Congregant's view of Catholic MassA parishioner’s view of a Catholic Mass from the rear pew. (photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)

For many Roman Catholics, the liturgy of each Sunday’s Mass is immutable. Last week, on the first Sunday of Advent, that idea was put to the test when the highly scripted and well-memorized ritual underwent some significant changes. The last modification to the Roman missal was made nearly four decades ago during the Second Vatican Council, one being that Mass was translated into the vernacular English from the Latin.

The greeting “The Lord be with you” is now acknowledged with “And with your spirit” rather than “And also with you.” The Vatican argues that it more accurately reflects the Latin text of the Mass (“et cum spiritu tuo”) and better acknowledges one’s humanity. Some new non-colloquial vocabulary that students may soon see on the SAT makes its way into the Nicene Creed: “consubstantial with the Father” replaces “one Being with the Father.” Another change is uttered before the sacrament of communion. It comes directly from the Gospel of Matthew, and places God in one’s home. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof” replaces “Lord I am not worthy to receive you.”

For many, the most recent transition attempts a closer and more faithful English translation of the Latin. Some tongues were tied, but most received the changes without much fanfare. Church officials say it will help Catholics come to a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist and the role of Mass for their faith. For all you Roman Catholics who are celebrating Mass on this second Sunday of Advent, we’d like to hear about your experience.

How did your family or parish prepare for the change in Mass before Sunday? In what ways do the updates to the liturgy enhance or detract from your experience of the ritual of Mass? Is this new translation more authentic or meaningful to you? Or do you long for the familiar?

Share Your Reflection



It does seem to me that there are far more important changes to be made in the Catholic church than this tinkering with the Mass language, which, to my mind, makes the meaning even more obscure..

I absolutely agree.  When I think of the millions that have been spent for some minor word-smithing, I think it was a waste of time.  Why aren't we working on problems of poor, the sick, the homeless, as Jesus taught.

Since I am 82 years old, and have experienced all the changes, I find the new language is actually the old language. When the Mass was first changed from Latin to English we used "And with your spirit," and "Lord I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof." Some years later, much to my chagrin, the newer vernacular was introduced. Now, we're back to the old.

A lot of the "new" language of Roman Missal 3 is old language from before the Vatican II reforms. It feels clumsy and retro after 40 years of a clean, serviceable translation we were used to. The obsession with the Latin feels like an irrelevant distraction from more important work that the Church could be doing. I haven't left yet.

They are just words, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Liturgy, it remains as it has been since instituted by Christ.  The rest is man-made commentary, no more, no less.

I like the new Mass translation. The language is beautiful, richer, and deeper. It also makes me pay better attention to what God is trying to say to me. If one is not open to change, one stagnates. I like this challenge to be open to new and better.

I (and most of my fellow worshippers I spoke to after Mass) find the changes awkward and unlovely at best, and theologically suspect in some parts ( e.g., that Christ's blood was shed for some but not all). The substitution of a phrase like "consubstantial with" for "one in being with" can reflect nothing more sheer theological arrogance. And that's the worst of all this - it is so obviously just another effort by hardliners to retreat from the spirit of Vatican II.

The lack of reaction is a result of the fact that most of us Catholics are OLD and have been through a lot of changes...Latin to English...turning the priest around...back to a closer to latin version. Yeah...its cool.  We don't mind. However I see a desire to tighten things up on the part of the Vatican who I believe never really settled well with the changes and would like to take things back a couple of hundred years.  When they turn the priest around...then its time to worry.

Think I will have to stay off Face book.  I make a pretty bland comment and it is censored out or just disappears...Didn't know On Being had a censor...gosh   another idol bites the dust. Been a listener for years.  Can't believe it.  Forget about it.

Hi Ann. Please note that we moderate all submissions. And, on a Sunday night, we often don't get to comments within 10 minutes, which I try to maintain in my off-hours. We treasure your contributions and also want to make sure this is a civil space free of spam. I hope this explanation helps.

Don't lose faith, Ann!  :-)

"Died for some" is sticking in my throat.  I'm overseas and do not attend English services, but I don't see the day when those words will pass my lips.  I slept through the news of the other changes--bureaucrats do need to busy themselves--but I will argue this point as Calvinism.  No offense, but I cannot accept this in a Catholic mass.

Words are very important, particularly in our public prayer. Words create worldviews! These new . . . er "old" words . . . are a conscious retreat from the energy & life Vatican II opened us to and show a disrespect or lack of understanding for a more inclusive anthropology of the human (the change from "and also with you" to "and with your spirit") and the theologically untenable claim that Jesus died for "many", rather than "all". Then there is the sexist language . . . And then there is the amount of money required to print and buy new sacramentaries, new hymn books, new congregational cards with the awkward, artificial and unpalatable prayers and responses, etc.

I find myself very SAD when at liturgy these days - a deep sadness comes over me that our public prayer, at the most sublime of spiritual experiences for the people of God, has been co-opted by those who want to romantically return to the world of their childhood. I expect the next change to be a complete reversion to the Latin. So far I have been unable to shake the sadness . . .

The changes are a real distraction during Advent, a season of preparation, when we're supposed to be focused on the many ways in which Christ comes to us.  Instead, we're focused on special cheat sheet cards in the pews.  It draws our attention from the substance of the Mass to the form of the Mass.  Even the priest prayers have changed, so they spend more time reading than facing the congregation.  It's a step forward in the direction of universal text, but it's a step backward when it comes to experiencing the spiritual renewal that attending Mass provides.

Yes, this makes the words used more true to the Latin translation which makes the Church more universal ... in form.  (Keep in mind that in Spanish-speaking countries no change is necessary as they are already true to the Latin translation.)  But does using the more cryptic phrase "consubstantial with the Father" as opposed to the old "one in being with the Father" deepen anyone's faith?