Change doesn’t always come easily to the Roman Catholic Church, but a new translation of the Roman Missal set to take effect next Sunday seems to be meeting very little resistance locally.
“We’re not changing the liturgy, and we’re not reinventing the liturgy,” said the Rev. Dominic P. Isopo of St. Luke’s Catholic Church on State Street in Schenectady.
“What we’re doing is coming out with a translation that is more accurate and more genuine from the original Latin. I haven’t heard anything negative about this, so I think most people are very accepting of the changes.”
At the Immaculate Conception Church in Glenville, the Rev. Jerome Gingras said his congregation has been busy preparing itself for the change, but without any fuss.
“It hasn’t caused anyone to become upset, and we have some little old ladies in our pews that can remember back 40 years ago when it was done in Latin,” he said. “We wanted to make it a more accurate translation, so that on Sundays our church throughout the world is actually praying using the same words.”
Second Vatican Council
Prior to the Second Vatican Council in the mid 1960s, Catholics listened to Sunday Mass in Latin, and those in the U.S. who didn’t understand the language could usually follow along with an English translation.
In 1967, Catholic churches around the world were given the OK to begin reciting the liturgy in their own particular language, creating the need for specific translations. With the translations, however, the church may have lost some of the universality in its worship service.
“When they first implemented the change back at the Second Vatican Council, they took the Latin and kind of changed it to fit our American language,” said Gingras.
“We started using our own words instead of an exact translation just to be a little clearer.”
With various countries around the world doing the same thing, the Roman Missal was becoming a little too specific to the language being used, and in 2001 the Vatican began working on revised guidelines.
“Because we are a universal church, the words of the liturgy need to be the same in every language and in every country,” said Isopo.
“The Latin language is more poetic, and the sentence structure in English is going to be something our members are not going to be familiar with. Still, this translation is more genuine, more like the original, and that’s the important thing. We want to be one voice, all over the world.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on Aug. 20, 2010, that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, had been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican. The ritual text containing prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass would also include prayers for observances of recently canonized saints, as well as a few new Eucharistic prayers and other minor alterations.
More work for priest
According to the Rev. Bob Longobucco of Our Lady of Fatima and St. Helen’s in Schenectady, the changes will be more work for the person offering the Mass than for those attending it.
“I’m going to tell my people, ‘Don’t expect to see my face during Mass,’ ” he said, laughing. “It’s going to be buried in a book. The priest’s part has changed a lot more than the people’s. Fortunately I have more time to practice.”
In The Evangelist, the official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard said that the changes to the Roman Missal came after a 20-year debate among bishops, translators and exegetes.
“Some have rejoiced over the translation to be utilized,” he wrote on Nov. 3. “Others are disturbed by it. I have participated in these debates, and while more comfortable with the original guidelines for translation, I believe that the next text is, in some instances, an improvement over the original versions to which we have become accustomed, and certainly, in accord with the Church Universal, must be accepted with a sense of filial obedience.”
At Our Lady of Fatima and St. Helen’s, Longobucco is hoping that the new translation will renew interest in exactly what the liturgy is all about.
“What we’re trying to emphasize is that this is an opportunity to look closely at the liturgy again and gain a new appreciation of what happens in Mass,” he said.
“For the past five weeks, we’ve been teaching about the different parts of the Mass and what they mean. We’ve got new hymnals, and we’ve pasted the new Mass responses in the back. I think we’re ready, but it’s more than just about the change in words. It’s an opportunity to learn more and be able to better appreciate Mass.”
The usual response to the greeting “The Lord be with you” will no longer be “And also with you.” Instead the response is “And with your spirit.”
Preparing for change
“I have spoken on the altar quite frequently about the changes,” said Gingras. “We’ve been teaching it since the summer, and I’ve continued to make references to it in my bulletin newsletter. We’ll also have a worship aid. The people in the pews will have everything they need.”
At St. Luke’s, Isopo has been talking since September about the changes and what they mean.
“I’ve talked about how the responses are going to be different, but this is also a wonderful opportunity to teach, or to remind the people about the whole liturgy,” he said. “We’ve had 40 and almost 50 years to become accustomed to what we’ve heard, but things are changing. Each week we’ve been handing out inserts to help people prepare, but hopefully this will also reinvigorate their faith and their participation in Mass.”
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