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Deborah Plummer

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Gaining Perspective on the Catholic Liturgy's New Translation

Posted: 12/01/11 03:20 PM ET

For the past several months, Catholics across the country were put on notice that a new English translation of the liturgy would take place. On Sunday (Nov. 27) at Mass it happened. We were provided with cards outlining the new words of worship. However, like the well programmed Catholic robots that we are, the old responses sputtered from our mouths, even while staring at the printed cards with the new translation.

When I first heard about the changes, I was a bit miffed. Not because I was particularly wedded to the old translation, but I wished that other priorities, such as separating governance leadership from ministry and more attention to social justice issues, would take preference over updating the 1973 English translation of the liturgy. I even signed a petition insisting that my church re-evaluate the decision to enforce the new translation. But with the realization, last Sunday, that the changes were indeed moving forward, I sent a text during Mass to a priest friend about one of the more formal changes. "Consubstantial is suppose to be easier to say than 'one in being'? Really? Really?" He encouraged me with a text back that read "hang in there."

I received other words of encouragement from Joel Osteen. Yes, Joel had something to say about the changes to the Catholic liturgy. Well, not exactly, but I was able to apply what he said in his weekly broadcast to my responses to the changes in the liturgy. I watch Joel on Sundays before going to Mass in order to receive some spiritual motivation. Joel is typically on point with what I need to hear to inspire me to be a better person and today was no exception. He talked about putting things in perspective. Putting things in perspective allows you to be more positive and sets you up to give praise rather than complain about a situation. Thus, armed with inspiration from Joel, I attended Mass and was able to put the new liturgy changes in perspective:

As a black kid living in the inner city I grew up with the Mass being said in Latin; I am happy that the new words of worship are still in English. Praise God.

Although many moons ago, I actually majored in theology in college; at least I understand what "consubstantial to the Father" means. Praise God.

I am not a priest, nor could I ever be in the Catholic Church; I don't have to worry about leading the liturgy and the messing up the entire congregation. Praise God.

The new language is more stylized and more formal, but I can still wear my jeans to Church. Praise God.

It will take about 30 years before we get used to these changes and there is a need for another new translation. By that time, the words might even translate to lived experience with real changes for church governance and achieving social justice. Praise God.

 
 
 

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