New words at Mass: How did it go at your parish?

November 27, 2011


A woman reads the new words for Mass prayers from a pew card Nov. 26. (Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit)

With the implementation of the new Roman Missal this weekend at parishes across the United States, I was curious how worshippers at my parish’s Saturday evening Mass would adapt to the changes to the words of many prayers.

While no one seemed too flustered, autopilot did kick in for many people, including a gentleman sitting behind me who was having trouble remembering that the response “And also with you” — previously spoken five times during the Mass — had now changed to “And with your spirit.” He ended up being one for five.

My parish, like most others, provided worshippers with pew cards highlighting the changes, and the priest who presided at Mass briefly held up a card each time a new response was coming up.

For the longer prayers, people took the cues and read accurately from the cards, although they noticeably stumbled over still-unfamiliar words like “consubstantial” and “incarnate.” When it came to the quick, brief response, “And with your spirit,” however, people forgot to glance at their cards and there was a noticeable mix of old and new responses. To his credit, our priest didn’t seem to stumble over any of the newly worded prayers he was responsible for speaking.

My parish offered a great deal of catechesis about the changes in bulletin inserts over the last several months. So did The Catholic Spirit, through a six-month series on the changes and a special edition focused on the new Roman Missal (see

Still, change is never easy, and no one should expect a perfectly smooth transition to new prayers the first week after 40 years of having different words ingrained in our minds and hearts. People will inevitably acclimate themselves to the new language in the coming weeks and months.

How did the changes go in your parish on this first weekend?

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About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

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  • Sharon

    Our Mass went beautifully – a few stumbling on a few words but no one was too flustered and the beauty of the Mass shined through despite the newness. Three cheers for our priests who had to work thru many new prayers and did so wonderfully!

  • Becky

    Nope. Not happening. Every person who sits near me decided s/he wasn’t going to be bothered with the changes. We stuck with what we know. What a colossal waste of time, energy and money. The new words are arrogant, exclusionary and archaic.

    My earlier comment about this will be like birth control and gay marriage applies here, too; The people in the pews are going to basically say “thanks for the info. But we’re going to do it this way. And we’re coming to communion.”

    There was a fabulous comment posted on here a while back. It asked “I wonder what Jesus would say about the money spent on new hymnals and prayer books and time spent on changing things when millions of our brothers and sisters starve in Africa.”


    • Tim J.

      A lot of people felt the same way after Vatican II… but they were supposed to “get over it”.

      • Pilots13

        I agree with Becky 100%. The new translation is far too wordy and is only pushing the Church backwards vs forwards. The people who “felt the same way after V2” were people clinging to the old traditions and not looking forward to changing the Church so it associates with the society it is in today.

        When I compared the 3rd edition with the 2nd edition side by side my first thought was “Oh, I see why they left this part out of the 2nd edition” It’s great that my grandparents can wax nostalgic about how “authentic” this is to the Latin texts, but my generation, and my parents generation no little to nothing of the Latin texts. We’ve moved forward from that like the Church as moved forward from past traditions many times before. All the time, and money, and energy the Church wasted on these changes will make my 80 year old grandparents happy, but only push my generation further away from the Catholic Church.

        That said, things at my parish went fine this past weekend, other than the fact even less people responded to the prayers than normal cause they don’t know what to say any more.

  • Becky

    One last thought…

    The ship is sinking. We’re taking on water left and right. And our leaders are busy rearranging deck chairs and asking everyone to come to to the Starboard for shuffleboard.

  • Tim J.

    It was great! Our parish was well prepared by our priests, and though there were naturally some bobbles, we are embracing the new, more faithful translation with enthusiasm. Nice to think our prayers and responses are now closer to what the rest of the world has been doing the last few decades.

  • Tom4Lt

    I’m sure there are Catholics who relish the change — that’s apparent. But Becky’s right. We’re heading back toward Latin mass, and (as our parish priest put it) having the priest pray “with the people,” facing the altar. In the meantime, a recent Pew research study showed that the third-largest “congregation” in the US is comprised of people who identify themselves as ex-Catholics. Anyone else see a problem with that?

  • ken

    We so often hear the phrase… new and improved. Companies use it as a marketing campaign to usually downsize a product and increase the price. This change is a total example that the church has no clue of its priority. My guess the priests (like employees in a company) were told by the corporate office (The Bishops) YOU WILL LIKE THIS and YOU WILL explain, explain, explain over weeks and months what could have been taught in 10 minutes. I agree the parish I JUST LEFT, spent money they claim they don’t have to buy entire new songbooks rather than using the simple card or booklet of mass changes. We have no choice to accept the changes, much like the “improved” soap we use for washing dishes…and a year from now it won’t matter and will not have improved our mass or catholic faith.