New translation of Catholic liturgy brings ‘spirit’ to Mass

Posted Nov. 26, 2011, at 6:49 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 27, 2011, at 3:15 p.m.

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Parishioners at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Hampden look at the new Order of Mass booklets during Sunday service.
Parishioners at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Hampden look at the new Order of Mass booklets during Sunday service. Buy Photo

BREWER, Maine — For 40 years, Catholic priests in Maine offered the blessing: “Lord be with you” during Mass.

For all of her life, Vanessa Madore, 31, of Hampden replied, “And also with you.”

During the Mass at 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Madore replied, “And with your spirit,” for the first time.

Parishes in Maine and English-speaking countries around the world this weekend began using a new translation of the Roman Missal, the ritual text of prayers and instruction for celebrating Mass.

“It was a nice spiritual experience,” she said as she was leaving the church on North Main Street. “I think change is always good.”

Pat Cotter, 70, of Levant grew up saying Mass in Latin. Cotter said that she liked some parts of new liturgy but not all the changes.

“I’m sure I’ll be saying, ‘And also with you,’ for quite awhile,” she said.

Worshippers stumbled a bit Saturday in Brewer and Sunday at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Hampden over the words in the Mass as they followed along in printed booklets. The liturgy is a more literal translation of the Latin Mass than the translation that has been used since the 1970s. The new language has been described as more formal and exalted by some and too wordy and confusing by others.

The new missal grew out of changes in liturgy that started with the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings on modernizing the church that permitted Mass in local languages instead of Latin. Bishops in English-speaking countries created the International Commission on English in the Liturgy to undertake the translation.

Cotter said Saturday that she “was glad to see the mea culpa had been put back” into the Penitential Act, a confession of sins said at the beginning of the Mass. In the Latin Mass, worshippers said, “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

That was translated to “through my own fault” in 1973. In the new literal translation Catholics say, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” while striking their breasts.

She took issue with the use of the word “consubstantial,” which replaced the phrase, “one in being” in a section of the Nicene Creed. In stating their beliefs, worshippers now say, “… true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father …”

“Ninety-nine percent of the people who read that are not going to know what it means,” Cotter said. “They should have chosen a different word that people would understand.”

The Rev. Seamus Griesbach, who celebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s on Saturday and St. Matthew’s on Sunday, said that the literal translation from Latin is “consubstantial.” To accurately define it, would “take a paragraph,” he said Saturday after Mass.

The priest said that he like the new translation but finds it challenging too.

“These are really long sentences,” he said of the parts of the Mass said by celebrants. “But the language is more poetic. During the part of the Mass where I seek the spirit to come down I say, ‘like the dewfall.’”

Bishop Richard J. Malone, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said in the most recent issue of Harvest, the diocesan bimonthly magazine, that the introduction of the new missal at the beginning of Advent would present ordained and lay Catholics “with the challenge of unlearning some very familiar liturgical language and of learning the new language of the revised missal.”

But it also presents an opportunity, he wrote.

“A graced opportunity to reflect anew on the meaning and centrality of the Eucharist in our Catholic lives, to cherish more deeply the overwhelming divine love manifest in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for our salvation and the wondrous gift of his real presence in the Eucharist.”

Parishes in Maine and around the United States have spent the past year trying to prepare Catholics for the changes. Priests have been discussing them in homilies, bulletins notices, workshops and webinars. The Maine diocese has posted a series of questions and answers about the new liturgy on its website, www.porlanddiocese.net, written by Rev. Msgr. Marc Caron, director of worship for the diocese.

Learning different words to the prayers and liturgy will be an inconvenience, Caron wrote, but he predicted it would be a relatively short one that would reap benefits.

“Because of this new translation we will finally be hearing what we were meant to hear all along when permission was first given to translate the Latin prayers of Mass into English,” he wrote. “We will hear prayers that more clearly quote the Scriptures, which are God’s word to us in our day. We will be united as never before with all our brothers and sisters around the world who pray in English like we do.

“Finally, we will be offering these English prayers to the rest of the world to help them as they draw from the tradition of the Christians in Rome and from the Bible to pray in their own local language, as removed from Latin as that might be,” Caron concluded. “In another year, I suspect many of us won’t remember what we used to say at this or that point of Mass. We will have become so familiar with this new translation that it will truly have become for us the voice of the church at prayer.”

Worshippers in Brewer and Hampden tended to agree with Caron’s assessment.

“I’m sure I’ll be saying, ‘And also with you,’ for quite awhile,” Cotter said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Changes in the Roman Missal

The first Roman Missal was promulgated by Saint Pius V in 1570 following the Council of Trent. It was the first official attempt at providing uniformity in the celebration of the Mass in the church’s history. Since then, seven popes have promulgated eight revisions, some with only minor changes; others with more significant revisions.

• 1604 — Pope Clement VIII

• 1634 — Pope Urban VIII

• 1884 — Pope Leo XIII

• 1920 — Pope Benedict XV

• 1962 — Pope John XXIII, Second Vatican Council convened

• 1965 — English Translation of 1962 Roman Missal

• 1970 — Pope Paul VI, 1st Edition of Roman Missal after Second Vatican Council

• 1974 — English translation of 1st Edition

• 1975 — Pope Paul VI, 2nd Edition of Roman Missal after Second Vatican Council

• 1985 — English Translation

• 2002 — Pope John Paul II, 3rd Edition after Second Vatican Council

• 2011 — New English translation

Source: www.portlanddiocese.net

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