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?]
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.