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Paying attention to new translation of Missal

Posted By December 2, 2011 | 3:11 pm | Lead Story #2

By Tanya Connor

Appreciation, criticism and good-natured joking were among reactions to the new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, inaugurated at Masses last weekend.
“What better time than Advent, because it’s the beginning of a new year?” Father Philip D. McNamara asked The Catholic Free Press Tuesday. “What better way to start the (pope’s) new project of evangelization than the Mass? We have a liturgical springtime.”
Father McNamara is retired, but celebrates Mass at St. Peter Parish in Worcester and Southgate at Shrewsbury, where he and other retirees live.
“We may be old, but we’re not out of it,” he said of the retired priests there who were interested in learning about the changes.
Father McNamara said he celebrated Mass in Latin before Vatican Council II, but was happier with English.
“Latin is just so hard to translate, because there’s so much packed in a word,” he said. “When we’re talking to God, we’d like to know what we’re saying to him.”
While not comparable, the new missal is like the King James Version of the Bible, with which people “managed to create a masterpiece in English,” he said. “Our goal is to make the prayers as beautiful as possible. Those prayers are composed with a lot of thought and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.”
“Well, at least the Our Father’s the same,” Jesuit Father William E. Reiser said, upon concluding Mass at Our Lady of Providence Parish in Worcester Saturday evening. Some worshippers applauded.
“God looks in the heart; he’s not all that big on the words,” Joseph Trent said afterwards. “He’s big for the Our Father, which is what he taught us.”
He said he thought the new translation did not flow as easily as the prior one, and hoped that was simply because it was unfamiliar.
“You have to read them very slowly,” Father Reiser said of the words. “The orations are longer. They could have used a few more periods. The translation, from what I can see, is kind of literal. It’s going to take awhile to get used to the cadence.”
“We’ll adjust to it,” said Kathleen Haran. “We did it so many years ago.”
“I think it makes you think about it a little more,” said her son Timothy Haran. “If you’re thinking about what you’re saying, it’s going to mean more to you. I think it’ll be better once people get used to it.”
People get used to hearing the same thing, said Sister Rena Mae Gagnon, a Little Franciscan of Mary, who does pastoral ministry at Our Lady of Providence.
“This made me more alert,” she said. “In six months we’ll be used to it.”
“I would have liked to see ‘for us and for our salvation,’” rather than “for us men,” she said. “To me, ‘us’ would have been inclusive.”
John Palmer said there wasn’t much difference in the new translation.
Jackie Doyle said she liked it a lot.
“I did think it was interesting to be on the altar, and hearing people doing the old and the new,” said Linda Wagner, who served at Our Lady of Providence.
“Our feeling was that it flowed well this weekend,” Father Peter J. Joyce, pastor of Blessed John Paul II Parish in Southbridge, said Tuesday. But it wasn’t all new for the congregation.
“We felt there was so much to learn all at once,” he said, so a year ago they started introducing changes in the congregation’s responses.
“At first it was awkward and even cumbersome,” he said. “A couple times I forgot.”
He had a head start. For years he’s been celebrating Mass in Spanish, which has used words closer to the new English translation since the 1980s, he said.
Father Patrick Ssekyole, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Auburn, has a similar experience. What is in the new English translation was already used in Luganda, his local language in Uganda, he said. Although English is the country’s official language, people worship in their local languages, though in some institutions and city parishes they use English, he said.
“The richness of theology, lived out in liturgy, is the reason for the current translation,” he said. To understand its importance, people should listen to the prayers the priest says, as changes in the congregation’s responses are few and may not be that different, he said.
“I find the language … inspiring,” said Father John E. Horgan, pastor of St. Denis Parish in Ashburnham and St. Anne Parish in South Ashburnham. He expressed hope that it will lift people’s hearts closer to the Lord and said parishioners seem to appreciate it.
“They’re using the pew cards and missalettes,” he said. “We’re getting there together.”
His parishes started using the new translation last weekend, but began learning sung responses for the congregation in mid-October, he said.
“I wanted to give my people a very, very positive view,” said Father Paul J. Tougas, pastor of St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Boylston, who’s been educating parishioners about the changes for a couple months. “I want them to love the Mass like I love the Mass.”
Deacon Roland R. Michaud, who serves Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hopedale, said their pastor, Father William C. Konicki, began using the new missal last weekend, but talked about the changes earlier. He invited parishioners to take information pamphlets home, but asked them to leave the cards showing the changes in the pews, joking that they might need them for a few years, Deacon Michaud said.
During Masses last weekend Father Konicki alerted worshippers when changes were coming, and said they will do that for awhile, the deacon said.
“People still slip up, even with advance warning,” he said. “Old habits die hard.” But, he said, “I noticed the whole church was participating.”
“I like it,” he said of the new missal. “To me it’s not a difficulty. It calls me to more attention. It’s about all of us growing in our faith and getting closer to God.”
PHOTO: By Tanya Connor
Father Paul J. Tougas, pastor of St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Boylston, got parishioner Clare Nadolski to make this altar banner – which secretary Pearl Martino suggested –  to help worshippers remember one of their responses in the new English-language translation of the Roman Missal. The response is familiar to Father Tougas. “I was the last priest in Worcester ordained in Latin,” he says. He says that for the first six months of his priesthood he celebrated the Tridentine Mass, then there were two or three English translations, at least one of which used this response.