Parishes report few problems with new Mass texts

| Susan Klemond | November 29, 2011 | 0 Comments

Transition offers an opportunity to think more deeply about Liturgy, churches contacted by The Catholic Spirit said

Dorothy Zoch uses a laminated card to follow the changes in the wording of some prayers during Mass Nov. 26 at St. Ambrose of Woodbury. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

As Catholics of the archdiocese prayed in new and unfamiliar ways at Mass last weekend, parish leaders say introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal has enhanced attentiveness and worship even though it will take time to break habits developed during 40 years with the old text.

While congregations learned prayers and adjusted to music settings reflecting the new text that English-speaking Catholics worldwide began using in liturgies for the first Sunday of Advent, many area parishes also appreciated the chance to slow down and think more about meeting Christ.

At St. Michael in Prior Lake, a sense of unity developed during the liturgies, despite a few minor mistakes, said Angie O’Brien music director. “There was kind of a renewed sense of worship because everybody was just attentive and listening and absorbing it in a different way,” said O’Brien, who also directs the Saturday teen choir at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie. “It kind of breathed some new life into our worship.”

The mistakes also were minor at St. Michael in St. Michael, according to associate priest Father Nathaniel Meyers. For one thing, as he exhorted congregations with, “The Lord be with you,” he heard the familiar “And also with you,” along with the new response: “And with your spirit.”

Father Meyers  also noted a 50-50 split in those who remembered to add the new word “holy” at the new invitation to prayer before the preface dialogue. (“May the Lord accept the sacrifice . . . and the good of all his holy church.”)

“Otherwise, people have been very attentive,” he said, adding that it may take several months to build a comfort level with the new text. “It’s off to a very good start in our parish for the people and both [Father Peter Richards, the pastor] and myself in terms of our preparation for the Mass and our praying the Mass.”

Changes in music

Use of liturgical music adjusted for the new translation also went well at St. Michael in Prior Lake and Pax Christi, O’Brien said. Both parishes used revised Mass settings but have introduced a new setting for the Gloria, which is not prayed during Advent. When St. Michael’s parishioners are used to the new text, O’Brien said she plans to introduce new Mass settings.

The new text “really feels like it’s quite manageable and it’s not as difficult as it may seem or as some sources make it sound like it is,” she said.

Bernice Mullen, a parishioner at St. Joseph in West St. Paul said she was pleased with the new translation.

“I think this is absolutely wonderful,” said Mullen, who with her husband, Harold, has been a parishioner since 1966.  “I could hardly wait for it. I like the change in the level of wording used to put God on his level and not keep him on ours.”

It’s good that the text is more true to the Latin even if it seems wordier, said Elsa Dosh, also a St. Joseph parishioner. She added that it helps slow down the congregation and keep them on their toes. “There are a lot more words I’m not familiar with,” she said.

For Catholics who remember the Latin text of the Mass, the new translation is somewhat of a return to that, said Harold Mullen, who attended a class this fall to understand the Mass and prepare for the change.

“To us it’s going back to what we grew up with, that was our strength,” he said. “Now we’re coming to a point where we’re going back to that.”

What do you think?

How did Sunday Mass go at your parish with the new prayer texts? Read editor Joe Towalski’s observations and comment with your own at

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