Week Four of the New Translation of the Mass - So How Are We Doing?
A Panel of Experts Weigh in Regarding Life on This Side of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal
We've heard about the new translation for a long time. Over the last several months, training classes, meetings, instructional Masses and other venues have been used to ready English-speaking Catholics for the New Translation. Now on the other side of this introduction, four experts pause and reflect on what the Church has just experienced and will continue to experience.The new translation has definitely re-focused the person in the pew with the Eucharistic mystery, even beyond the parts that we say. These are not just "new words" that have been inserted. Our language will now join those those of other tongues around the globe in sharing one liturgy and one theology expressed in the Mass.
These are not just 'new words' that have been inserted. Our language will now join those those of other tongues around the globe in sharing one liturgy and one theology expressed in the Mass.
In talking with one priest in my diocese told me, "I am a big fan of the new translation and had been a champion of it for many months. But the first Sunday was probably the worst day of my priesthood!"
"I felt like a newly ordained priest celebrating my first Mass. Everything seemed new and foreign. I was glad to just get through it. Now, after many daily Masses and a few more Sundays, I am getting confortable with it.
My guess is that this may be a norm for most clergy.
Recently, I was able to participate in a roundtable discussion about the new translation with four experts in liturgy who each bring a unique and insightful perspective to the subject.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C., is known nationally for his catechetical teaching ministry and dedication to Catholic education. He is the co-author with Mike Aquilina of the book, "The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition" published by Doubleday.
Father Daniel Barron, a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, is the director of spiritual formation at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego California and editor of "MagnifiKid" the weekly worship aid for children published by "Magnificat."
Dr. Edward Sri is Chancellor and Professor of Theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado and founding leader, with Curtis Martin, of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). He is the author of the bestselling book, "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass" published by Ascension Press.
Mr. Matt Maher is a Grammy nominated and Dove Gospel Music association award-winning musician who has been writing music for the Church for more than a decade. His composition for the Litany of the Saints was part of the Papal vigil at the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto Canada.
During the discussion a lot of time was focused on the issues of adjustment - both by clergy and the laity. While the new translation has been viewed by some as a serious distraction from the Mass or - to those more upset, an major upheaval of the norm - this introductory time can also be viewed as an opportunity to re-visit a mystery with which we've all grown too familiar. For a lot Catholics, going to Mass may have been done on automatic pilot.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl explained, "But really, what this translation provides us is a time to reflect on what actually is happening on the Altar. What great mystery is unfolding on the Altar as the priests celebrate.
"And I think sometimes we can be maybe just so familiar or so used to, not that we take it for granted but we are just so comfortable with it that it helps to step back and say what is actually happening."
Having a similar experience with the new translation, Fr. Barron said, "For myself, I have been a Priest for 15 years; I find myself drawn more into prayer and contemplation in the midst of the Liturgy than ever before. I guess as a young priest you are focused on doing it right. But now, in this new edition of the Missal, the 'wanting to do it right' has also just increased my own awareness and my own intentionality in praying the Mass."
Matt Maher agreed, stating that the new liturgy had a real impact on him.
"I could not shake the very first statement of the presider saying, you know, 'The Lord be with you' and we said, 'And with your spirit.' I could not shake it. In fact, you know, an hour or so later when I walked out of Mass, my heart was still kind of burning.
"We live a very tumultuous time of change - societal change, cultural change. In those times, the church always has the wisdom to reaffirm what is true and important. And to simply engage in the language of the soul at a time where body and soul have been separated so much I think is a beautiful statement.
"So, for me it is those kinds of subtle changes that I look forward to seeing continue to kind of manifest themselves in the language of the praying church."
For Fr. Barron, one particular aspect of this introduction involved the effect it had on young people.
"At the University, I have been amazed that 18- and 19-year-old students are talking to one another about the Liturgy. They are asking the question, 'What do you think of the new addition of the Missal?' And I do not know what brilliant youth minister in the world could actually get young people talking about the Mass the way the Bishops and our Holy Father have invited us into this moment, and it is working."
The new translation has definitely re-focused the person in the pew with the ...
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