I’ve been Catholic all of my life, attending Sunday Mass from the womb and daily Mass for over ten years, but yesterday felt like the first time. Even the priest who was celebrating the Mass noted that he was nervous and felt the same way that he did when he celebrated his first mass almost 20 years ago.
This weekend, we all met the new English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal head on. No more practice and preparation sessions…this was the real deal and will be the real deal for generations to come. I have been more excited than most people (some would even say I bordered on fanatical) and have spent a great deal of time in study and preparation not only for myself, but also to bring my students deeper into the celebration of the Mass. But nothing could prepare me for the first run! It was a matter of jumping in with both feet. Overall, I’d have to give myself a B since I tripped over the Creed in a few spots and had a lapse back into ‘and also with you.’
It was striking for me to recognize as I prayed the Mass with this translation for the first time last night how automatic my participation in the Liturgy had become over the years. I’m not sure that ‘automatic’ is the right word as much as ‘imbedded.’ The Mass is so much a part of me, that the responses hardly took thought not because I’m a robot, but because I am Catholic. This is the language that I was taught from a young age. It is the language that I speak. Doctors, lawyers, and sports casters have a language all their own, and so do Catholics. But ours is the language of the Incarnational God who comes to meet us in these mysteries. It is not just a collection of any old words, but echoes THE WORD who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us.’ We use this language to meet Him.
Praying the Mass now requires more concentration with each response and thus leads us deeper into the riches of our faith. While the elevated language may seem awkward at first, it serves its purpose in elevating our minds and hearts to God in a new way. Despite my occasional stumbles, there were a few points in the Mass that I was moved to tears. The new translation of the Confiteor stirred my heart with a more concrete sense of sin, and hearing the entire congregation profess Christ as ‘consubstantial’ with the Father and becoming ‘incarnate’ reminded me of the great mystery that we are now preparing for in this Advent season. I was reminded of the Fathers of the Church who wrote extensively on the beauty of these terms and the martyrs of the early Church who were willing to die in defense of the fullness of the truth.
The words may have changed, but THE WORD remains and will always remain the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”
For its precision in language, valuable use the transcendental (truth, beauty, goodness, communio), and transformational effects, I give the Roman Missal Third Edition five stars!
-Sister M. Karolyn, FSGM