Sunday, April 30, 2006

Interreligious dialogue

The best way to make a case for religious freedom is through anthropology, not theology or political theory.

"We can find an Islamic warrant for religious liberty with an Islamic warrant for human dignity" .

The problem with much Western discourse about religious freedom is that it's premised on relativism.

"The theory of relativism gives liberty only to relativistic religion" . "Believers of a recalcitrant sort who actually think that what they believe is true aren't allowed to express themselves in public."

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the pope's nuncio in the United States, agreed that anthropology is fundamental.

"The most fundamental question, it seems to me, is this: Who is the other, according to my religion? If he or she is an enemy, I will take one attitude. If it's somebody to be converted, I will take another. But if he or she is a creature of God, the same God to whom I pray, then all human rights will be recognized."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Auguri di Pasqua

Se ogni tanto la gente pensasse
al sacrificio di Cristo, Signore del Cielo e della terra,
l’intera umanità sarebbe più buona.
E' una cosa cosi semplice che tutti la trascurano.
Tanti auguri di buona Pasqua!
da Andrea Bonazzi

If people were to think, from time to time,
about the sacrifice of Christ, Lord of Heaven and earth,
the entire human race would be better off.
It is as simple as that.
Best Wishes for a Happy Easter!
from Andrea Bonazzi

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tanto nomini nullo par elogium

sulla tomba di Macchiavelli

Liturgical translation

Previous liturgical translations followed a mistaken theory which saw language merely as a medium for communicating facts. Many elements rejected as "outmoded rhetoric" were in fact expressions of feeling.

When we call Jesus' mother "blessed," we are expressing our love for her. When we call God "almighty and everlasting" we voice our respect; when we ask God to do something "kindly" or "graciously" we gratefully acknowledge his mercy. Similarly, we speak of the apostles and the church with reverence as "holy," we say that we have sinned "greatly" to express horror at our sins, and we even speak lovingly of the Host as "spotless" and the Chalice as "precious."

Sometimes we convey emotion by three-fold patterns, as when we give "three cheers" for a person or team. Thus, in the liturgy, we echo the angels' song "Holy, Holy, Holy," we lament that we have sinned "through my fault, through my fault, through my grievous fault," we honor Christ as "the pure victim, the holy victim, the spotless victim."

Bishop Trautman, a fine Biblical scholar, says the New Testament uses "ordinary language, spoken in the market place, on the streets and at the supper table." True, but it also uses emotionally heightened language, as in Revelation or in John's Gospel at the Last Supper, where Jesus utters thoughts of the most exquisite intimacy. The liturgy must do the same: it must speak the language of Gethsemane as well as of the supermarket.

Much criticism has been voiced of the proposed response "And with your spirit" to the priest's greeting. "'And also with you' is enough," people say. But some Americans, instead of saying "Come here," will say, "Get your butt over here," to express impatience. When we speak of "your spirit" we are using a similar device, but in this case to express respect for the priest as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

We hear much about "active participation" in the liturgy as desired by Vatican II. I wonder whether that is the best possible translation of the Council's words. I can participate in an event without getting really involved, and I can get involved as a spectator at a game of football without participating. I think "active involvement" expresses better what the Council wanted: not merely "joining in," but being drawn in, heart and mind. For that to happen, the liturgy must express feelings as well as facts.

Fr. Bruce Harbert, executive director of ICEL