With the first Sunday of the Roman Catholic new year, this year, November 27, 2011, we return to the original Latin, translated into English. So for those of us, aware and cognizant of the mass pre-1963 and the Ecumenical Council called by John the XXIII, the change is a ‘not so much moment’. And, we were young, I was in college when the mass changed into English. I can remember being at the University of Portland, run by the Holy Cross priests, [Fr. Tom Fitzpatrick, C.S.C., called it the only school built on a bluff :-)] and standing around the altar for mass, the guitars, the holding hands, the singing, but most importantly, the closeness of the Eucharist and the immediacy of the miracle of the mass less than an arm’s length away. I’m a product of catholic schooling from kindergarten through my freshman year in college. Nope. Never rebelled. Never stopped going to mass. Never thought it stupid. Sometimes I argued with God. We had many a fight. I ranted and railed. But in truth, I enjoyed it. It fit me like a glove. Still does. And with Thanksgiving just a day ago, it is something I add to my list of ‘grateful for.’
After the Second Vatican Council, the language of the church, Latin, was translated into the language of the people, the vernacular, for us, English. But. They had to get it done quickly. These were tumultuous times. The translation, using what is called the dynamic equivalence, meant they wanted to get the overall meaning rather than a word-for-word translation. That’s what is changing now. We are moving to a formal equivalence. Correcting how we should speak to God in our mass. A brochure from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in DC states “…there is more than one way of saying the same thing. “Hey, pass the salt!” or “Would you pass me the salt, please?” are all basically saying the same thing and will all likely result in you getting the salt shaker. But some ways of speaking are more appropriate for one context than another.” It is the difference between sitting at the kitchen table having supper or at a formal dinner. And, after all, the mass is the most formal of festivities, it is the marriage feast.
Our priest, Father Jim Collins, hopes that by reverting to more formal language, the reverence with which we participate in the mass will increase. This will be strange for those who have converted in the last forty years. And, for our children, who like us have to see the church anew. I hope Father Jim is right. Kinda reminds me of when I first when to work, the suits, the silk shirts, the high heels. And, you acted with panache, well, because, you looked the part. Yeah. Kinda like that!