GALEN HOLLEY: New Translation of the Missal is challenging but worthwhile

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

We hadn’t been to Saturday evening Mass in a while, so Angie and I were apprehensive.
We chose a pew near the back. She insisted we sit on the inmost edge. I didn’t object because I have claustrophobia and can’t stand being closed in.
There was a card in the slot riveted to the back of the pew in front of us. We looked it up and down, and after a pointing out a few changes, we both said, “This isn’t so different.”
Not five minutes later I fumbled over the first response, one I’d been reciting since I was a kid.
“The Lord be with you,” the priest at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Hernando said.
“And also with you,” I said, and immediately realized my mistake.
The new response, as our Spanish brothers and sisters have always said, was, “And with your spirit.” That’s a statement about the priest acting in the person of Christ while consecrating the Eucharist, I thought. This was old school, Catholic stuff.
Last weekend was the first for the new, third edition of the Roman Missal. Bishops and theologians have been working on it for years. The first missal was written in Latin, back when nobody could read it. That’s why the altar boys used to ring the bells when the priest changed the bread and wine in to the body and blood of Christ, so people would know what was going on. Nobody spoke Latin except for the clergy.
Since we Catholics started celebrating Mass in the vernacular after the Second Vatican Council in the ‘60s, there have been some unofficial, creative interpretations of the language of liturgy. Some have been cute, even beautiful, and rather harmless. Others have been sloppy and theologically embarrassing.
“Give’em an inch,” I can just hear some old bishop guffawing.
The newest official translation of the Missal is an attempt to retrieve the beauty and theological accuracy of the Latin.
Angie and I noticed there was a change in song we call the “Gloria” too.
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth,” it used to say. The new translation: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.”
That might seem a minor change, but it narrows the focus of who receives peace, right? If you’re mean, you don’t get it. That’s a more calculated, less charitable dispersion of peace, as I read it.
The mean won’t care anyway. Let’s move on.
Just before receiving Communion, we used to say this: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
Saturday night, the new translation opened my eyes to what must be the original, scriptural reference, Matt. 8:8, where Jesus cures the centurion’s servant. In that passage the centurion, as does the new translation, says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”
I haven’t made up my mind about the new Missal, but I trust that smarter men than I devised it.
Smarter men than I also devised the atomic bomb, and maliciously engineered computer viruses that have become the bubonic plague of our era. Anyway, I see the new translation as an attempt to retrieve the purest sense of liturgical language, and I applaud the Vatican’s efforts. Angie and I will just have to get used to it.
galen.holley@journalinc.com