SALT LAKE CITY — Sunday brought the revisions to the Roman Missal wrought by the third edition of the English language translation, with parishes throughout the English-speaking world changing the words they pray to more closely reflect the Latin from which the liturgy was developed.
In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, although priests and laity alike stumbled a bit with the new words, overall the liturgy went smoothly.
"It seemed to go as we had planned," said Monsignor Joseph M. Mayo, pastor of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The 11 a.m. Sunday Mass was his first with the new words after 38 years reciting the Missal of Paul VI, which came from Vatican II, but he had practiced the chants and prayers several times beforehand, he said.
Msgr. Mayo acknowledged being a little off key during some of the sung portions of the Mass, but for the read parts, "you just have to read them properly – slow down and take the time to read them," he said.
Father Peter Do, associate pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena/Catholic Newman Center at the University of Utah, had a similar experience.
"It went as I expected – at moments the changes were awkward because I was trying to relearn how to celebrate the Mass," said Fr. Do, who was ordained in 2009. "The phrasing of the missal is a little different. The people, of course, are experiencing the same things. We spent the last eight weeks trying to prepare the people, but they are still experiencing the newness and the awkwardness of the new phrases. It will take a while to get off the automatic responses. I hear it may take as long as six months to learn the new phrases. Once people get used to it, it will be very nice. It does have a wonderful language about it and gives you a sense you are entering into a holy and heavenly liturgy."
Sisters for Christian Community Sister Julie Maher, who attended the first Sunday of Advent Mass at the Newman Center, said she thinks the changes are challenging but refreshing. "They make you stop and think about what you are saying," she said.
At Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Kearns, preparation for the new translation also began several months ago.
"We like them [the changes], and we have embraced them," said Dennis Ray, a member of the parish committee that oversaw the preparation, which included cards for the parishioners with the new wording and a practice Mass.
Most if not all the parishes distributed written versions of the new wording to parishioners and many held workshops that covered the changes to the words and music. Saint Catherine of Siena/Catholic Newman Center held a series of classes that explored the revisions.
For priests in the diocese, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, organized a workshop on the changes in August. The workshop presenter was Father Richard Fragomeni, of the Diocese of Albany N.Y., who also is an author and associate professor of liturgy and preaching at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union.
The priests also had their own ways of practicing. For example, Msgr. Mayo said he uploaded the chants to his cell phone so he could listen to it when he had time.
Saint Francis Xavier parishioner Karyn Williams said she likes the changes because they are closer to the original Latin.
Louie Franciose, a junior at Judge Memorial Catholic High School who attends Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, said the changes were taught in one of his classes. "The ones that struck me were, ‘And with your spirit,’ and ‘under your roof,’ Franciose said. "They are from the Gospel stories, and I think the intentions of the changes are totally correct. It’s going to be hard to learn the new verses, but they are actually more literal and direct translations of the Mass from Latin to English."
By contrast, Mariah Sprinkle, also a junior at Judge, isn’t a big fan of the changes. "I don’t know if the changes are completely necessary, but I will go along with it," she said.
At the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Tiara Hawkins helped her grandmother, Kathy Hansen, with the changes. Hawkins learned about the new translation at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
Hansen said the changes were difficult after 64 years of attending Mass. "I would try to remember [the change] was coming up, and by the time we got there I reverted back to what I had learned," she said.
Intermountain Catholic associate editor Christine Young and staff writer Laura Vallejo contributed to this story.