Some notes about tomorrow, for Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and of course – for all of you interested.
The NZ Lectionary does not provide an email address for questions. I receive emails asking for explanation, not only from the “person in the pew” but also from senior, well-trained clergy trying to make sense of the changes from year to year, changes which are not accompanied by explanations.
The Sunday before Lent and the Second Sunday of Lent provide me with plenty of questions.
The Revised Common Lectionary(RCL) is a revision of the Roman Catholic 3 Year Sunday reading cycle (3YR). Both are formularies of the NZ Anglican Church. The 3YR has the Transfiguration as the focus of the Second Sunday in Lent – this has been the tradition of the majority of Christians in the West for centuries.
Some other denominations have an “Epiphany Season” that concludes at Lent. The RCL provides for an option of Transfiguration being the focus of that last Sunday in the “Epiphany Season”. Beginning in 1996 (when this option was not yet licit in NZ) and ending abruptly, without explanation, after 2005 – Transfiguration was an option in the NZ Lectionary for the Sunday prior to Lent.
In 2006 it could still be called a “Sunday after Epiphany” but (although licitly, of course it could be celebrated) there is no mention of Transfiguration on the Sunday prior to Lent in the Lectionary.
Transfiguration has always been a possibility on Lent 2 – either as the only option, or as one option amongst others. The NZPB (formulary) suggests the Transfiguration collect for Lent 2. 2007 and 2010 Lectionaries follow NZPB’s suggestion, other years, including this year, the Lectionary does not offer the Transfiguration collect as a suggestion for Lent 2. Last year was unique in suggesting Transfiguration be mentioned in the proper preface (strange, then, that, as I’ve mentioned, it didn’t use the Transfiguration in the collect!).
My approach: There are places where RCL enhances 3YR – in stories of women, in enlarging readings, in greater integrity around the Hebrew Bible; but where options are provided I would tend towards using the options followed by the majority of Christians. Tomorrow I will use the Transfiguration collect, the Transfiguration gospel, and the Transfiguration proper preface.
The new translation Roman Catholics will use tomorrow for the collect is:
who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that with spiritual sight made pure
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through our Lord…
Technically “O God, who have commanded us…” may be correct, but English doesn’t work by rules written in a room disconnected from actual usage.
Furthermore, this is not a translation of an ancient collect preserved as part of our great heritage – this is a new composition.
The 1973 translation may have been lacking:
God our Father,
help us to hear your Son.
Enlighten us with your word,
that we may find the way to your glory.
We ask this through…
But if I needed to choose between the one that Roman Catholics will use tomorrow and the 1998 translation rejected by the Vatican, I would choose the 1998 version. Here it is:
who commanded us to listen to your beloved Son,
nourish us inwardly with your word of life
and purify the eyes of our spirit,
that we may rejoice in the sight of your glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.