Pope John Paul II’s changes to English Mass to take effect Nov. 27

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by Joe Hittinger
Eagle Staff

On the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, a new translation of the Catholic Mass will go into effect in all English-speaking countries.

In 2002, after Pope John Paul II authorized the third edition of the Roman Missal, which is the book containing the prescribed prayers, chants and instructions for the celebration of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church, it needed to be translated into English.

This new translation has taken ten years to complete and is finally ready for use.

The main difference in the new English translation is that many of the responses and prayers said during Mass have been changed slightly to be closer to the literal meanings in Latin.

“While there are lots of smaller changes throughout the Mass, the formal, yet scriptural language is truly at the heart of the move,” said Rev. Jim Murphy, C.S.B., who is very familiar with the new translation and will be giving a talk to each theology class prior to the switch.

These changes are not very drastic, but the new prayers and responses will definitely take some time to learn and get used to.

For example, according to the current translation of the Mass, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the proper response is, “And also with you.” The new response to this is “And with your spirit.”

Another change is during the Nicene Creed. Instead of saying, “One in being with the Father,” the new translation uses the phrase, “consubstantial with the Father.”

“The main reason for the changes stem from the fact that language and it’s impact changes over time,” Murphy said.

The new translation is a more literal translation from Latin, so as to “revitalize our sense of mystery and majesty of the Mass.”

Another important reason for the change is to standardize the English version of the Mass.

Before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Mass was always celebrated in Latin.

After Vatican II ended in 1965, the Mass was quickly translated into the vernacular language to promote more participation from the congregation.

This translation utilized dynamic equivalence, which means it only gave the basic meaning of the original Latin.

The new translation, however, utilized what is known as formal equivalence, which is a literal word-for-word translation from Latin.

This is partly why it took nearly ten years to finish the new translation, since it is much more precise than the old translation.

“All of this is important for the Church to keep our faith alive – to renew our focus on what we are praying,” Murphy said.

“Will it be easy? No, but it will be a chance to reengage with Christ.”

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