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This is in response to the letter to the editor published in the Dec. 16 issue of The Criterion about the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
In the letter, some questions were posed that I would like to answer: 1) Is the cost of the new Roman Missal translation changes worth it? 2) Is this change really going to make a change in my faith? 3) Should we instead be putting our “treasures” to help the poor?
The changes were requested by Blessed Pope John Paul II during his pontificate after an extensive review of the first round of translations following the Second Vatican Council. At the time, it was judged that some content was missing in the old way of translation, and some prayers were skewed.
While no study identifies the results of the 1975 translation, it is hard not to look at some current statistics and wonder if there isn’t a correlation.
A survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) in 2008 showed that only 57 percent of Catholics believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (http://cara.georgetown.edu/masseucharist.pdf).
According to another CARA poll, only 22 percent of Catholics attended Mass weekly in 2011.
I’d say those are some pretty big costs.
Is this change really going to make a change in my faith?
If Catholics only memorize the words of the new translation, it is likely their faith will not change. But if one takes a little time and effort to learn the “why” behind the changes, there is much potential for growth.
These changes provide the opportunity to learn about the history and development of the Mass, the role of the priest and the laity, and especially to nurture a new awe and reverence for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and the mystery of the Mass.
There are many resources to help. Three websites to visit include Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com), www.catholic.com and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at www.usccb.org.
A very helpful, easy-to-read book, based on the new translation is A Biblical Walk through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In The Liturgy by Edward Sri.
Should we not be putting our “treasures” to help the poor?
What are the potential results in learning more about the new translation? A renewed participation and interest in Mass, a renewed joy in our Catholic faith, and a desire to live that faith through works of mercy and sharing that faith with others. So this new translation is a long-term investment in helping the poor—both the materially and spiritually poor!
To summarize, while I appreciate the writer’s concern for finances and wanting to help the poor, I propose this: If we take the time to learn the why behind the changes, there is the increased potential to regain belief in the Real Presence, return to weekly Mass, grow in relationship with God through renewed awe and reverence, and a desire to live out their renewed faith in the world, including serving the poor.
Given this potential, I believe the changes—and the printed material to assist their implementation—are priceless.
Am I reading too much into the value and pricelessness of the new translation? I will let the U.S. bishops answer that:
“The entire Church in the United States has been blessed with this opportunity to deepen its understanding of the sacred liturgy, and to appreciate its meaning and importance in our lives. Because the sacred liturgy is the central action of the Church’s mission in the world, the energy and attention given over to the Roman Missal actually serves as the foundation for all of the other charitable and apostolic work in which the Church engages. It is the sacred liturgy which informs, inspires and nourishes the rest of the Church’s work in the world. As the ‘Constitution on the Liturgy’ states, ‘the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows’ ”(# 10) (http://old.usccb.org/romanmissal/).
(Natalie Hoefer is a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.) †