Wednesday, December 28, 2011

These Stone Walls at Year’s End: Father Gordon MacRae's Hits and Misses for 2011

By Father Gordon J. MacRae an Advent post, “Down the Nights and Down the Days,” I described the challenges we face to offer Mass in a prison cell, and I described the obstacles we had to overcome in another post, “The Sacrifice of the Mass.”

The new translation has itself been a challenge, and I stumble here and there. I used to be able to pray the entire Roman Canon by memory at Mass. Now I have to consult the Roman Missal for every word and phrase. But it’s beautifully written, and a far more faithful translation of the Latin Mass. It is worth the effort to learn the new translation.

I read a recent criticism of the translation in a letter to the editor in a recent issue of Our Sunday Visitor. The letter writer found the new translation to be “pompous” and failing to reflect our “intimacy with God in familiar terms.” I could not disagree more. Perhaps prison has helped me reflect on the nature of my relationship with God. I speak to my friends as equals. I speak to God as my Savior, my Redeemer, my Hope and my reason for not giving up. Restoring some reverence to that dialogue is a very good thing. Not all agree, but I feel I owe a little deference to the Church on this one.  I sometimes miss the old and familiar, but only because it’s old and familiar, not because it’s correct....

...My biggest hit of 2011 goes to Suzanne, Charlene, and Leo. They are my digital eyes and ears and hands, and without them TSW could not exist and function. But you, our readers, are also a “Hit.” I apologize that when you write letters, I cannot always write back in a timely manner.  Many of you sent cards at Christmas, but I had none to send back to you. I want you to know that your cards are posted on my wall. No, not my Facebook wall, my cell wall. You have transformed these stone walls into a vivid display of good tidings, and I thank you.

One of my Scotish countrymen, the great poet, Robert Burns, began a collection of 100 songs in 1792 that he entitled, Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs. One song in this collection was “Auld Lang Syne,” which, if you can shed enough of the Scotish accent, is actually entitled “Old Long Since.” It’s a song celebrating “The Good Old Days,” which every generation forgets are the ones we are in now. I’m not sure how the song became a tradition on New Year’s Eve, but it’s a reminder never to forget home, family, and the friends who walk with us along the way. Here it is:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of Auld Lang Syne?
For Auld Lang Syne, my dear,
For Auld Lang Syne;
We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne.
And here’s a hand, my trusty friend,
And gives a hand o’thine;
We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne.”

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