Catholic Mass changing translations
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07
The Catholic Church is not known for change.
Catholic traditions are an integral aspect of followers' faith and religious practices. Parishioners born as early as the 1960s have known the same Mass liturgy for their entire lives.
However, with the Vatican's blessing, English-speaking Catholics will adjust to an altered liturgy, beginning this month.
"What's not changing is the heart of the Mass," said Marcel LeJeune, assistant director of campus ministry at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Northgate. "What is changing is in the English speaking countries, we're having a new translation of the Mass from the original Latin translation."
When the Mass first changed from Latin to vernacular languages, LeJeune said the English translation was hurried. In comparison to other languages, the resulting English Mass was not translated to reflect the Latin origin entirely.
"If you go to a Korean or Spanish Mass, and translate them into English, they'd be more alike compared to the Latin," LeJeune said.
The overall structure of the Mass will not change. Instead, worshipers will notice changes in the prayers and the manner in which they are used during Mass. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Liturgy Committee aimed for the prayers to better reflect not only the original Latin text, but also the biblical texts.
"A lot of the biblical background of what's in our Mass and prayers is going to come out a little more for the English speaking people in the English speaking countries," LeJeune said. "So they're going to have more meat on the bone in a sense."
The prayers have new responses. For example, instead of responding, "And also with you," when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the congregation will respond with, "And with your spirit."
According to LeJeune, this change has a much deeper theological meaning with scriptural background. And while he believes this is a great opportunity for Catholics to relearn their religion, it will be awkward until they do.
"It's going to be odd for Catholics, and we'll probably be stumbling over stuff and there'll be some giggling," LeJeune said. "But what a great opportunity to have to really dive into it and figure out what's going on. Each adult Catholic should take this on their own and say, ‘Now I have an opportunity to learn more.'"
Students aware of the approaching changes said they are enthusiastic for their native language to be closer to the original text.
"I'm very pleased that they are offering us this better translation because I've gone to Mass in Spanish and French and have been able to observe how much closer those are to the original Latin," said Eddie Carlin, junior international studies major and head of the group Ask a Catholic a Question. "Since it's the language of our church and having a better translation means we're all more united."
Another student said Catholics should recognize the significance of what these changes mean for worshipers.
"A lot of people will be like, ‘What's the big deal?' But sometimes, semantics can make a big difference," senior industrial distributions major George Gagnon said. "I'm excited that this is happening and I'm hoping people will appreciate it."
The changes take effect at the beginning of the Advent season, toward the end of the month. Some of the changes have already been instituted at St. Mary's, such as adjustments to the text of The Gloria and other musical components of Mass.
"All the call and response stuff and the other prayers, we're going to have to read and learn," LeJeune said. "So it is going to be a big change, but it's also a good opportunity for Catholics to learn."