Monday, November 28, 2011

The New Translation: Skepticism and Hope (Mostly Hope!)

I remember first hearing about the new translation of the Mass a couple of years ago and waiting eagerly for the implementation.  You see, I'd heard that it was due out at Advent and so when Advent arrived with our ever interestingly festooned missals I eagerly flipped open the pages and began to scan for the changes (on a side note , with all the beautiful artwork in the world, why did they always go with the kind that was as abstract as humanly possible on those missals... to quote Sadie and her frequent use of "it kind of looks...": "It kind of looks like Mary..." Kind of.  It also kind of looks like something a five year old with no sense of proportion could whip up...).

And then I learned the slow moving truth.  It wasn't coming in 2009.  These things take time.  I apparently wasn't as up on Catholic-News reading at the time, because the same disappointment came in 2010 when I thought:  "Advent! It's almost here! Are we going to start practicing?" and realized that it was Advent 2011 and we'd be waiting an entire additional year (I'm glad I didn't know that in fall 2009 when I first heard about it).

I ordered Jimmy Akin's Mass Revision before we moved and began reading it a couple of months ago, before putting it down with a bit of regret.  The book is brilliant.  The explanations are great.

But, after attending so many Masses where the words "Near Occasion of Sin" would not be inappropriate I have to say I was skeptical as to how much any change, short of a great big smack over the head by the Holy Spirit, would really help.  I thought of the Masses that make this seem, not all that unrealistic, Masses with Ad-Libbing Liturgies of the Eucharist, where we had to repeat parts because we didn't say the Agnus Dei with enough gusto and Masses where the priest starts to say the Our Father and the choir got louder and louder because someone had decided we'd be singing the... modified... words... and so they drowned him out until he finally gave up and joined in (let me say that that was one of the saddest things I ever saw at Mass...  I think Near Occasion of Sin crossed over into outright rage at that point...  I could have thought of a good use for that missal if I'd had a better throwing arm... without a baby in it...).

Could any change so small, really help those situations? the small pessimistic voice that's formed over the past few years asked.  I mean if they're changing the words anyway, who says they'll even use the new translation?  Those little old ladies had been writing the Bishop for years... and it never changed anything... 

But then I remember the importance and power of words and how seemingly small changes can have an enormous impact on meaning.  I mean, that's exactly what upset me so much about the changing of the words in the Our Father.  Small changes can have transform meaning.  More than that, at this moment, these changes can make us think, really think, about something we've been saying for years.  Maybe those words, given new life through small changes, might affect us in a new, amazing way.

Which makes me feel a little bit torn.  I love the Latin Mass.  The beauty and reverence of it touches a chord in my heart that vibrates through the week... and I know where the focus of the Mass will be, even when my own focus is distracted by a fussy toddler.  But I'd also really love to see the implementation of these changes, and the amazing effects that are possible when we really take a close look at the words that we're saying and the meaning that they convey.

After Mass yesterday the girls and I strolled around the big church next to the little chapel where Latin Mass is held and watched as the crowd of Mass goers poured in for the next Mass of the day.  I was tempted to join them to see the changes first hand (I would have been more tempted if I hadn't just survived a fairly smooth 90 minutes with Sadie and Mae at the EF Mass).  But then the giant cement building began to vibrate with blasting music that we could hear outside, some fifty yards away, and the idea didn't seem quite as compelling.  Maybe we can find someplace a little quieter for our first taste of the new translation...

What was your experience of the new translation?  Since I've read about it but haven't actually seen it in action, so to speak, I'm hoping I can live vicariously through you all!  I hope it was a beautifully beginning to your Advent season!


  1. It definitely was an improvement, although I wish we lived close enough to where an EF Mass is celebrated to assist at that. It was a little awkward at points (both the priest and the congregation had some stumbles), but our organist/choir director is really trying to make some changes that match the new translation. For example, we had a lovely sung antiphon at the beginning of Mass. However, I must admit that we attend a parish where none of the sort of abuses you've mentioned in the past were a problem. We have the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary, regular adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and there are always pretty long lines for confession. There's one Mass where there has been a folk group part of the year, but 3 other Masses each weekend with either no music or with organ music.

  2. I like it a lot. It actually was surprisingly easy. Everything is written for us. The priests have much more to worry I love that this has caused our attention to be much more focused on what we are doing. A lovely shake-up! God is good. :)

  3. I totally agree about the artwork on the pew missals... the publishers could take a lesson from Magnificat :^)

  4. Our Deacon messed up the first "And with your spirit", but so did everyone else. I love how wordy the new/correct translation is. I absolutely love it. My parish did really well, really well, I am proud of us. :) My favorite parts were the "It is right and just." and the "...for you and for many." I love it...

  5. Like you, I haven't experienced the full Mass in the new translation (more about that on my blog.) However, I did get to hear the new Gloria and new Sanctus over the weeks preceeding last Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to find the new translation not only more accurate, but not so Latinate that the change was jarring. (If that makes any sense.)

  6. I haven't experienced the new mass yet either, but when I have time to attend mass I am eager to see what the changes are.

  7. I found it a good change. I don't expect the improvements to remove liturgical abuses, retrain EMHC so that they cease to try and do a blessing on my kid, or improve the generally horrid music used-- but as far as they go, I like this changes and improvements in the translation very much.

    If I had an EF mass locally I would go to that instead, but we don't so this is as good as it gets at this time.

    The improved translation IS and improvement and I like it.

  8. We had a good time at our Mass...we've been going over the new changes for over a month now, and there's been stuff in the bulletin, so I think we were pretty prepared. Also, there are these handy little guides that were made that guide us through all the changes, indicate where to bow in the Creed (not that it changed but it seems like everybody forgot it was there), and has all the new music.
    Our priest actually composed a new Mass setting for the Mass parts that has been really nice. I enjoyed singing it.
    People seemed to do pretty good; the cantor led the new responses by saying them softly into the mics, so that helped a lot for the "with your spirit."
    I really enjoyed the priests prayers. I could tell it was a bit of a struggle for our priest, and he's only been a priest for a year so he wasn't really comfortable in the old one yet, but he really made the effort and it was lovely.

    If you want to try the changes, try a Mass with Fr. Kelly at Saint John's. He's pretty old school. So long as it's not the 5pm Sunday Mass, I don't think the music would bug you (5pm being the youth Mass w/ much more 'praise and worship' style music).

  9. I love the corrected translation! Everybody seemed excited and prepared (and this is at a very lukewarm parish) and said the responses with gusto. Even the music was more reverent. My soul was soaring!

  10. I love the corrected translation. I haven't experienced it at the parish I belong to yet (we were in my hometown last weekend) but I think anywhere you go will have several stumbles for the first few weeks as everyone gets used to it. I love the "wordyness" too. It really makes you think more about the meaning and the elegance seems to give so much more respect (if that makes sense to anyone).

    I don't have much access to the Latin Mass so I have been on pins and needles waiting for the new translation at the English speaking.

  11. It made me kind of giggle, actually, since half the church is saying one thing and the other half is saying the other, then everyone else joins in because we all remember (half a second too late) that we have different words at the end of the response.

    Other than that, I think the words are beautiful and the music, while different than what I'm used to, will grow on me as I learn it.

  12. As I am considerably older than most, for me, some of the prayers and responses actually harkened back to my childhood, before the last round of changes!

    People were pretty diligent about following along with the pew cards, and I do think the priest had it much harder... lots of hesitation, but that's not unexpected. I did find some of the language "clunky", as I heard someone else describe it. I don't necessarily think that reverent language requires words that are foreign to most folks, e.g., "consubstantial". During the Eucharistic Prayer, I also heard the longest, most incomprehensible sentence I have heard in a long time.

    Some of the language is lovely, but arguments can be made that some of the translations are "iffy", theologically speaking. But that's something for another blog.

  13. For what it's worth, here's my experience:


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