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Changes Coming to Catholic Mass

Bishops meeting in L.A. approve a new English translation that will alter the prayers recited by millions in the U.S.

June 16, 2006|K. Connie Kang | Times Staff Writer

After much prayer and deliberation, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a new English translation for the Mass that will change the prayers tens of millions of American Catholics have recited for more than three decades.

The 173-29 vote of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Los Angeles for their spring session, means that American Catholics will soon have to learn slightly different versions of texts that have become second nature.

For instance, at present, when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the congregation responds, "And also with you." Under the new translation, the response will be, "And also with your spirit."

The new translation conforms to recent Vatican rules designed to make liturgy more accurately reflect the original Latin of the Roman Missal. Thus far, the new English translation has been adopted by bishops in England, Scotland, Australia and Wales.

Bishop Donald Trautman, chairman of the conference's Committee on the Liturgy, called the decision "the most significant liturgical action" to come before the policymaking body in years.

"It will take some adapting, but it is not earth-shattering when you think of the changes we went through 40 years ago" when the Latin Mass was replaced by English in the United States, said the bishop from Erie, Pa.

The alterations, which must be approved by the Vatican, also will affect the Penitential Rite. The current line, "I have sinned through my fault," will become, "I have sinned greatly through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

Prepared by the Vatican-appointed International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which translates the Mass for English-speaking countries, the new translation also includes changes to the Nicene Creed, the Sanctus and Holy Communion.

The Nicene Creed will begin with "I believe," instead of "We believe."

The prayer preceding Communion will change from "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you," to "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."

Before the other bishops began debating, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England, president of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, sought their approval for the proposal.

"Those of you who celebrate Mass in both Spanish and English will know only too well the difference in richness between the two texts," he said.

As an example of why the changes were recommended, Roche cited the shift from "And also with you" to "and with your spirit," which he said references the practice of the Apostle Paul.

"What is the significance of this? Well, he is addressing someone close to God who has God's spirit. So when we reply 'and with your spirit,' we are indicating that we are part of a spiritual community -- it is God's spirit that has gathered us together," Roche said.

When the original English translation was adopted, Roche said there was an "urgent feeling ... that the liturgy should be made available to the people as soon as possible, and the work was rushed."

Even then, it was noted that the translation should be sharpened, but practical and ideological considerations got in the way, he said.

The late Pope John Paul II, noticing during his trips around the world that elements of the Mass differed nation by nation and language by language, acted as a catalyst for the renewed translation effort, Roche said.

"If the bishops of the English-speaking countries can agree on a single version of the Mass, what a sign of catholicity that will be," Roche said.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The old and the new

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday approved changes to some of the language parishioners recite during the Mass to bring it more in line with the original Latin. The new English wording must be sent to offices in the Holy See for a final signoff:

*--* Current wording New wording The priest told The priest will say, "The Lord be with parishioners, "The you," and parishioners will answer, "And Lord be with you," also with your spirit." and they answered, "And also with you."

In the Rite of Parishioners will confess they sinned Penitence, "greatly through my fault, through my parishioners fault, through my most grievous fault." confessed they had sinned "through my fault."

Parishioners started Parishioners will begin, "I believe." the Nicene Creed, "We believe."

Before Communion, Parishioners will pray, "Lord, I am not parishioners prayed, worthy that you should enter under my "Lord, I am not roof." worthy to receive you."

*--*

Source: The U.S. Conference of Bishops.

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