How many times have I sung “Ubi Caritas” at Mass? Countless. It’s not exactly a traditional Advent song, but I find it most fitting for the current Advent season, as we as a Church transition to the new translation of the Roman Missal.
I found myself frustrated last week. Not only did the presiding priest skip over and change some of the new translations, the congregation (okay, the people behind me) did not pick up the pew card, or grab the Missalette and follow along, and proceeded to recite all of the old translations while most of the congregation stumbled through the new. An odd clashing is found, and I’m sure some have experienced it – I’m starting to think the new translation is actually “and also with your spirit”. I expect these kinks to be worked out over the next few months, and all will return to the unison of old. Yet, in the meantime, we have learning ahead of us.
I’ve seen a few different blogposts strewn about (and had a few conversations) commenting on, “What will happen when the C&E Catholics (translation: Christmas and Easter only) come to Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and have no idea what’s going on?” I saw a number of responses. “We’ll simply know what’s going on and they’ll struggle amongst us.” “It’s not like they’re going to notice; they’re only there twice a year anyway.” “Don’t worry, it’ll be worse at Easter, when the rest of us have caught on and they’re still lost.”
Wow. Even with my frustrations noted above with those who choose not to participate for whatever reasons, what kind of Christian charity is this? The Advent season is not about elevating ourselves, or proving how great we are as human beings, but rather acknowledging that if not for the Savior, and his Mother’s fiat and humility, we would still be lost and wandering souls.
An English translation of the hymn “Ubi Caritas” is as follows:
Where love and charity are together, God is always there
Since Christ’s love has gathered us all together in one company,
Let us rejoice and take delight in Him, now and forever,
Let us now without any reserve or deception love one another.
Lest it sound otherwise, I know I have strides to make. Join me? Let us rejoice at Christmas for all those gathered together in the Church to celebrate Christ’s birth. We are all together in one company. Encourage those in your pew to pick up a missalette and follow along with the new translation. If they seem slightly lost, gently guide them. Take the opportunity to invite them to return the following Sunday. Extend the Advent and Christmas spirit to your neighbor. As St. Augustine said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence.”