USCCB official urges priests to prepare faithful for new Missal translation

On the site of the Diocese of Patterson, NJ, we find this.

USCCB official urges priests to prepare faithful for new Missal translation

News Editor

PARSIPPANY – Parish priests were told that while the publication date of the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal is not yet set, they need to start preparing the faithful for the changes in language of the new English text.

That was the message of Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), at St. Ann Church here recently, where he led a large gathering of priests and deacons in the diocese through an exploration of the revisions to the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal – which promises to give worship "greater richness of spiritual content."

This study day was arraigned by Bishop Serratelli, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship and a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which in wide consultation with scholars and Church officials, has been engaged in the process of producing these new texts.

"Don’t use the texts now, but start training your people so they will not be surprised," Msgr. Sherman told the local clergy about the English translation of the Order of the Mass, which the U.S. bishops approved in 2006 and the Vatican confirmed last year.
"This is a critical time to make the [faith] community aware – in a low-key manner." [You mean… positively?!?  Not in a whiny "the sky is falling!" manner?  After all, aren’t these new translations AN ATTACK ON THE COUNCIL?!?] Priests can go a long way to achieving that awareness by starting to print in their parish bulletins portions of the English translation that are available for everyone to peruse at the USCCB Web site at  Already, the laity, who has visited the site, is giving its feedback on the new texts, Msgr. Sherman said.

"I don’t think it will be major transition for the people in the pew. They will get used to it," Bishop Serratelli said. "The new translation recaptures some of the richness [of the original Latin text]. Some of the doctrine had been lost. It will help people develop a greater appreciation of liturgy," he said.

While the faithful might adjust quickly, the priests might find the unfamiliar text challenging at first. They might have to learn how to breathe [!] while reciting the prayers, some of which are longer, according to Msgr. Sherman. [And some liberals will, no doubt, simply hyperventilate.] Priests also will have to familiarize themselves with the new texts by reading them [yes… by actually reading them…] on the USCCB Web site and eventually by practicing them, Msgr. Sherman said.


"This new translation plays with metaphors and imagery and is closer to the original texts, which we believe are the vessels that hold the whole tradition," said Msgr. Sherman, who noted that these texts could foster a "new creative period" in Catholic worship, ushered in by composers, who are already at work, writing new pieces the mirror the new language or adapting existing music.

This new translation also marks a historic moment in the Church’s liturgical renewal that began with the Second Vatican Council. It reflects a greater understanding of use of the vernacular in the liturgy since Vatican II, [good point] declares Bishop Serratelli in a video on USCCB’ Web site.

"The new texts are understandable, dignified and accurate. [Unless you are already set against them, that is.] They not only strive to make the meaning of the text accessible to the listener, but they also strive to unearth the biblical and theological richness of the Latin text," Bishop Serratelli states in the video. "The new liturgical texts will lead us into a deeper understanding of the Church’s worship and will make it much easier for all of us to enter into a full, active and conscious participation in the Church’s liturgy," he said. [What the… ?!  Hey… WAIT!  That’s what the Council said!]

With this new text, translators took on the seemingly "impossible task" of trying to place the new text in the familiar vernacular, while also keeping the translations accurate to the original text – all without paraphrasing. This has challenged translators to consider the complexity of the original vocabulary and, in some instances, devise new words or use different dialects to express certain ideas in the text, Msgr. Sherman said.

"Translations are evolutionary. Each age tackles translations," Msgr. Sherman said. "While translations are imperfect, we should not splinter over them. We should make the transition [to the new translation] as smooth as possible."  [Or… we could just use Latin, and let people in the pews use which ever translation they prefer…. ?  Yes?  No?]

Nice to hear a positive presentation about the new translation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wchoag says:

    [Or… we could just use Latin, and let people in the pews use which ever translation they prefer…. ? Yes? No?]

    AMEN to that!

  2. Amy MEV says:

    As one of the lowly faithful, I say “Bring it on – NOW!”

    Father, would you please invoke a blessing upon my entry in Amazon’s Anniversary Wish List Sweepstakes? I have vowed, if I win, to purchase everything on your wishlist for you! Thanks :-)

  3. southern orders says:

    Now that this is approved by the bishops and awaiting a final missal, there is no reason why priests can’t start praying the Eucharistic prayers even now as revised as this will help the people to get use to the new and more sacred nature and sound of the translations. I’ve done this already a few times, and yes, I know it was illict, (but valid! but just think of all the liberties others take with the Mass as is) and the people have received them well. I’ve been telling them to go to the Bishop’s Website. There is no reason why we can’t start to implement their parts too. It will take about a year for them to get comfortable with them. Our bishop recently asked that all the parishes of the diocese cease distributing the chalice and omit the sign of peace out of fear of the flu contagion. The week before I explained it to them and the next week we implemented it. In this parish they had been exchanging the sign of peace for over 40 years and the common chalice has been given for at least 25 year. There wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen. So lets give our laity credit. They are not children. Just explain to them the mind of the Church concerning these translations and help them to hear and get use to them! Stop whining!

  4. Mitchell NY says:

    I am all for the allowance of some portions of the text in order for people to “see it coming” and allow the trasition to become familiar in sound, not just sight in the bulletin. I do wish however they would mention Latin in this article since vernacular is there by default. At least for the Ordinary. We need to learn that too, again at the insistance of the Council.

  5. Thanks be to God somebody is being POSITIVE about the new translations in a public and informed way. (Not that this particular segment here on WDTPRS are not!).
    The howling, hissing and spitting from some quarters will inevitably continue and be a real pain in the you-know-what, but the real treasure of the liturgical prayers in Latin must be available to the faithful or we are lost, completely lost. And then if the Bishop Trautmanites want to have “street language” in the Liturgy, I say, yes, bring on the Latin in everything. We pray the Sacred Liturgy in both forms here, the Ordinary Form in English, at times, but this departure in the vernacular from our patrimony in Latin has got to end.

  6. Mike says:

    from Eucharistic Prayer I:

    Current: Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

    New Translation: In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

    I like it. Aside from fidelity to the Latin, it has the specificity that is the truth, rendered in noble prose.

  7. ipadre says:

    It was good to see something positive for a change.

    I think for us priests, it will give the opportunity for a slower, more prayerful reading of the sacred texts. If we pray the Mass deliberately and clearly, as if it IS something sacred and important to us, then, it will become more sacred and important in the minds and hearts of our people. We priests sometimes offer the Holy Mass as if we were rushing to catch a train or something. ” Lex credendi, lex orandi” doesn’t only pertain to a good solid translation, but it can be applied to how we offer the sacrifice in a reverent and holy manner.

  8. The Egyptian says:

    [And some liberals will, no doubt, simply hyperventilate.] Father you have way with word ;>) , I can’t wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth

  9. Magpie says:

    I wonder when the new translation will appear in Ireland? I hope it will not be a lengthy, long-drawn out process. The good of souls, my own included, demands a proper translation.

  10. jlmorrell says:

    From what I have heard, I think this translation will be a big improvement. However, I lament the lost opportunity to translate “Et cum spiritu tuo” as And with thy spirit, which is so much more graceful than And with your spirit.

    And yes, Fr, I wish we could just stick to the Latin – it would make things for simpler and more stable.

  11. Egyptian: I can’t wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth

    I can. We have heard to much of that for decades.

    I’m tired of it now, and want it to stop, thank you very much.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Me too, Fr Z.

    I intend to show up with a missal and a smile and just enjoy the mass said in a more prayerful and coherent way. That’s what I’ve wanted all along.

    Now I hope we can make the music “fit” the occasion. Plain will be fine, just tasteful would help.

  13. onesheep says:

    We had no trouble learning the current translation, I don’t understand why they think we couldn’t learn the new one. I still remember some of the Latin responses from my childhood, one more translation isn’t going to be a hardship. Catholics have learned to be adaptable.

  14. Oleksander says:

    Good God, good thing these people are not members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church I think they would have a hernia, we use about 3 English translations of the Divine Liturgy (of the parishes that have an English liturgy, most use the most recent translation)

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    It’ll be interesting to see when it’s finally okayed for our use. And it’ll be interesting to see when they start actually mentioning it in our parishes. All that remains to be seen.

    I’ve heard precisely nothing about it from the local church, and honestly, I don’t think most people around here have any clue about it at all. On the other hand, I think it will be accepted fairly readily by most.

    It will be a lightning rod for spotting dissidence however–they’re not going to take well to it at all, I think. I don’t know where that’s all going to come from yet, although I have a few hunches. We’ll see.

  16. An American Mother says:

    Definitely a step in the right direction. I don’t think there will be a lot of murmuring in our parish — the revisions are an improvement.

    I too would have liked “and with thy spirit” but I’m so glad to have an accurate translation that I won’t quibble over the 2nd person singular . . . .

    And as for breathing, I think I understand what Msgr. Sherman is saying. When the phrasing changes, you have to modify and adapt your breathing to fit the new pattern. Singers think about breathing all the time, but it helps with speaking too.

  17. john 654 says:

    I would love to hear when individual parishes start to bring this up. No mention at my parish yet. Could we track it on a map or something? Instead of a push pin to locate the parish just use the date. Just an idea.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, I decided to check on our diocesan webpage. There is a link to the new USCCB missal page on the main entry page!

    I’m really surprised. Our diocese has NOT been in the front of any reforms to the NO. On the contrary, it’s been pretty crazy around here for years. We have a new bishop and I know nothing about him but this is a good sign!

  19. Mark Pavlak says:

    [And some liberals will, no doubt, simply hyperventilate.]

    HAHAHA!!!!!! I literally LOL’d on that one. When I picture someone picking up the new missal, reading it, then holding their chest while gasping for every ounce of air they can get before they faint, it’s all too funny of a scene.

  20. Agnes says:

    Sounds like an awful lot of work to get the more liberal parishes on board. If they’re already taking liberties with a bad translation, what will they do to a good one? How will dioceses enforce compliance among some of its more restless sheep? There are not enough liturgy cops (like our Fr. JP) to go around!

  21. We in the TLM do occasionally look out our chapel windows to see when the NO Catholics will appear down the boulevard. We have waited for thirty years, but we can finally see the vanguard beginning to appear and one or two brave souls have actually ventured in. I showed one my 1962 Missal and his eyes were drawn to the English text. He asked: “How long have you had this?” I answered that the Church has had it certainly since the Council of Trent and before that, for one thousand years. He repied: “Now I know why the Novus Ordo was introduced. It was to lead us AWAY FROM THIS! Do you have room for me here right now?” Certainly, I replied, but understand that we only have chapels as we do not expect to get much larger. Marriage for one’s lifetime to one person, no abortion, no contraception, no pornography, no homosexual “marriage”, obedience to the Magisterium are more than most “Catholics” will ever except. He sighed. He had much to think about he said.

  22. William H. Phelan: Wow. Makes ya think.
    Great comments.
    How much have these inadequate translations really affected the faith of Catholics?
    I mean, really.
    For those of us who believed no matter what was going on up at the altar, somehow we were sheltered[?] from losing our faith.
    But for most, how much damage have these translations really affected their faith? That is something that is an awful reality to ponder. Not just the changes in the Mass; that is one thing and maybe it will be eventually settled. But the translation from the Latin being not only watered down, but actually edited and changed?

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    Nazareth priest:
    You may be about ready to find out. I think that people are going to accept the new translations quite well. I also think that they’re unwittingly going to be changed by them and we’re going to see the magnitude of the power of the liturgy to change lives over the next dozen or so years, and that will be interesting.

    I think it’s important to also realize that just as the last translation wasn’t the ultimate translation, this isn’t either. The Holy Spirit will guide the Church where she is to go, and this is a step towards that end.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Agnes, this new translation is going to make it much easier for laypeople to tell “who is who.” Just look for the parishes that say the correct words without obvious guile, and avoid the ones with improvisations and anger.

  25. catholicmidwest:
    I think you are wise and very correct on this.
    I pray that the more correct and faithful translation of Holy Mass in English will bring a great spiritual renewal. I pray.
    We have so much to regain from the “desert” of these past 50 years; I will be celebrating 50 years of life this month(thank God I was not aware of what was going on all these years…naive is okay sometimes!) and according to the reading I have been doing on the liturgical reform/destruction of these past 50 years, thanks to the renowned Arch. Bugnini, may he rest in peace, we have a lot of work cut out for us. Mary, help us!

  26. Central Valley says:

    I wish it were happening tomorrow. I fear the implementation in the diocese of Fresno, Ca.. This could end up like many other things, disobedience to Rome and doing our own thing on the local level. Pray.

  27. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    Although I haven’t seen it yet, I’m hoping that- as this is a good time to instruct the faithful about the Council’s teaching regarding the vernacular- it will be emphasized that the Mass was never intended to be fully in English (or the vernacular). The Council said that parts of the Mass could be in the vernacular. As we are finally given a faithful translation in English, it would now also be a good time to teach the people that Latin also has a place and to use it!

  28. ssoldie says:

    I will stay with the 1962 Roman Missal, and the Traditional Latin Mass, which had grown organically, not new, I had enough of the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II along time ago.

  29. Traductora says:

    I would also love it if they would take this occasion to STOP priests from improvising any part of the Mass. Make them learn it and read it as written and not add their own flourishes, substitutions or explanations.

  30. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    I love this bit (penultimate paragraph):

    “… and, in some instances, devise new words…”.

    What an ineffable concept!

  31. Boots says:

    My only complaint about the USCCB’s sample page is that it doesn’t have the Latin. If they would lay the two translations along with the Latin side by side, anyone with even a cursory Latin education could see how the new translation is far superior.

  32. Mr. Phelan, that was not good follow-up technique.

    Are you seriously telling me that you told your enthusiastic new adherent to the TLM the equivalent of, “But don’t expect anybody else to join up, because all the Catholics in your old parish are scum, including your Catholic mom”? I just bet he sighed and said he had a lot to think about. Getting away quickly would be what I’d think about, if I were given follow-up like that.

    What happened to “rejoice in the Lord always” and “see how they love one another”? Why on earth would you discourage a new recruit from recruiting all his friends and neighbors? Presuming disaster is a real good way to guarantee it!

  33. Rob Cartusciello says:

    For a moment I regretted that the new Mass translations didn’t come out before our wedding this past June.

    Then I remembered that the (OF) Liturgy of the Eucharist was in Latin, so all the right words were employed. Deo gratias!

  34. AM says:

    “I would also love it if they would take this occasion to STOP priests from improvising any part of the Mass. Make them learn it and read it as written and not add their own flourishes, substitutions or explanations.”

    I have been rather worried that those flourishes etc. would continue and the new translation be obscured altogether as a result.

    So, I was -delighted- to hear indirectly that our (Canadian) bishop (not Calgary, not Ottawa, not Québec, not known for spine) has made it _very clear_ to his priests that (a) they are to follow the rubrics and text, especially the text, most exactly, and (b) they are not to allow even a hint of negative opinion to leak out from them into their parishes.

    Perhaps this reflects a trend, can we hope?

  35. MichaelJ says:

    I do not understand. What “preparation” is necessary? Has the Church become so populated with pantywaists that we would swoon and be unable to function if the Priest simply announced – on the day the new translation is issued – that “You will notice that there is a new and more faithful translation of the actual text of the Mass in your Missal”?

  36. Henry Edwards says:

    MichaelJ: I do not understand. What “preparation” is necessary?

    No preparation is needed for faithful Catholics in the pews. For them, the new translation could be introduced this coming Sunday with no problems, just gratitude from those sufficiently liturgy-involved to care.

    So I’d assume the year or so of preparation is required to acclimatize the priests who likely are the only obstacles to quick implementation. A more cynical view might be that liturgical establishment needs a year to get control over the process and exert their influence on it.

  37. Nathan says:

    I am loath to disagree such a wise WDTPRS-er as Henry Edwards. However, I think that there will be some work to do with the faithful Catholics in the pews on three of the prayers said or sung aloud by the faithful in the Ordinary Form–the Gloria, Credo, and Memorial Acclamations. As bad as the current translations are of these prayers (and cause my teeth to gnash every time), I would think that most folks accept these as “given texts” memorized largely from grade school.

    Also, since there’s going to have to be new music for the Gloria and the Memorial Acclamations (can you imagine trying to fit the new Gloria translation into “Mass of Creation?”), it will be rather jarring to a substantial number of people. That’s why I think it’s important to start having people (especially those in religious education or parish schools) becoming familiar with the cadences of the new translations early.

    Of course, it might be a really good reason for pastors to start doing those parts of the OF in Latin! I’ve heard rumors that we have some pretty good music (in the public sphere, not copyrighted) for the Latin Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

    As for the antiphons, collects, and prayers belonging to the priest, I agree entirely with Henry and with MichaelJ.

    In Christ,

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    Actually, Nathan, I was intentionally exaggerating the “ease” for those in the pews — who I expect to be generally open to the new translation — in contrast with those priests and liturgists who may not be. What I do think is that the introduction of the new translation solely in a “read Mass” setting will not be inordinately difficult for those (lay and clerical) who can read.

    But certainly your specific points are correct, especially regarding time to prepare musical settings. I believe I saw somewhere that ICEL is working on Gregorian-like chants for the Ordinary parts, and it will surely take time to get these into the flow.

    Seriously, from my experience with both OF and EF in Latin, I suspect the simpler (e.g. Jubilato Deo) Latin settings might be more quickly accessible. (Of course, none of the 18 classical Gregorian Mass settings are copyrighted.) But it may be even better (if more difficult) for the masses at Mass if and when soaring vernacular settings (perhaps a la those of Anglican use) are available.

  39. Nathan says:

    Spot on, Henry. I feel much better now–I have enough to worry about for my particular judgement without having to answer for “But didn’t you disagree with Henry Edwards?”

    In Christ,

  40. BillH says:

    At The Colorado Catholic Herald (Colorado Springs), we’ve been borrowing/running a series the last few issues written by Father Dan Merz of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo. That diocesan paper just finished a lengthy series that gives some history on language and liturgy, as well as some helpful comparisons between old and likely new texts. We’re about halfway into the series and are archiving them on our Web site (just search for “Father Dan Merz”). Would be good to get a review of the series from readers of this blog.

  41. onesheep says:

    Certainly, I replied, but understand that we only have chapels as we do not expect to get much larger. Marriage for one’s lifetime to one person, no abortion, no contraception, no pornography, no homosexual “marriage”, obedience to the Magisterium are more than most “Catholics” will ever except.

    And yet the Catholic Church grants annullments and remarriage in certain circumstances. So you do not completely abide by the teachings of Catholicism and rulings of the Catholic Church? How is this any different than any other group within the Catholic Church that bucks some Catholic teachings?

  42. Whenever one blogs on a public site one has to anticipate encountering the low wattage bulbs one encounters across the spectrum.
    Suburbanbanshee: the story was an ALLEGORY-it never really happened. Nazarethpriest understood this immediately. Perhaps it is time for you to go back for your GED.

    onesheep: Annulments? You care to challenge me by bringing up annulments? In its heyday, Amchurch granted more annulments than the rest of the entire Church. Annulments came to be called Catholic divorce. The Rota, which is the final judge of annulments worldwide, has been tightened so annulments are/will be as rare as they were before the Council. So it will be one spouse for life. Joe Kennedy was granted an annulment by his diocese (Boston?), only to have it reversed ten years later by the Rota. What an embarassment to have to explain to his second wife that THEIR marriage was valid (unless he went for a second annulment, of course).

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    Nathan, it’s not going to be any more jarring than usual to hear new musical settings. People don’t sing them anyway, and the cantors butcher them all virtually every time. If anything ever changes, the only thing that can happen is improvement. No worries.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    Mr Phelan,

    Everyone who’s honest isn’t necessarily tactless. Please figure out how that works.

    Besides, perhaps that young man would have learned what you think he should know from the Mass itself, and you wouldn’t have had to lay it out like a dead fish. Give God something to do, man.

  45. becket1 says:

    People are still going to see “altar girls”, EMHC, and hear bad music. These issues also need to be addressed by Rome. A new translation is only a start. A lot more needs to be addressed.

  46. MichaelJ says:


    There is nothing “disobedient” about asserting that Marriage is for one’s lifetime to one person.
    The fact that the Church grants annullments in no way implies that one holding the above view (as all Catholics must)does not abide by the teachings of Catholicism and rulings of the Catholic Church.

    An annullment is not, as you seemed to imply, a dissolution of a marriage; rather it is the recognition that a Sacramental Marriage never took place.

  47. becket1 says:

    “USCCB official urges priests to prepare faithful for new Missal translation”

    Where can I find this statement on the USCCB website. Can’t seem to find it.

  48. rinkevichjm says:

    We’ve waited 36 years for this, let’s not wait another: why can’t we start in Lent this year? I’m willing to give up that old translation. Oh well, we’ll wait ’til next Advent, I hope.

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