The changes, which include reworded and added prayers and new responses required of laity, have caused some rumblings in Roman Catholic blogs and pews. Among the highly visible changes are new language in the Nicene Creed and the response “and also with you” changing to “and with your spirit.”
But the Rev. Tom Willis says lay people have little to worry about compared to the priests who will be celebrating the Mass Sunday and beyond. There are so many changes to the priests’ portion of the Mass that Willis admitted being a little nervous.
“I have trepidation about how I am going to be able to do this,” said Willis, rector of the Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine.
That’s saying a lot because, as director of liturgy for the Jacksonville-based Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, Willis has been the point man for implementing the changes locally. He’s led workshops for priests and laity around the region to prepare for the new language.
“There is a sense in me that it’s time to get this thing started,” he said.
What’s starting Sunday is the third edition of the Roman Missal, the text that contains the prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass.
The changes were decreed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 after the Vatican determined that there were too many differences in theological meaning between the original Latin and the English translation that’s been in effect since the late 1960s.
The translators of the earlier document had been allowed to use everyday English. The new missal, Willis said, required translators to adhere as closely as possible in sentence structure and vocabulary to the Latin.
The plan is to then create translations into other languages from the English version.
Reactions from lay people have been mixed, with some expressing some anxiety about the changes, said the Rev. Ed Murphy, pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in downtown Jacksonville.
Some have cited the “awkwardness of wording” in some portions of the missal, Murphy said.
One section commonly criticized is in the Nicene Creed, which is a statement of basic Christian allegiance. The part that once described Jesus as “one in being with the Father” will now say that Christ is “consubstantial with the Father …”
“We don’t typically speak like this when we pray,” Murphy said of some of the new or rewritten language.
To make the transition easier for the laity, most parishes will have some form of the new language distributed in the pews, the diocese has said.
That and the months of alerts about the changes should make it relatively easy for worshipers to handle, said Pam Petit, an Immaculate Conception parishioner.
Petit said she isn’t sweating the changes because she’s been attending Mass steadily and getting updates about the new language. To her the new missal sounds more spiritual than before.
“It’s going to be a shock for Catholics who don’t regularly attend Mass,” she added.
Willis said there will be no changes to rituals in the Mass. It will not be in Latin and it will not require the priest to face away from the congregation, he said.
“This is a change in the translation, and that’s it,” he said.
Reach Jeff Brumley at (904) 359-4310