English-speaking Catholics around the world will begin using a new translation for some of the familiar prayers at Masses beginning Sunday, Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.
A new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, the book of texts and prayers used in the Mass, will be available this October and marks the first significant changes to the Mass since it changed from Latin to English more than 40 years ago.
Many parishes are offering adult study sessions to provide not only the mechanics of the changes, but the meaning behind them. While adults may quickly grasp the changes, young people may not understand the reasons behind the profound meaning and beauty of the Mass and the new translation.
Catholic schools and numerous Catholic publications such as Pauline Books and Media, Magnifikid! and Ligouri Publications have created detailed booklets to prepare children and teens with the tools they need to participate in the sacred liturgy.
As Pope Benedict XVI stated, “The opportunity for catechesis that this new translation presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that the change will serve as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.” (Address to Vox Clara, April 28, 2010)
DSHA offers Mass 101 sessions
Milwaukee’s Divine Savior Holy Angels High School offered Mass 101 sessions for all students to learn the deeper meaning of each aspect of the Mass, including new music Mass settings. According to Stephanie Monson, assistant director of campus ministry, the sessions were designed to inspire participation, reverence and renewed respect for the Eucharist, while fostering an appreciation for the significance behind the postures involved in Mass.
“The new Mass translation is a perfect opportunity for Catholic high schools to reach out to students through the Mass,” she said. “So often, we just go through the motions of Mass and forget to really participate with our own prayers and responses. Although change is always hard, the new Mass wording will make us focus on what we are saying again and why – and there lies the opportunity. Catholic education is all about reaching students through knowledge and experiences of God.”
It isn’t enough, Monson explained, to instruct young adults in the rote responses or prayers of the Mass; students need and want to know why the church is making the changes and the meaning behind the new words of the Mass.
“The new Mass translation gives DSHA the opportunity to re-educate students about what is really going on, so we began the year with an assembly called ‘Mass 101,’” Monson said. “This presentation was about the meaning of Mass and was created just for DSHA by (Salvatorian) Fr. Jeff Wocken, director of formation for the U.S. Province of Salvatorian priests, to catechize the students about what the Mass is and, most importantly, why we do what we do.”
‘Teenagers want to experience God through Mass’
The “Mass 101” sessions offered the opportunity for students to talk about the meaning of the Mass. The day following the session, 80 students attended the first optional Mass of the school year.
“It is just proof that teenagers want to experience God through the Mass, but they just need to be given the tools to do so,” Monson said. “Our choir director, Becky Wickert, is also using the new words as an opportunity to get students more interested in the Mass. Having new music Mass settings allows us to take time out to teach the students the new music and hopefully get them excited to sing.”
Throughout October and November, Monson will teach the new words of the Mass during theology classes, and meet with teenagers in small groups to discuss the Mass more thoroughly.
New Mass prayer guide available
MILWAUKEE — With some changes in the wording used at Mass set to begin this Advent, a new “Prayer & Worship Guide” will help Catholics to participate fully in weekly liturgy. Free copies of the large-print guide are available from the Heart of the Nation Sunday TV Mass ministry. In addition to large-print text for Sunday Mass, the premier issue will contain seasonal prayers, traditional Christmas carols and the daily Mass propers.
“The new translation is wonderful to teach because it always has a link to Scripture or how Catholics have been worshipping for centuries,” she said. “The new response, ‘And with your spirit,’ is also what Mary said to the angel at the Annunciation and how Paul greets his beloved faith communities. There is power in the knowledge that 650 teenage girls will start each Mass with the same words that Mary, another teenage girl, used to start her new vocation as the mother of all Christians.”
Monson said it’s meaningful to have the conversation about the manner in which they respond to prayers during Mass with anyone, regardless of age.
“How often do we respond to the priest when he says, ‘Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,’ with a mumbled and ignored, ‘It is right to give him thanks and praise’ and soon will be ‘It is right and just,’” she said. “Having to introduce the new words gives teachers the opportunity to point out to teenagers and ourselves that we have so much to be grateful for and encourage them to participate with a heartfelt response.”
Magnifikid! to update prayers for children
Magnifikid!, a monthly spiritual guide for children ages 6 to 12, based on the adult version, Magnificat, will update its Sunday Mass prayers in the December editions.
According to Paul Snatchko, manager of marketing and communications, Magnificat Magazine, the Magnifikid! Advent issue (www.magnificat.com) will contain all the new prayers of the Mass, as well as a letter outlining the changes.
“The parents may want to talk to their children ahead of time about the changes, as well as practice some of the new prayers and the responses,” he said. “Magnifikid! will have all the new translations and the children can follow along at Mass.”
Ligouri Publications (www.ligouri.org) offers several bulletin inserts designed for teens and adults as well as primary age children. Adults can read about the changes through “Conversations about the Roman Missal,” by Jesuit Fr. Joseph Weiss, which combines academic study and pastoral experience to help teens and adults transition into the Mass in an easy-to-understand and meaningful way.
According to Ligouri Publications parish sales consultant, Elizabeth Tallis, the children’s version, “Going to Mass with the Roman Missal,” also by Fr. Weiss, has been popular among parishes.
“It is a great little four-page bulletin insert that explains the Roman Missal and the Mass changes that are coming in easy to understand language for children,” Tallis said. “Fr. Weiss did a wonderful job highlighting the changes, as well as adding a short explanation about the Mass.”
Ligouri offers booklet on changes
In addition, Ligouri offers a 48-page booklet, “The Living Mass” that outlines the changes to the Roman Missal and how Catholics worship. The booklet, by Helidoro Lucatero, outlines the reasons for the translations, why changes were made, who makes the changes and what the changes will be.
“We also carry this wonderful 45-minute DVD called ‘Feeding Hungry Hearts’ by Fr. Joe Kempf that has been extremely popular among parishes all over the country,” said Tallis. “He isn’t focused on the new Mass translation, but really explains the Mass and why we do what we do as Catholics, and explains what a great gift the Holy Eucharist is to us.”
In an easy-to-understand and colorful format, Pauline Kids (www.Pauline.org) has released a 40-page booklet for children ages 7-11 to understand the new translation of the Mass as well as the reasons behind all the Mass prayers.
While the reasons for the changes are not included in the booklet, the prayers are arranged by linking liturgical texts on the left side of the booklet with corresponding colorful explanations on the right. Despite gearing the text to children, adults will likely find the booklet helpful in answering their own questions.
Translation is ‘teachable moment’ for Pauline Books and Media
Pauline Books and Media associate editor, children’s books, Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, co-authored “The Mass Explained for Kids,” and is not only excited about the new publication on a professional level, but personally, as well.
“I have eight kids ranging from 11 to 27, and was a bit surprised when our law school student asked if I would send her a few copies of ‘The Mass Explained for Kids,’” she said. “I believe this booklet has the potential to reach families with children of various ages, and have seen much interest from adults looking for what this resource offers: A visually clean, brief catechesis on the whole Mass, and not just the things that will change with the new English translation of the Roman Missal.”
The booklet doesn’t explore why the changes occurred, or that the language of the Mass is changing, because Wolfe wanted to focus on an overall understanding of what happens at Mass and why.
“Most kids and adults would love to know what the Mass really means,” she said. “We have taken the teachable moment of the new translation as an opportunity to do that. We believe that families and children can learn to pray the Mass.”
In preparing children for the new Roman Missal, Wolfe emphasized there is much parents can do to help their children understand what will be going on, but it all begins with a relaxed state of mind, a positive attitude and a deep breath.
Learn about Mass with your children
“Expect to be a little ‘book bound’ for a while and realize that you don’t have to know the answer to every question your kids may ask,” she said. “You can learn a lot more than just what the words say.
Why not learn about the Mass together with your children?”
Secondly, parents can utilize online resources or attend parish informational sessions to learn about the changes, and discuss specific words or concepts they might find challenging.
“Just remember, ‘consubstantial’ may sound a lot more daunting than ‘one in being’ does, but the concept is the same,” explained Wolfe. “Once you realize that we’ve all coasted through Mass on autopilot at least sometimes, you’ll see what a great opportunity these changes present … for deepening our knowledge and practice of the faith.”
Once the new language is fully implemented, Wolfe encourages parents to discuss with their children the words and concepts they like and what might sound strange to the ear, and even what might make them feel uncomfortable.
“You might consider having a kind of family liturgical ‘scavenger hunt,’” she suggested. “Look for something specific in the Mass each week: like how many times the priest says, ‘The Lord be with you,’ or whether you heard words that reminded you of a Bible story or just an unfamiliar word.”
Another suggestion would be to focus on one part of the Mass together, as a family, such as the Penitential Rite. It might be surprising to many Catholics that the words Kyrie eleison are Greek and not Latin. More than anything, Wolfe encourages parents to discuss the personal meaning of the Mass to them, and how their faith in Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist, can be part of everyday family life.
“This little 40-page booklet has involved countless hours and the collaboration of many, many people over the past year,” said Wolfe. “Once we realized that there was a need and opportunity to teach kids, not just about the changes in the missal, but about the Mass as a whole, we got down to work. It has been a joy and privilege to produce something aimed at helping kids understand the great gift Jesus gave us in the Eucharist, his real presence and saving sacrifice, as well as true communion with him and one another. All of this comes to us through the celebration of Mass.”