Practicing Catholics all over the English-speaking world will certainly have noticed major changes to the language used in weekly Mass that began on the first Sunday of Advent. For example, instead of responding to the priest’s “The Lord be with you” with the ever-familiar “and also with you,” parishioners uncertainly mumbled the new text:
“and with your spirit.”
These revisions, the first made by the Vatican in approximately 40 years and the biggest since Vatican II, are meant to bring the Mass prayers more in line with original Latin translations. The changes have met with a great variety of responses.
While some see it as helping individuals come to closer communion with the Church, many (including myself) view the new language as confusing, awkward and unnecessary. The primary reason for my opposition to the change is the sheer fact that it seems slightly advanced for the common Catholic.
Words such as consubstantial are so grandiose that it is possible for the meaning of the entire prayer to be lost on the individual church-goer. While I understand that the language is meant to bring the church under a more universal umbrella, it quite simply confuses people, having the opposite effect.
Just last week, when some of the congregation stumbled on the new words, a woman held up her pamphlet outlining the changes and waved it around to the entire church, clearly annoyed at their mistakes. However, it is unreasonable to expect parishioners who have often known nothing except the old responses to so quickly change their old ways. For the time being at least, these are simply distractions that take away from the entire purpose of going to Mass: to give thanks to God.
I also think the new language separates the global church in subtle ways. For example, instead of the old “We believe…,” parishioners use “I believe….” Instead of coming together to worship, I feel more secluded.
Of course, these are just my personal feelings as a practicing Catholic who is concerned about the direction the Church is taking its followers.
I do not profess to know a substantial amount of theology or the inner workings of the Vatican. I am also sure that with time, these changes will again become automatic (which is not necessarily a good thing). Until then, though, it seems the Church is attempting to fix a problem that isn’t broken.