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LI Catholics prep for new Mass Missal

Monsignor Andrzej Zglejszewski with the new Roman Missal.

Monsignor Andrzej Zglejszewski with the new Roman Missal. With the Vatican's blessing, English-speaking Catholics will adjust to an altered liturgy, which is a new translation of the Mass from the original Latin. The changes are beginning this month. (Nov, 10, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

The prayers and psalms Roman Catholics memorize and repeat in Mass are about to undergo their biggest change in nearly 40 years -- and the faithful are predicting either widespread confusion or a religious renewal that will help lure people back to the pews.

The Vatican is instituting a new translation of the Mass Missal that church leaders say is more faithful to the original Latin. It is the first large-scale translation since the early 1970s and will change the words Catholics under 40 have used their entire lives.

It goes into effect worldwide in English-speaking countries Nov. 27, and is mandatory. The last time the church saw such a shift was in the early 1970s when the Mass switched from Latin to English and priests began facing their congregations instead of standing with their back to the pews.

Some say this latest version is awkward and loaded with difficult phrases and words such as "consubstantial" that will only further distance Catholics from their church.

But others see it as restoring some of the beauty and poetry of the original Latin and, in the case of Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, even serving as a centerpiece to his "New Evangelization" effort to boost church attendance and participation.

"With change can also come some apprehension," Murphy wrote in last week's Long Island Catholic. But "I am convinced this will be a special moment in the life of the Church that can open up to us an ever deeper experience of the richness of the Eucharist and its meaning in our lives."

Charles Kerner, 83, a eucharistic minister and lector who attends Mass daily at St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Melville, is not a proponent of the changes. "I don't think much of it. The idea of a liturgy is to communicate with people," Kerner said. "When they come up with awkward phrases like 'and with your spirit' it violates good liturgy."

New translation opposedThe Vatican ordered the new missal because the first translations done in the early '70s did not always precisely reflect the Latin.

The new version will replace some of the most familiar call-and-response dialogues between priests and their congregations, including before the Sign of Peace when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," and the congregation responds "And also with you." The new response is "And with your spirit."

In one particularly controversial change, the line that says Jesus died on the cross "for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven" becomes "for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Some church reform groups such as Cleveland-based FutureChurch say the change gives the impression that Jesus' saving power is available only to certain groups.

The new translation has provoked calls for it to be shelved from as far away as Ireland, where the Association of Catholic Priests criticized it as poorly translated and hard to understand.

The dispute has also led to the departure of at least one member of a U.S. bishops committee handling the overhaul -- the Rev. Anthony Ruff, a Benedictine monk and expert on Gregorian chants.

Ruff says Vatican officials who seek to overturn 1960s reforms aimed at modernizing the church ordered the U.S. bishops to rewrite their translation.

"The Vatican is forcing it on the church against the will of many priests and liturgical ministers," said Ruff, a professor at St. John's University and School of Theology-Seminary in Collegeville, Minn. The new translation is riddled with "long sentences with subordinate clauses where you can't follow the thought."

The Rev. Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship, who is overseeing the introduction of the new missal, said, "There are going to be challenges because change is not something that comes easily."

But "I think it's going to be received OK. As we get comfortable with it, it will grow with us," Hilgartner said. "It's something that is ultimately meant to inspire."

John Picciano, head of adult faith formation at St. Kilian parish in Farmingdale, said, "I think it's much more appropriate for what we're doing -- the Mass is a prayer. You don't want to use street vernacular. You want to use something a little more lofty and spirit-filled."

Getting ready for switch

Msgr. Andrzej Zglejszewski, who is overseeing the transition for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said the diocese and parishes have held scores of workshops and seminars to prepare for the switch.

With as few as 20 percent of Catholics nationally attending Mass regularly, he thinks the new missal will boost interest and participation.

Still, Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, said it might actually drive parishioners away from Mass.

"I think people will be offended" by the convoluted language, she said.

The Rev. Michael Flynn of St. Kilian said he has already started practicing his new lines at daily weekday Masses. When the change takes effect, the church will have laminated cue cards in the pews to help parishioners with their new lines, he said.

The new translation "is basically an improvement over what we had," he said. "We have to get used to it. But we will. We've done it before."

Wording changes,

Examples of changes to the Mass Missal. Bold denotes words that are changing and what they are changing to:

OLD

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is seen and unseen.

NEW

I believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.


OLD

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

one in Being with the Father.

NEW

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

consubstantial with the Father;


OLD

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.

NEW

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.


OLD

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,

but only say the word

and I shall be healed.

NEW

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word

and my soul shall be healed.


OLD

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth.

NEW

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to people of good will.

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