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New, Old Mass debuted to Catholics

Language deepens locals’ faith, tongue-ties others
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Phyllis Whitney found herself reflecting on the words of her prayers even more carefully than normal during Sunday’s mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Auburn. Whitney, an Auburn resident and parishioner at St. Joseph’s since 1957, was joined by millions of other English-speaking Catholics who were experiencing a transition to the third edition of the Roman Missal, which contains prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass. Local church leaders and parishioners say that while adjusting to change can always be a challenge, the new mass is welcomed by most because it is a more accurate translation of the texts’ original Latin. “We knew a year in advance it was going to happen,” Whitney said. “It goes back to more the original thought behind the words. One lady said to me, ‘I’m reading the words, but saying the old ones.’” The new translation has been in the works for about a decade. It was implemented on the first Sunday of advent and marks the most significant change to the ritual text since the early 1960s. That is when the Catholic Church mandated mass be given in the vernacular language, rather than Latin. Whitney said even with the early notice, she still found herself stumbling over her words a little. Friend and fellow parishioner Linda O’Brien agreed that it may take some getting used to, but it also helped her meditate a little more on a longtime ritual. “When you have been saying the same words since you were young I think it keeps you aware,” O’Brien said. Father Brian Atienza of St. Joseph’s agreed. “This week was a very exciting one because everyone started to become very excited about using the new words,” Atienza said. “I would say it was a spiritually uplifting experience. It definitely brought me into prayer and made me pay better attention to what I was saying.” Atienza said he, like his congregation, was still getting used to the new diction on his side of the equation. The church did a video series examining the biblical background behind the Mass leading up to the new edition’s release on Nov. 27. “The people felt a little anxious about to a degree, but I told them, ‘we are in this together,’” Atienza said. “Given the older community I have a lot of those that were a little nostalgic. Most of the young families were excited about it. They saw a good opportunity to re-learn, so they can teach it their children.” Atienza said some of the more formal language also confused people. “One of the big words people got confused on was consubstantial,” Atienza said. “It just means the Father and Son are the same being. It’s a big word, but they want to be a little more consistent with the original Latin.” New saints added to missal Along with the revised words in the Eucharist, the Catholic Church added new Saints to the Missal that have been canonized in the past 30 to 40 years, according to Sister Anita Minihane of St. Teresa’s Catholic Church in Auburn. Atienza said it was meant to inspire believers to live a life of faith and memorialize the Saints of recent history. He said he is particularly proud to honor San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, a Saint from his birth country, The Philippines. “He was martyred in Japan,” Atienza said. “He is the first Filipino Saint, so for me that is a little bit of pride on my part.” Minihane helped put on bible classes leading up to the new mass’s release to help parishioner’s better understand that every part of the mass has biblical beginnings. She said for most, the new language in Mass has been a way to go deeper spiritually. “The other part I support is that it causes us to slow down and not be in rut,” Minihane said. “We are more intentional in our worship.” Father Mark Carroll of St. Teresa’s has been ordained for 40 years. He said it is important for followers to realize that most of the other languages that were translated from Latin maintained the poetry and intent of the original words, but the English translation lost some of that. “It was mainly not as prayerful as it should have been,” Carroll said. “All of the languages were a bit more true to the original document we have had for thousands of years.” Carroll said although he supports the changes, the difficulty with which words rolled off of his tongue on Sunday reminds him of when he first came to the United States to serve. He said he hopes the attention the changes are getting will cause people to reflect more on the significance of the Eucharist. “If you are someone that likes our Constitution and you go back to Washington or take a class in our Constitution you become more aware of the sacrifice people made,” Carroll said. “You become more aware of the intentions.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.