how are you doing with the new roman missal?

The above picture was posted on Facebook shortly after the New Roman Missal was introduced. It still makes me smile, and elicits a chuckle from all who see it. (I apologize for not giving credit to the original artist.) Hubby and I mimicked the hand-pumping seriousness of this little guy when we remembered the right response. Being a quick study, hubby’s track record was much better than mine. I’m still blurting out the occasional and also with you.

I still can’t wrap my mind and tongue around the Lord, I am not worthy. I’m sorry, but under my roof just sounds strange and clunky. And chalice instead of cup during the consecration prayer is still distracting; images of the holy-grail dance in my head.

The daily Collects (opening prayer) continue to elicit my sympathy for the priests who have to pronounce them. Here is today’s…

We invoke your mercy in humble prayer, O Lord, that you may cause us, your servants, corrected by penance and schooled by good works, to persevere sincerely in your commands and come safely to the paschal festivities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son…

I’ve read many books on the art of writing. The most valuable rule that I have learned is this. Keep your sentences simple. Do not use five words if you can say the same thing with two. Cut, cut, and cut some more! Sentences like the one above are crying out for an editor’s red marker.

The New Roman Missal has been with us for four months now. I am still not comfortable with it. I doubt that I ever will be. I’m still angered by the way it was imposed on us. The pamphlets and music sheets in the pews remind me of the financial burden it placed on parishes. I miss the well-loved mass arrangements that are suddenly banned. I feel sad about the whole mess. But that is me. And, I do tend to hold grudges.

How are you and your parish doing with the New Roman Missal? Has it become a welcome addition to your liturgy or a source of discomfort? Is the newness slowly dissipating with practice? Do you love it, hate it, or just not think about it? I’d love to hear from you.

20 thoughts on “how are you doing with the new roman missal?

  1. We have two priests in our parish, the younger of the two announced a week ago that he is going back to the Sacramentary and will not be using the New Roman Missal. Neither priest has ever used, “it will be shed for you and for many”; instead, they have continued to use, “it will be shed for you and for all”. Both priests perceive the new translation to be heretical in that regard, they believe that our Catholic belief is that Christ died for all. Neither do they use the word “chalice”, they prefer “cup” since Jesus himself used a simple cup at the Last Supper.
    “And with your spirit” has never happened for us, it is our custom for the priest to say, “the Lord is with you” and the response has remained the same, “and also with you”. Some parishioners are intentional about this response and have stated publicly that disembodying priests with the response “and with your spirit [only]” is the kind of thinking that has gotten the church into its’ present crisis. So, let’s not go there during liturgy.
    I think when people pray they use the language and style of their own spoken word. Many bi-lingual people pray in their first language, the language of their childhood. Isabella’s example from the Collect is difficult to read intentionally, and follow with any mindfulness. How are people to pray communally official prayers that do not follow familiar word patterns and sentence structures?
    Well, now we have a New Roman Missal is closer to the old Latin translation. Latin, of course, was the language of Jesus’ persecutors, I am sure in his day he cringed when he heard that foreign tong; perhaps, even now.

    1. Ray, I wonder how many priests out there are quietly refusing to use the new translation? I have not heard of any in my area, but surely admire your pastors. I read several commentaries prior to the missal’s implementation that predicted a silent revolt from the grass-roots. This is where it needs to come from. It won’t come from the bishops. Many were either silent or overly enthusiastic in promoting it.

  2. I hear you! I am still so frustrated with the whole thing. Today’s Collect is just one of countless examples that demonstrate the complete disregard for the people in the pews by those who composed this new missal. Such ridiculous language that the overwhelming majority of people the prayer is supposed to be offered on behalf of can’t even figure out without taking sufficient time to walk through it with focused thought. Don’t even get me started on the cost of all this. How is it that such a small few can decide what is best for so very many, without any consultation? The days of the old pay, pray and obey Catholics are gone. I can’t possibly ever see how this New Roman Missal will do great things to draw more of the lost into the fold. One hour a week is all we have to touch most people and this is what we reach out to them with. But then again I am just one of the lay faithful so what could I possibly know? Frustrated but faithful I remain.

  3. Hi Dan. You know a lot, my friend. I’m reminded of a favorite saying….the problem with some shepherds is that they think we all just dumb sheep. Those days are over, indeed. Oh, and I’m supposed to tell you that hubby gives you a big thumbs up on your comments. We remain faithfully united in frustration!

  4. I am not adjusting to the new missal.l don’t say the new words. In fact I find myself not praying anything. The longer I am subjected to this the more detached I become. Something has died for me. I am a cradle catholic, lots of catholic education, a more liberal catholic. I serve in the music ministry. Part of me has died. It was difficult for me to embrace catholicism pre- new missal.For 30 years I have hoped for women and married priests, for inclusive language. It just seems to get worse every day. I continue to explore other options while remaining catholic. There is not a lot of good stuff out there. Evangelicals seem to diminish women. The Episcopal Church here is structurally dark, old and sucks the life out of me when I enter it. I don’t know where I’m going to be one year from now. I am quite certain that that I will not “drink the koolaid” as they say. It is just so sad.

    1. Sad indeed, Anthony. You are not alone. The swinging of the pendulum further and further to the right worries many, and the introduction of the new missal just may be the tipping factor for some. And, it shouldn’t be. Sadly, we are focusing on imposing some kind of artificial unity instead of embracing our diversity and allowing for many expressions of our one faith. We need minds, hearts and voices in our church who continue to promote a truly CATHOLIC church – one that is inclusive and diverse in its universality. Hang in there!

  5. It is what it is. I do not know if I love or hate the new translations, simply because they are new to me and I do not know them well yet. I am reminded of a story told by my mother-in-law about her mother-in-law around the time of Vatican II. Asked what she thought of all the changes (way more than we are seeing now!), Grammy’s reply was that they had nothing to do with her faith. I try to adopt her attitude. Yes, the new collects are wordy, but in the spirit of full, active, and conscious participation, praying over them prior to Mass (as recommended in by Gilles Mongeau in his new book) is much more productive than complaining about their grammatical deficiencies when they are proclaimed at Mass. This new translation, formally requested by John Paul II back in 2000, was pre-determined – it was known right after Vatican II that a further, more complete translation would be introduced in the future simply because of the haste with which the second one was done. So it really was not hurriedly imposed on us – much thought and work went in to it’s production by much greater minds than mine. As a music director and accompanist, I do miss some of the old mass settings that I enjoyed, but new ones will be composed. (And some of the old ones were horrid, to be honest.) And I do appreciate the stronger scriptural references inherent in the liturgy that weren’t there in the last translation. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be quoting Pierre Trudeau, especially in this context, but here goes: “The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshiped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness.”

  6. Thanks Chandra. It’s good to stop and think of the huge adjustments that had to be made post-Vatican II. Change is always disconcerting, and the changes were certainly earth-moving at the time. But, I find it hard to see the present changes as a positive movement towards the future. For me, the language of the new missal seems more of a regressive step backwards.

  7. Chandra, thanks for you excellent insights, here is more about this topic from where I stand – in an inner-city parish and doing inner-city ministries. Among other things I do prison ministry in Camden, NJ where some of the prisoners cannot read English; and if the new translation is convoluted and confusing for educated Catholics, it is literally impossible for these inner-city inmates to make any sense out of it at all.

    Here is a quote from Jamie L. Mason that appears to explain how the new translation of the missal became synonymous with “speaking the unknown tongue” for some of the faithful:

    “More than 7,000 consultants worked on various aspects of ICEL’s (International Commission for English in the Liturgy) translation of the new Missal. Every translator was appointed by invitation only. The process was highly secretive. No progress reports were ever published, and no drafts were made available to those who requested them. This was a marked departure from the protocol followed by ICEL in the 1980s and 1990s.
    ICEL completed its translation of the new Missal in 2008, and the text was handed over to Vox Clara and the Vatican. Rome made more than 10,000 changes to ICEL’s text, many of them unexplainable. The resulting translations from the Latin were so literal that some of the renderings in English are convoluted, if not confusing.

    Worst of all, the Vatican’s version wasn’t based on the final draft submitted by ICEL. Bureaucrats in the Vatican dumped the many years of work by the over 7000 consultants. Even though more than 100 English bishops approved ICEL’s work, Rome trumped them all. Rome’s primary emphasis had shifted from respect for receiving cultures to respect for, if not idolization of, the original Latin language of the Missal.” (Jamie L. Mason, NCR)

    I guess what is most upsetting to some of us is that many bishops know the new translation is no working for many Catholics, but they are afraid to say so. Thanks to John Paul II who appointed only fearfully obedient men as bishops.

  8. What an amazing dialogue! Interestingly enough, the new translation reminds me of my childhood. Briefly, when I was little, mass was in Latin. One year I went to Summer Camp…the only year I went…this is why I remember it. When I came back, there was no more Latin! Everything was in English..and the priest faced us! I sat in the choir loft of the crowded church and was amazed that the priest didn’t have his back to us…and he was not standing by the Tabenacle for long periods of time! What happened? I remember saying the words Under My Roof…

    Now, I try to think of those who may have seen Jesus…he went to their homes. Some of them said, Lord, you’re coming to my house? I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof…just say the word, Lord…just say it and my soul shall be healed…

    Some of the other items are not so comfortable..but the words may come a bit smoother because I remember them as taught by nuns in grammar school. Yes, I’m defining myself in terms of a generation…and I understand the difficulty. When I drive to work I listen to a portion of the mass during my communte. Some of the prayers are not in my vernacular, and yes, I have a hard time with them. I tell myself the broadcast is reaching a broader audience so I try to keep an open mind…but I’m challenged as it’s distracting to me.

    To Anthony – very powerful. I’ve known dark times and realized that the Lord always waited for me, ever faithful, as I took one breath at a time. Bless you.

    Thanks, Isabella and everyone for sharing your thoughts.

  9. I have multiple chemical sensitivities, and since no parishes that I am aware of are open to going scent-free, I watch Daily Mass (and Mass for Shut-Ins) on TV or on YouTube. I absolutely do NOT like the new Mass changes. I find most of them (especially the Eucharistic Consecration prayers) very la-dee-da. From what I understand of Jesus, He is not a hoity-toity type of Person. He was born in a barn/cave. He hung out with EVERYBODY. His main concern is for the heart. He meets people right where they are. Honestly, I try to ignore the Mass changes and just focus on Jesus. I think these changes are a huge mistake.

    1. P.S. What bothers me the most is that I feel pushed aside, especially during the Eucharistic Consecration. There is nothing more intimate than the Eucharistic. Jesus — the One who spins galaxies — comes to us, on our tongues. With the new language, I feel pushed away at arm’s length (but not by Jesus Himself) during moments which should be very personal and intimate.

  10. Most people in the pews seem to be complying as indicated by the strength of the responses. Catholics seem to go along with the dictates and not say much. I’m trying not to hate it! But the words don’t come easy and hearing the words of the priest is not helping either. The words may have made sense many decades ago but why do we have to have a literal translation of the Latin that doesn’t make sense now? I have been to at least five different parishes since the new wording and have not seen any priest not going along with it. I would like to see that! Sometimes I just say the former words instead of reading the new ones off the card. Is conscious participation just going along with what is handed down? Thank you, Isabella, for continuing this ministry.

  11. Thank you to all for these thoughtful responses. Here’s to continuing the dialogue on the new missal – so silence will not be misinterpreted as acceptance. 😉

  12. I am (sort of) working on remembering most of the responses–trying not to be a stubborn parishioner EXCEPT for the creed. I will not give into “consubstantial” and “incarnate!” I always proudly say instead, “one in being with the Father” and “born of the Virgin Mary.” But I totally agree with many of your respondents…the new language seems to put me at “arm’s length” from Jesus, rather than inviting Him in and bringing Him closer.

  13. hello again. I came away from Palm Sunday mass discouraged again. Each time I hear the use of the word CHALICE and that Jesus died for MANY I cringe. Add that to the Creed changes, the awkward prayers that the priest is to pray and it puts me over the top each time. I suppose I am a stubborn parishioner. I wonder if I will ever find a way to reconcile with the changes without compromising what I really believe, think and feel. Ugh.

  14. It makes me feel better knowing that there are so many Catholics out there that dislike the new missal. As others have said, I too, feel pushed away and I’m astonished at everyone’s apparent acceptance and question-less implementation of the prayers when I’m at mass. I find myself using an former missal so I don’t forget the prayers I grew up with (those that were “valid” only a few months ago); I even read the priest’s part to myself. I guess above all this, I can’t help but think of the time, resources and money put forth for this endeavor; surely there were (and are) more pressing issues in/against the Church to attend to. If anyone knows of a parish that hasn’t implemented the new missal in Southern California, let me know–I’ll be there.

  15. Brian, I think most churches decided to “drink the Kool Aid” so to speak.
    Sometimes, when I am singing with my music group for mass I am astounded by the cheery little “and with your Spirit” that comes rolling off their tongues. My response to it always seems to be sadness. I wonder why I can’t get past it. But I can’t. Lent has seemed weird, like I am watching it all happen from the outside looking in. It is a long walk in the desert.

    Take care all.

  16. I’m hoping your church gets another revision at some point. As someone interested in Liturgy in general I have looked at both and didn’t really like either the old or new.

    In college (about 10 years ago) I was moving away from my Baptist roots and looked into both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. And honestly one of the turn offs about Rome for me was the (now older) mass. It seemed very saccharine to me. I eventually went with the Episcopal Church for a variety of more theological reasons, but liturgy did play a role. I think some of the new missal has some good corrections, but the English is just wooden. In looking at the Latin, some parts of the older one do seem to be overly periphrastic and have a bit of cheese (we Episcopalians have plenty of that too so it’s a bit hypocritical I know), but the newer one is somewhat convoluted.

    For instance: the one for after Easter:
    Merciful Father, may these mysteries give us new purpose and bring us to a new life in you. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

    Graciously be present to your people, we pray, O Lord, and lead those you have nourished with heavenly mysteries to pass to a new way of life from the old. Through Christ our Lord.

    Why not something like?:
    O Lord, be graciously present to your people, and lead us who have been nourished (or fed?) with these heavenly mysteries to pass from the old life into the new. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

    I understand the need for some technical language (I’m not sure what the hang up of “incarnation” is though, I’m not sure if born of the BVM communicates the same idea as Almighty God taking on human flesh [?]) but I agree that Christians do need to find clear ways to communicate the faith to the world, and that will involve some update of language.

    I can see the point of “many” vs. “all”. This really depends on how much emphasis a person puts on either directly citing scripture or interpreting scripture in a liturgical context. And honestly, I think different Christians just disagree on that spectrum. It is kind of like the issue of dynamic vs formal equivalence in bible translation.

    Anyway, just a concerned outsiders perspective. 🙂

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