Five (5) Ways to prepare for the new Mass text changes 
by: Dan Connors

    The New Mass test changes – but what about now? How should we prepare for the new texts?

    By: Editor-In-Chief Dan Connors
    Dan was named editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest June 1, 2005.

    But just like the previous, tossed, translation, some think this new one is:
    • wonderful (for example,
    • more faithful to the Latin;
    • stronger in keeping connections to Scripture; and
    • elevating our prayer with sacred language)
    • and some think it’s — if not horrible — then at least in need of extensive fixing (for example, too many words and phrases like “ineffable,” “gibbet,” “sullied,” “unfeigned,” “wrought,” “thwart,” “we pray you bid,” and the “dew of your Spirit”; so slavishly faithful to the Latin that the prayers are sometimes hard to follow in English;
    • and striving for an artificial sacredness using language average people can’t connect to).

    Bishops and liturgists lined up on both sides of the debate during the approval process, and many in the Church still aren’t happy with the final results.

    There are no bad guys in this fight. The bishops who lined up on one side or the other of the new translation love the Church and the liturgy, and there are a lot of valid points in all their arguments.

    The debate can continue, and will feed into the new translation the English-speaking Church will probably need in 20 to 30 years.

    But what about now? How should we prepare for the new texts?

    The Five (5) ways to prepare and embrace the new text changes:

    1. Like St. Cuthbert, stay calm and prayerful and patient. You may hear a lot of people trumpeting the new texts, and a lot of others decrying them. Try not to get sucked into pitched battles over language. No text, no translation is perfect, and we won’t know if these texts help us pray well or not until we’ve been using them for many years.

    2. Get to know the changes. The bishops have set up a website ( showing samples of the new texts. Speak them out loud. Start to work on praying them. Listen to Bishop Serratelli’s (chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship) video introduction on the site, and read some of the explanations and background the bishops provide. If your parish makes any resources available about the new translation, read them and ask questions.

    3. Realize that the introduction of new texts is going to be awkward. It will take time before these new words are second nature to us.

    4. Recognize you might not like everything in the new language. Let your bishop know how you feel, but please, when they are implemented in our parish liturgies, let’s do our very best to pray these texts. In the Mass our own feelings and needs must take second place to the needs of the community — the community’s need to have all our voices joined in prayer. It is, perhaps, one of the ways we enter into the Paschal Mystery, dying to our own feelings and opinions in order to serve others. We may end up unhappy with some line we’re given to pray, but at Mass, as long as we consider ourselves part of the Body of Christ, we need to do our best to strengthen the unity of the assembly, not divide it. In the end, the quality of the liturgy is not judged by the words we speak or the songs we sing, but by how deeply we are challenged to enter into the Paschal Mystery, to be more fully what we are and are becoming: Christ — living his life in the events of our own.

    5. Move more deeply into the Mass. In his video introduction on the USCCB website, Bishop Serratelli says these new texts are “a great opportunity … not only to learn about the changes … but also to deepen our own understanding of the liturgy itself.” Amen! We can never exhaust the meaning of the Eucharist or the challenge it brings to our lives. Anything that prompts us to move more deeply into the eucharistic liturgy is an opportunity not to be wasted. We’ll be hearing more and more about these new texts as we move through the next year.
    The Church is always growing and moving. May St. Cuthbert, calm, wise agent of change, and all the saints, help us use these moments of change and growth to move ever more deeply into Christ!

    Faithful to the Latin?
    Many advocates stress how the new translations adhere much more closely to the Latin originals than some texts in the translation we’re using now. For example, in Latin, when the priest says “Dominus Vobiscum” (“The Lord be with you”), the people respond “et cum spíritu tuo” (“and with your spirit”). But the translation we have been using for the past 40 years says “and also with you” — not a very literal translation. In contrast, both the French (“et avec votre esprit”) and the Spanish (“Y con tu espíritu”) have retained the literal sense of the Latin.

    Many priests will be struggling too.
    Priests, too, may have trouble with the new texts. Writing in the September issue of our sister publication Today’s Parish, Father Kevin Mullins, OSA, a pastor in Wisconsin, spoke about a recent meeting of priests he attended and how much resistance there was to the new translation: “I was surprised to hear so much negativity about the impending changes,” he wrote. Priests need to deepen their own understanding of the texts, he wrote, so that they’ll “be better able to help others grasp what is to come.”

Author: Dan Connors, Editor-In-Chief Dan was named editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest June 1, 2005. He served most recently as editor-in-chief of Today's Parish. Before that he served as managing editor of Pastoral Music magazine (the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, NPM), and managing editor of Emmanuel magazine.

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