The new translation and “twice a year catholics”

From a reader about “C & E catholics”… those who darken the church’s door at Christmas and Easter.

Four Sundays from now, on Christmas, the “Twicers” will attend without the benefit of the explanations.

The following are for your consideration, totally as you see fit.  I do not expect you to respond, but feel free to do so if you want.

1.) Are any priests planning a “mini” explanation immediately preceding the Christmas masses?  Or at least a large sign outside each of the entrances letting them know to use the cards in the pews.

2.) I’m guessing that four weeks will not be long enough for regular attendees to “unlearn” the old responses.  One benefit is that the Twicers probably will not stand out if they respond “and also with you” the first time at the beginning of mass.

3.) I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there will be more negative comments/ complaints about the new translation from the Twicers than from regular mass attendees.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    This was brought up at the forum I attended and the priests insist the Christmas and Easter Catholics won’t notice the changes. Colour me skeptical.

  2. Hidden One says:

    The celebrant could always note that if the visitors would like to learn the new translation, they are heartily encouraged to come back next week.

  3. pseudomodo says:

    I had a wind-up train set when I was a kid. One of the things you soon discover is that this train will run almost as well even when it is NOT on the tracks. However it will run ANYWHERE – along the carpet, along the wall, under the table, down the stairs etc. It will crash into things and pieces will fall off and the cars and locomotive get damaged. Your father then comes along and gives you a lecture and then puts the train back on its tracks.

    Yesterday the Church put the liturgical train backs on its tracks.

    Thank you Holy Father!

  4. We haven’t been to a “regular” Christmas or Easter Mass in a long time… for a while we lived abroad and the Masses there were always lovely. Prior to moving oversees, we began attending a real Midnight Mass (I say “real” because it was actually at or close to midnight), often choosing an Extraordinary Form Mass when possible, which generally weeds out the Twicers.

    But from what I remember at a regular, 8 pm OF Midnight Mass, the Twicers often didn’t know the Mass anyway. So, some (or many) may just not notice the changes.

    Thank God they come. Hopefully they went to Confession prior to Communion. Hopefully the corrected translation will inspire them to come more often.

  5. Allan S. says:

    “3.) I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there will be more negative comments/ complaints about the new translation from the Twicers than from regular mass attendees.”

    No bet. ;)

  6. Phil_NL says:

    I would expect these irregular churchgoers to notice differences in the english translation, but would they actually remember the old responses etc.? I very much doubt it. I would expect them to use the missalettes and so on for everything, knowledge that is used only twice a year generally doesn’t last in the brain.

    Also, it’s quite likely that a substantial part of these ‘twicers’ did not have a steady participation as children either, so that basis would also matter little.

  7. Scott W. says:

    I heard of a priest who started his Easter homily with, “As I was saying last Christmas…”

    3.) I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there will be more negative comments/ complaints about the new translation from the Twicers than from regular mass attendees.

    Actually, I’ll take that bet. I think with twicers (I call them chreasters) you could put lyrics to “We are the World” in the program and they wouldn’t notice the difference.

    Now if you put the Athanasian Creed in it…

  8. siciliano says:

    So I attended Mass yesterday at a church in Lowell,MA. Everything was fine before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There were some foiblesm (sp??) with the responses but all in all, things were good.

    Things got bad when the priest began the Lit. of Eu. with, “Ok so now we are going to be using the newly translated prayers. It’s going to be awkward but I’ll TRY to make this as prayerful as possible. ” He didn’t try. He made it more difficult for himself purposely. I was incensed. Then, finally to add insult to injury he said, “for all” instead of “for the many.” I left mass angered as usual in this aweful diocese. I wanted to give him a lashing after mass but then said it wasn’t worth it. I wonder if he realizes just how much he damages the faith of the laity.

  9. michelelyl says:

    I am placing signs on the bulletin boards in the vestibule of the Church and the greeters are handing out 500 pew cards to every attendee at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day English Masses. So, everyone will not only know what is going on, they will have something to take home as a teaching aid- as well as an invitation to come back each week.

  10. AnnAsher says:

    I don’t think anything extra should be done to aid the comfort of twicers in continuing their twice a year tradition.

  11. Ralph says:

    Unless the “twicers” in other places are quite differest from the “twicers” here, I don’t think it will matter one way or the other. Most of the ones who show up at our parish come in, sit down, take communion and go home (often right from the communion line!) with out so much as a peep. No singing or liturgical response. So, I don’t think they will notice or care.

    FWIW, I think we need to be welcoming to the twicers. Our pastor has a great one liner he usually slides in at the close of mass, “Remember, we celebrate the birth, death and resurection of Jesus every week, not just at (fill in the holiday)” . He says it in a friendly humerous tone that usually makes everyone laugh. I hope that it makes the twicers really think about returning for mass without making them defensive. He also makes a point in most holiday homilies to speak about the realities of sin and the consequence of it. He’s not a sugar coater. I recall an Ash Wednesday (a big twicer holiday in these parts – got to make sure grandma sees you with ashes) homily to the “twicers” that basically said why are you here, who are you fooling?

  12. APX says:

    As a revert who never audibly “actively participated” when I did go to mass with my family for 16 years regularly, all the responses still stuck in my head and I could respond verbatim when I did start going back. I don’t believe people won’t notice these changes.

  13. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I am planning an announcement before the Christmas Masses, to the effect of, please use the aids in the pews, please show hospitality to our guests by helping them out.

  14. RichR says:

    Fr Fox beat me to it. This is a non-issue as long as there is something to follow. Weekly church-goers will still be learning the new words, so they will still need the aids.

  15. Jerry says:

    “I would expect these irregular churchgoers to notice differences in the english translation, but would they actually remember the old responses etc.? I very much doubt it.”

    The last time I attended the English NO regularly was in 1974, and less than two dozen times in the 37 years since. On those very rare occasions when I do attend same, most of the responses still pop up on cue. Which is one reason I don’t accept the argument that Mass in the vernacular leads to greater active participation: Greater verbal participation, perhaps; but not necessarily active mental engagement.

  16. bootstrap says:

    >Our pastor has a great one liner he usually slides in at the close of mass, “Remember, we celebrate the birth, death and resurection of Jesus every week, not just at (fill in the holiday)” . He says it in a friendly humerous tone that usually makes everyone laugh.

    My pastor used to say this too, now he simply says “welcome home!” to the twicers.

  17. xzsdfweiuy says:

    Father, regarding your speculation about the “Twicers”, I would add that to a large degree,
    I further hypothesize that the kind of people that really do not believe that
    words mean things will be a large part of that group..

    such as one Catholic “intellectual” as presented over at the N.C.Register:

    Maribeth Lynch, of Elm Grove, Wis., was quoted in North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer vowing
    that she would refuse to “learn the damn prayers.”

    “It’s ridiculous,” Lynch told the Observer. “I’ve been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they
    make such stupid changes? They’re word changes. They’re semantics.”

  18. xzsdfweiuy says:

    Whoops; don’t I feel silly airing the same Maribeth Lynch quote as Father Z did in a separate post..
    yet it’s pleasant to see his similar reaction.

  19. priest up north says:

    Mindful that many “chreasters” are in the Generation X and younger category, who grew up going to Mass at least more than twice per year with the old translation, I think many of them will notice the difference. Hence, given that Christmas is on Sunday, we have a special bulletin insert planned (part of the same series of inserts used from week to week as preparation for the faithful) with overview and “here’s how you can learn more” information, with the hope that one or two of the sheep may actually be renewed/rekindled in their faith…

    I also plan to give a short “It is good to see you…in case you missed it” type announcement before Mass, mindful of being charitable, but seeking to follow our Lord’s advice to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves….” We’ll see what happens…

  20. johnnys says:

    Was that what I was? A twicer? Well by the grace of our Lord I am now a asmuchasIcaner (weekend and days off) and soon will be (after retirement) a onceadayer! I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and when I was a twicer I still remembered all the responses. So…help your neighbor out if you can. Maybe you will inspire someone to be at least a onceaweeker.

    At Mass on Saturday after the second ‘and with also with your you spirit’ response the priest stopped and said ‘come on folks you can do better than that…this is important.’ Woke everyone up and it went smooth as silk the rest of the way. :)

  21. priests wife says:

    for johnnys- Thank you for your response- it is a good reminder to us all to be helpful and charitable to those visiting during these holidays- we never know where the Spirit will lead!

    And sometimes those extra people are true practicing Catholic visitors! My four children and I need to attend Sunday Mass at a Roman-rite the Sunday before and of my daughter’s Nutcracker- you might find this post interesting-

  22. Rich says:

    At least we will have to listen to them complain only twice a year!

  23. Mark R says:

    The solution is to attend more than twice a year.

  24. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    When we all get together and start the Creed, the twicers how they learned it, and those who have been practicing with the new way, We will stand up and hear both “I believe in one God” and “We believe in one God” mixed together so that what will come out is:

    “Why believe in one God?”


  25. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    I have already devoted six Sunday homilies to explaining the “what and why” of the new English translation. Bulletin inserts and a much-touted weekly series in my diocesan paper provided supplementary information. How, you ask, will I prepare the “Twicers”? Very simple: immediately before Mass the cantor will announce, “The Order of Mass begins on page X. The Scripture readings begin on page Y.” Anything beyond that is casting pearls before swine. Few Twicers, I expect, will notice, never mind appreciate, the corrected translation.

  26. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I am careful to be extra super nice to people that I don’t recall seeing before because they may be new and I may be the only person with whom they interact in church that day. You would be amazed what a smile or a pointing at the missal can do for somebody’s morale who is new.

  27. Centristian says:

    The typical “twicer” tends to arrive late; he sits (or stands) in the back of church and does not sing or respond out loud. It is likely that most such seasonal worshippers will not avail themselves of worship aides, therefore.

    It’s still a fine idea to at least make such aides available, I think. Many Christmas and Easter Catholics will notice the changes, after all, and making the effort to make them aware, beforehand, that changes have been made since their last visit, while giving them the opportunity to join in by means of pew cards (or whatever) if they so choose will perhaps make them feel less like aliens in a new world and more like members of a family that has made some changes to the house in their absence.

    I’m sure a number of “twicers” will marvel that the Mass has changed, and will furthermore marvel at some of the changes that have been made. It will awaken the curiosity of not a few people, I’m sure. I further suspect that that curiosty will, for some of them, lead to questions and possibly an interest in learning more…more about the Mass, more about the Faith…just as these revisions have already for weekly worshippers.

  28. Of course, this new translation is a very big deal for liturgy wonks (including WDTPRSers). But post-Vatican II liturgists (especially) may tend to forget that liturgy may be less about text than about context–including ceremony and ritual. And I suspect that twicers, especially, are more affected by the overall context than by textual minutiae. So perhaps we might not be too hard on them if they don’t notice much what we’re so focused on. They may even be focused on the better part.

  29. Johnno says:

    This is the one time we can make use of that technology we call projectors they roll out every so often for presentations and other things. It always amuses me how they’d use it for occasions when they’re not needed, and when they’re actually going to come in handy, they don’t know where they are… Project the responses and hymns onto a blank section of the wall and everyone will pay attention and follow along and know where they’re at. Lord knows, new churches have plenty of black space for a projection screen, it’s not like they have icons and paintings and statues and stuff anymore…

  30. MominTexas says:

    I’m sure DH and I may come across as 2x a year-ers. After all, we are 5 hours from our home parish, and don’t quite catch the cadence at the church we attend while visiting family. We attend weekly+ at home, but it’s always a little different at each church- our responses are too early or a begin a second after everyone, etc. A different option is chosen by the priest then we are used to (throws us off for a beat), this church sits when the priest does, ours when the tabernacle is closed, we sing the agnus dei, they recite it…etc etc.

    I don’t understand all the antagonism toward those that go twice a year. No, I don’t like it either, but shouldn’t we be encouraging them to come more often, catechizing if the opportunity presents, and praying for them?

  31. FrCharles says:

    Another pastoral concern to note is that without the scolding, which ought to be soft and inviting as Ralph notes, but a scolding nonetheless, the ‘twicer’ does not feel that he or she has really been to church.

  32. julie f says:

    In re #3 – I believe it! My uncle, who is a very infrequent mass-goer, was already ranting about the changes at Thanksgiving. How dare they make him pay attention! Of course he was also angry because they last time he went to Mass he didn’t know any of the hymns… which he apparently thought was part of the official changes…

  33. poohbear says:

    Our pastor mentioned that by Christmas we may all still be stumbling, so you may not notice a newcomer, but by Easter, when we hear someone reply ‘and also with you’ we should remember to welcome them home and invite them to come back the next week.

  34. Trad Tom says:

    OK, OK. I know we all smile a bit at the terminology: “Twicers,” “Chreasters,” “C & E Catholics,” etc. But what gets me is their (our?) attitude about it. Is it no longer a [mortal] sin to miss Sunday Mass willfully? Have all of these people gone to Confession before attending Midnight Mass and receiving Holy Communion? Somehow I doubt it. So they add sacrilege to their list of sins, but Father — and we — must be kind, welcoming, and — horrors! — non-judgmental. Maybe I’m no better than the Pharisee, but I just don’t get it.

  35. APX says:

    @Trad Tom
    Half of my family is of the Christmas Catholics (no Easter), my SIL is not baptized, and I’m a revert, and the only person who is a faithful Catholic and who also goes to Confession. I consider it a mortal sin to intentionally miss Mass, and to still receive communion while not in that state of grace. Unfortunately the priest at my home parish does not seem to share these same beliefs as me and gets up in the sanctuary and starts cracking jokes about C & E Catholics and about on coming to church to appease the wife and anxiously waiting to go home a get drunk. I can’t compete with that.

  36. sherrybella says:

    @momintexas…I agree with you, charity toward the so called twicers, there may be a reason not known to anyone, but they are at least there. Pray for them to feel the Holy Spirit call them to more active participation in coming to Mass if they are having problems attending. Not a good idea to cast them aside and feel superior to them because you attend more often. Jesus asks us to love our neighbor, welcome them and help them find their way if they seem lost. God bless you.

  37. AnAmericanMother says:

    Trad Tom,
    It’s not our place to judge them, we have no idea what is going on in their lives, in their heads, or in their souls. You never know when a harsh word or unkind look may drive away a person that was hesitating, too afraid or too proud to ask outright for the Bleeding Charity – as one of Lewis’s characters called it in The Great Divorce.
    What we can do is be kind, friendly, and let our actions be our best witness. It’s easy for me because I’m naturally gregarious and don’t care much what people think, but even a shy person can be kind and friendly in his own way. I remember very fondly a quiet smile from a man I did not know well, a man who is now dead, may God rest his soul, that was as good a welcome as a blue ribbon committee.
    If you show them joy and resolute happiness, they may be back. If not right away, you may have planted a seed that will take root at some future time. But in any event, you will have done no harm.

  38. Geoffrey says:

    Perhaps the sheer beauty of the new translation will move a few of the “twicers” to return to Holy Mother Church full time!

  39. I must confess that for the last two days, I have felt like an A&P or a C&E Catholic. Twice, I slipped back into “And also with you,” so I guess that makes me a “twicer.” It is so hard to look down on those around oneself while thrashing about on the floor like Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford.

  40. PostCatholic says:

    You know, about that scolding. Have a little advice from a glad apostate who has reluctantly found himself in your pews on Christmas?

    It would be great if the twicers were there to draw themselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and attend to the worship of the One God, Living and True, to glorify His majesty and join their voices to those of the angels in the unending hymn of His praise, even if they don’t know how to sing. But the vast majority of people in the pews are among for much more pedestrian reasons.

    People come to your church to keep the peace in families. They may not have a particularly great love for God, dark buildings, or suppressed homosexuals wearing colourful robes, but they do have a love for their Mama. Can’t you work with that? Avoiding painful conflicts and doing acts of kindness to honor your parents is, I’m pretty sure, somewhere in your Good Book..
    Some people come to church because they are lonely. They may not have a strong faith, nor indeed faith at all, but they may like to have coffee and doughnuts in the parish hall and to spend some time with the community. Call to mind a certain tax collector up a tree in the Gospel of Luke and ask yourself, is coming just for the sense of contact a starting point?
    Still others come to church out of a sense of obligation and cultural memory. These people may even feel hurt by the actions of the Church toward them in the past, and are giving it another second chance. Remembering the religion of one’s their ancestors and staying connected to the western tradition of which the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Communion of Saints, the Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting etc. is a significant part. If people have memories to rekindle or want to sing a few of your hymns with you, or if they bring the kids to midnight Mass to share a part of their religious history with a new generation, it’s a start, right? It’s better than if they’d stayed at home baking cookies for Santa?
    Some people show up because they are looking for some sort of fulfillment and inner peace which they suspect your Church can provide. While personally I’d counsel them to look elsewhere, I suspect you folks have some strong predispositions that those people are right. And now they’re sitting in your building on a civil holiday freighted with tremendous social pressures
    You can probably think of others.

    All of these people are doing something courageous. They probably have quibbles with you on issues such as the all-male priesthood, s or your sexual morality teachings. So Christmas is probably not a good time to structure your remarks around divisive political issues or the need for vocations or regale them with your complaints of how persecuted your beliefs are by “the world”? Christmas is usually a good time to talk about new beginnings and hope,being alive in the world, and that fits with the pastoral need of those twicers.

    Instead of scolding, why not say thank you to these people? Why not recognize courage? Why not acknowledge that perhaps you’re being given, by people who may feel hurt or abandoned and angry at your Church, the gift of another chance to be heard and perhaps even understood?

    But then, that would take your own courage and humility, wouldn’t it?

  41. jflare says:

    Your comments would seem to reflect the inspiration for your name, PostCatholic.

    “Instead of scolding, why not say thank you to these people? Why not recognize courage? Why not acknowledge that perhaps you’re being given, by people who may feel hurt or abandoned and angry at your Church, the gift of another chance to be heard and perhaps even understood? ”

    Thus the rationale behind most of the spiritually, intellectually, and morally bankrupt liturgies I attended throughout my teens, 20’s, and early 30’s. “We need to REACH OUT to folks!”, has been a long abused battle cry.
    I can’t help someone solve their personal problems at Mass. Offering a Mass fit for a 3rd-grader’s intellect doesn’t help me a lick when I’m 37. If others have led rough lives, have been angry at the Church, or have suffered other difficulties, well….in honesty, who hasn’t? I mean REALLY? Being confirmed a Catholic in a fairly liberal diocese, then attending school in a very conservative one..led to many an angry thought toward many I met during college. ..Having them proven more correct–knowledgeable–than I..didn’t help my overall sentiment. My life hasn’t been easy either.
    Even so, no amount of group therapy will heal some of the ills I’ve inflicted, suffered, or heard about. Only contemplation of Truth, repentance from my sins in the Confessional, and receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ will do that.

    “But then, that would take your own courage and humility, wouldn’t it?”

    Mass isn’t about satisfying one’s relatives, social contacts, or other persons. It’s not about reliving one’s historical culture. It’s not about honoring their ancestors.
    Mass IS about one’s own relationship with God, as enabled by His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
    I have no doubt that many DO attend Mass now and then precisely for those reasons. Two brothers and possibly a sister of mine come to mind–out of a family of four kids.

    Is it better that a man attend Christmas Mass than that he remain home and bake cookies for Santa? In other words, is it better that he bake cookies at home for a man who doesn’t exist, or that he hear the Word of God for a change? Well, it’s good to hear the Word, sure. But..what if he doesn’t/hasn’t repented of any sins, has sinned mortally, but..goes to receive communion anyway?
    You ARE aware, I assume, that doing so DOES reasonably place his soul at risk?
    You’re sure you REALLY want to help him take that chance?
    I’ve only been around for the afore-mentioned 37 years; sometimes it seems like forever. Do you really want to be responsible for helping him find his way to severe torment? For eternity?
    Yes, he may have a chance to repent at some point, possibly even that night that he goes to Christmas Mass. But will he use it? Correctly?

    Do we have the courage and humility to remind people that we, in the modern world, did not create it? Do we have the nerve to help them to eternal life in heaven?

    Sometimes I really do wonder.

  42. chantgirl says:

    jflare- You do bring up a point that I’m sure anyone from a big Catholic family has seen. We get together for weddings, funerals, baptisms etc., and we all know someone who isn’t currently attending Mass, or who is in an irregular marriage, or using contraception, living in sin, who goes up to receive communion. Perhaps they are unaware of the seriousness of receiving communion like this, or perhaps they are trying to avoid embarrassment. Either way, it leaves some of us in the pew in a moral quandry. Do we alert the celebrant ahead of time that some family members may need a reminder about the proper disposition for reception of communion, or do we talk with family members ahead of time and address the issue, taking the risk that we start a huge family rift at the time we are mourning a death or celebrating a marriage? Please , priests, you could alleviate many occasions of family strife for us if you would speak of these issues (kindly but firmly) from the pulpit. This is not about cowardice so much as protecting families, so that if a relative is open to grace their journey is not impeded by memories of an argument that took place at Grandma’s funeral. Please, priests, with so many Catholics in irregular marriages, please preach about proper reception of communion much more!

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    First, everyone should be welcomed, whether this is their first time at mass, their first time in church, or whether they are guests for Christmas.

    Second, the congregation should be told that some things have changed and that the changes are on a card in the pew, and in the missallette booklet. Ask that “regulars” [and you can use that widely understood term] show newcomers where to look.

    Then, I think that it should be very clearly announced, right at the start of mass, that only those in a state of sacramental grace should come up for Holy Communion. A concise and clear statement of what a “state of sacramental grace” is should be given at this time. [no serious sins committed since your last confession to a priest in the confessional-that one or one like that one over there-while pointing]. Yes we should be that explicit. This is the general population we are dealing with here.

    And then start the mass.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    I suspect that it won’t be a unified response on the part of the E&C crowd. Some of them will be totally oblivious to the changes; some of them will think it was different but won’t be able to say why; some of them will be outraged that we have changed and not consulted them first (ridiculous, yes, but I predict it anyway); some of them will suspect that we are going backwards because they’ve been missing so they didn’t get the story-line at. all. Some of them will be merely curious; some satisfied; some will come back for more, finding the mass more compelling than it was before.

  45. Trad Tom says:

    We can always count on Post Catholic, can’t we? I will never understand why he reads/posts here. Thank you, jflare, for your well-written response to him. I get too angry to write anything in response to this “glad apostate who has reluctantly found himself in [your] pews on Christmas.” How insulting.

  46. PostCatholic says:

    “You ARE aware, I assume, that doing so DOES reasonably place his soul at risk?”

    I am aware that that is what Catholics believe, yes. I don’t believe in an immortal soul, personally.

    I also didn’t opine on whether you should have a conservative, liberal, traditional, or any other sort of Mass or express any particular theological slant. Have all the incense and bells and pontificals and Latin you feel necessary for the occasion. When I was a Catholic, I enjoyed liturgical solemnity much, much more than a guitar Mass. True story.

    What I did try to do was direct your attention to reality of who those twicers are and why they are there, and suggested to you that words of sincere encouragement would do you more help than a scolding. Getting someone from nostalgia, loneliness, curiosity or attempting to keep peace in their relationships all the way to ardent believer is a process. If you’re really out for conversion of hearts, an acknowledgement of where they stand at the beginning and a bit of gratitude for that starting place is the best course of action.

    But if you just like being angry at people, by all means scold and belittle and deride. I think when you set about making people unwelcome in Catholic churches, you do a lot of good for the world.

  47. Lili of the fields says:

    I am a doubter, and a once-in-a-whiler not necessarily at Christmas. Yes I know I am a vile sinner.
    But I was not always like that, 10 years of volunteering lead me out of regular practice; how much trust can a person put in jugmental, self-rightous pious so called faithfulls? So, once in a while I repent, confess, pray and return to church to be disapointed yet again by the same attitude displayed by some commenters here . The idea of the new/old traduction was very appealing to me and I was pondering the possibility of a definitive return to regular practice: will I? Won’t I?

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