Newsletter of the District
- Dec 2002
Interview with Thai liturgy official
Fr. Joseph Phaisal Anamwat
The following interview shows how inculturation is being imposed
in Thailand on the faithful. Their “sensus fidei –
6th sense of faith” is telling them something
is wrong with these novelties. Refer to the editorial on page
2-3 to see how such inculturation actually destroys the Liturgy.
BANGKOK (UCAN) - The Church in Thailand has made some changes in
the Thai liturgy to help Catholics actively participate in the Eucharistic
celebration instead of just "listening" to it, a Church
official says. Father Joseph Phaisal Anamwat, secretary of the Thai
bishops' Catholic Commission for Liturgy, said the changes, effective
from June, are intended to help Catholics understand better the
meaning of the Eucharistic sacrifice. The priest spoke to UCA News
in August 2001 about the changes, the commission 's work on improving
the language of the liturgy and the difficulties it faced.
News: Why were changes made in the liturgy?
PHAISAL ANAMWAT: The Thai Church has recently made some changes
in the Thai version of the Order of the Mass to help Catholics participate
actively in the Eucharistic celebration. Generally Thai Catholics
do riot know about such participation and the meaning of the Eucharist.
They go to church "automatically" and "listen"
to the Mass.
on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council called for people
to take an active part in liturgical celebrations. Bishops and liturgists
translated the Latin text of the Mass into Thai and officially used
the local language in 1978. As time went by, many liturgists said
they must improve the text for the benefit of Catholics as well
as the many Buddhists who attend funeral or marriage Masses. The
changes are basically to improve wording, phrases and sentences
in accordance with theology as well as Thai grammar, and to correspond
to pastoral and interreligious implications.
the revised translation in 2000 and started using the new text in
all churches officially at the feast of Pentecost in June 2001.
are some of the changes?
We tried to
follow the spirit of Vatican Council II. We want people to understand
the meaning of the Mass. That is why we changed the traditional
word for the Mass, phithee missa (Mass ceremony) to phithee bucha
khop phrakun (celebration of thanksgiving), which is its true meaning.
We asked people not to use the word "missa" anymore. We
want people to understand that what Jesus did at the Last Supper
2000 years ago is a saving event.
We try to
guide them to the mystery of Jesus, whose death and resurrection
is for our redemption. We try to communicate to them that when they
participate in the liturgy, they go into the mystery of Christ.
We also improved the wording of the Lord's Prayer to express more
accurately its meaning. We have included penitential rites and even
Eucharistic prayers for children. We have added sung responses for
the mystery of faith and doxology.
The new text
also introduces gestures such as kneeling, standing and sitting
to help Mass goers participate in the liturgy.
any problems encountered while revising the text?
We had a team
comprising two bishops, linguistics experts and seminary professors.
First we followed the text of the Eucharistic celebration from Latin.
Then we compared it with the Greek, French, English and Italian
versions. When we had problems with the translation, we looked at
it from the pastoral aspect.
Thai is a
very difficult language. One word could have three meanings. We
had to select the best word to give the exact meaning.
about lay participation in the Mass?
have always thought that the liturgy is the sole duty of the priest.
We have tried to instruct the laity to be involved in all aspects
of the liturgy.
on the whole are receptive and are open to changes, such as women
lectoring at the Liturgy of the Word or girls serving at the altar.
Such ministries are open to the laity now unlike in the past. However,
we still have to be careful about the cultural realities of Thai
society where some people are sensitive about girls serving at the
communion under two species is also permissible but there are some
problem is that Catholics are not aware or informed of these developments.
Another problem is that even some priests and Religious did not
know about them. Our commission is trying to inform them about such
have Thai Catholics reacted to the changes?
are used to silent worship although Vatican II teaching calls us
to actively participate in the Eucharist. Liturgy comes alive in
the Philippines with singing, in Africa with beautiful dances, but
in Thailand we stay calm and collected. Some people still consider
it a scandal to even sing or smile during the liturgical celebration.
in Thailand also varies from region to region. In Bangkok it is
usually very solemn but in northeastern Thailand or in areas where
the liturgy is led by missioners, Mass is usually held in a very
We also try to inculturate our liturgy. However, when we use certain
words or gestures, or use joss sticks in the liturgy, people ask
why we imitate other religions.
is the commission doing now?
The main objective
is to try to make the liturgy simple and help people enter deeply
into their faith life and the mystery of Christ. We are tackling
four aspects of the liturgy.
We are working
to improve sacred music, as oftentimes the music and lyrics are
not appropriate for the liturgy. We are also continuing to work
with the translation. We will not stop with the Order of the Mass,
but will include the funeral and marriage rites, and others.
We also have
to work on the liturgical environment such as the altar and tabernacle,
the sanctuary and seating in and outside it. Many people do not
know hat there are two tables at Mass, the table of the word and
the table of sacrifice.
is the aspect of inculturation. We will continue to work on a style
of worship that is in accordance with "the Thai way."
We hold seminars
across the country to help Catholics understand the revision of
the liturgy. These seminars are helpful because people are asking
questions. It is a good start.
FOCUS September 21, 2001, page 8)