concerns if I pointed the finger at a specific person and named names. But I didn't. So you and the other commenter who lit into me the other day can get together and talk about how I'm so judgmental and unkind all you want, but you both should probably also turn that lens on yourselves.

  • Guest

    HA HA HA HA!! …….ehh…….mmm…… HA HA HAH HA!!

  • Guest

    Goral, keep it up, and next year I'll get you to admit your age. I have my ways!

  • Guest

    Claire, I take back that you're a meannie because you gave me another yr. to live. Would that our Lord be equally as gracious.

  • Guest

    Claire, I’m sorry, I misunderstood your post. I agree that it can seem weird when you have always said it one way.

    I can relate to this because for as long as I can remember up until about a year ago, I said “and I ask the blessed Mary, ever virgin” in the Confiteor. When I started saying it the correct way, (omitting “the”) it felt weird for a while. At least I think it is the correct way. I have checked with a few Missals.

  • Guest

    The prayers of the mass were written and fought over in Latin. Knowing about 5 words of Latin, I think it's cool that it has a word for a female person, mulier, for a male person, vir, and for a person of either sex, homo.

    And then the texts get translated into various languages. In the creed, "and became man", is "et homo factus est".  Funny, it is not vir.

    That troubling bit in the creed, "for us men and for our salvation", is "Qui propter nos homines". That could be translated just fine into English as "for us", or "for us people".

    Two key things to me are:

    1. If you aren't praying the church's creed, do you believe what the church teaches? At one mass I went to the priest changed "and became man" into "and became flesh". YIKES! Was he a man, body, soul and spirit, with both a human and a divine nature, or just an empty body? Some of the changers may not realize what they are really saying.

    2. It is the church's prayer. When we pray aloud together we need to agree to pray together, instead of fighting our wars. It's like when you pray the rosary together, you have to agree on saying the "You" form of the Hail Mary, or the "Thou" form. Both are okay, you just have to pick one. In the middle of mass from your pew isn't the right time or place to be picking a fight.

  • Guest

    Dear Zephyr, you're having just too much fun with this!  I recommend a bag to breathe into (paper, dear, not plastic!).

    Claire, you are right in that it's not possible to discuss positive parenting without noting the negative.  And, let's face it: there are too many "spoiled and bratty" kids out there not to notice.

    Additionally, Claire, you were obviously born "too late" to learn "for us men and for our salvation…"  Those of us who are pre-V II Catholics feel jarred and unsettled by the omission.  For us, it "flows" better the old way.

    And, finally, dear Heaven Help Us, I think you might want to read a Gospel–any Gospel–and then seek confession during Advent.  It takes an awful lot of chutzpa to claim that Claire is "judging" others when, by making that accusation, you are judging her!  Additionally, Jesus had no problem calling "spoiled and bratty" Pharisees/Sadducees/scribes names much worse than "spoiled and bratty".  And, check out St. Matthew 12:33: we are not only supposed to, but are commanded to judge the behavior ("fruit") of others–not their motives, not the state of their souls, but whether or not their lives correspond to their doctrine.  Did you ever hear Mother Angelica talk about "misplaced compassion"?  Take the plank out of your own eye before you go after the splinter in someone elses!

  • Guest

    Thank you for your support, Cooky. 

     

    By the way, when I mentioned the "for us men and our salvation" thing to my husband, he said that he says it that way every time!  I stand next to him at Mass, and have never even noticed.  I guess I just go on automatic pilot and just hear the way the priest and the congregation say it. 

  • Guest

    And they say it's the husbands that don't listen. Who would want to go to heaven if the women are not there. Even the fanatical Moslems agree. I would not enjoy watching a dude play the harp.

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    zephyr has his point – all this can be too laughable – and, some ‘politically correct’ nonsense should be mocked, scorned and laughed into oblivion.

    And, maybe God means just ‘men’ sometimes. I consider that it is ‘like a child’ that I will accept and enter His Kingdom. And, just WHO is more like our children than their Moms? When you think of gentle innocence, do you think of Joseph and carpentry training, or the Madonna? It’s us DADS who might need more reminding about innocence recovered and embraced.

    And . . . and, consider angels in art – guys in flowing gowns – dresses! Angels are so confidently potent, they have no problem wearing that which the lady rather than the guy might wear.

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    Goral, very true.  I accuse my husband of not listening, so he felt very smug when we discovered that the first I heard of  "for us men and our salvation" was when I read this article, despite the fact that my husband apparently says it that way every time! 

  • Guest

    Dearest Pristinus, don't know if you'll even see this, but I have to agree with you about sometimes maybe God means just men.  After all, that's who the original "message" was given to–Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc.  To this day, Orthodox Jews believe that the teaching/following/worshipping of God is a man's work, and that women are kinda-sorta allowed to "tag along" as long as they don't get "pushy".

    Oh, my dear, how very much my heart wishes that Christianity would bring back the men!

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Well, Cooky,

    Now that I am old enough to both know better, and yet to avoid some of the more ‘energetic’ maculine work . . .

    ‘Reporting for manly service’ as I can.

    You don’t just ‘tag along’ – you have eminent attention and control of God’s little proto-citizens! Besides, it just may be that some day not all that far in the future, while you take the kids and run, we Christian (and Orthodox Jewish and other God-fearing) men are going to have to draw the line and say ‘This is as far as they go’, and stand that line no matter what.

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    I have found that the scrappiest pioneers for the "Church of What's Happening Now" are mostly gray-haired women with short, feathered haircuts and bald, smiling men with poor posture standing behind them. Just my limited observations, I'm sure.

    There is an age-old truth (a well concealed secret now-a-days) that the woman that shares "pillow talk" with her husband and the hand that rocks the cradle of her children is the one that rules the world.

    Men are often more comfortable in the "git 'er done" world of dog-eat-dog and with standing up to protect the weak. Women are often more comfortable in creating a home worth fighting for and raising families of truly good persons – both male and female.

    Somehow the One who made both men and women designed them to work together in love – given and received — freely, fully, fruitfully and forever. In the image and likeness of God Himself. 

    Not very politically correct view, is it?

     

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