Change is on the Horizon

The Roman Missal, which contains the prayers used in the celebration of our Catholic Mass, is being revised (again!), with the new translations taking effect in the U.S. on Nov. 27, the First Sunday of Advent.

Now I imagine plenty of folks are already grumbling about having to learn new responses. We gave it a test run this weekend at church, and I heard lots of people trying to wing it with the “old” responses (this, despite having a handy cheat card in every pew!).

The text we’ve been using has been in effect since the 1970s and frankly, many of us have become somewhat complacent with the current verbiage. Because it’s so familiar to us, we recite it automatically with little thought to what we’re saying.

I can’t imagine God wants us to approach our sacred Liturgy that way!

So the Church in her wisdom has some new words for us, words that more closely follow the original Latin, words that parallel the other major language groups who never got away from the Latin.

The first major change will be the people’s response to the priest’s greeting, “The Lord be with you.”

What we have been saying is, “And also with you.” This will be changing to “And with your spirit.”

See, it’s not a big change, but it’s one we laity will find tough at first (due, perhaps, to how often the greeting is exchanged). But it’s designed to follow Sacred Scripture as well as to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Most of the other major parts of the Mass, including the Penitential Act, Gloria, Creed, Mystery of Faith, and even Sanctus are undergoing change. Not big changes, mind you, but different wording here and there.

And it’s not just the people’s part that will change; priests, too, will have new words to learn. So we’ll probably see our priests, who now say Mass by heart, scrambling to read the changes until they, too, learn them!

Change is something most of us dread. It yanks us out of our comfort zone and puts us on shaky ground.

But all change isn’t bad. As one who studied four years of Latin, I’m eager for these changes. I hope the unfamiliar words will force us to wake up, pay attention, and appreciate the beauty of our Liturgy, and then to grow more fully in our faith.