What If We Said, 'Wait'?: The case for a grass-roots review of the new Roman Missal

It is now 45 years since the Second Vatican Council promulgated the groundbreaking and liberating document on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. As an eager and enthusiastic North American College seminarian at the time, I was in St. Peter’s Square on the December day in 1963 when Pope Paul VI, with the world’s bishops, presented that great Magna Carta to the church. The conciliar document transcended ecclesiastical politics. It was not just the pet project of a party but the overwhelming consensus of the bishops of the world. Its adoption passed overwhelmingly: 2,147 to 4.

Not in my wildest dreams would it have occurred to me then that I would live to witness what seems more and more like the systematic dismantling of the great vision of the council’s decree. But I have. We Catholics have.


For evidence, one need look no further than recent instructions from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that have raised rubricism to an art form, or the endorsement, even encouragement, of the so-called Tridentine Mass. It has become painfully clear that the liturgy, the prayer of the people, is being used as a tool—some would even say as a weapon—to advance specific agendas. And now on the horizon are the new translations of the Roman Missal that will soon reach the final stages of approval by the Holy See. Before long the priests of this country will be told to take the new translations to their people by means of a carefully orchestrated education program that will attempt to put a good face on something that clearly does not deserve it.

The veterans who enthusiastically devoted their best creative energies as young priests to selling the reforms of the council to parishioners back in the 1960s will be asked to do the same with regard to the new translations. Yet we will be hard put to do so. Some colleagues in ministry may actually relish the opportunity, but not those of us who were captivated by the great vision of Vatican II, who knew firsthand the Tridentine Mass and loved it for what it was, but welcomed its passing because of what full, conscious and active participation would mean for our people. We can see the present moment only as one more assault on the council and, sadly, one more blow to episcopal collegiality. It was, after all, the council that gave to conferences of bishops the authority to produce their own translations (S.C., Nos. 36, 40), to be approved, it is true, by the Holy See but not, presumably, to be initiated, nitpicked and controlled by it. Further, the council also wisely made provision for times of experimentation and evaluation (S.C., No. 40)—something that has been noticeably missing in the present case.

This leads me to pose a question to my brother priests: What if we were to awaken to the fact that these texts are neither pastoral nor ready for our parishes? What if we just said, “Wait”?

What if we were to awaken to the fact that these texts are neither pastoral nor ready for our parishes? What if we just said, “Wait”?

Prayer and Good Sense

I know it might smack of insubordination to talk this way, but it could also be a show of loyalty and plain good sense—loyalty not to any ideological agenda but to our people, whose prayer the new translations purport to improve, and good sense to anyone who stops to think about what is at stake here.

What is at stake, it seems to me, is nothing less than the church’s credibility. It is true that the church could gain some credibility by giving us more beautiful translations, but clumsy is not beautiful, and precious is not prayerful. During a recent dinner conversation with friends, the issue of the new translations came up. Two at the table were keenly—and quite angrily—aware of the impending changes; two were not. When the uninformed heard a few examples (“and with your spirit”; “consubstantial with the Father”; “incarnate of the Virgin Mary”; “oblation of our service”; “send down your Spirit like the dewfall”; “He took the precious chalice”; “serene and kindly countenance,” for starters), the reaction was somewhere between disbelief and indignation.

One person ventured the opinion that with all that the church has on its plate today—global challenges with regard to justice, peace and the environment; nagging scandals; a severe priest shortage; the growing disenchantment of many women; seriously lagging church attendance—it seems almost ludicrous to push ahead with an agenda that will seem at best trivial and at worst hopelessly out-of-touch.

The reaction of my friends should surprise no one who has had a chance to review the new translations. Some of them have merit, but far too many do not. Recently the Archdiocese of Seattle sponsored a seminar on the new translations for lay leaders and clergy. Both the priest who led the seminar (an accomplished liturgical theologian) and the participants gathered there in good faith. When passages from the proposed new translation were soberly read aloud by the presenter (I remember especially the phrase from the first eucharistic prayer that currently reads “Joseph, her husband,” but which in the new translation becomes “Joseph, spouse of the same virgin”), there was audible laughter in the room. I found myself thinking that the idea of this happening during the sacred liturgy is no laughing matter but something that should make us all tremble.

There’s more: the chilling reception the people of the dioceses of South Africa have given the new translations. In a rare oversight, the bishops of that country misread the instructions from Rome and, after a careful program of catechesis in the parishes, introduced the new translations to their people some months ago. The translations were met almost uniformly with opposition bordering on outrage.

It is not my purpose here to discuss in detail the flawed principles of translation behind this effort or the weak, inconsistent translations that have resulted. Others have already ably done that. Nor do I want to belabor the fact that those who prepared the translations seem to be far better versed in Latin than in English. No, my concern is for the step we now face: the prospect of implementing the new translations. This brings me back to my question: What if we just said, “Wait”?

What if we, the parish priests of this country who will be charged with the implementation, were to find our voice and tell our bishops that we want to help them avert an almost certain fiasco? What if we told them that we think it unwise to implement these changes until our people have been consulted in an adult manner that truly honors their intelligence and their baptismal birthright? What if we just said, “Wait, not until our people are ready for the new translations, but until the translations are ready for our people”?

Heeding Our Pastoral Instincts

The bishops have done their best, but up to now they have not succeeded. Some of them, led by the courageous and outspoken former chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., tried mightily to stop the new translation train but to no avail. The bishops’ conference, marginalized and battle-weary, allowed itself slowly but steadily to be worn down. After awhile the will to fight was simply not there. Acquiescence took over to the point that tiny gains (a word here, a comma there) were regarded as major victories. Without ever wanting to, the bishops abandoned their best pastoral instincts and in so doing gave up on the best interests of their people.

So the question arises: Are we priests going to give up, too? Are we, too, going to acquiesce? We do, of course, owe our bishops the obedience and respect that we pledged to them on the day of our ordination, but does obedience mean complicity with something we perceive to be wrong—or, at best, wrongheaded? Does obedience mean going against our best pastoral instincts in order to promote something that we believe will, in the end, actually bring discredit to the church and further disillusionment to the people? I do not think so. And does respect involve paying lip service to something to which our more instinctive reaction is to call it foolhardy? Again, I don’t think so.

I offer the following modest proposals.

What if pastors, pastoral councils, liturgical commissions and presbyteral councils were to appeal to their bishops for a time of reflection and consultation on the translations and on the process whereby they will be given to the people? It is ironic, to say the least, that we spend hours of consultation when planning to renovate a church building or parish hall, but little or none when “renovating” the very language of the liturgy.

What if, before implementing the new translations, we do some “market testing?” What if each region of bishops were to designate certain places where the new translations would receive a trial run: urban parishes and rural parishes, affluent parishes and poor parishes, large, multicultural parishes and small parishes, religious communities and college campuses? What if for the space of one full liturgical year the new translations were used in these designated communities, with carefully planned catechesis and thorough, honest evaluation? Wouldn’t such an experiment yield valuable information for both the translators and the bishops? And wouldn’t such an experiment make it much easier to implement the translations when they are ready?

In short, what if we were to trust our best instincts and defend our people from this ill-conceived disruption of their prayer life?

In short, what if we were to trust our best instincts and defend our people from this ill-conceived disruption of their prayer life? What if collegiality, dialogue and a realistic awareness of the pastoral needs of our people were to be introduced at this late stage of the game? Is it not possible that we might help the church we love avert a debacle or even disaster? And is it not possible that the voices in the church that have decided that Latinity is more important than lucidity might end up listening to the people and re-evaluating their position, and that lengthy, ungainly, awkward sentences could be trimmed, giving way to noble, even poetic translations of beautiful old texts that would be truly worthy of our greatest prayer, worthy of our language and worthy of the holy people of God whose prayer this is? (If you think the above sentence is unwieldy, wait till you see some of the new Missal translations. They might be readable, but border on the unspeakable!)

Dialogue is better than diatribe, as the Second Vatican Council amply demonstrated

“What If We Just Said No?” was my working title for this article. “What If We Just Said, ‘Wait’?” seems preferable. Dialogue is better than diatribe, as the Second Vatican Council amply demonstrated. So let the dialogue begin. Why not let the priests who are on the front lines and the laypeople who pay the bills (including the salaries of priests and bishops) have some say in how they are to pray? If you think the idea has merit, I invite you to log on to the Web site www.whatifwejustsaidwait.org and make your voice heard. If our bishops know the depth of our concern, perhaps they will not feel so alone.


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Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

In response to Chris: Latin is NOT jibber jabber any more than ANY non-English/vernacular is jibber jabber to one who is not a heritage speaker of that language.  It is a classical language (at one time vernacular language that God probably still understand).  The topic here is the new ENGLISH missal not the Extraordinary vs the Ordinary Form of the Mass (which by the can also be done completely in Latin). 

Christine Villecco
7 years 8 months ago
I haven't read the new translations but I appreciate dialogue and transparency and I hope these will eventually become reality in the Church. One thing that strikes me on a frequent basis is that many priests often extemporize when celebrating mass. I do believe if priests believe the currrent wording of the Liturgy is good and appropriate, they should stick with it and not try to improve it on an individual basis. This is confusing and makes it difficult to pray. Thank you.
7 years 8 months ago

It seem sensible to have the trial runs suggested in this article.  Few of us have full knowledge of the changes.  They could be great, or or horrid - most likely some place in between.  The Mass is what brings us all together to worship, grow in faith, to go forward to be God' hands and feet in the world.  As such we need to be drawn closer to that mission.

Jesus was a leader who lived in the real world, and spoke in the language of his people so that he could teach them.  Sometimes they did not understand, but they learned by how he lived his life.  That is what we all must do - top to bottom.

7 years 8 months ago

I take great issue with the changes.  I've grown up with what is being termed "experimental".  So, as a cradle Catholic let me explain my viewpoint in as simple a statement as I can:  Since the creation of the earth and universe God has never changed.  He has been the same loving Father regardless of people's thoughts and interpretations.  Why do we need to change?  The order of the mass should be as close to what Saint Peter did...He's the keeper of the keys.  Personally, I want the same order of the mass I grew up with and I want to die with the same exact liturgical cycle to be in practice.  Mass should be constant and create stability.  Our faith should be unchanging and constant as well as how we practice it.

English vs Latin: Unless you are going to say the mass in Latin everywhere in the world, you tailor the order to the language you say it in.  The new Nicene creed...you might as well say the Apostle's creed and forget all the fancy wording.  Do you think a child is going to understand coinsubstantiated?  I thought Jesus prizes and treasures children as he asks us to be more like them why are we being asked to complicate things.

Contrary to articles I see here, I find comfort in repetition and reminders.  After all, if repitition and having things identical wasn't part of the medidation and focus, why say a rosary?  You could say one prayer and be done.  I believe the whole idea is to medidate on the prayer.

I think Fr. Ryan is bang on.  Pick an order of the mass with the intent you will NEVER change it....EVER.  Most people I know look for the consistency and need it in their lives.  If people aren't going to mass because they don't like the repetitiveness, they are missing the point.  This life is about loving Christ and God with your whole heart, soul and mind.  Everything else is secondary.  Most people who don't come to mass don't have the right priorities.   

I really struggle with this.  It really makes me question why I need to go to mass vs. say prayers at home.  Are these changes really what Jesus wants or more what human pride wants?

Michael Maiale
7 years 8 months ago


First, to point out the obvious, the new translation is supposed to make the Mass more true to the Mass of most of Catholic Tradition.

And if we want to stay true to St. Peter, shouldn't we accept the guidance of his successor?

Should we really taylor the Mass to children?  Our faith presents great mysteries, and while we should make them as accessible as possible to the young, we can't dumb everything down to the least common intellectual denominator.  Throughout most of my Catholic education, I felt like I was being treated like an idiot.  It was only when I discovered how intellectually rich our faith really is that I found what I needed.  Perhaps that's a symptom of a weakness in faith on my part, but I don't think it's uncommon.  Sure, there will be people who will have difficulty understanding the word "consubstantial."  But there are only a few such words that will be in the new translation, and we have seminary educated priests to guide us through these changes.  Plus, we're dealing with an inherently difficult concept.  We should expect that some of these things will be difficult to intellectually grasp.

Claire Mathieu
7 years 8 months ago

Mike, your example is unfortunate since "consubstantial" is a translation of the Latin word "consubstantialis" which is itself a poor translation of the original Greek "homoousios" which means "one in being with". Ironically "one in being with the Father" is a much better translation of the original Greek than "consubstantial with the Father"!

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ousios this has been controversial since the beginning. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea the word "consubstantialis" may have been imposed directly by Emperor Constantine using his imperial authority. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_heresies there were many heresies around that time regarding the true nature of Christ. The word was chosen specifically to highlight the differences with Arianism and to directly fight that heresy.

So, why insist on sticking to a word that had been chosen by a particular historical character in a specific historical context, rather than a more easily understandable and more accurate wording? 

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago


When our Lord asks us to be more like children, I don't think he's telling us to stick to kindergarten level vocabulary.  I believe he's referring to the innocence of children.

elly mohr
7 years 8 months ago

I'd be amazed if anyone reads down this far. but  something inside of me wants to be heard in my Church...for once. As a Catechist on the elemantary, high school and adult levels I 've always been saddened when people feel like inferior members of "The Body". The most discrimination between insiders and outsiders is caused by theological jargon....clerical vocabulary.  Be careful (WAIT)! More people are on the verge of leaving than Rome could ever imagine.  It  may just be one ecclesiastical word that is the last straw. 

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

NOBODY is going to leave the Church because of an English translation; HOWEVER, people do leave the Church for other reasons (i.e. poor catechesis resulting in a weak spiritual foundation).  But maybe catechists who refer to the English words of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as theological "jargon" and "clerical" vocabulary do not help the situation any.  Catholics can be catechized and educated just as easily as any other population. 

Jerome Knies
7 years 8 months ago

Fr. Michael Ryan: (I hope this will not be too long!)

Thanks for your pastoral sense. I can not believe Popoe Benedict XVI could approve of changing the prayer of consecration to "many" from "all". It has been his own insistence in Caritas in Veritate to lift the expectation of the Church for the salvation of all according to the mind of Christ. "Many" implies a predestination to hell. The "many" mirrors the "Last Judgement" of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. That is a beautiful and refined artistic expression of Michelangelo's own angry demons. I think he meant it to keep the Hierarchy honest at least in Church.

Moreover, there is an underlying presumption in all this discussion that any language can be accureately translated in another. English will not ever truly translate: rationabilem acceptablemque with its original meaning. My reading of that phrase is a prayer that the Father bless what we have to offer along with the meaning we give to the offering so that it becomes acceptable even to the Father, God Almighty. "Ratio.." here should be guided by "meaning" rather than "ratified", or worse still "reasonable". There is more to this story, but I thinkI haved made the point. Think of translating the English "cool" into Italian!

To translate the Latin of the Eucharistic Prayer requires the combined services of prayerful people of faith with an accumulation of skills in Latin and Greek, history of religions and philosoophy and theology. Add to this someone who is a poet! Are any of these skills represented in the Vatican commission? They are represented in the community parish where I am suppposed to be a spiritual and pastoral leader. It is an embarrassment stand before them as leader from amongst them and mouth the insipid. I become a pious sycophant, the lukewarm Jesus would prefer to vomit.

I think you really could have stuck to "No!" Then ask people to think more clearly and pray more intently to excise the anger. There is a critical issue of discernment that must emerge. And for that may Heaven help us! Which in Latin might be praying "May the sky not fall upon us".

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

Have more confidence in the guidelines set out in Liturgiam Authenticum.  In a perfect world everyone would speak the same language;  but we are not in a perfect world.  The closest you could get to a perfect translation would be NO translation at all (and you know what that would mean...horror of horrors...Latin!).  Anyway, the new English translation is far superior to the one in present use.  I hope the bishops implement the new translation as soon as possible.  Everyone needs to come to grips with the fact that it will be implemented and we need to get on the boat with Peter.

Claire Mathieu
7 years 8 months ago

Mike, of course it is not for me to decide. But I (and many others) see obvious places where the new translation is *not* better. In the examples I discussed above, the bishops asked for an amendment, and their advice was ignored. Mike, is it really "the rightful authority" that has acted, or is this a case of abuse of power? According to the constitution on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium:

39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of [...] liturgical language [...]

40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.

3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

The bishops WERE consulted.  Just because you do not agree with them does not mean that they are wrong.  Would you disagree with them if they said "no more tabernacles, kneelers, statues, Latin, altar railings, communion patens or mantila head coverings for women..."?  Be aware of your own imbedded liturgical bias' before skewing Church protocol to fit your own fancy.  If the bishops had gone with YOUR preferences, would you still make the same "abuse of power" accusation?  It's time to accept the new English translation.  Change is good.

Claire Mathieu
7 years 8 months ago

You're right Veronica in that I am disappointed that the US bishops voted to accept the new English translation. But I am not convinced that Church protocol was properly followed, and that is also a big part of the problem.

Michael Maiale
7 years 8 months ago


The Pope is the ultimate authority.  He did consult the bishops, but he correctly pointed out that the current translations in a number of places aren't really translations of the Mass at all but are a whole new creation of the ICEL, who had no right to do that.  The Pope stepped up and defended Catholics who are tired of having the language of the Church stolen from them in favor of something designed to appeal to 8 year olds.  Most of my religious education took that form, and I'm tired of being given Catholicism for Dummies as if I'm some kind of idiot.  If you can't understand the word "incarnate," fine, walk up to the priest and ask him to explain it to you.

Look at the example Sr. Baxendale gave in post 174.  Do you not agree that the new version is far better than the current one?

It's time for people to accept the authority of the Pope, and the decision of our Bishops, and to support the new translation.  It might not be to your taste, but it will be to others.

If you want to point to Sacrosanctum Concilium to make your point, I think you should recognize that the new translations seem more in keeping with the liturgical vision set forth in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

It's interesting how some of those who are opposed to the new English translation are trying to attribute the current decline in Mass attendance to a translation that hasn't even been implemented yet!  Unbelievable!  It's also interesting how some have commented that priests and bishops should only listen to the people who pay their salaries.  Which people?  The pro-new-translation financial contributors or the pro-current-translation financial contributors?  Are some suggesting that we need a modern day indulgence system in which the biggest contributors get their liturgical way?  It's time to draw this discussion to a close (which I know won't happen).  Too many commentators seem to be talking in circles and repeating the same unconvincing talking points.   

"Roma locuta, causa finita"....Dynamic equivalent English translation:  It's time to move on, the matter has been settled. 

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

He also spent a good bit of his ministry teaching us not to judge others.  The new English translation of the Roman Missal is NOT an "EITHER-OR" issue.  We can have both.  You don't have to stop thinking about the poor and helpless just because you're in favor of or against any particular translation.  Many people can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We can still be in favor of the new English translation AND give loving care for our fellow man.  None of us are in a position to judge the conscience or intentions of another.  Let's serve the poor and helpless with humble and loving hearts while we welcome the new English translation of the Roman Missal with humble and loving hearts. 

7 years 8 months ago

Michael Ryan's article was discussed at our Liturgy Committee meeting this month and I offer my response with thanksgiving for the opportunity.

There is a challenge as a believer in Vatican 11 as concerns the "fresh air" that was invited into our church.  Once the window was opened I do not believe it can be tightly closed again! That fresh air gave many of us a reason to hope, to believe and to worship in our own tongue, with more understanding and participation in the liturgy. It gave me a "road less traveled" as a young woman in the church at that time.  I have traveled that road, with all its bumps and joys.  We were made cognisant of our own baptism which called us to be "priest, prophet and king".  The short term of Pope John the 23rd, has done great things for me and a multitude of others in the church. We have recognized ourselves as adults and not so easily "spoon fed."

Michael Ryan invites us to be "church", to have a voice and to own our membership. The changes in the church, some are subtle others are not, are trying to close that window.  We were not asked to participate in the translation from conception to distribution.  Why not, like Rosa Parks, take our rightful seat on this bus that should be open to all of God's people, not driven by dictators not going backwards. I only ask for a voice, a bit of civility and recognition as I travel this "road less traveled."

Thank you for the opportunity  to be heard and to Michael Ryan for his strong voice of leadership in the church we all love.

Nancy Drennan, Pastoral Associate 

Mike Escril
1 year 7 months ago
Basically, Nancy, you aren't 'satisfied' with having your Soul saved, you want audience participation.
Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago

It doesn't surprise me that parish and diocesan liturgical leaders are on the defensive with the new English translation and that they would want to spend more time discussing Father Ryan's article rather than Cardinal Ratzinger's "Spirit of the Liturgy" (a.k.a Pope Benedict's "Reform of the Reform").  Many of the liturgical activities that they have brought about during the last 40 years are in direct contradiction with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI ' s liturgical instructions (not that either of these Popes would know anything about Vatican II).  I understand why the status quo liturgical establishment would feel threatened by the new translation but we really need to take our RIGHTFUL seat, not the seat we want.  We are a Church of ordained priest, prophets and kings  and non-ordained priest, prophets and kings.  The only dictators in this church are the ones who are trying to have their own liturgical coup d'etat.  Be aware of your own imbedded liturgical bias' and pray to overcome them to make it easier to accept and welcome the new English translation that our Holy Church is giving us.  It's time.   

7 years 8 months ago

I think there is a hidden agenda at the vatican behind these changes to the english translation. this is just the first step in returning the liturgy to the pre-vatican council latin mass ,including the celebrant with his back to the parishioners,communion on the tongue and only from a priest ,etc...  this to me makes it much more important to resist the current proposal before it is formally adopted. i wouldn't be surprised if father ryan also sees this . 

Veronica Speranza
7 years 8 months ago


You must be secretly in favor of the "hidden agenda" of the Vatican because I have heard much more intelligent arguments against the new translation than that and your comments border on mockery of progressives.  And by the way, I never thought of the priest facing the same direction as the people (Ad Orientum?) as having his "back to us"; after all, it's not as much about us as it is the One who saves us.  But then again, I guess having the priest facing a different direction from the rest of the gathered assembly helps to highlight the difference between the ordained and the non-ordained....ooops...I didn't mean to scare progressives into favoring ad orientum.    

7 years 7 months ago

I suspect our Institutional Church's moguls hope that the restoration (regression)  movement will return the Body of Christ to the halcyon, and thrilling-for-the ordained days of the 1950's yesteryears when Catholics paid, prayed, obeyed and never did much thinking.

Lots of luck, boys! 

Veronica Speranza
7 years 7 months ago

Pray, pay and obey cliche is only attached to the "pre-conciliar" ways....NEVER...to the post conciliar ways of gather, gab and good eats.  This was the way the Mass was taught to me when I was going through CCD.  There are three parts the Mass:  1.  Gather (when the gathered assembly gathers), 2.  Gab (the Word & Homily..aka Storytelling),  3.  Good Eats (Eucharist aka....Mealsharing).  Basically we've gone from a pray-pay-obey Church to a gather-gab-good eats Church!  We can't have balance; we can only have extremes!  Remember!  We follow the either-or philosphy.....further evidence that we need the new English translation of the Roman Missal to help foster liturgical and theological sanity instead of the hopes and dreams of liturgical hacks.

7 years 7 months ago
Thank you Fr. Ryanfor your faithful courage, and grace filled message.
Veronica Speranza
7 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI for cultivating sense of the sacred in the Roman Rite of the Church.  It's long over due.  Let us all welcome the new English translation with open minds and open hearts.   

Eduardo Garza Mora
7 years 7 months ago
This is why I have decided not to continue my subscription to this magazine: it serves itself as a platform to attack the Church... How far it is from Saint Ignatius example to go wherever the Pope would send him...

The Church job is to preserve the precious treasure it received from God; it is not its job to be popular.

This article claims loyalty to the people... and is openly disloyal to the revelation God gave us through His Church. Being faithful to God's revelation is the Church's way to serve the people. We waited too long, way too long.
7 years 7 months ago
Regarding your recent features, "What If We Said, Wait?" and "Defending the New Missal", my support and sympathies are fully with the former. As a layman in the Detroit Archdiocese, I have a theoretical and practical background in liturgy, having been active in various liturgical ministries since the mid-1950s. I was very fortunate living during Vatican II and assisting to implement its liturgy reforms at the parish level.

English-speaking bishops need to revisit the new missal. Toward that end, where is the 1998 ICEL missal, which was approved by 11 bishops' conferences? This revision sought to address deficiencies in the earlier text and aim for a more elevated style. Rome delayed and never granted its recognitio - and instead issued Liturgiam Authenticam, completely revamped ICEL, and began an entirely new translation project. Our bishops made available the not yet fully approved Mass texts. Why aren't we able to see the 1998 missal (even if released as "draft version" or "for study only")? I recently contacted ICEL with this inquiry and never received a reply, perhaps confirming the perennial addage: "Rome has spoken; the case is closed." Are we to merely let this go unchallanged?
Veronica Speranza
7 years 7 months ago

Yes!  We are to let this go unchallenged because it doesn't need to be challenged.  A handful of people anonymously and repeatedly signing a petition is not going to change hearts.  Rather than trying to change other people's hearts, pray that all may accept the new translation with open hearts and minds.

Livia Fiordelisi
7 years 7 months ago

Veronica (or Monica) Spera

You have monopolized this conversation in unfortunate ways. If this post continues, please consider the good charity of letting others speak without issuing a knee-jerk and angry response.

Robert Atkinson
7 years 7 months ago
This is an ironic article. Fr. Ryan sounds like a "Traditionalist" defending the Pre Vatican II Latin Mass; a little re-wording demonstrates; "Not in my wildest dreams would it have occurred to me then that I would live to witness what seems more and more like the systematic dismantling of the great vision of the..." Council of Trent. Come off it Father - the Novus Ordo is a moving target, a work in progress. You threw off 1500 years of tradition and cry about a challenge to 40 years of innovation! Please!!!

If the foregoing wern't enough - the ICEL translation was an abomination! any first year High School Latin student knows PRO MULTUS means "for many," not for all! ET CUM SPIRITUS TUO translates "and with your spirit," and also with you is like claiming that Hi! is the same as "good day honorable sir." they may both be greeting but that's all. and worst of all; CREDO, on almost page 1 of any first year Latin text means I believe! not we belive! It's about time someone looked at the Latin text instead of their own agenda.

Lastly give the laity a chance! We're not all dumb sheep, some of us can actually read and we don't need elitists holding our hands and walking us through actual English texts. A pox on Standard Enmglish!!!!!
Henry George
8 months ago

Thank You,

Veronica Speranza
7 years 7 months ago

NOBODY is monopolizing this discussion.  My responses do not stop others from responding as well.  It's called dialog and conversation.  Everyone should actively participate in this discussion more frequently.  Just because your opinions differ from mine does not mean that either one of us should be silenced or limited in our free exchange of thoughts.  This must be a free and open discussion.  Just because you disagree with me does not mean my responses are knee-jerk or angry.  Why not focus on the topic at hand rather than me? 

7 years 7 months ago

Veronica Spera:  I agree with Linda Daily, above, that you are attempting to monopolize this conversation.  If you read the "comments policy" of America Magazine, you'll find this guideline: "Choose your spots. Resist the urge to comment on every post, or respond to every poster. Let other readers have their say."  You have posted 21 comments on this string-nearly a tenth of all the comments posted.  That's clearly in violation of the policy America has asked us to follow in responding to the article.

Veronica Speranza
7 years 6 months ago

Ladies, can we please get back on the topic at hand?  The new translation?  Not each other.  I think the new translation is needed.  Why would anyone be opposed to elevated vocabulary?  Even in Texas we believe that the way we address our God in formal worship should be more elevated than the way we talk to each other on the streets. 

7 years 6 months ago
In the Roman Missal in use since 1973, we find, for example, the opening lines of Eucharistic Prayer III:

Father, you are holy indeed,
and all creation rightly gives you praise.
All life, all holiness comes from you
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
by the working of the Holy Spirit.
From age to age you gather a people to yourself,
so that from east to west
a perfect offering may be made
to the glory of your name.

Perhaps just one further example, the preface for last Sunday, the Second Sunday of Lent:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

On your holy mountain he revealed himself in glory
in the presence of his disciples.
He had already prepared them for his approaching death.
He wanted to teach them through the Law and the Prophets
that the promised Christ had first to suffer
and so come to the glory of his resurrection.

In our unending joy we echo on earth
the song of the angels in heaven
as they praise your glory for ever.

The language of the streets?
mary brogan
7 years 6 months ago
I also live in south africa, like Susan.For the past year in our parish we have been using the new translation, a happy mistake by our bishops.I have not noticed any difficulty even by people whose first language is not english, in either saying or singing the responses. Sadly though we say the apostles instead of nicene creed. My tongue and spirit are very happy with the new changes.
Yes, indeed there has been a very negative reaction in our only weekly catholic paper.The silent majority have just shook our heads at this and got on with it,myself being one of them.However,this past week there was a call from one writer to support Fr ryan by collecting signatures after not having met with their expected success at trying to derail it here in south africa.
To me the new language is beautiful,a language befitting worship of God as opposed to our ordinary dumbed down language.Let us go forward in humility and accept the changes as we did before and offer up whatever suffering it entails,a sacrifice truly pleasing to the Lord.
Paul Blasi
7 years 6 months ago

I am a member of our church Liturgy committee.  The committee has been charged with becoming familiar with the new changes to the Roman Missal and providing catechesis for our parish.

Having recently read the proposed changes I am in complete agreement with your comments. I had already signed my name to "Just Say Wait" after one of our members had forwarded the web site.  I am concerned that our parishioners are not going to understand the proposed new prayers and may have as I have a negative reaction.

I personally found the wording difficult to comprehend and awkward.

Colin Donovan
7 years 6 months ago

Fr. Ryan’s article is one of the best exemplars of the “spirit of Vatican II mentality” I have encountered. Filled from beginning to end with the sentimentalized, one might even say romanticized, notion of Vatican II, it reflects little of the documents and the facts of either the Council or history sinse. Consider just of few of his statements, taking only the first few paragcaphs.

“the systematic dismantling of the great vision of the council’s decree” 

The Council’s decree is textually opposed to most of what Fr. Father writes. Questions of the primacy of the Holy See are clearly stated (Ryan takes on that authority throughout his piece), of the proper and worthy celebration of the liturgy according to the rubrics  (mere rubricism to Ryan), of the meaning of active participation (as primarily interior, as opposed to “activity” and lay ministerial roles), and that collegiality does not actually mean that the Holy See must not dare to intervene, but merely deign to approve the decisions of episcopal conferences (a reading of Vatican I and “Apostolos Suos” might be in order, not to mention canon 1369 - sorry for the legalism, but I get very sentimental about the text of canon law).

“We can see the present moment only as one more assault on the council and, sadly, one more blow to episcopal collegiality.”

If the US bishops were represented on ICEL and Vox Clara, and the majority of the USCCB voted for the texts, it would seem that Ryan is inflamed because the minority did not succeed in opposing them. The bigger issue is not his detachment from the facts but the outrageous claim that it was an assault on the Council to produce texts consistent with the liturgical tradition and theology of the Church, whatever flaws these, or any human product, might have. 

“one need look no further than recent instructions from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that have raised rubricism to an art form, or the endorsement, even encouragement, of the so-called Tridentine Mass”

At last the real cause célèbre rears its head - The Latin Mass. But anyway, on rubrics, the Council did not ACTUALLY do away with rubrics, though certainly a mechanical celebration is not the mind of the Church. However, one faithful to the texts and the rubrics is, as evidenced by the liturgy constitution and every liturgical document published since – even by previous mean old popes and dicasteries. Indeed, the lack of fidelity to the texts and the rubrics has been decried beginning with Paul VI and every Pope.

“the liturgy, the prayer of the people, is being used as a tool—some would even say as a weapon—to advance specific agendas”

Such irony!  Was Fr. Ryan present when liturgical dancers gave the homily at an ordination, and for the “clown” Mass, both at St. James Cathedral? I believe he was an associate at the Cathedral at the time, if my memory serves. The liturgical abuses perpetrated in the name of progressive agendas are legendary.

“Before long the priests of this country will be told to take the new translations to their people by means of a carefully orchestrated education program that will attempt to put a good face on something that clearly does not deserve it.”

A massive conspiracy to teach people the Catholic faith and pass it on consistently. How dare the Pope!

“the council also wisely made provision for times of experimentation and evaluation (S.C., No. 40)—something that has been noticeably missing in the present case.

Yes, the glory days. Actually, Paul VI FIRST stated that the time of experimentation was over. Come on children, put away your liturgical Legos and grow up!

But, isn't Fr. Ryan suggesting that we only run some trials with the new text? Superficially, and out of the context of the entire article, it might appear so, but in context he is clearly opposed to anything that anchors the liturgy more firmly in the tradition - and is, therefore, the usual progressive cant.

“What if we were to awaken to the fact that these texts are neither pastoral nor ready for our parishes? What if we just said, “Wait”? I know it might smack of insubordination to talk this way, but it could also be a show of loyalty and plain good sense—loyalty not to any ideological agenda but to our people, whose prayer the new translations purport to improve, and good sense to anyone who stops to think about what is at stake here.”

That opportunity was had, through the USCCB. Fr. Ryan's suggestion is indeed insubordination and presumes he has the right to speak for the rest of lay Catholics and clergy. Let him speak for his parishioners, and to his bishop, and leave the rest of us in peace.

lLetha Chamberlain
7 years 5 months ago

I came back to this article, now several months down the line, to finish reading what had been posted after I commented... I appear to be the last to post...

Fr. Ryan is highly-articulate and has an extremely-gifted aesthetic sense (what drew me so "fervently" into my formation as a Catholic-I am creatively-minded)... and the results of it, for me, has been a life-saving of such immense proportions I have devoted all my life, in religious vows, to serve Christ and the People of God.  There is no small debt of gratitude!  I DO love Father greatly, even though our relationship fell into disrepair, then ended.

I was accused of being a "divider" at the Cathedral in a letter addressed to me by him (for which I knew at the time there was a certain "influence" that had nothing to do with his love and caring for me).  Because of this "influence" and many other unfortunate happenings... I left understanding I could no longer be "in union" with the lack of appropriate honor/respect shown to ALL the Sacraments; and the undermining of many who need to have a REAL relationship with their Savior... all due to the lack of understanding by the lay ministers/protestant-ordained minister that Christ IS present in ALL of them (and to quote a spiritual mentor of mine "we get exactly what we need" in the Sacraments).  This lack of honor/belief in Christ's healing Presence ended up becoming so difficult for me... I have become all too vociferous!  Having now attempted to help heal the rift many, many times... my efforts have been dismissed as "from an incompetent."  They have since hired a "mental health nurse" at the Cathedral (as I, a Certified Parish Nurse, once suggested) but I know now my prior suggestion was "all wet"-what is needed is another priest (or two), for heaven's sake!  Father Ryan has too much to do, leaving much of the Cathedral ministry to lay people, who simply do not uphold Church teaching!  Of course he has to rely on them-as well as be loyal to them!  Father Ryan is a loving priest, and loves his parishioners... surrounded by a coterie of people who defend his time and energy-including one known as the "hatchet man" (not my words), he cannot do what he is most gifted doing-being a pastor!  Soon to retire, I sincerely hope he does not leave with a sense of "thank God that is over!"

I do suggest, however (and for what it is worth)... we all take seriously our commitment to unity-under the Chair of Peter.  Obedience is a discipline (oh, how I long to be obedient to a human superior!) Obedience isn't "passive", by any stretch of the imagination!  It promotes order in a culture... something Americans have great difficulty in understanding.  There are always ways to get your voice heard-even when being "obedient".  The new missal will be a test, in many ways, of American ability to learn the discipline of this once-hallowed virtue... so necessary to the learning of how to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance!  As per the Blessed Virgin's words "let it be done unto me" because God's hand is in everything-bringing goodness of our miserable human failings.

I love you, Father Ryan, and thank you.  From your hand I received the Bread of Life!  My mission now is the simple life of prayer/writing... and no longer activism.

Thank you, America, for allowing this personal story...

Sandor Lengyel
6 years 5 months ago
I think Father Ryan is wrong.

For the last 20 years the hungarian text of the Mass differed significantly from the english. The hungarian being closer to the original latin.
Since the word catholic means universal, it is to be expected that the mass all over the word should resemble each other as close as practical.
Certainly the englis translation used up till now, does not satisfy this condition. The new one does.
I and understand that taht it is hard to change, but considering that there are catholics outside the english speaking world, I feel that the good of the whole church is more important than individul likes and dislikes.

And those who want to rebel, a bit of humility and obediance would come good.
Mary Emmick
5 years 11 months ago

I find it high time that a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope and his cronies have committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a systematic and widespread concealment with included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.

The Vatican has recently trotted out a distraction ( a look over there device) in the new changes to the Roman Missal which has Catholics (the thinking ones) angry and smoldering in the pews. if we are all mad at these changes which point the way to a return to the middle ages, then we won't spend so much energy and thought on the lawsuit against the Vatican for sexual abuse. I say onward Christian soldiers...sue the Vatican!

Mary Emmick
5 years 11 months ago

As a mother I just feel like we need to love our children, but discipline and not tolerate bad behavior. As a mother and former school teacher I have a certain built in B.S. detector. The Blessed Mother does also (on an infinitely higher level than any of us poor humans) and she has warned repeatedly of Apostasy from some in our Church. We would do well to listen to her and heed her messages (Third Secret of Fatima for example). Certainly forgiveness is a big part of our Catholic Faith. We are all called to confess our sins, and then change our ways. If we don't then woe be to us. God will deal with us individually in due time. It is important that all parishes throughout the world implement Safe Environment Training, but at the same time not tolerate abuse from the higher echelons. Maybe our frustration with word usage in our liturgy at this time seems a distraction to more important matters or what some are calling "ritual whiplash." Regardless it is important more than ever to live good holy lives and follow Jesus' examples in the gospels. The gospels will always lead us in the right direction. God is trustworthy. Live simple, holy lives. Attend mass, go to confession, pray the rosary, love one another.

"Remember, Victory will come through Mary."

-Pope John Paul II to Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary

Mary Emmick
5 years 11 months ago


A good slogan for what many of us in the Catholic Church are thinking:



Robert Adams
5 years 10 months ago
This really is not simply about making a translation a more literal translation of the Latin text.  This is ultimately about continuing the undermining of Vatican II and paving the way for a return to the Latin Mass.  If the English is now so close to Latin, the argument will run, maybe we should-occasionally at first-require the Mass to be said in that original Latin language.  Rome-the Church's bureaucracy-has patiently spent a generation and then some in gradually retracing its steps to obliterate the footprints of Vaticn II.  The appointment of more conservative bishops, a more conservtive seminary curriculum taught by priests who are themselves of a more conservative stripe, a stronger focus on the adoration of the Real Presence, the rosary, and other devotions than on the communal nature of the Sunday liturgy: it all is of a piece to consign Vatican II to the dustbin of history.  Don't look for any grand celebrations in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the ouncil's beginning.
Alan Aversa
5 years 10 months ago
The Council of Trent said, in Session 22, Chapter 9, Canon 9 (my emphasis):

"CANON IX.-If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema."

This is fully consistent with the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium which first advocated Latin then permitted some vernacular in exceptional cases.

Why, then, are entirely vernacular masses Novus Ordo masses frequently performed? Why are institutions like the ICEL permitted at all? Thanks
Katherine McEwen
5 years 6 months ago
Now that the new Mass translation has been in use since Advent, has the fooferaw settled down yet? Are people getting used to the new translation and not griping quite so much? If so, is the settling down happening among the celebrants, liturgists, musicians and other liturgical participants, or are the folks in the pews getting acquainted (& perhaps even liking the words they're now using)?
Leslie Boston
5 years 3 months ago
I for one have not adjusted to the new language. I'm scandalized and dismayed by it. It seems the Church is returning to its role as judge and taskmaster, rather a living example of Christ's loving presence. It has forgotten that Jesus loved all and reserved his deepest disdain and anger for hypocrites only - not Romans, not gentiles, not gays, not women, not anyone else. The sense of loss I feel is immense, and I'm not sure I can ever reconcile myself to this hard hearted Church and pope.  
Mike Escril
1 year 7 months ago
I really wish we could introduce more people to the TLM and then see who prefers the NO over it.
Henry George
8 months ago

Though this comment is years later, I have not seen a general revulsion to
the new translation. People have not fled the Church.

I do wonder how many Pastors are still out there from 1964 - some
50 years ago - who avidly welcomed the Liturgical Changes of Vatican II
and now must implement these new translations - there actually are.

Just a question for Fr. Ryan - would you have written the same
article in 1964 when the changes - authorised by Vatican II - we were told -
began to present themselves in the Liturgy - changes that were followed
by a Mass Exodus from attending the Divine Liturgy - or would you
and did you think those of us who wondered why this New Liturgy was
being forced upon us - could it not have simply just been offered alongside the "Old Liturgy"
and the people of the Parish allowed to vote
with their feet which one they wished to attend - were just "out of step"
with modernity and needed to be forced to "change with the times".

As for "Full and Active Participation" - just because the Congregation
sings loudly and likes the translations of the prayers does not mean
their hearts are with God during the Divine Liturgy.

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