GU adjusts to changes for Catholic Mass

September 15, 2011

After nearly four decades, the Roman Missal, the book that contains the rites and prayers that Catholic priests use in celebrating Mass, is undergoing significant change. According to Jim Wickman, the director of music and liturgy at Georgetown, Georgetown Campus Ministry will be working on making the transition to this new Missal smooth for Georgetown University parishioners.

Beginning in October, parishioners at all masses in Dahlgren Chapel will start learning the revisions in the songs. The official date of full implementation of the new Missal is November 27, the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year. These changes will mainly consist of subtle alterations in prayers and songs as well as the addition of 17 saints to the U.S. calendar.

Wickman believes these changes have the potential to be a wake-up call for parishioners.

“I think the change will give us an opportunity to renew the way we look at the Mass [and] deepen our understanding and faith,” Wickman said.

The changes will be noticeable for parishioners. For example, instead of saying “one in being with the father” during the Nicene Creed, mass-goers will say “consubstantial with the Father” instead.

However, the changes are more reactionary than revolutionary. Wickman said the changes are actually a return to the Mass’s Latin roots. After the Second Vatican Council, held from 1962 to 1965, the Missal was changed dramatically to be more accessible to laypeople. Instead of being said in Latin, the Mass would be said in local languages.

The translation principle used by U.S. bishops to translate the Latin Mass for this edition was called “dynamic equivalence,” which focused on translating the sense of the meaning of the prayers.

The magnitude of the Latin vernacular change caused subsequent Popes, including Pope John Paul II, to call for a revision of these translations to local languages. The third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin itself is not undergoing significant alterations. But since U.S. bishops have decided to use the principle of “formal equivalence” in an attempt to bring the English Missal as close as possible to the Latin version, the English edition will see significant changes. The hope is to bring the current vernacular mass closer to the tradition of the historical Latin one.

Though English Mass is going to change significantly, the changes in other languages will be smaller, Wickman said. For example, English parishioners will respond to their priest’s “The Lord be with you” with “And with your spirit,” instead of the traditional “And also with you.” This reflects the current Spanish response, which is “Y con tu espíritu,” a more literal translation of the Latin response “Et cum spiritu tuo.”

Though the transition will not be easy, Wickman hopes that these changes will be educational for Catholic students at Georgetown.

Correction: The original version of the story implied Wickman described parishioner responses under the old Roman Missal as “robotic.” The article has been updated to more accurately reflect his language.


Read More

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
H Abdullah Shabazz

Its astonishing that a catholic school doesnt bother to explain the difference between “consubstantial” and “one in being with”. Instead, they “hope” the students at Georgetown will look it up for themselves.

Perhaps in their post modern mush, words are just political constructs without meaning. But more likely, given the intellectual quality and work ethic of today’s Jesuit academia, they dont know the diffference themselves, and dont want to take the trouble to learn.