‘And With Your Spirit’

John L. Allen, Jr., in his article, “‘Liturgy wars’ have gone quiet, but they’ve hardly gone away,” on the website Crux, examines an issue about which seemingly every Catholic has an opinion – the Liturgy!

Almost five years have come and gone since the implementation of the new translation in English of the Roman Missal (and we should note that many countries have not even finished their own vernacular translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal). Five years ago, some people were certain that the Church was surely in dire straights and that parishioners and priests would never adapt to the language of the Roman Missal and that people would leave the Church over this new translation. Five years have come and gone, and while some people sadly might have left the Church, it most probably wasn’t over having to say “And with your Spirit.”

Allen quotes Jesuit Father James Martin and Passionist Father Edward Beck, who are highly critical of the current translation, while at the same time, also quoting Msgr. James Moroney, who actively worked on the translation for ICEL (International Committee on English in the Liturgy) and Msgr. Richard Hilgartner, who served as the director of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference’s Liturgical Office on how successful the transition to the new translation has been.

Msgr. Moroney is quoted as stating: “Despite the efforts of some to create widespread dissatisfaction with the new translation, its implementation has been far smoother than even its strongest proponents could have predicted,” and “For the first time since the great experiment in vernacularization of the liturgy, we are actually praying the same thing as the Latin prayers.  Considering the antiquity and universal usage of these prayers, these new translations are an effective sign and instrument of unity of a Church that prays what it believes across time and space.”

The transition to the new translation has actually proven to be more successful than we would have thought.

It put the focus back on the words – people began to listen again to the prayers, and not just to recite them by rote memorization. Priests and people began again to think about what it is that we celebrate.

For those who claim that the words are too difficult for the average Catholic in the pew to understand, we point out the outstanding catechesis that was done in parishes throughout the diocese to help prepare people for these changes. If the term “consubstantial” is foreign to most ears (and we admit that it is!), perhaps it might be a good topic for a homily for a priest or deacon to give. The preparations done by the Church in Brooklyn and Queens was quite good in helping both clergy and laity get ready to use the new translation of the Missal, and, in most parishes, went off without a hitch.

In many ways, the new translation helped the priest celebrant, too! With a change in the words of the prayers, it made the celebrant realize that the focus cannot be on him and, perhaps made him look over the prayers before he celebrated that Mass. This preparation hopefully will lead to a more reverent celebration of the Mass.

We know that this new translation (which after five years is no longer really that new!) is still a sore point for many people. But we urge our priests and our people to continue to embrace these prayers, and to see them not as something that drives a division in the Church, but as one that unites us more fully with the Church around the world.


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