Current Comment

The New Mass

In Advent 2011, there may be plenty of surprised Catholics in your parish. The Vatican recently approved the final version of the new English-language translation of the Mass texts after a decades-long, byzantine process. America readers will be familiar with the controversy surrounding the approval (as well as the “What if We Just Said, ‘Wait’?” movement). Overall, the new translation is a word-for-word replication of the approved Latin text rather than one aimed at conveying a more general “sense” of the Latin. A few Catholics will be delighted by the more high-toned language; some will be dismayed at overly fussy words; most will probably miss the “old” Mass (a k a the Novus Ordo), which did not seem to need much tinkering. There are some striking changes. Christ now died not “for all,” but “for many” (the original Latin is pro multis). For a time, then, both priests and the faithful will have their eyes glued on their sacramentaries and missalettes.

In preparation for the introduction of the new texts, the U.S. bishops have announced an ambitious catechetical program. But is this a case of closing the church doors after the liturgical horses have fled? It is unlikely that any catechesis will convince Catholics who think otherwise that the new translations are an improvement over the old. Perhaps the best that the bishops’ program can do is remind Catholics of the centrality of the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” as the Second Vatican Council taught. The Mass is still the place where Catholics meet God in the most profound way. And that is the invitation for all, not just many.


Who Is Not Coming?

A report issued in September by the Pew Hispanic Center, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that the size of the unauthorized immigrant population has been shrinking since mid-decade and continues to shrink—a marked reversal. The inflow of unauthorized immigrants was nearly two-thirds smaller between March 2007 and March 2009 than it was from 2000 to 2005. As a result experts have lowered their estimate of the total number of unauthorized immigrants living in the country: from 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009. The decrease means nearly a million fewer people are living (not to mention working and paying taxes) in the United States. The drop has been most notable in U.S. states along the southeast coast and in the mountain west, especially Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Who are no longer coming? Mostly they are unauthorized immigrants from Latin America (the Caribbean, Central America and South America), but excluding Mexico. The number from Latin America declined by 22 percent between 2007 and 2009, while the number from Mexico peaked at around 7 million in 2007 and has leveled off.

This report tracks a notable trend reversal but offers no explanation for it. It does not show that increased border security or stronger anti-immigrant laws or fewer job opportunities are responsible. Nor does it suggest why the number of Latin American immigrants, in particular, is declining. Some will find the drop itself a positive development, a big problem shrinking, whatever the reason. Yet few big problems solve themselves. In this case the need for immigration reform at the federal level remains as long as there are millions of unauthorized immigrants among us.

Developing Obesity

Hunger and starvation continue to afflict the world’s poorest countries, but in some poor nations obesity has also emerged as a growing problem. In the past two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in developing countries that have been adopting a more Western lifestyle in terms of food consumption, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. A study by the United Nations in 1999 found obesity in all developing parts of the world, and it tends to grow as income increases. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the world’s hungriest people live, an increase in obesity is taking place, especially among urban women. The World Health Organization has pointed out that this pandemic originated in the United States, crossed to Europe and the world’s other rich nations, and then appeared in even the world’s poorest countries, especially in their urban areas.

Dr. Barbara Burlingame, a nutrition officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, has noted that obesity often leads to micronutrient deficiency, which can lead in turn to such health threats as anemia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While starvation-level hunger remains one of the world’s most serious food problems, the growing level of obesity in developing nations has created a new challenge that calls for more attention to the quality as well as the quantity of food. Much of the blame can be placed on multinational companies that market cheap, highly refined fats, oils and carbohydrates. The influence of the West, with its penchant for high-calorie and sugary fast foods, is a growing culprit that must be dealt with, along with profit-driven multinational companies.

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C Walter Mattingly
8 years 1 month ago
There are profit-driven multinational corporations which market brocolli, there are profit-driven multinational corporations that market tofu and yogurt, and there are profit-driven multinational corporations that market potato chips and beer.  Unless we outlaw the products, corporations will sell the legal product that consumers want to buy. If the consumer wants to eat more potato chips than carrots, more baconcheeseburgers than fish or tofu, it is simply their choice. It is our responsibility to educate them and provide them caloric information and the value of exercise as opposed to sedentary habits, offering them such opportunities, but at some point adults have to become responsible for what they put in their mouths and whether they chose to exercise or not.
At the school level, where habits are formed and where lunches are subsidized by the government, we would be wise to follow Michelle Obama's suggestions on providing more healthy choices for the children. PE should also be a part of the school curriculum to further encourage our sedentary children to develop good exercise habits.
8 years 1 month ago

I have worked for large organizations my entire working career.  Change is a constant.  The one lesson I have learned is we need to embrace change to make it work.  It seems to me that the “Liberal” establishment in the Church does not give due credit to the intelligence to the person in the pew.  I do not think that we will have trouble adapting to the new language.  Give it a chance.  Embrace it.  Encourage others.  The constant criticism is not helpful. The decision has been made.  Now our role is to make it work.

William Bagley
8 years 1 month ago
Re: the "new" Missal

Let's not throw in the towel.  There is more at stake than simple phrasing.  The arcane and archaic phrasing of the new Mass translation has the power to further marginalize smart young people.  No.  I think it's time for a conversation... between pastors and congregations (the bishops are surely not listening).   Let there be two Rites, let certain churches maintain the "old" form, let people vote with their feet (and their heads and hearts).  Whatever the choice, it's not time to acquiesce.  We are losing young Catholics faster than we are losing vocations... they are the Church's legacy and it's time to smartly support them.  No amount of catachesis will cause anyone to mistake a bowl of feathers for a bowl of gold.  It is time for laypeople, priests, sisters and brothers to speak up with real courage, it is not time to roll over and play dead. 
8 years 1 month ago
You say that come April 2011 there will be many surprised Catholics and you also say that the ambitious catechetical program of the bishops will unlikely convince many that the new translation is an improvement.  It is possible that the goal of the program is not exclusively to convince anyone of the "improvement" but to at least explain the rationale.  Yes, there are those who will disagree that this is an improvement but no active Catholic should be "surprised" or ignorant of the rationale!  In addition maybe some who agree or disagree will learn something about the Mass.
8 years 1 month ago
As one of those "young people" (I am a 19 year old engineering student), I do not think the new translation (note: it's not a "new Mass"-it's still the novus ordo) will drive us away. In fact, most of my peers who are aware of the new translation are eagerly looking forward to it. My greatest concern is that "the ambitious catechetical program" will not actually be realized, and then we will have the problem of people showing up unprepared to find that Mass is suddenly "different". While I approve of the new translation, there is something horribly disconcerting about unexpected changes in the Mass. I certainly hope that pastors will talk about this and go over what some of the changes are and why so people will not be taken by surprise.

The sections of the new translation I have seen do not seem to be to hard to understand. For some reason, the specific case of the word "ineffable" seems to have taken on a life of it's own. For what it's worth, I know exactly what ineffable means-because my junior year at a Jesuit high school, my Sacraments and Prayer teacher explained it (and why we need a word like ineffable to even begin to talk about God!) on the first day of class. It took him about 30 seconds. I prefer a translation that is accurate in talking about God-even if it occasionally makes me learn new things!

Fernando Diaz del Castillo Z.
8 years 1 month ago
It's sad, but it seeems that AMERICA will criticize almost anything comes from Rome.
Craig McKee
8 years ago
"The Vatican recently approved the final version of the new English-language translation of the Mass texts after a decades-long, byzantine process."

Technically, YES, but actually NO. The real problem with the NEW translations is not the language of the product, but the reversal of the PROCESS implemented by Vatican II empowering indigenous episcopal conferences to produce their own translations. In this case, the authority of the local English speaking bishops of the world to generate liturgical texts was subsumed and usurped by Rome as ICEL (the International Committee on English in the Liturgy) was attacked and replaced by the VOX CLARA (as if the Latin nomenclature doesn't betray a papal restorationist agenda begun by JP2 and continued by B16). That's the problem. The language -rubber stamped by bishops' conferences around the world and returned for the official imprimatur- is but a symptom of a faulty process which is diametrically opposed to the reforms of the Council.
Michael Kramer
8 years ago

I am 23 and am another youth absolutely yearning for the new translation. The current translation has parts that are slightly off and others that are just flat embarrasing.

1. Greeting Reponse:

    Original Latin: Et cum spiritu tuo
    Current English Text: And also with you
    Corrected Translation: And with your spirit

Spanish has always translated this correctly as "y con tu espiritu"

The "espiritu" here is the indellible mark on the priests soul. It will be good to remind the priests and people of this. It is from the earliest Christian times, and faithful to the Latin.

2. Confiteor:
    Original Latin: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa
    Current English Text: through my own fault
    Corrected Translation: through my own fault (2x), through my most grevious fault

Can't really add much here, again Spanish has it right. 

3. Immeadiately prior to the words of Consecration

    Original Latin: accipens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas
    Current English Text: he took the cup 
    Corrected English Translation: he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands

This one makes it obvious that the current text is inadequate. 

4. The words of Consecration over the contents of the Chalice
     Original Latin: pro multis
     Current English Text: for all
     Corrected English Translation: for many

Why did they change the words over the Chalice in 1967. "for all" is just wrong. Multis means many. Omnibus is all. Every Eastern Rite and all of the Orthodox Churches use "many". Saints and theologians explained that in the Consecration the efficiency of Christ's Sacrifice is spoken of, not its sufficiency. 

Christ died for all. No one who supports the corrected translation denies that. However, not everyone will accept the fruits of His Sacrifice. It is more likely that those unhappy with the correction are unhappy with the idea of people actually being in Hell. But thats reality. We need this translation.

John Walton
8 years ago
Glad my wife kept her St. Joseph's Hymnal - the one she got in the pre-Vatican II era of First Communion gifts.
I would suggest that reading an inter-linear Greek-English translation of the NT would illuminate our understanding of the texts.  
C Walter Mattingly
8 years ago
An interesting sideline to young Michael Kramer's intelligent response (his comment on the possible subtext involved with substituting the incorrect term "all" for the accurate "many" is most informative) to America's New Mass article is how much more faithful the Spanish text of the mass is to the New Mass tr5anslation than is our current American translation. As the number of practicing Caucasian catholics in America is on the wane while the number of such Latin catholics is on the rise, I suspect this rapidly growing minority will find the New Mass translation more faithful to their existing text and therefore comfortingly familiar rather than disconcertingly new.
Frank Peters
8 years ago
Dear Editor: My comments are in the form of questions.  They deal with how and why.  In the last sentence you finish by saying, "The influence of the West, with its penchant for high-calorie and sugary fast foods, is a growing culprit that must be dealt with, along with profit-driven multinational companies."  How do you propose to deal with profit-driven companies?  Keep in mind that the profit motive has done more to advance life than any other motive since civilization began.  I also want to know why.  In your Opinion, you never write about the type of governments in power in any of these countries.  Keep in mind that statism has done more to starve life than all the profit-making companies combined.  
LaRue Withers
8 years ago
One of the great losses in the RC Church is the Latin Mass.  It could easily have been offered at least once on a Sunday as not.  English will never bring back its beauty.  As to the "new" translation (which is actually not "new" but "true" to the original) it could be used either alternately or at different masses also as long as the one used now is true to the meaning of the original.  I suppose that is too simple.

". . . the profit motive has done more to advance life than any other motive since civilization began."  I think not.  The profit motive has provided the situation that this country is in today and has been responsible for things like slavery, child labor, deaths in dangerous jobs, etc. . .
Profit is not evil but neither is it eternal.  It matters how you get it and what you do with it after you have it.  If we really want to be Christ-like, then we must live as He did and obey what he commands, e.g. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal. . ."  It was NOT a SUGGESTION.

Its' where the rubber meets the road.  Much profit in third-world countries determined to get these people to use powdered milk, but failed to teach them to boil the water; it led Ford to manufacture an automobile that exploded when hit from the rear, when it would have taken a mere $15.00 per car to correct.  Capitalism is fine as long as there are rules to prevent suffering because of greed, but profit is many times what leads people to feel abused when they have rules.  If we had not needed rules, GOd would not have provided for us the Ten Commandments that, when you actually obey them, prevent us from harming ourselfs.
8 years ago
Regarding The New Mass....I'm sorry, but it is not OK to re-write the Bible.  No one, not even a committee of Bishops, is authorized to do so.  But that is just what happened when the American English translation of the Latin Roman Missal was publshed after Vatican II.  In your article, you cite (with disapproval) how the current translation of "for all" is being changed to "for many," as if the Vatican was forcing us to be less inclusve.  But are you not aware that almost the entire Mass is language taken directly from the Bible?  Mark 14:24 (RSV): "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."  The original Greek word in the verse is "polys", which translates into English as "many."  Then, the Roman Missal translated that Greek word "polys" into Latin as "multis," which again translates into English as "many."  Somehow, when the Latin Roman Missal was translated by the American Bishops after Vatican II, the word was changed to "all."  That is not a translation, but a re-write, and no one is authorized to re-write the Bible.  The new Mass, effective on Advent, 2011, is simply a case of the Vatican insisting that the language of the Bible be translated properly.  Virtually all of the changes in the new Mass are to fix these "translation" (or re-write) errors in order to correctly reflect the Biblical language.  If this is explained to the people in the pew, almost all will be glad the changes were made.
8 years ago
I had four years of intense Latin education.  I don't miss the Latin mass, either John XXIII missal or Paul VI missal.  If I wanted the experience of a language I don't know, I have the opportunity of Mass in Spanish, Portugese, Vietnamese, Korean, and lately several other European and African languages.

I had four years of theology/philosophy (+ liberal arts for degree in physics).  I am going to miss the current English translation.  It sounds like English to me, not 19th century over-decorated English trying to act like Latin.  An English translation of Latin can never mirror the spareness of Latin.  In that respect, "Quod scriptsi, scriptsi" cannot be made into English that has the elegance of the Latin, no matter the yearning and nostalgia.  My German ancestors liked what was called "cake-work" decorations on their houses.  This translation appears to veer in that direction.
Thomas Rowan
8 years ago
I work as a spiritual care provider in a hospital in an urban poor area of the Bronx.  New patients are asked their religion.  There are many persons who respond "none".  Others carry the "unknown" label.  In speaking with the patients who are listed as "none", many express faith in God but no longer go to Church. Others wish to expirment and really want to say that they are "non-denominational".  A few mentioned hypocrisy as their reason for abandoning the Church.  Another trend I see is a weakening of faith as one goes from older to younger patients.  I am a Vatican II Catholic and do not appreciate not being consulted about this change.  I believe we are the people of God and the Church belongs to all God's people.  This being the case, I will not embrace this change and will probably remain silent during the prayers.  I also had lived in Brazil and there the response to "The Lord be with you" is "He is amongst us".  Say it enough and you come to believe it and see Christ in your neighbor. 


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