Reactions Found in Translation – UPDATED

So, the new English translation of the mass was introduced yesterday for, as the saying goes, better or worse. How did it go for you?

As I suspected would be the case the ordinary folks in the pews saw all of this as much less dramatic and onerous than some seemed to want it to be; despite the hand-wringing and drama queening from some quarters (why assume that people are incapable of adapting and re-learning? We do it all the time!) it all went pretty smoothly at my parish, and everyone else I’ve polled, in various states, has said the same thing: we all had our little booklets, and we all screwed up here or there, but for the most part, it was fine. I didn’t notice anyone having distinct trouble or reacting negatively to the new texts.

And yes, I flubbed. I said “and with your spirit” mostly, but “and also with you” once, when I got distracted.

But I like saying it. I like finally being unified with the prayers of the rest of the Catholic world, who have all been saying “and with your spirit” all these years; more importantly, I like what it conveys.

I know a priest who has, for decades, interrupted the mass — over and over again — to say “thank you” each time the congregation said “and also with you.” He horizontal-ed the mass until it screamed for a little vertical! I wonder if he’ll still say “thank you” with each “and with your spirit.”

Since I had rather spontaneously reverted to the 1965 translation of a few of the prayers a while back, I was surprised at myself when I blew the “Lord I am not worthy.” I guess I’d been feeling cocky, or something. That’ll teach me!

The Crescat had a similar moment of humiliation, but so did the Dominican Nuns!

Meanwhile, I rather like what a woman says in this lovely WaPo video: it’s a good thing to be shaken back awake, and to think again about what we’re saying and not be on auto-pilot.

Deacon Greg reported an experience similar to my own. No big whoop. Max says it’s not so bad, and Mark says, things went pretty well at his place, too!

Musically, we have adapted pretty well; after a few grouchy weeks of people trying to decide if they liked the new settings, yesterday they sang out, and I think the newness of it all — and the escape from the plodding stuff we’ve been singing for at least a decade — seemed to bring vigor to our voices.

UPDATE: Tim Muldoon with a great piece about why liturgy matters, and why it ought not be beige

. . . liturgy connects us to a history of people reflecting on the meaning of Jesus’ life and work. It challenges us to see the world as the place where God’s kingdom is unfolding right now, but which summons us from our slumber to help make it happen. It draws us to the deep truths of ourselves as individuals before God and as a community of people practicing faith together, even when it’s hard. It slices open our hearts and lays bare the searing demands of love. It reminds us of our better selves by showing us a mirror in which we are both plaintiff and defendant charged with sin, but set free by a Christ who goes to the gallows in our place.

Buster being home for Thanksgiving, I shared this video with him, and he was quite taken with the richness and imagery of the newer translations:

YouTube Preview Image

Anthony Esolen at First Things
Peter Nixon at dotcommonweal
Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Mary DeTurris Poust
Lost and Found in Translation
Shameless Popery

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://Patheos S Nieberding

    /What do you have against capitalizing the M whhen referring to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? The word mass without the capital M just means a large glump of something. You are not the only one but it drives me crazy for such disrespect.

  • Edward Montgomery

    I must be the only American Catholic who has never witnessed any of the liturgical abuses that retro-Catholics seem to feel they have been rescued from despite living all over the United States. If the retros feel better, good for them. Can’t say as I think it makes a difference except to the overheated on the left and the right.

  • Martha Rodriguez

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I admit that it will take a little getting used to but all went well in our chuch. I thought it was funny when we received an apology from our priest at the end of Mass. Even he made a mistake here and there. He made us all feel better about our boo-boos! I agree that it’s a good thing to be “shaken awake.”

  • K Visintainer

    After 40 years in the desert, we finally crossed into a land of verbal milk and honey. My Christmas came early this year.

  • Teresa

    All went fairly well at Mass with a few stumbles along the way. Chants will take some effort to get used to. I think the new version is much better and quite lovely. “Consubstantial” during the Creed caused quite a few stumbles but I think only because some were not reading along. Our priest had a little trouble along the way. I’d say in a couple of weeks everything will be OK. As well, nobody complained about the changes.

  • Kris, in New England

    Pretty smooth sailing for us yesterday. We’ve been slowly introducing the changed songs over the past few weeks, so that part was already familiar. We have lovely cheat sheet Pew Cards tucked into the Missals, and that was a huge help. I personally don’t care for the “under my roof” and I do like the “I believe” in the Creed. Change is inevitable in this world and either you keep up or you’ll be left behind. Like them or don’t like them, these are now the words of our Mass. Everyone will get on board and adjust as time goes on. Some will grouse, others will just accept that they can’t anything about it so they may as well – accept it.

  • Yeoman

    It’s probably just me, but I had a much more difficult time with the new translation that I thought I was going to. Indeed, I thought I’d have no trouble at all. Part of that may be, however, that I was listening so carefully that any error seemed magnified, and that’s a good thing.

    One oddity I did note is that having slightly studied up a bit on the reasons for the new translation, and having picked up bits and pieces of the old Latin text as a result, I almost flubbed and used a Latin response once.

  • Bill M.

    It was far less painful than when I was praying the Rosary several months ago, and in a moment of diabolical distraction somehow inserted “and to the republic for which it stands” in a Hail Mary.

  • alcogito

    Actually, it was a lovely Mass. Perhaps part of why I liked it so much was because I was paying much closer attention. The music was great too, really traditional, and of course this cycle includes my favorite Christmas hymn, “O Come Emmanual”. The recessional was a too-jazzy spiritual, “We Going to See the Lord”, which grated a bit. The usher handed us a fancy laminated tri-fold cheat sheet, but in the pews was also a plain paper copy which was actually more useful because it had the changed bits in bold face, so we were forewarned to be alert. I am not sure “incarnate” is an improvement over “made flesh”, but who am I to carp. We’ll learn the new words easily enough.

  • Manny

    I flubbed the same “and also with you” once too. It was clumsy at mass but not a disaster. People flubbed, the priest was so careful. He had his reading glasses on and his book was untypically upright on a bookstand. The translation is supposed to be more accurate, and given the explanations provided I would agree, though I’m no theologian. The language changes do tend to be more stilted, and that’s because they substituted latinate words, and latinate words are not natural to English. But so what. We’ll get used to it. Theological accuracy is more important. The one place (and i guess I’m repeating myself here) I really don’t like is the Confeitor, with that repetition. That really rings an off note.

  • Anna

    I have been counting down the weeks and implementation in our parish went better than I thought it would. Our archdiocese has apparently done a very good job in having chant workshops for all the priests and deacons and a lot of positive proactive teaching ahead of time for everyone. So it was beautiful at our parish and went well.
    The only thing that gets me – and nearly makes me wish they’d hold off for a few more years – is that a beloved and saintly 92-year-old priest friend of ours said his last public Mass on Saturday. He just can’t see well enough to say the new version (he already had some assistance from the deacon for the opening prayer and prayer after Communion), so he will just say Mass in his private chapel from now on. So while the new version is certainly a gain for the Church, it’s a huge loss for those of us who love Msgr. Dunne and his preaching.

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    We had a good experience where I was. If anything I felt like the parish was “together” in a more profound way. Not necessarily because of the language, but we were all required to be present in a fuller way. People were paying attention and we all flubbed something, Father included, but we all kept at it.

    Somethings don’t sit well with me, but so be it – I am not, at this point anyway, going off the rails. And the experience that I had with the liturgy this weekend was very positive, which changes some of what I was not at peace with.

    Overall good.

  • vox borealis


    The one place (and i guess I’m repeating myself here) I really don’t like is the Confeitor, with that repetition. That really rings an off note.

    Are you referring to the part of the Confiteor that goes, in Latin, “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” (rendered now, finally, as “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”)?

    Also, I to be honest, I have never understood the argument that Latinate words are not “natural” to English. I’m not sure what is natural for a language, but at least 60% of English vocabulary derives from Latin (usually via French), and this has been so at least since the Middle Ages.

    I’m abroad for the next six months and will not have a chance to experience the new translation until my return. I greatly look forward to it.

  • Aaaaaaat Laaaaast!!!!

    Were you ever in a stuffy subway or dept store and went outside and took in a huge, cold, crisp refreshing breath of clean air?

    That is what the new translation felt like on Sat when we used it for the first time at our vigil mass here in CA.

    Aaaaaahhhh! At last. Deeper meaning. Things finally sat right with my soul. I felt a profound happiness that I could not have planned or ever predicted.

    Pre-translation, I thought, “Whatever. Its about time. Yes. I like the new words. Can’t wait. Whatever.” Never thought I’d experience any emotion connected to it.

    But to be in the Divine Liturgy and to have dead silence, to have our old priest really stumbling and having to read EVERY word from the book? The congregation was on edge in a good way. We finally heard every word! You could tell! It was so refreshing a change. We were THINKING!!!! We truly listened.

    I can finally thump out a Mea Culpa like an SOS without shame! Yess!!! Now it is in the directions. Its not just me. I’m not some freak looking back to Vatican I. Heck, I wasn’t even born then. (I’m only 43.) Ha. Take that you revisionists!

    I can finally just be Catholic and feel as if specific, ritualistic, liturgical actions are A-OK. And, heh heh HEH, since I stand in the front and have to cantor, they all followed my gestures as if I was the stewardess leading the emergency procedures. (Got me a Cheshire cat sized grin on.)

    What I saw and heard were Catholics acting Catholic in church, looking at everything intently, listening better than they ever have and really engaging. HOpe it lasts more than 3 weeks.

    Thank you, Vatican. Thank you, USCCB (never thought I’d say that!).

    And, when I went to a 2nd mass with my senior, Vatican I mom, she blew it and said so cute trying to cover up her mistake, “And — and also– with your spirit!” It was the kiss of peace and I laughed right out loud. Something she’d forbidden me to do in church. I hugged her and we both chuckled. This new translation has been a lot of fun. I’m so grateful.

    Its good to feel renewal and deeper spirituality right out the gate at Advent week 1.

  • annie

    I love how easily and naturally it all came back to me. Yes, I flobbed a couple of times. It was that pesky ol’ “and with your spirit”. LOL But I remembered how to say consubstantiation. Wow, I can even spell it without checking.

    All in all, I’m very happy. And yes, wasn’t there a lot of drama queening going on? Now why was that? I heard it from people old enough to recognize the old words. What were they thinking? Anyway . . .

    . . . I’m glad the old is back and NEW again.

  • Greta

    Outstanding first week. Love it. Love the video from Father Barron which is not surprising with this priest talent and obvious love of the Church. Love your work Anchoress and want to thank you again.

    How about an update on Kitty. We still have her in our prayers.

  • Katherine

    Bill M. you made me laugh out loud! I always have to stop myself from adding “Amen” to the pledge.

    It was weird here, and I’m still pissed off about what happened to the Gloria. For advent I’m lucky it’s missing. And yes I’m aware that emotion is not good.

  • Nancy Berube

    “Big whoop” is the best way to sum it all up. We’ve been hearing about these changes for months now. I haven’t heard any that were actually new translations rather than reintroduction of the old translation in my missal from 1964. I ordered a new missal because I couldn’t find my old one. The biggest mystery to me is why it took all those wicked smaht (I’m from Massachusetts) people 10 years to come up with the same translation we had in 1964. Maybe they couldn’t find their old missals either.
    Here in Massachusetts, we had our flubs, we all laughed. The priest soldiered his way through his parts & all emerged unscathed.
    As far as drama queening goes, that article you linked was beat by the priests interviewed on EWTN last night who waxed positively rhapsodic about how the new (which is the old) translation would ignite a new transcendent appreciation of Christ the bridegroom wedding the Church, his bride. I want some of whatever they were drinking if it’ll make me feel that “consubstantial” will transport me to spiritual realms that “one in Being” could not. Be that as it may, I’m an adaptable critter. I’ll do or say whatever the liturgy tells me to do or say. I won’t even say “You are now entering a Catholic church. Please turn your watch back fifty years.” I will instead say ” we want our liturgy closer to the original Latin, because that’s what Jesus spoke.”

  • Frances

    Fr. Barron is a naturally gifted teacher. I pray that with all of his media exposure he too will not falter beneath the burder of fame but instead be protected by our prayers for his vocation to be protected.

  • Dan C

    I’ve been living your future for 6 months.

    Our diocese started in June. Its no big deal. The priests were enthusiastic but find the English translation of these extremly long sentences challenging.

    Its just average. Don’t expect magic in terms of “appreciation of the Mass.”

    Most folks are closer to me in liturgical acceptance than EWTN viewers.

  • dymphna

    I think everybody overreacted. The translation is lovely but it’s the same old 1970s priest, the same old show off cantor, the same old apathetic about everything except getting to dinner on time after Mass crowd in the pews. We have a long way to go.

  • Manny

    @vox borealis

    You said:

    “Are you referring to the part of the Confiteor that goes, in Latin, “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” (rendered now, finally, as “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”)?”

    Yes. First, it’s redundant. Second, doesn’t that come across as overly melodramatic in English? I am told that such repetition is common in Latin rhetoric, so that’s why it’s there in the Latin mass. But we in modern English aren’t big on repetition and when we repeat it’s usually to insert pathos.

    “Also, I to be honest, I have never understood the argument that Latinate words are not “natural” to English. I’m not sure what is natural for a language, but at least 60% of English vocabulary derives from Latin (usually via French), and this has been so at least since the Middle Ages.”

    Well, the obvious is that English is a Germanic language. So Anglo Saxon derived words are natural based on entomology. You are quite right though Latin words have come in since the middleages. But latin is an endings based grammar, which creates multisyllabic words. English is a word order based language, so its words tend to be shorter. Multi syllabic words have varying stress levels per syllable, and the stress levels aren’t as distinct. Anglo Saxon words have clear stressed/unstressed syllables. Anglos Saxon words are more direct and distinct. Latin words you have to weigh the suffix and prefix and meanings of each phoneme. Perhaps you can say it’s just my opinion, but I do think better writing in English emphasizes an Anglo Saxon diction. Of course you can’t avoid Latinate words.

    Compare “transubstantiation” with “one in being with the Father.” Transubstantiation has no rhythm, no concrete feel to it, and one trips up as one speaks it. One in being with the Father is a marvelous phrase, rhythmic, tangible, and memorable.

  • Bill M.

    You make some excellent points here, Manny, but your reference to entomology [sic] really bugged me.

  • Young Canadian RC Male

    Here’s my reaction that I’ve been giving in comment sections on my favourite blogs. If you want to ask questions to further understand me I’ll try to answer them at best, (however I will not intentionally give away info on my true identity to protect it, unlike my poor fellow blogger Vox Cantoris of whom someone knows it’s him and trolled him on his blog to expose him):

    “Coming up to the new mass, I was filled with excitement and curiosity. I’ve seen countdowns for the new translation and read many interesting things from blogs on the blogosphere (Fr Z’s, Catholic Knight, Vox Cantoris, …), got a series of handouts from the internet from my archdiocese that explained the translations, an app from Cale Clarke called “The New Mass” for Iphone (which has a more biblical explanation of the changes for Why’s), and a pew card for the new responses. Fr. Z’s blog especially gave me more to look forward to wordwize as he has masterfully shown how pitiful the 1973 ICEL translation is and how it butchers many of the collects into wimpy feel good “prayers.”

    So what happened when I got to my parish? The same old usual. Same old procession, same old 4 sandwich hymns from our current Parish only hymnal (not Gather thankfully!), Homily, consecration, etc. Though it was cool to hear the new eucharistic prayer and collect. Reflecting on the Mass, I didn’t feel at all elevated in soul and body. I felt like it didn’t do what it was being touted to do by everyone, the blogosphere, the diocese, etc. Even with a Catholic Colleague at work we agreed the effect wasn’t pronounced as it should have been. Were it not for my lectoring and a decent homily by my priest who usually goes far out into academia land (as he was/is involved in teaching and committees in the Church so that’s his audience 85% of the time), it would have been even more saddening. Mind you my parish isn’t as bad as many of these other parishes when it comes to liturgical abuses post vatican II. The most “out there” things we’ve done is have poor quality sermons and the replacement of the Crucifix on our headstone on the altar be replaced with an Icon of Christ blessed by an archbishop of the Diocese. So maybe since there wasn’t radical changes, maybe there was nothing to notice?

    There is a few small gems of hope though out of it today. I helped an older lady in her 40?s once with the responses using the pew card. I saw a young elementary school boy and his mother do a simple/moderate bow before receiving the Eucharist. Also, I gained an even further appreciation for the TLM, for even a simple low Mass would have seemed better for me today. While I do acknowledge that as a whole, this is a good start to correcting the damage done to the laity of the Church over the last 40+ years, personally the New Translation was a letdown for me this Sunday and ineffective. That or maybe I should considering transferring to my Mother’s new parish for Novus Ordo things (where there are good traditionally minded Novus Ordo priests).”

  • vox borealis

    @ Manny,
    Hmm…well, in the words of the immortal Colonel Potter, “horsehockey.” How does Germanic German render the Confiteor: “durch meine Schuld, durch meine schuld, durch meine Große schuld.” Does it come across as melodramatic? No, not to me. As for repetition being natural in Latin rhetoric, I think that is almost certainly false. At least in all my years studying, reading and teaching Latin, repetition does not appear to have been prized by Roman rhetors. If anything, variatio was encouraged. I suspect that the beautiful repetition in the Confiteor is equally unnatural in all languages, including Latin. Its insertion only highlights further the centrality of admitting to our own sins. I thank God that this wonderful turn has been restored to us.

    As for Latin being an “endings based language” (otherwise known as an “inflected” language) thus yielding longer words: that is just plain wrong. In most cases, the endings added no more syllables to a Latin noun, and inflected nouns never required adding prefixes. Indeed, there are compound words in Latin, just as there are in English. Is “understanding,” a good German word, lacking in meaning or rhythm because it is made up of Under (unter) + Stand (from stehen) + and ending -ing? Morover, Latin words tend to come into English without their endings, e.g. “nation” becomes “nation” or “humanitas” becomes “humanity”, and so forth. Third, English, just like German, is not immune of longer words. Latin may contain on average more multisyllabic words.

    As for the memorable-ness of “one in being with the father”….ummm, we’ll have to agree to disagree. “One in being always struck me as completely void of meaning; the phrase was certainly not memorable (hey, memorable…a good Latinate word!).

    Lastly, there is an odd, internal logic to your position about what is “natural” for a language. For example, you argue that in “modern English” repetition is bad style. In that same “modern English,” the huge majority of everyday words derive from Latin either directly or through an intermediary language such as French. Yet for vocabulary, you demand “native” Germanic words. But sure English writing that relies so heavily on Germanic words is not modern English—does not reflect the realities of the living, developing language!

    In the end, we’ll have to agree to disagree, because I reject your implicit premise, that the liturgy should sound like “modern English” in tone and diction.

  • Manny

    Yeah, I meant etymology…lol.

  • Manny


    Yeah we disagree. I’m hardly being radical when I say the Anglo Saxon choice makes the better diction in English. In fact that’s a general rule of thumb in English rhetoric.

    If you find that repetition to your ear satisfactory, then fine. You must watch a lot of soap operas. Repetition tied to emotion, and in this case three times repeated with an added adjective in the final repetition, reaches into bathos. The only common place for such repetition that I can think of are pop songs.

    You said: ““One in being always struck me as completely void of meaning.”

    That’s because you’re trying to understand the phrase by its individual words. In this case the entire phrase is a signifyer, just as “transubstantiation” is a distinct signifyer. Transubstantiation outside of its theological meaning has no meaning. “One in being with the Father” is a complete transfer of transubstantiation from one language to another. And to my tongue, “one in being with the Father” rolls off very nicely.

    Bottom line, if you prefer latinate words over Anglo Saxon, be my guest. You won’t find many poets who would agree with that.

  • Manny


    One other thing. You said: “In the end, we’ll have to agree to disagree, because I reject your implicit premise, that the liturgy should sound like “modern English” in tone and diction.”

    I never had that as a premise. If you look back at my original comment, I said that I by and large agreed with the translation. I was explaining why some found it “stilted”. Many people who were interviewed had a general comment that the new translation was awkward, and by that they meant stilted. Don’t blame me for people’s reactions.

  • Polish interpreter

    Times change and interpretation change but God is one!!!

  • Manny

    Oops, in my argument above I said “transubstantiation” as being synomous with “one in being with the father.” That was a mistake. Instead of ‘transubstantiation” I meant “consubstantial.”