Catholics who have been operating on auto-pilot in their responses to the priest during Mass will soon have to pay more attention. A new, more literal translation of the Latin text will soon be in effect.
The Roman Missal Third Edition will be used in all English-speaking Masses beginning the first Sunday of Advent, which is Nov. 27 this year. That includes the Saturday vigil Masses on Nov. 26. The Missal is the Catholic text containing prayers for the celebration of Mass.
“The new translation attempts to reflect the Latin edition from the Vatican more closely, there is a closer tie to Latin,” said Monsignor Robert Mazur, rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona and director of the Altoona-Johnstown diocesan liturgy office. “Everything has been retranslated.”
Besides “Amen” there’s no phrase that Catholics repeat more often during the Mass than “And also with you.” That will now be changed to “And with your spirit.” The original Latin phrase was “Et Cum Spiritu Tuo,” that is literally “And with your spirit.”
“This translation will emphasize the majesty of God, the power of God,” Mazur said in a telephone interview. “Our position is one of humility, dependence and thankfulness for the gift of salvation that Christ gave us by dying and rising from the dead and of reconciliation.”
The new translation represents the most sweeping changes to the Catholic Mass since the second Vatican Council in the 1960s phased out Latin in favor of modern languages. Prayers were put in more everyday language in the first and second editions of the Missal. The second edition was published because Pope John Paul II canonized 151 new saints in the Jubilee year, which was June 28, 2008 to June 28, 2009, and those new saints had to be added.
Dr. Sebastian Madathummuriyil, assistant professor of theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, said in a telephone interview that the new Missal is a better translation to some extent.
“I have some mixed opinions, some translations I like and others I do not,” he said. “The changes won’t be a big shock to people, such as when the change was from Latin to English. One impact will be practical — we learn many things by heart. Now we will have to follow it more consciously and look at the text to be correct.”
Despite inserts in church bulletins, articles in the Catholic Register and 10 workshops held around the diocese, many people probably don’t realize the change is taking place. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University states that three in four adult Catholics in the United States are not aware that aspects of the English translation of the Roman Missal are about to change. About 6 percent of all Masses in the United States are celebrated in Spanish, as well as smaller numbers of celebrations in Portuguese, Latin, Vietnamese, Italian, Polish and Tagalog, along with other languages. Those languages already use a more literal translation.
“My hope is we will be expressing more clearly our unity as the Catholic Church,” Mazur said. “We are celebrating our oneness with Jesus Christ. When Father stands up and prays the opening prayer, it will now more reflect how the beginning prayer is said throughout the globe. It will be a real expression of unity. As American Catholics we have 235 years as a church. We have been extremely obedient and docile to what the Holy See and our bishops ask of us. We can do this.”