It`s over a month since the new translation of the Roman Missal was introduced into all English-speaking dioceses around the world. Has it made any difference in our liturgical worship? Has it, as promised, sent our prayers mystically soaring on Latin-gilded wings? Have our devotions become more meaningful thanks to the theological richness of phrases from bygone days? These are still the early days, but here are some thoughts from my wee corner of the world…
First of all, I appreciated the low-key approach of my parish to the Missal. There was no hoopla, or long lectures rationalizing the translation. We just did it; with expected stumbles along the way. But then came Christmas, when pews are overflowing with visitors.
The new translation added to the unease felt by some of our sisters and brothers who join us for special feast days and celebrations of life`s passages. Eager responses to familiar prayers were cut short as mistakes were realized. Folks fumbled through pamphlets. Some gave up and followed the prayers in silence. One young person summed it up this way, “I`m an intelligent person. Coming to Mass made me feel stupid. I don`t know what I`m supposed to say anymore!” This saddened me. We`re supposed to promote a spirit of welcome and hospitality within our worshipping community. Will this new language deepen separations and build walls between those who are “in” and those who are “out”?
And, it’s not only the occasional church goers that are feeling stupid. I attend Mass regularly and I`m still responding with a warm and friendly “And also with you”! The feeling of stupidity is quickly followed by either an embarrassed giggle, or anger and frustration. And then I have to struggle to regain a prayerful mind-set. So much for deepening my sense of devotion!
I use the Canadian Living with Christ missalette for praying the daily scripture readings. The difference in wording of the Collect,(previously known as the Opening Prayer), reflects the style of language in the new translation. On the page, it stands in sharp contrast to the clean simplicity of our NRSV Lectionary. Here is a sentence from today’s Collect,
O God, who in the blessed child-bearing of the holy Virgin Mary kept the flesh of your Son free from the sentence incurred by the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have been taken up into this new creation, may be freed from the ancient taint of sin.
Difficult words to read. Even more difficult to speak out loud in a smooth and flowing manner.
I’m trying my hardest to give this Missal a chance. Will I ever get used to hearing “chalice” rather than “cup”? Will I remember to invite Jesus “under my roof”? Can I eventually embrace the renewed focus on our abject sinfulness with the requisite beating of the breast? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear of your experiences with the New Roman Missal one month later…