Same old song and dance.

November 8, 2008

A friend was recently at a memorial service in a Catholic church, and happened upon a stack of memos next to the piano which read as follows (a copy of which she gleefully stole for me!):

On August 8, 2008, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, announced a new Vatican directive regarding the use of the name of God in the sacred liturgy.  Specifically, the word “Yahweh” may no longer be “used or pronounced” in songs and prayers during liturgical celebrations.

This directive affects the following songs currently included in OCP’s various missal programs:

“I Lift Up My Soul” by Tim Manion
“Let the King of Glory Come” by Michael Joncas
“Me Alegre” by Carlos Rosas
“Sing a New Song” by Dan Schutte
“The Lord is King” by Rory Cooney
“You Are Near” by Dan Schutte
“Yahweh” by Gregory Norbet/Weston Priory

Unfortunately, at the time the directive was announced, the 2009 editions of these books had already been printed and, in many cases, shipped.  The 2010 editions will include revised versions of the songs with updated texts.

The memo went on to include links to PDF versions of the updated songs that could be downloaded and reproduced, etc. etc.

OK, it sounds to me like there’s some real bullshit going on here.

First of all, talk about inefficiency.  Couldn’t the clowns in big hats at the Vatican make these decisions before they went to press on the songbooks?

So, the gripe is with the word “Yahweh”.   According to Catholic Culture, “[t]he Vatican has ruled that the Name of God, commonly rendered as ‘Yahweh,’ should not be pronounced in the Catholic liturgy.”

What’s the deal?  According to Wikipedia, “Yahweh is the English rendering of יַהְוֶה, a proposed vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה as it appears in the Hebrew Bible. It is commonly subordinated into the title ‘God’ in popular bibles, or the Tetragrammaton translated as ‘JHVH’‘ Jehovah’ both of which remain commonly disputed.”

OK, so it’s just a fucking word.  Right?  Oh no.  “Modern observant Jews no longer voice the name יַהְוֶה aloud. It is believed to be too sacred to be uttered and is often referred to as the ‘Ineffable’, ‘Unutterable’ or ‘Distinctive Name’.”

What?  So there are some words that shouldn’t be said aloud?  Like “Fire!” in a crowded theatre?

So, what does this strange, superstitious Jewish tradition have to do with Catholic liturgy?  Well, apparently, the practice of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton has “crept in”, somehow to Catholic worship.  They make it sound like some nasty viral infection or something.  (Catholic Culture won’t tell me, but I’ll bet you anything it was those damned freethinkers among the Catholics who introduced this practice.)

Once again, religion and all of its paranoia and superstition has descended upon language – which is just the utterance of certain syllables – and, this time, taken aim at its own.  It’s bad enough when the devout are always saying things like “Jeezum Crow!” or “Holy cow!” and inviting us secular heathens to do the same, lest we might offend someone or – gasp! – take the lord’s name in vain!!!! – but it’s even funnier when, within their own ranks, there is all of this dispute about how, specifically, to sing praises to their invisible daddy.

My question is – does it really matter whether or not Catholics sing Yahweh at Mass?  I mean, what is this really about?  I suspect it has to do with reverence or honor of Biblical “history” (if you can call it that) and even more to do with just another way to exert some sense of authority and control over the devout.  All of these little directives only serve to erode the individual’s sense of autonomy and sovereignty, little by little, and mold each individual into the homogenous lump of servile Catholic humanity.   I know that sounds big and scary – but then, so is the Catholic religion.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Same old song and dance.”

  1. Mardé Says:

    I agree with you, Minds, that it’s probably just another way to exert some sense of authority and control over the masses. The whole issue is a bit like counting angels on the head of a pin but it gives the high priests something to do.

  2. Aileni Noyle Says:

    Don’t try to understand, ME – it could drive you insane.

  3. mindserased Says:

    Yeah, Aileni, you guys are probably right. But, like I’ve said before, the inanity of religion provides a large target, one at which that I don’t mind taking aim from time to time.

    Marde – you got that right about keeping the priests busy. Anything to keep ’em from lusting after young boys.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: