Collects and missal

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: My (sad and angry) question comes from the experience day after day of reading collects and other presidential prayers that almost always have so much filler—abstraction, adjectives, superlatives, passive voice, convoluted structure. Plus in my memory I can see the 1998 proposed sacramentary’s collects with their strong, memorable, biblical images. Finally my question: do you know of any efforts to address this problem? Is there any movement I could support that is promoting use of the 1998 collects—at least as optional—-or at least in the revised Liturgy of the Hours?

A second question: why does no one seem upset that there is so much language in the present missal that sounds Pelagian to me. I should know that “merit” has a particular meaning in RC theology, but certainly the normal understanding of this oft used word would be the same as deserve, earn, it is owed to me, gain by my efforts. The missal has so much of this language. Is this simply an English language issue? Am I incorrect to think grace, “free gift” from God is more the point in Catholic prayer? I am not worthy—But God is gracious. Why does this seem not to bother anyone?
Again thank you for the reason and calm you offer.


A: Regarding collects, any change would have to come from an episcopal conference. There are bishops who believe a re-translation of the collects is in order, but many others who are just not ready for more liturgical battles.
If you want to contribute in some personal way toward their reevaluation, then contact your bishop. He has the authority to raise this as an issue for the conference. If the conference agrees, then change becomes more possible. 

Regarding “merit”, I treated this in my book, In These or Similar Words. The introduction of that word multiple times into the English translation was one of countless surprises when the Vatican gave the recognitio to the missal in 2011. I agree with you that there are better ways to translate it. To change something that’s already in the missal, go back to your bishop.