That’s how one Washington, DC Catholic reacted to the new translation of the Missal here:
Prayers learned and memorized in school, such as the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Penitential Act, the Gloria, are now different enough to cause the congregation to stumble, hesitate and stutter, as some parishioners did through the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday at St. Augustine Catholic Church in the District. It was a scene repeated in Catholic churches around the English-speaking world, as churchgoers tried to get in step with the long-planned change, just in time for the first Sunday of Advent.
“I was grateful for the paper!” said Sandra Glover, a St. Augustine parishioner, turning to the photocopied pew card that served as a cheat sheet. Parishioners received a laminated version of the new language, along with several booklets explaining the liturgy changes, when Mass ended.
“Back in the ’60s we did this, when we went from the Latin Mass,” said her friend Karen Shaw. “You get used to it. It’s really not that profound a change.”…
…The Rev. Patrick Smith — the pastor of St. Augustine, which a group of emancipated black Catholics founded in 1858 — advised congregation members Sunday to use the opportunity to deepen their faith by thinking about what the language really means.
In the back rows, a mother bent over the pew card with her elementary-school-aged daughter and son, pointing out the new language. The children passed the card back and forth, studying the boldfaced changes. They were more enthusiastic about singing.
On the church steps after the service, several departing parishioners said the changes didn’t particularly bother or excite them. Glover said she wasn’t worried about the faithful adapting.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” she said. “But I’m going to have to look up one of those words, what was it?”
“Consubstantial,” Shaw answered.
At my parish, the new translation went off without a hitch, and for one good reason: Fr. Frank Passenant. He’s one of two parochial vicars in our parish. Last summer, he had the foresight to invest in a couple thousand pew cards, to help people through the Mass. Earlier this month, he led a series of “dry Masses” across a couple of Sundays, to walk people through the liturgy. And today, he was at every Mass, standing by the Leader of Song with a pew card, alerting people to upcoming changes and leading them through the responses. Everything went smoothly, and there was no confusion or befuddlement. Meeting people after the Masses, I didn’t hear anyone mention the new translation, positively or negatively, and I didn’t ask anyone what they thought. The topic never came up. Fr. Passenant said he didn’t hear anything, either. (Frank, it should be noted, never lacks for an opinion about anything, and has never spent a moment without an unexpressed thought. He wasn’t shy about offering some unsolicited criticism of my homily between Masses. “I wouldn’t have mentioned the old Mass,” he said. “I know, that’s your personal take. I just wouldn’t even have have brought it up. It’s done. But that’s me. I just plow the field without looking back.” Good point.)
All in all, it could have been just another Sunday. And after all the hand-wringing of the last few months, isn’t that a wonder?