NPR on the new, corrected translation

From National Public Radio:

New Catholic Mass Already Causing A Stir

by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

November 25, 2011

This weekend, Catholics may experience a little surprise when they attend Mass. [Not if they have been going to Mass regularly.  They will have heard announcements and seen bulletin notes] The words and music are different, thanks to the first major change of the English-language Mass in more than 40 years.

For many practicing Catholics, this will be a major adjustment.  [Wellll.... Not really.  My experience in England in October, after they had been using the new translation for the Order of Mass for a month or so, is that people had adjusted quite well.  And let us never forget the truly traumatic changes shoved down Catholic throats in the 1960's.]

So on a recent Sunday, the Rev. Chester Snyder of St. Joseph’s church in Mechanicsburg, Pa., did a trial run through the new liturgy with his parishioners.

“Let’s practice it. The Lord be with you,” he said. And — eyes fixed on laminated cheat sheets — the several hundred faithful responded, “And with your spirit.”

“You’re pretty good at this,” the priest observed.

As of Nov. 26, the liturgy has a new vocabulary — not an overhaul but enough to trip people up, especially those who have the old one memorized.

For example, in the Nicene Creed, the old version said Jesus is “one in being” with the Father. The new version has a $5 word: Jesus is “consubstantial” with the Father. [That's a 5000% profit in just one word.] In the old Mass, people confessed they “sinned through my own fault.” Now people say they have “greatly sinned … through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” as they strike their chests. [Is this the time to remind readers that this is how people prayed for a very long time before the bad, obsolete ICEL translation was imposed?]

Snyder was shocked at the changes at first. But then he considered what the Mass celebrates: the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

“And that’s not everyday stuff,” he says. “That’s profound, it’s mystery, it’s beyond our comprehension. So when we enter into the realm of mystery, we try to have a language that is a little different from what we use in the marketplace, or the football stadium, or even in our everyday conversation.”  [Enter into the realm of mystery.  Is he a WDTPRS reader?]

Mixed Reception

That is precisely what the Vatican is trying to achieve. When the Latin Mass was translated into English some 40 years ago, it was a bit of a rush job. Everyone knew it would be revised. The new translation is closer to the Latin, both in words and in sentence structure.

St. Joseph’s, like many other parishes, has offered adult education classes to explain the changes and delve into the theology of the Mass. Some churchgoers were skeptical, even annoyed, at the changes.

“Of course change is always going to be a little rough, especially with a group this large,” says Karen Messinger, who attended one of the classes. “But I figure if there are no changes, we’d still have a Mass in Latin, so we have to have some changes.” [We still do have Mass in Latin, dear.]

Janet Beveridge adds that this is nothing compared with the shift from Latin to English. “It’s good because it makes you be on your feet and pay attention to what you’re doing and not take it for granted,” she says. “And I never want to take my faith for granted.”

[... There follows a section about the whines of the gripers. ... ]Jeffrey Tucker, a musical director in Auburn, Ala., and managing editor of the magazine Sacred Music, thinks the changes are for the better.

“There’s a kind of paranoia about all of this,” Tucker says. ” ‘Oh, look! We don’t want to go back to pre-Vatican II days with nuns that hit us with rulers and priests [who] are fussing at us for our sins all the time or whatever.’ All we’re really saying here is that we want church to feel and sound like church.

Tucker says the new words and music are an overdue adjustment from a liturgy that is too “chatty.”

Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, who is overseeing the change in liturgy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, agrees. And he asks: Just how accessible does the liturgy have to be? “People might say, ‘Well, what about children?’ So do we then say that the whole liturgy has to be at a third-grade reading level? How long would that sustain adults in the faith?

Hilgartner says the new words simply reflect the maturing of the American faith, and he asks people to be patient.

“I would hope people wouldn’t Monday morning quarterback this on Nov. 28,” he says. “We all need to give each other some time to learn our parts so that we cannot just be focused on words, but ultimately get to a point that the words start to speak to our hearts.”

No doubt, the regulars at parishes across the country are already committing the new words, music and rhythms to heart. But this weekend may be disorienting for the millions of Catholics who reserve their worship for the holiday season — which begins, yes, this weekend.

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23 Responses to NPR on the new, corrected translation

  1. Legisperitus says:

    Well, they won’t need to worry about nuns hitting people with rulers. Where would they find any teaching nuns?

  2. digdigby says:

    ‘ Snyder was shocked at the changes at first. But then he considered what the Mass celebrates: the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. “And that’s not everyday stuff,” he says….’

    THEN he considered what the Mass celebrates? Did he ever before??? Maybe he will learn a few new words from the new version.

    “Everyday stuff”? He can definitely use some precision in his vocabulary. Perhaps years of ICEL have caused damage to his frontal lobe.

  3. Sword40 says:

    And how could you tell if the nuns were otherwise? Our choir has been practicing the “new” music; its been brutal. Not as bad as “On Eagles wings” but its still Marty Haugen stuff.

    Think I’ll go to a TLM tomorrow.

  4. albinus1 says:

    I agree, Sword40. “The words and music are different.” Well, the music isn’t different enough!

    When the Latin Mass was translated into English some 40 years ago, it was a bit of a rush job. Everyone knew it would be revised.

    The postwar partition of Germany was supposed to be temporary, too, and that lasted for 45 years. So arguably, we’re actually getting rid of the ICEL version a few years ahead of schedule! ;-)

  5. jbpolhamus says:

    Dear Abbey (sic humour),

    My priest says that we can still use the old ordinary, since we don’t have current hymnals, or the Music Issue from Oregon Catholic Press. And this, despite the fact that I presented him with a new mass which I wrote, and which is entirely singable and based in the form of Chant rhythms and modality. I suspect I won’t be alone in this experience. But it makes me very uneasy as a cantor, to be praying outside the mind of the church. Seriously. All I want for Christmas is to escape the time-warp of the 1960′s. What should I do?

    Little Johnny in San Diego

  6. Phillip says:

    I read the full article, and one of the whines of the gripers strikes me as a bit…odd.

    “But Monica Malpezzi thinks the new language is stilted and confusing and will only create a barrier between people and God. ‘If we have to scramble for understanding in what our prayer life is, I think that will make it harder for us to feel that God is right there with us.’”

    I don’t go to Mass to be made to “feel” like God is with us. I go to Mass because God is there in the Eucharist whether I “feel” it or not. But anyway, the whole point is silly. The text of the Mass is in Latin. “Noble simplicity” need not mean “dumbing down the original.” The Latin version of the Ordinary Form is the standard for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. End of story. And I’m kind of tired of priests and bishops still complaining about it. It’s here and it’s staying. Generals don’t tell their soldiers that they disagree with the war right before going into battle. They follow orders and try to instill unity in their troops.

    On the whole, though, it was a pretty fair and balanced article. It’s nice to see the mainstream media cover Catholic issues with something resembling journalistic integrity.

  7. chloesmom says:

    At my parish, I foresee a lot of confusion – there has been no. Preparation. What- so-ev-er. At all. Zilch, Nada. Zippo, Jamais — you get the picture. The new Sunday Missals contain the revised translation, but I don’t know how many folks use those Missals. It’s going to be interesting to if they keep on with the old dreck, or switch to the new improved. Not optimistic, however, sadly. But I do believe in miracles, so maybe …

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    Starting on Sunday, do we refer to what is presently known as the lame duck ICEL translation as the dead duck ICEL translation?

  9. jaykay says:

    “It was a bit of a rush job. Everyone knew it would be revised”

    Oh yeah? Everyone? My impression was certainly the opposite. If it hadn’t been for access to the net from the late 90s with sites like Adoremus I would never have known that any change was on the cards, such was (still is) the death-grip of the professional liturgy mafia here in Ireland on any information relating to such matters. In total denial, basically. To a large extent they still are. The end of their tie-dyed, flared 70s heyday is upon them, as they see it, with that old man in Rome imposing his regressive regime which is just, like, so uncool with all the right people.

    They’ve still got a lot of influence, though. And a sting like a wasp at the end of summer. Maybe our new Nuncio will help to wise them up with a bit of good old US-style direct talking. Because these people have flourished for decades on distortion and denial.

    But finally… Sunday 27th. After 41 years and 11 months.

  10. My radio went off very early this morning as it does every Friday for me to go to our 7am Friday Morning Mens Fellowship and Mass. This NPR piece had just started. At first, I didn’t think that it was too bad and was surprised (and confused). Then, true to form…

    [... There follows a section about the whines of the gripers. ... ]

    Yes, a big section: “stilted and confusing and will only create a barrier between people and God”, “echoes the sentiment of many priests”, “priests’ prayers are sometimes unintelligible”, “dislikes the formal tone”, “not faithful to the Bible”, “Latin is more important than the theology”, “a total move away from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council”, “a power play of certain people in Rome”.

    These quotes were not from some malcontents in the pews, but from a bishop (mostly) and a priest.

    The NPR presentation made them seem like they were representative of half the people. Yes, true to form.

  11. wmeyer says:

    Where was all this concern for the people 40 years ago, when the Latin Mass was ripped from our churches? Yes, ripped. The spirit folks pretend it was not, but I was there, and it vanished.

    Shocking change? For the people the changes are few and modest; for the celebrant, I understand, there is a good deal more change. Shocking it would be, if it ended the ad libs.

    And what, pray tell, gives so many non-Catholics the inspiration to stir the malcontents? What is their interest? Surely not the actual good of the people. Rather, I am confident, it is fear that the people may become more reverent, as a result of these modest changes.

  12. heway says:

    Our Bishop has informed us that when he visits he will using the Mass as written in the Roman Missal. Easy! We have been learning about the changes in our parish since August of 2010. Every 3 months one of Father Paul Turner’s fliers was given to the congregation with a brief explanation. This was done by the catechist, not the pastor. It is the responsibility of the catechist. We do not expect to have any problems on the first Sunday of Advent. For many it will be like putting on an old pair of slippers -familiar and comfortable.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    Charles,
    I’ve got to stop drinking iced tea while reading this blog. My laptop got a bath. Thanks for the laugh.

  14. bernadette says:

    Our choir has been preparing and gradually introducing the changes, the priests have been preparing the people of the parish. Really, the changes are fairly minor and an improvement on the old translation. I don’t understand all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    I woke up to this report on the radio this morning. (No, I am no fan of NPR… I am just waiting until December 1st, when we will have a Catholic radio station!)

    Since September, my parish has been using the new Sanctus and Memorial Acclamation. What a difference those two minor changes have made. I cannot wait until Mass tomorrow (Saturday evening vigil). I’ve been waiting for this for years!

  16. Nicole says:

    If “consubstantial” was a $5 word reflecting a 5000% profit…does that then give us a clue how well its replacement “one in being” conveyed the proper concept? :)

  17. darcy-wi says:

    I find the Mass ordinary music in the new translation of the Roman Missal to be easy-to-learn and faithful to the Church’s patrimony of sacred music. It is just the right thing… if your pastor and/or liturgist/music director will use it. The Glory to God is Mass IV, Holy and Lamb of God is Mass XVIII. http://www.icelweb.org/musicfolder/openmusic.php Our diocese had a priest trained in authentic sacred music look at the offerings of the publishers for possible settings to recommend, and he had a hard time recommending any of them. He presented the options at a workshop, and most of the music directors there, whether they usually had a guitar Mass or organ accompaniment, liked the chant versions best.

  18. Gail F says:

    USA Today interviewed the Monsignior from the Pontifical College Josephenum (yay) and Bishop Trautman, and the priest who started the “what if we just said wait” list, and some clueless woman from ROCHESTER (now there’s a model diocese!) who said “we are the church” and “the people weren’t conusulted” blah blah blah. I can’t find it online. It wasn’t a bad article overall, in comparison to some, but my favorite part was when the writer said that “peace to His people on Earth” had been “narrowed” to “peace to people of good will.” Huh?? That is supposed to be narrower? How she got this novel interpretation was by saying that the Church defined “people of good will” as “people who accepted Jesus as messiah.” But of course, “people of good will” just means “people of good will.” Wouldn’t “peace to HIS PEOPLE” mean people who accepted Jesus as messiah? I could not figure it out.

    We have been using the Gloria and the Sanctus from the Mass of Redemption (Janco) — it’s pretty bad. It does not have a tune, exactly, and it is very fast and all over the place — up, down, a lot of sequences (is that the musical word?), it just wanders around a lot. Our Archdiocese had a committee pick four contemporary settings — two new, two revised — and this is a new one. The choir picked it. One of the other four pieces is by Proulx, whom I understand a lot of musicians like but I don’t know why. Atonal and depressing. So far my hopes have been dashed, music-wise. But I am really looking forward to the new translation Sunday!

  19. Supertradmum says:

    American priests and laity are making a mountain out of a molehill. The English congregations accepted the changes and with hand-held laminated sheets, followed all immediately. The only hiccup was adjusting to “and with you spirit” which took about a month. It is embarrassing that adults can’t adjust to things which are not that difficult. Imagine what it was like in the late sixties and seventies, when Latin Mass was in the Church one week and English the next with a completely new liturgy. Some Americans have become so stupid. Sorry for the rant..

  20. As far as surprises go, based on my inspections of many local bulletins over the past few months, I can’t see how anyone who bothers to look at the bulletin could be surprised. The diocesan newspaper has also had ample coverage. When one looks at the bold face of the people’s parts, not much really changes. It will take a few weeks, but I don’t think most people will have any trouble adapting. Now, if we got rid of all the insipid hymns– that might be different.

  21. Rosevean says:

    Here in the UK, we have said the “new” Confiteor a couple of times at daily Mass and the repetition of “my fault” together with striking the breast has certainly made me think more deeply about this than I had previously.

  22. albinus1 says:

    How she got this novel interpretation was by saying that the Church defined “people of good will” as “people who accepted Jesus as messiah.” But of course, “people of good will” just means “people of good will.”

    “Of good will” (bonae voluntatis in Latin) is a translation of the Greek eudokias, which means “good will” or “favor”. But in the way it is used, the “good will” referred to appears to be God’s will, not the will of these people/individuals. The entire phrase, in its Gospel context, was rendered “peace to those on whom His favor rests” in one of the relatively recent translations; I don’t remember offhand which one. So, really, the person quoted in the article has half a point; “people of good will” really means, here, “people in God’s good will”, not just people who themselves have good intentions. Yes, I suppose it does narrow things a bit; but that’s what the original says.

  23. JMody says:

    Reflects the maturing of the American faith ?!?!?

    Is that not a tacit admission that they think “the American Faith” began with Vatican II? Or do they think that the 1969/1970 Missal is a maturation of the 400 years of faith on this continent prior to VatII? I wonder if St. Isaac Jogues realizes what a stulted poor sap he is in the eyes of this mindset to endure maiming and martyrdom for so puerile a faith? Or in my neck of the woods, Fr. Eusebio Kino — a man who walked from Spain to Germany to Spain, sailed to the New World, and then walked from Mexico City to Arizona to La Paz at the tip of the Baja Peninsula — was NOT a man adhering to a MATURE faith??

    Puh-LEAZZE!!