Last Saturday night, the smell of overheating lamination machines wafted from Catholic Church basements in the US, Canada, UK and India. The next morning, parishioners lucky enough to attend churches not downsized by pedophilia payouts consulted freshly plasticized pew cards for the new wording of their Mass.

Rome had ordered up the change in a move some (me) interpreted as intentionally distracting from larger scandals. Instead of the familiar version of the 1973 Missal, the Clothmen had mandated language that carefully followed every word of the original Latin text and syntax. Earlier translations had been guided by a more flexible, accessible “dynamic equivalence”. Rome heard “sin tax” and errant dangling modifiers.

The Catholic Church had last rebooted in the 1970s after Vatican II. Priests known only by the backs of their heads, shadowed faces or felonies turned around and faced the people. They spoke in English, though sermons in my church, Our Lady of Psychological Warfare, sounded as if they had been translated directly from the Latin with the end of sentences saved for all the verbs. And the whole rite was set to a hootenanny guitar beat. When I finally understood what was being said, like many others, I left.

I have been lapsed a while and some claim my right to complain has expired. But I am still a recovering Catholic. I still see and feel the deleterious effects on LGBT people of the Church’s virulently unchristian preaching about the abomination of homosexuality. I feel quite comfortable giving some feedback.

So CC, you go to all that trouble to change the response from “and also with you,” to “and with your spirit.” That is so last synod. Why not go right back to the original famous Latin area code, “Et cum spirit 2-2-0”? Omnius obsoletus est novus again.

CC, I predict you are going to have problems with the communion “entering under my roof.” Before the post-Vatican II practice of plopping the host in cupped hand, like it was a Bugle snack, First Communicants lived in terror of getting the host stuck to the roof of their mouths. I am eternally grateful to Mother Church for the cunning lingual moves I learned to unstick the host, but the roof reference might trigger impure thoughts for many of my generation.

Kudos on the re-introduction of “consubstantial”! Take it from a former high school English teacher: Catholic kids just jumped three points on their language SATS! Now they can stop turning around home statuary on SAT Saturday mornings or praying to Great St. Joseph of Cupertino, patron saint of exam-taking.

The Credo change from the more communal “We believe in one God,” to the more individual, “I believe in one God,” is chilling. I am well aware we die alone, but before that, in this hyper-capitalized, secularized, atomized mean old world, it is heavenly to have a community of believers in the day-to-day.

Though I quibble, I have taken some collateral inspiration from the recent reforms. Early in my career I spoke in a radical lesbian- feminist language that was baffling to a larger audience. Then I began to use a more flexible, dynamic language accessible to a straighter audience. They got lazy. My LGBT audience drifted. I was too accessible.

Thanks to you, CC, I have been trying a thicker lesbian accent and making my audiences work a bit harder to get what I’m talking about. I might throw in a little Latin now too. Nullum means nullum. Facio amor non bellum. Occupius Murus Streetus. Occupius tuus ecclesia.


If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.



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The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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