After the First Time

The following article appears on the cover of this week’s bulletin, just one week into using the new translations.

Fr. Jeff’s Thoughts on the New Roman Missal

About a year ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced that on November 27, 2011 we would begin using the new English translations of the third edition of the Roman Missal. 

It was a long time in the making.  The third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin was approved by Pope John Paul II in 2000.  Then work began on the English translations with final approval coming last year (It may have taken ten years but after all it isn’t the only work the bishops had to do).

Once the final approval was received and a date to begin use was announced, we began the work to introduce the new translations in our parish.  In January, I explained how we would begin the implementation process in an article here on the cover.  If you remember, we spent the month of February using the homily not to talk about the new translations of the Mass but rather to explain the parts of the Mass.  Nothing was changing about the parts of the Mass but our diocese used this as an opportunity to help us understand better what we do at Mass.  Why?  Because the better our understanding the more fruitful our prayer might become.

Since then, we have had various bulletin articles and inserts on the new translations.  From the end of August until last week, I wrote a series of articles explaining and discussing many of the changes in the words.  There has also been several articles in the Catholic Courier.  It has even been featured in some secular news stories. 

At least one of these news stories referred to the changes as “major.”  I don’t really think of the changes as major.  Nothing about how we do Mass is changing.  We still sit, kneel, and stand at the same points.  Everything is in the same order and the readings are not changing.  The only thing that is changing is the words.  Not that words are not important.  They are or we won’t be changing them.  The words are important because we use them to express what we believe.

With all that in mind, last week, after all this preparation, we finally used the new translations for the first time.  In last week’s gospel Jesus said “Be watchful!  Be alert!”  That is the way I felt about using the prayers.  Using the new translations for the first time forced me to really think about what I was doing.  I happen to think that is a very good thing.  We need to think about what we are praying.  How easy is it after so many years of using the same translation to say the words without really thinking about what they mean?

I think it all went very well.  Did I get every word perfect?  No.  Did the congregation get every word right?  Probably not but I think it went very well.  Of course, we were relying on written texts for prayers we have been saying by heart for years.  That is ok.  It may take a few weeks but we will learn the new prayers just as we did the old.  As we learn and get used to the new prayers I encourage you not to just memorize the words but to think about what the words really mean.  After all, that is the point of all of this. 


Fr. Jeff

P.S. If you missed any of our previous material on the Mass or the new translations you can find them on our parish website at and click on “Understanding the Mass”.

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