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Goodbye to the “old Mass”

Goodbye to the “old Mass”

The Roman Catholic Church began using its new missal this past Sunday. Reactions range from “love it” to “hate it.” From the Huffington Post:

English-speaking Roman Catholics who have regularly attended Mass for years found themselves in an unfamiliar position Sunday, needing printed cards or sheets of paper to follow along with a ritual many have known since childhood.

“I don’t think I said it the right way once,” said Matthew Hoover, who attends St. Ann Catholic Church in Clayton, a growing town on the edge of the Raleigh suburbs. “I kept forgetting, and saying the old words.”

The Mass itself – the central ritual of the Catholic faith – hasn’t changed, but the English translation has, in the largest shakeup to the everyday faith of believers since the upheavals that followed the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. A years-long process of revision and negotiation led to an updated version of the Roman Missal, the text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass, which originally was written in Latin. The new translation was rolled out across the English-speaking Catholic world on Sunday after months of preparation.

Mickey Mattox, a professor at Milwaukee’s Marquette University, said he was happy with the idea that the bishops wanted the translations as accurate as possible.

Adapting to the changes “was a lot less difficult than I thought it might be,” said Mattox, 55, adding, “even though probably all of us are going to end up holding our worship folders for a few weeks until we memorize all the new language.”

The Rev. George Witt, pastor of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on New York’s Park Avenue, started the 11 a.m. Mass by noting Sunday was not only the first day of Advent, but also the first day to use the new Missal. He directed parishioners to a pamphlet inserted into the back of the now-outdated hymnal that spelled out the new wording. A notable number of worshippers stumbled after the priest said, “Peace be with you.” The new response is “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you.” But many others confidently gave the right response.

Kathleen McCormack, a church volunteer and former school teacher, said she didn’t like the new translation and didn’t understand why the church needed a translation closer to Latin.

“Consubstantial? What is that word?” McCormack said, referring to a term in the retranslated Nicene Creed that replaces language calling Jesus “one in being with the Father.”

John Pinette, former Roman Catholic priest calls it Vatican Vandalism and Mary DeTurris Poust offers 4 Spiritual Tips to Help You Adapt to the New Catholic Mass.

The Rev. James Martin, S.J. says Goodbye to the “Old” Mass

Any significant change is like a death; and so any change brings about the need for some grieving. You sell a house and buy a new one; and you are sad about the loss of the old one — even if your new house is more spacious. You move from one job to another; and you shed a few tears saying goodbye to old colleagues — even if you’re looking forward to the new position. You graduate from high school to college, and even if it’s your top choice, you cry at your graduation.

It would be odd, therefore, not to acknowledge some sadness over the passing of something so central to Catholic life as what will soon be called the “old” Sacramentary. Even if you are eagerly anticipating the new translations, something significant is moving into the past, and is being lost.

So let me say something: I will miss the old prayers, even as I prepare for the new ones. I’m 50 years old, which means that by the time I was conscious of the Eucharist — say, around 1967 — the Mass was being celebrated in English. I dimly remember saying things like “It is right and just” as a very young boy, which was most likely a holdover from the early Mass translations after the Second Vatican Council. But, for the most part, my entire Catholic life has been shaped by the familiar prayers of the Sacramentary, the book that we are leaving behind this coming Sunday.

The Day After asks for feedback as people experience the new Mass.

Two things struck me: how stately and formal the language is and how difficult the celebrant found it to use the First Eucharistic Prayer where a couple of sentences seemed to go on forever.

A friend who was with me was much more critical than I was, saying that the whole experience for her “reeked of a return to a Vatican 1 ecclesiology.”


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Warren Woodfin

Someone here may be able to think of a translation I’ve overlooked, but as far as I know, English is the ONLY western language in which the response to “The Lord be with you” is something other than “And with your spirit/ Geiste/ ésprit/ p?e?µat?/ spirito/ ??????/ spiritu.” Our modern-language “And also with you” is a dull, flat aberration in the historic text of the Eucharistic liturgy as prayed by our sisters and brothers throughout the world.


[1]You sell a house and buy a new one; and you are sad about the loss of the old one — even if your new house is more spacious. [2]You move from one job to another; and you shed a few tears saying goodbye to old colleagues — even if you’re looking forward to the new position. [3]You graduate from high school to college, and even if it’s your top choice, you cry at your graduation.

The first two are voluntary (as presented), the third is always known to be time-limited by the participant. None of them are good analogies for this IMPOSED change.

JC Fisher


Anyone catch “The Colbert Report” last night?

In the show’s opening credits, where he shows a new Colbertism word/phrase of the week, was…



JC Fisher

NB: Colbert is a practicing RC.

Rod Gillis

readers may also be interested in this article from NCR

James Mackay

Sorry about not signing my previous post; glad that TypePad is smarter than I.

An excellent resource on the Roman Missal:

James Mackay

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