Despite some glitches, introduction of new missal goes well

Detroit — Depending on where one went to Mass last weekend, the first experience of mandatory use of the new Roman Missal either went smoothly or involved a bit of confusion.

But Daniel McAfee, director of the archdiocesan Office of  Worship, said most reports he was receiving Monday were of positive experiences with the revised Mass texts.

“Most people think it’s not that big of a deal,” he said.

Still, some priests got tripped up a bit by the changes in the layout of the new English edition of the Roman Missal.

“There was a lot of page-flipping at one of the parishes I was at,” McAfee said of his own experience.

And, of course, some parishioners occasionally stumbled when it came to their responses, as they too had to get used to the revised texts. He said some people were still saying “And also with you” out of habit early in the Mass, but everyone seemed to be saying “And with your spirit” by the end.

Parishes generally had made efforts to prepare parishioners for the change, and some had taken advantage of the permission to begin introducing the revisions more than a month prior. That permission, however, applied only to Masses where the changed portions were sung; if spoken, they could not be used until this past weekend.

McAfee expressed confidence that both priests and parishioners will have overcome any awkwardness within weeks, as they become more familiar with the revisions. He said the Worship Office would be sending out hints to priests about matters such as adjusting to the new phrasing of some of the revisions, which mirror the syntax of the original Latin, or being careful about not omitting the “Let us pray” that follows the Gloria during seasons such as Advent and Lent when the Gloria is omitted.

“That happened at both of the parishes I was at,” he said.

Barb Valentic, of St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, said the first weekend went well at the Grosse Pointe Park parish.

She said the Augustinian priests who staff the parish had done a good job of explaining the coming changes in the preceding weeks, and that the pastor, Fr. David Brecht, OSA, had symbolically carried the old missal with him as he processed out at the previous Sunday’s Mass.

Valentic, who chairs the parish’s Worship Commission and is a catechist, said she finds the new translation “beautiful, its language reverent and faithful.”

“I enjoy listening to what the priest is saying, and I think the people in the pews had the same reaction – at least I didn’t hear any grumbling,” she said.

“Of course, I grew up with “Et cum spiritu tuo,” so “And with your spirit” isn’t that different,” she added.

McAfee said the revised texts are not only “a little more poetic,” but also better convey just what is said in the Latin version of the Mass, which is considered the definitive version to which all vernacular translations must be true.

But he emphasized that the Mass being celebrated in English is still the “New Mass” – the Novus Ordo Mass, not an English translation of the TridentineMass.

The differences between the wording of the new edition of the Roman Missal and its predecessor is due to a different approach to the translation of the Latin, McAfee explained.

He said the previous version was done on the basis of “dynamic equivalence,” which seeks to convey the concepts but allows the translator a great deal of liberty in doing so. The new version, on the other hand, was done on the basis of “formal equivalence,” which seeks to be a more precise — though still not slavish — translation, better reflecting the nuances of the original, even if that means the use of words or structures that seem a bit old-fashioned.

“Like anything, we have to give it our best effort, and have to give it time to work on us. This is, after all, the heart of our faith,” McAfee added.