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Arthur J. SerratelliMarch 01, 2010

To change indicates that one is alive. This applies to people, institutions and even language. It is a natural development even when it meets resistance, because we can become comfortable in old and familiar ways. The challenge of change is before Catholics now as the church in the United States and the rest of the English–speaking world prepares for the most significant change in the liturgy since the introduction of the new Order of Mass in 1970.

On November 17, 2009, the Bishops of the United States completed our review and approval of the translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia. We brought to a conclusion the work we began in 2004, when the first draft translations were presented to us by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). As the church in the English-speaking world awaits the confirmation (recognitio) of the text by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Holy See, we now take time to prepare for its reception and implementation. Many have asked questions, expressed concerns, or simply wondered about the reasons for the new translation and the goals of its implementation.

Why a New Text?

The Missale Romanum (Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, is first introduced in Latin as the editio typica (“typical edition”). Pope John Paul II announced the publication of the third edition (editio typica tertia) of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year in 2000. Once that text was published, it became the official text to be used in the celebration of the Mass, and conferences of Bishops had to begin the work of preparing vernacular translations. The third edition contains a number of new elements: prayers for the observances of feasts/memorials of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, as well as some minor modifications of rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass.

To aid the process of translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued Liturgiam Authenticam in 2001, as the fifth instruction on the vernacular translation of the Roman liturgy, which outlines the principles and rules for translation. These principles have evolved and been nuanced in the years following the Second Vatican Council as the church grew into its use of modern vernacular languages in the celebration of the liturgy. These guiding principles govern the work which has resulted in a fresh English translation of the Missale Romanum.

The Translation

In his popular rhetorical guide, De duplici copia verborum ac rerum, the 16th century Dutch humanist and theologian Erasmus showed students 150 different styles they could use when phrasing the Latin sentence, Tuae literae me magnopere delectarunt (“Your letter has delighted me very much”). He amply demonstrated that no single translation will ever completely satisfy everyone.

Liturgical language is important for the life of the church. The well-known axiom Lex orandi, lex credendi, reminds us that what we pray is not only the expression of our sentiment and our reverence directed toward God, but what we pray also speaks to us and articulates for us the faith of the church. Our words in the liturgy are not simply expressions of one individual in one particular place at one time in history. Rather, they pass on the faith of the church from one generation to the next. For this reason, we bishops take seriously our responsibility to provide translations of liturgical texts that are at the same time accurate and inspiring, hence, the sometimes rather passionate discussion of words, syntax and phrases. The new translation provides us with prayers that are theologically accurate, in a language with dignity and beauty that can be understood, as called for in Liturgiam Authenticam:

25. So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision. By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God’s majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself.

Speaking to a group of translators gathered in Rome in 1965 about their work in regard to liturgical texts, Pope Paul VI quoted St. Jerome, who was also a translator, speaking about the magnitude of the work of translation: “If I translate word by word, it sounds absurd; if I am forced to change something in the word order or style, I seem to have stopped being a translator.” Pope Paul went on to say, “The vernacular now taking its place in the liturgy ought to be within the grasp of all, even children and the uneducated. But, as you well know, the language should always be worthy of the noble realities it signifies, set apart from the everyday speech of the street and the marketplace, so that it will affect the spirit and enkindle the heart with love of God.” 

The process of translation of the new edition of the Roman Missal has involved linguistic, biblical, and liturgical scholars from each of the eleven English-speaking countries which ICEL serves. This process has been thorough and it has been collaborative on an international level, because this text will be used by the church throughout the English-speaking world. It is important for us to remember that we Americans are but one part of a larger English–speaking community. The preparation of this translation has been an international effort to produce an international text. The result is a text that draws us together and situates us as Americans within a much larger ecclesial communion.

Even the best of all possible translations of the new Missal will not suit every individual’s preference. No translation will be perfect. Proponents of the new text sometimes argue, perhaps unfairly, that the texts currently in use in our liturgy (in the present Sacramentary), the product of great efforts by translators from 1969 to 1973, are marked by a style of English that is flat and uninspiring. That text, however, has served the church in the English-speaking world well for more than thirty years, and has enabled us to take great strides in working toward the Council’s goal of “full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy. We should be careful not judge too hastily what has been the language of our worship. Our present texts are familiar and comfortable.

Those who have already been critical of the new text, often without having seen more than a few examples out of context, express concern about unfamiliar vocabulary and unnecessarily complicated sentence structures. Having been involved in the work of translation with ICEL and with the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, I can attest that the new translation is good and worthy of our use. It is not perfect, but perfection will come only when the liturgy on earth gives way to that of heaven, where all the saints praise God with one voice. Change will not come easily, as both priest-celebrants (including us bishops) and the lay faithful will have to work to prepare to celebrate the liturgy fully, consciously, and actively.

Where We Go From Here


We humans are creatures of habit. We Catholics are creatures of ritual. Ritual is based on the familiar—on patterns that have been learned. A liturgical assembly can fully, consciously, and actively participate in the liturgy because the members of the assembly (priest and people) know what they are doing. Any change in the rituals will affect how we participate. It is natural to resist such changes simply to remain grounded in the familiar because it is comfortable. It should be said at the outset that the new text of the Roman Missal represents a change in the language, but not in the ritual. There have been only a few minor adjustments to the rubrics of the Order of Mass, and most of them represent changes that were already in effect through other liturgical books, such as the Ceremonial of Bishops, that had not been incorporated into the printed text of the Missal. So how do we prepare ourselves to use the new text? We bishops have called for an extensive process of catechesis leading to the implementation of the text. In particular, I propose several important approaches both for individuals and for parish communities.

First, get to know the text. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of the richness and importance of liturgical texts in his apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis: “These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two-thousand-year history.” (#40). Many have pointed out that the vocabulary, syntax and sentence structure will be markedly different from the current text. The guiding principles of translation call for the preservation of biblical imagery and poetic language (and structure). The new texts contain many beautiful examples of language drawn directly from the Scriptures, especially the Gospels and the Psalms: “from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Psalm 113, Eucharistic Prayer III ), “sending down your Spirit… like the dewfall” (Psalm 133, Eucharistic Prayer II), “blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb” (See Rev. 19, Communion Rite), and “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” (Mt. 8, Communion Rite). These are but a few examples.

Of particular note in the new texts are expressions of reverence for God, articulated not only by the vocabulary but by the style of expression in addressing God. Some may find the use of such self-deprecatory language uncomfortable at first, but it effectively acknowledges the primacy of God’s grace and our dependence on it for salvation.

The texts may be unfamiliar now, but the more one understands their meaning, the more meaningful their use will be in the liturgy. We are invited to undergo a process of theological reflection or even the practice lectio divina with the texts of the new Roman Missal. To pray with and reflect on these words will help us all to open our hearts to the mysteries the texts express.

Second, in Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged all to renew our commitment to celebrating the liturgy effectively and faithfully. The Holy Father calls attention to the ars celebrandi, the art of proper celebration. The implementation of the new Roman Missal ought to be an opportunity to recommit ourselves to prayerful, faithful and vibrant celebration of the liturgy.

Third, we turn our attention to the process of catechesis which needs to be undertaken to prepare for the reception of the new text. The bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship has suggested a two-part process to lead us to the implementation of the Missal. At the present moment we are in the remote stage of preparation, and this remote stage will last until the recognitio is given for the text. This period should include efforts at general liturgical catechesis: the nature and aim of the liturgy, the meaning of “full, conscious, and active participation,” and the background of the Roman Missal. The proximate preparation will begin when the recognitio is given, and then will last for a period of 12 to 18 months, and will look more specifically at the particular texts of the Missal to prepare pastors and the faithful to celebrate the liturgy using those texts.

The fathers of the Second Vatican Council were well aware of the need for catechesis about the liturgy as an essential aspect of liturgical reform: “With zeal and patience pastors must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and their stage of religious development. By doing so, pastors will be fulfilling one of their chief duties as faithful stewards of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only by word but also by example.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #19)

A wide range of resources is being developed by the USCCB, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, and many catechetical and liturgical publishers. In addition, representatives of English–speaking countries have been working together to produce an international multi-media catechetical resource. The bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship launched a Web site last year to serve as a central hub of information regarding the new Missal, and we hope that it will encourage the development of even more resources for use in parishes, schools and homes.

Pope John Paul II encouraged the church on the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, to continue the work of the liturgical reform “to renew that spirit which inspired the church at the moment when the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium was… promulgated” (Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 23). As we prepare to receive the text of the third edition of the Roman Missal, we bishops recognize the significance of this moment as an opportunity for genuine renewal of the Council’s vision. We hope that pastors and the faithful will join us in seizing this opportunity with enthusiasm and, in the words of Pope John Paul II, to accept the new Missal as “a moment to sink our roots deeper into the soil of tradition handed on in the Roman Rite” (ibid.).

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mary ann rambeau
14 years 2 months ago

Your Emminence,

I have just read your article, and several others on the advent of the New Missal, and it scares the heck out of me.  I am 80 years old, and I still have the little Missal, which our class was given in preparation for First Holy Communion.  It is simple, and BEAUTIFUL!

God forbid! Why do we need yet another change?  I just subscribed to "America", and will follow all future editorials on the subject.  And, lastly, WHY CAN WE NOT HAVE JUST ONE MASS EACH SUNDAY, IN EACH PARISH, IN LATIN? I sang the mas for twelve years in Latin, daily (even with all the daily Requiems, and it was beautiful, and we sang our hearts out.


Mary Ann Rambeau

Veronica Speranza
14 years 2 months ago

It is a comfort to know that there will be a more beautiful and accurate vernacular translation of the Mass.  This is long over due.  God Bless all those who have worked so hard to give us this new translation. With respect to the few (or many...depending on each one's liturgical bias' and perspectives) who want to cling to the present/older translation, there is always the option of celebrating the current Mass in the Latin language.  It really is time for those who are against the new translation to recognize all imbedded liturgical bias' and pray for a change of heart to embrace the new translation that our Holy Catholic Church is giving us.  The days of finding liturgical loopholes to get around liturgical uniformity are coming to a close.  Authentic liturgical renewal and a recovery of a sense of the Sacred is upon us.        

Joseph O'Leary
14 years 2 months ago
This is really a pathetic article, which does not face any of the misgivings now widely felt among the faithful in many English-speaking countries. See my comments here: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/02/bishop-serratelli-tries-to-reply-to-msgr-ryan.html
Mary Wood
14 years 2 months ago

At time of writing there are but three comments on this article by Bishop Serratelli.

The first commenter (Mary Ann Rambeau) would really like the sole Mass in  each parish to be in full sung Latin.  This would be utterly beyond the capacity of most younger clergy, certainly of my own 55 year old parish priest.  It would also empty the church of most of the existing, (dwindling) congregation.

The second commenter, (Veronica Spera) derives comfort from the soon-to be-enforced changes, which in the published draft were quite extensive for the priest-celebrant.  She has taken her stand alongside Bishop Serratelli and accepted his assurances that there's a better time coming.

Joseph O'Leary has clearly given the soon-to be-enforced text some detailed thought and his assessment finds it wanting.  He raises several questions about competence.  

Bishops are not chosen on the grounds of their liturgical expertise in the history of language and practice through the centuries, nor their rapport with popular forms of celebration in any age.  So the emphasis on the US Bishops' role in assessing and approving this soon-to be-enforced Missal is nauseating.  It makes me sick. The coming text is clearly divisive.

14 years 1 month ago

I do intend to read the entire article, but that first sentence begs a response. To change in a growthful, progressive direction means we are alive. To change in a backward looking, retrogressive direction means we are dying if not dead already. For Bishop Saltarelli to pretend that his brother bishops, and 90% of the people in the pews, do not know that is disingenuous at best. At least it is manipulative and what it really looks like to me I do not want to say. It certainly is a disservice to the Church.

Clarence Goodwright
14 years 1 month ago

Love it or hate it, we must accept that this new translation 1) is a major paradigm shift and 2) it WILL happen, sooner or later.  We are thus presented with a unique opportunity - one that we have not had since the arrival of the original English translation that we currently use; we have the opportunity for wide-scale catechesis about the Liturgy.

The upcoming text is only divisive if we allow it to be.  The time to debate it is over - Bishop Trautman led his valiant effort to delay it further in the name of greater clarity - and I respect him for it, because I know that he believes that it was truly right to do so.  Now, we must turn to the task of educating ourselves, and more importantly, clergy must turn to the task of educating their parishioners.  If we continue to fight, we will lose this great opportunity - and that is the main angle that Bishop Serratelli seems to be taking in the matter.

There seems to be an erroneous belief among many that the only way to be progressive is to come up with something that seems 'hip' or 'relevant' or new.  That is hardly the case.  Something that is progressive is something that moves us forward - that moves us closer to being with God and moves more of us in that direction.  And this has been accomplished in ways that some here might or might not accept as being "Progress" - the Charismatic Movement, the Anglican Ordinariates, Summorum Pontificum, the beginning steps of rehabilitating SSPX.  Progress does not come from "newness" just as "tradition" does not require us to encase our actions in amber so they can never change.

The reaction of the "What if we just said 'wait'?" crowd is in this regard very similar to some of the Latin-Mass traditionalists - unable to accept any change, even if it is one that enriches the way that we worship.

This translation is not perfect - and someday the question of translation will arise again if ever there is an Editio Typica Quarta of the Missale. But for now, this is our progress.  I am among the twenty-somethings who is rejoicing at what is a much-improved translation, even if it is imperfect.  And I look forward to the challenge and the chance for us to enrich the way we worship by stretching ourselves.

- Clarence Goodwright, Seminarian and Recovering Traditionalist

14 years 1 month ago
Why were the other ten or eleven comments removed? I thought the comment of Msgr. John Steiner was especially important. Why would that comment be removed, but yet space is given to the same reptititious comments from one voice that has dominated the conversation (especially under Father Ryan's article) for two months? She speaks of charity and then sarcastically recommends Pepto Bismol! This trivializes the important issues under discussion.

May the Lord give us peace.
Veronica Speranza
14 years 1 month ago

My comments focus on the new translation.  When others comment about being nauseated, I believe THAT trivializes the discussion.  Our focus should be on the topic:  the new translation of the Roman Missal, not on each other or how many times each other has responded.  Let's have a productive dialogue and learn from each other.  I've learned a lot from reading comments (some with substance) from those who disagree with the new translation.  Let's keep the conversation going...the more, the merrier....the more comments....the better.  Dialogue!  It's ecumenical. 

Allie Schnackel
14 years 1 month ago

As a young adult in the church I find it very hard to make sense of these new translations.  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” (Mt. 8, Communion Rite)  How is supposed to be better?  As an educator in Catholic Schools how am I supposed to explain this to children when it does not make any sense compared to what is said in the current Communion Rite? 

I find it very hard to accept these changes after reading through and trying to make sense of them all.  The wording is awkward and grammatically is incorrect.  For people in this day and age to understand a literal Latin translation is not moving forward with the times. 

This is not a matter of adapting to change, it is a matter of what makes sense!  It is important for todays congregations to be able to understand the mass and not have to guess at what is being said.  People argue that churches do things in different ways... that is what makes our parishes unique!  We have developed our own home traditions over time, whether it be how the Easter Vigil is celebrated or if we hold hands during the Our Father.  Each of us is a creation of God and God did not create us all the same or our world would be a very boring place.  So for those of you who complain about parished doing things differently, you shouldn't.  Because it is what brings those congregations together to feel like a parish family. 

Maybe I'm crazy, but in my short 23 years I know that my faith has grown and I am proud to be a young faithfilled Catholic, but I am disapointed by this recent translation and I seriously question how the rest of the young church (our future) will remain with it much longer.

Donald Baker
14 years 1 month ago

In all of the furor surrounding the new translation of the Roman Missal (a lot of it raging in this very comment thread) much heat has been generated about the quality of the translation, its "poetry" and its fidelity to the Latin text. Venom has been spewed and spleen vented at people who favor the new texts, those who reject them and those who just ask to wait a while before accepting this text as final. Bishop Serratelli does us a service in his article by reminding us  that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHETHER WE LIKE THE NEW MISSAL OR NOT - we are getting it, sooner rather than later.

The issue that should absorb our attention  is the missal's implementation. And no one -not even the USCCB's Commission on Divine Worship and its well - done website - seems to realize how much work this is going to be.

Back at the time of the introduction of the vernacular, we moved from Latin texts which were largely unknown to the majority of Catholics, to English. Remember how much fun that was? It took decades to get Catholics to the point where they not only knew the responses, but spoke and sang them. Now, almost a half a century on, we are about to move from one vernacular translation to another which is substantially different.

We have never really done this before. What will it be like? The bishops hope that if they just throw enough information at us, websites, flyers, hand - outs and explanations, people will complete the transition with ease. but that is like saying that reading a book on cycling enables you to ride a bike.

If we want a foretaste of what 2012 will be like at Sunday mass, we should look to one of the few small areas where we have, as English speaking Catholics moved from one vernacular translation, universally used and memorized, to another; The Gloria Patri. Ever said the Rosary? Ever prayed the Liturgy of the Hours in common with priests? At the end of each decade or the end of the psalm, what do YOU say? "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever, Amen" which is the modern translation? Or do you still use the version your mother taught you,"Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen"? This is only one small prayer, and after forty years we still cannot get it straight. The cacophony that greets every recitation of the rosary and every publicly prayed psalm and has greeted it for forty years will be our experience at mass for the foreseeable future.

Some seem to think that a trained clergy will be the vanguard spearheading our proper implementation of these texts. If we want a foretaste of how THAT will go, we need look no farther than the implementation of the RUBRICS for this new missal, which came into effect around 2002. Only a few ritual actions were changed. And yet, when I travel around the country, parish after parish has not even started their implementation. Watch the pathetic pop-up which occurs when visitors, who have been taught to stand at the words "Pray brethren" (new rubrics), suddenly find themselves standing in an assembly where everyone around them is sitting (old rubrics), looking up at them as if they were crazy (not part of the rubrics, but will surely become one in the near future).

Our ally in the implementation of the first vernacular translation was music. People began to learn the texts when they were set to music that we could sing. That took a while. But over the last 20 years congregations have increasingly become singing congregations, especially when it comes to the mass parts.

When the new missal is introduced, 40 years of musical formation will be erased. New texts will mean the old mass settings will no longer be permissible. Undoubtedly even now Marty Haugen and David Haas are working on new versions of their popular mass settings. But they will have to be learned; or perhaps not. What will undoubtedly occur is what has already happened with the implementation of the rubrics and other vernacular texts; churches will sing their old mass settings with the old words, others will learn the new chant settings developed for the new words, and some will sing versions of the old music set to the new texts; imagine what THAT will be like when the diocese comes together for prayer?

Sadly, our energy is spent attacking each other, Rome and these texts instead of the looming problem of implementation. Despite what the USCCB seems to want to believe, this transition will be incredibly complex. Despite the critics of the current translation, the vast majority of Catholics see no need for a change. Getting them to change then, will be very difficult. I see no one on the horizon really taking this seriously; and THIS is serious.

Donald Baker
14 years 1 month ago

Due a glitch my name did not appear with the comment made at 8:57 - I don't like anonymous posts, and did not mean mine to be. Apologies.

Bram Joseph
14 years 1 month ago

Wow people, surprised at the strong negative reactions.  Whether the translations are good or bad that probably is in the eye of the beholder.  Here's my take about the augments that (1) it will cause too much confusion and (2) it will drive people from the pews.

(1) Its still English people will adapt.  We can learn the meaning of new words and phrases. Give us a little credit please.  

(2) Anyone who leaves the church over this probably has one foot out the door already.

I am not saying these changes are not important, I am saying its not the cataclysmic (and nauseating) event some have made it out to be.

Perhaps the Church can introduce the new language during Lent giving everyone on all sides something to offer up.

Peace people.

14 years 1 month ago

One of the most frequent comments that proponents of the new translation make (as in the comment by Bram Joseph, above) is "give us a little credit please."  We're intelligent enough, they say; we can figure out complicated syntax and vocabulary like "consubstantial."  I agree, Catholics are intelligent enough to figure out the new Missal.  We will obediently listen to the catechesis presented to us; we will get used to the new responses; we will even do the mental gymnastics necessary to understand that "multis" means "many" but "many" really means "all." 

It is not our intelligence that is the problem here, but rather, the intelligence of those who are so inexpert, indifferent, or just plain tired that they are actually presenting this error-filled translation of the Roman Missal to the English-speaking people.  In the examples I have seen, there are some beauties.  But every page is marred by awkward syntax and poor grammar.  The prayers have been translated, but barely.  Or, to put it another way, they have been translated into English, but they have not been translated into prayers

The new translations are not even true to their own draconian principles as laid out in Liturgiam Authenticam.  How else can we account for the fact that "adstare" in Eucharistic Prayer II is not translated "stand in your presence" but "be in your presence"?  Dynamic equivalency is used here - doubtless the argument given will be the pastoral reality that we are expected to be kneeling at this point of the Mass.  But if dynamic equivalency could be used here, why not in so many other instances where the language cries out for it?

I would urge those who support - or think they support - this translation of the Missal to read more about the history of the 1998 English translation of the Missal - a rendering which was much more faithful to the Latin originals than the 1973 ICEL, translated into beautiful, poetic, proclaimable, memorable English - which was rejected by the Congregation for Divine Worship after being approved by all 11 English-speaking conferences of bishops - by 10 of those 11 with unanimous or near-unanimous support from the bishops.  You can read the whole sad and scandalous story in Bishop Maurice Taylor's "It's the Eucharist, Thank God," available from Decani Books.  Though it is, of course, not mentioned by Bishop Serratelli, it is important for understanding how we came to this moment and the present inadequate texts.

Joseph O'Leary
14 years 1 month ago
I noticed an amazing misprint in one of the preces for the 4th Sunday of Lent - "accompany" for "accomplish" to translate "operaris". Earlier I noticed the translation of the Roman Canon as published on the US Bishops' website made Mary the mother of Joseph her spouse; this was corrected when I pointed it out to Bp Trautman. The existence of such howlers suggests that NO ONE IS IN CHARGE of the new translation texts. The bishops signed off on them, did not even bother to read them. And the chief editors in Rome are far too busy with their international gadding about in pursuance of their agenda to bother to check the quality of the dreck they are dumping on the People of God. I predict that they will face a tsunami of rage.
Veronica Speranza
14 years 1 month ago

I don't know where all the rage will come from.  The people I've talked to about it in my contemporary parish think that the new translation is a good idea.  Too many people have been going through the motions without much thought these past forty years.  It's time for a fresh start.  Besides, this is an opportunity for catechisis on the Mass.  This will be a good change.  I believe most will welcome it.   

Joseph O'Leary
14 years 1 month ago
Miranda Shultz, have the people you talk to actually read the new translations carefully? Are they in the process of undergoing or giving catechetical formation on the new texts (not just the people's responses)?

In South Africa, among the only Catholic population exposed to the new texts, reactions have been entirely negative, ranging from rage to despair.

Opportunities for catechesis on the Mass we have always with us - every Sunday in fact. I think most priests and catechists will see the introduction of the new liturgy as a hard sell (Archbishop Vincent Nichols actually used that expression, though he is a warm advocate of the new texts) or a dispiriting chore.
Donald Baker
14 years 1 month ago

Thanks Colin.  I will look for the book by Maurice Taylor. The few pieces of that 1998 translation I saw were beautiful - I have looked for it all over the web, but could not find it. And Joe, thanks for giving a few examples of the "howlers" as well as revealing a fact that most Catholics simply do not realize: These translations were pushed through the USCCB. Most bishops are not capable of, nor do they have the time to evaluate them; therefore they are simply voted on, because they know other voices have Rome's ear and it does no good to complain, and we get the result.


Roy Van Brunt
14 years 1 month ago

I am a lay minsiter, active in liturgy at several parishes over many years on the east coast of the Unted States, and currently a parishioner and Pastoral Council member at a cathedral parish on the Gulf coast of Florida.  There is much talk about "catechesis" on this suject.  This is a major flaw, because the teaching is going to be particularized according to the ability of the person delivering it.  Who can teach what is universally held?  No one.  Each teaches what he or she knows and believes or understands, and does so in a way that is comfortable to them.  If it is done in homily, or in pre-Mass announcement, there is no opportunity for the dialogue that would complete such education.  As such, the very concept is intrinsically flawed, and the teaching will vary from cleric to cleric.  A poor outcome is inevitable.

David Madsen
14 years 1 month ago
Bishop Serratelli's article almost begs for a response and I will do so according to the order of (some of) the points he makes. First he cites Pope Paul VI and his plea for "...vernacular within the grasp of all, even children..." How then can he defend "consubstantial" or the slavish translation of "Et cum spiritu tuo"? Explain to my grandchild what the priest's spirit is. A few examples among many problematic, literal translations. And convoluted grammar is not beautiful; it is confusing. Next he points out the obvious: we humans are creatures of ritual. But he assures us that a change of language is not a change of ritual. For us in the pews, however, the language is a major, perhaps the greater, part of our participation in the ritual. The good Bishop then moves on to explain how the new translation preserves biblical imagery. This is all fine and good provided that the imagery is appropriate to its liturgical use. Jesus entered "under the roof" of the Roman centurion; by contrast I receive the Eucharist. Adapt the phrase or find a different text. And finally we are told that this unwarranted change is an "opportunity for genuine renewal of the council's vision." But John XXIII goes without mention and Paul VI's plea (above) is ignored. In the end change for the sake of change is pointless and change for the worse in indefensible. I am reminded of the children's story about the emperor with no clothes.
Joseph Mahon
14 years 1 month ago

Some of the new translation may be beautiful; however, introducing archaic words-gibbet of the cross-ain't gonna help me pray liturgically. I question the entire undertaking. Just suppose that all the time and money  that have gone into the preparation had been directed toward alleviating human misery around the world. The world is going to hell in a handbasket as the economy crumbles and we are rearranging liturgial chairs on the Titanic deck. If you want real liturgical reform, get the inclusive texts that have been developed and are being used by inclusive intentional communities across the country.

Phil Lacasse
14 years 1 month ago

Why is it, throughout all of the articles I've read (and their attendant comments), that I have the chilling feeling that we've all seen this before: in the launch of every Microsoft Windows platform? (Except that, in this case, we have no recourse: we are getting this change, like it or not.) I just hope we don't have the same issues with this as we've had with the computer programs (i.e.: it doesn't work properly)!!

Seriously: if, as mentioned in the above comments, the South African congregations disapproved of the translations ("... In South Africa, among the only Catholic population exposed to the new texts, reactions have been entirely negative, ranging from rage to despair."), WHY are the Bishops in charge of the project not paying attention, and seeing the proverbial "red flags"? Do they not think that there will be a serious backlash among the faithful? We're already seeing some negativity, and it hasn't even been fully released yet.

And, finally: Yes, this is supposed to be applicable to the entire English-speaking world; however, is there anyone, in other parts of the world, who normally speaks in such stilted, tongue-twisting terminology as what we have seen in examples so far? And how WILL the children do with all of this? Will they be able to understand what it is that they're saying?

My $0.02 (CDN) worth.

14 years 1 month ago


For five hundred years after The Council of Trent there were no changes in the language of the Roman Liturgy. It was Latin all the way down. Five centuries, no change. The Church never changes.  Change is bad. Comes Vatican II with major changes, especially liturgy in the vernaculars.  But resistance to change continues.  So a mere forty five years after Vatican II there are changes to make the vernaculars imitate Latin.  Those who criticize these regressive changes are now lectured on the importance of change.  Change is good, especially if it brings back Latin.  But if they get Latin back, change will be bad again. Maybe I watch too many Marx brothers movies, but I hope you get the point.

R. Francis Stevenson
13 years 1 month ago
Many of the posts talk about how the new missal uses words that are not easily "understood". In honor of the Annunciation this Friday (March 25th 2011), perhaps we could follow Mary's example. After-all, She found the word's of the angel hard to "understand", but yet in humble obedience she accepted these words as the Living Word of God. Something to ponder.

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