Monday, December 05, 2011

Initial Impressions of the New English Translation of the Mass

I’VE NOW ATTENDED two Masses of the new English translation of the Roman Missal: the Second Sunday in Advent and a funeral Mass.

As the peoples’ responses have changed significantly, I ought to note that the first parish did very well by having an announcement before the start of Holy Mass, where “And with your spirit” (which replaces “And also with you”) was repeated several times; they also referred to printed cards in the pews, and these were nearly universally used by the congregation of the faithful, as evidenced by loud page turning at one point during the liturgy. I must admit that out to habit and due to inattention, I did respond “And also with you” on occasion, but I was in the minority. I did not hear the now infamous “And also with your spirit”.

One thing that became quickly obvious is that the hymns and music — solidly in the casual spirit of the old translation — seemed definitely out of character with the more solemn, formal, poetic, and more theological new translation. The difference seemed jarring to me. However, the new translation also came with comprehensive chants for the Mass. In the mind of the Church, chant is an integral part of her liturgy, and is proper to it.

At the funeral Mass (may Jack rest in peace) many in attendance were not Catholic, or are not practicing. In this case, I would guess that about half of the Catholics in the congregation used the old responses. As it turns out, afterwards the new translation became a topic of conversation. When did they change it? Why did they change it? A Protestant friend made note of the new translation of ‘pro multis’ as “for many” rather than “for all,” and interpreted that as meaning that all are called, but not all respond, while a Catholic friend pointed out some roughness in the new translation of the Credo.

In both Masses, the priests obviously kept close eyes on the new Roman Missal. There was, as you might expect, some stumbling over the new translations, but strangely enough, I got the impression or had feeling that they had always used the new translation, that nothing had changed, that something eternal flowed out from the liturgy. Odd.

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