Missal changes debut Nov. 27

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nick Kulasa passes out handbooks on the revised Roman Missal during a Mass for the hearing impaired at St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park on Nov. 13. English-speaking Masses begin using the new translation on Nov. 27, the First Sunday of Advent. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

Ready or not, here it comes. The Third Edition of the Roman Missal will debut the weekend of Nov. 26-27, as parishes celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, and how ready parishioners are to follow the new wording of the prayers or make the new responses will vary.

Father Steven Lanza at St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park thinks most of his parishioners understand the changes that are coming. The parish bulletin has included articles that touched on the new translation every week for a year, he said, and he planned to offer homilies touching on the translation during all weekend Masses for five weeks leading up to Advent.

Parishioners also had several weeks to learn a new musical setting — the same setting that will be used at Cardinal Joseph Bernardin School and the three other parishes that sponsor it. Workshops have been held for catechists, teachers, liturgical ministers and other parishioners, and booklets explaining the changes have been distributed to adults, children and teens.

“The biggest question has been, ‘Why is this happening?’” Lanza said. “We’ve tried to answer it in all those bulletin articles and in the meetings we’re having. The church is retooling, just as you retool things in other areas of your life. The Mass isn’t changing. It’s just the translation.”

The changes in the translation have been under discussion for a long time, Lanza said, but many Catholics have not been aware of the process.

“For a lot of the people in the pews, it might sound like it’s coming out of the blue,” he said.

Lorie Crepeau, director of faith formation at St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights, said that shouldn’t happen at her parish. As at St. Julie Billiart, St. Edna started its efforts to educate parishioners a year ago, with many, many meetings, bulletin articles and information on its website.

Parishioners have heard and practiced the new music settings before Masses for the past few weeks, and cards with the new Mass responses were put in the pews the weekend of Nov. 12.

A lot of what the parish has had to do is clear up what is happening — a new translation of the Mass into English — versus what is not happening. The altar will not be turned around, she pointed out, and the church is not returning to a pre-Vatican II Mass.

“We wanted to make sure we had the right information out there,” she said.

Most people understand the changes when they consider them carefully, she said. For example, the Nicene Creed in Latin has always started with the declaration “Credo,” which means, “I believe.”

“This is not a ‘we’ prayer,” Crepeau said. “This is an ‘I’ prayer. I’m saying what I believe. I can’t say what anyone else believes.”

Crepeau said she knows it will take time for people to become comfortable with the new words, but she’s counting on the children and teens — who might be more accepting of changes — to lead the way.

Father Kenneth Simpson — who happens to be the priest on the cover of Liturgy Training Publication’s “Understanding the Revised Mass Texts,” which has sold a million copies — has also led months of meetings at St. Clement Parish on the North Side, where he is pastor. The meetings were held at different times of day to make sure everyone had a chance to come.

Simpson acknowledged that the changes will take some getting used to. An attempt to have parishioners pray the new version of the Nicene Creed (not as part of a Mass) didn’t go well, even with cue cards. “People just get on automatic pilot,” he said.

Some of the new prayers for presiders will take more getting used to. Simpson said he is working hard to prepare himself, but knows that it will be an ongoing process.