New Roman Missal makes debut
The first Sunday of Advent ushered in the new translation of the Roman Missal – the prayers and responses used during Mass – and as expected, there was a lot of verbal fumbling while parishioners of the Archdiocese of New Orleans attempted to familiarize themselves with the new language.
But, overall, priests reported a positive experience among their parishioners.
“There were no great problems, just a little confusion that will work its way out in time,” said Msgr. Andrew Taormina, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Metairie.
Father Michael Schneller, pastor of St. Ann Church in Metairie, said he had expected a “Pentecost experience” in which people might be confused by hearing different languages or dialects. But his parishioners seemed to be very attuned to the changes and had few problems with the new prayers, he said.
“We did an excellent job in preparing our people,” Father Schneller said, citing the parish’s use of bulletin inserts provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a concise, easy-to-follow prayer response card.
“People’s comments as they left Mass were generally positive,” Father Schneller said. “I made an effort to interject a little of my own humor where appropriate. My head and eyes were glued to the missal when I was at the altar.”
Msgr. Lanaux Rareshide, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Slidell, said his parish also provided prayer response cards and even splashed the new responses on church walls using an overhead projector.
“That made it easy for parishioners to follow along,” Msgr. Rareshide said. “There were a few positive comments about the priests singing the parts of the Mass.”
At Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Oblate Father Anthony Rigoli said he hung a banner from the pulpit that reads: “And with your spirit.”
“Everyone has that response down pat,” Father Rigoli said.
The new Roman Missal is much larger and thicker than the previous edition, checking in at more than 1,500 pages. The expanded book contains daily and Sunday Masses and also Masses for feast days and other special rites. The book is fairly heavy, which may make it difficult for younger altar servers to hold for the priest.
“We have stopped having the altar servers hold the book,” Msgr. Rareshide said.
Some light moments
Franciscan Father Dennis Bosse, pastor of St. Mary of the Angels in New Orleans, said the first Mass provided some light moments when people forgot the new response to “The Lord be with you.” It was supposed to be “And with your spirit,” but quite a few stayed faithful to the old wording, “And also with you.”
“There was laughter in making the old responses,” Father Bosse said.
Father Walter Austin, pastor of Ascension of Our Lord Church in LaPlace, said his parishioners appreciated his careful, measured tone in expressing the new prayers.
“Because the translation conveys the sense of sacredness in tone and language, I found myself overly careful praying the text in order to get the flow of the long sentences,” he said. “Apparently, that very reverent tone became apparent to some of the parishioners based on their comments. I believe the best way we, as priests, can help people make the transition is if they see the enthusiasm in how we pray and celebrate the Mass.”
Benedictine Father Jonathan DeFrange, pastor of St. Benedict Church in St. Benedict, had more substantive issues with the new translation, particularly with the wording that has been approved by the U.S. bishops and by the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith following years of consultation.
“Most disturbing” in the new translation, Father DeFrange said, was changing the wording of the consecration so that it now reads that Christ’s blood “will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.” The phrase “for many” is a literal translation of the Latin “pro multis.”
“It has been the teaching of the church from the beginning that Christ died for all,” Father DeFrange said. “No matter how much the bishops say the teaching has not changed, the words being used say otherwise.”
The USCCB Web site offers the following instruction:
“‘For many’ is a more accurate translation of the Latin phrase ‘pro multis’ than the present translation. This is also the wording used in the Biblical narrative account of the Last Supper found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.”
Continuing, the USCCB says: “It is a dogmatic teaching of the Church that Christ died on the cross for all men and women. The expression ‘for many,’ while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s own willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the many to whom the text refers.”