Roman Missal a ‘smooth’ implementation

December 20, 2012

HOUSTON — Ample preparations for the implementation of the new Roman Missal appear to be paying off.

Despite a few minor glitches and more than few mid-Mass giggles at accidental slip-ups, parishes from around the Archdiocese are reporting a smooth transition to the new translation of the traditional prayers and responses used during the Mass.

“What I have personally experienced, and what the priests have been telling me as they circulate around our five churches, is that people seem to be adjusting well,” said Father E.J. Stein, O.F.M., pastor of Holy Family in Galveston.

Revisions to the English translation of the Roman Missal were implemented Nov. 27 in English speaking countries around the world to more accurately reflect the original Latin text of the Mass. Changes to the people’s parts include such things as saying “And with your spirit” as opposed to “And also with you,” among other revisions. 

Most parishes began preparing parishioners for the new translation months before the First Sunday of Advent to ensure an easy transition. Lectures, homilies, workshops and literature, such as pamphlets and bulletin notes all sought to explain the purpose and theology behind the upcoming changes, as well as familiarize people with new responses and prayers. 

“We had been practicing certain parts of the Mass in the weeks before, so once we got to it, it wasn’t so unnatural. We had our people prepared,” said Stephen Schad, Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church. 

Pastors and parish liturgy directors say instruction in the new language will continue throughout Advent, mainly in bulletins and brief reminders before and pertinent points during Mass. 

“Every Sunday for the time being, we are going to pass out the cards every day. I like to remind people that we have some changes and to pay attention,” said Father Albert Zanatta, pastor of Assumption Catholic Church in Houston.

Special efforts will be made to make Christmas visitors aware of the new changes also with pre-Mass announcements, worship aids and extra hospitality ministers to ensure everyone gets a pew card.

For the most part, the faithful of the Archdiocese appear to have happily embraced the new changes, according to local priests, though several said it will take some time before the most recent translation feels totally comfortable. 
The language of the Mass has been the same for more than 40 years, since it was first translated into English from Latin following the Second Vatican Council. 
Change, said Father James Burkart, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist, can be especially challenging when it comes to ritual and ritual language and “it will take a little while for the familiarity of ritual to take hold,” he said. 

Priests themselves said the new translation, which has restored some of the scriptural imagery of the original Latin prayers, is awakening new emotions and excitement in the Mass celebration, despite some challenges posed by longer sentences and unfamiliar phrasing.

“I felt like I was celebrating Mass for the first time all over again,” said Father Jude Ezuma, who was ordained last spring and serves the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart as parochial vicar. “My eyes were glued to the text. It felt a little awkward, but it was beautiful, new and exciting at the same time.” 

For sure, the new translation has led to more than a few moments of laughter in the pews thanks to some high-profile bloopers from the sanctuary. 
“I got so lost in a sentence, I just stopped like a computer to reboot myself,” said Father Stein.

“It’s almost fun. We all know that we are going to make mistakes,” said Father Clint Ressler, pastor of St. Rose of Lima.

Early in one Mass, he recounted, one of the deacons accidentally — and loudly — intoned “And also with you,” after which Father Ressler stopped, looked at the deacon and playfully replied, “Really?” 

“People are taking it with a very good spirit, at least here at St. Rose of Lima,” Father Ressler said. †