Alyssa Brooks recites a newly worded response during Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Virginia. CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec

Some like the new Missal, others lukewarm

By  Meghan Keating, Youth Speak News
  • January 4, 2012

The introduction of the new Roman Missal has been a hot topic of conversation since its implementation on the first Sunday of Advent, and it’s no different for Catholic youth.

For young Catholics, the new, more literal translation is the first change to the Mass they have experienced in their lifetime. While the changes in posture and the slight variations on traditional responses in the Mass are significantly less than the changes that previous generations faced in the 1960s (where the Mass was translated from Latin to the vernacular), the changes may still take some getting used to for some — and not so much for others.

When the new missal was announced, Courtney Hibbs, a biology student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, believed that adjustments to the Mass were unnecessary and she thought they would be difficult to adjust to. However, since the new Mass was adopted, she has been pleasantly surprised.

Describing the new missal as nothing drastic, Hibbs said the new vocabulary and phrases allow her to “focus on praising God.”

“I love the changes to the Gloria, especially the part that says, ‘We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You,’ ” said Hibbs.

She said she and her friends understand that the Mass is new and will take some time to get used to, but they are patient and feel that the changes are definitely worth it. In fact, she eagerly looks forward to the composition of more Mass settings, “so we can have some variation.”

Other youth remain cautiously optimistic.    

University of Victoria student Nadia Cornejo believes the missal allows Catholics to give more reverence. But although the phrase changes sound more respectful, they don’t have the same feel to them, she said.

“I don’t feel the same connection with God when I say, ‘And with your spirit,’ ” she said.

“I loved how everything would flow naturally when you speak. Maybe because it is new, the words do not have the same rhythm.”

Describing herself as a “cradle Catholic,” Cornejo feels there are many aspects of the new Mass that may take some getting used to, but the pew cards help a lot.

“I am glad they announced the changes at least a year (in advance) so it wasn’t a big shock,” she said.

Brunelle Lewis, who is studying law at Carleton University in Ottawa, is in the same boat as Cornejo. Initially apprehensive about the new missal, it was the intent of the changes that really helped her adjust.

“(Closer translation of Scripture) is something that I think is pretty important if we want to truly appreciate Mass in its original and purest form,” she said.

“In doing so, the hope is that we will be able to understand the dynamics of Mass more clearly than ever before.”

Unfortunately, she says that right now, she feels many Catholics are distracted from the Mass itself because of their focus on getting the new words right. She feels that the longer Catholics use the pew cards, the more comfortable they will become.

But not all the reactions to the missal have been as optimistic.

Christina Ceolin, a masters of biotechnology candidate at the University of Toronto Mississauga, believes the new changes may do more harm than good, especially where youth are concerned. Contrary to encouraging youth to become more involved with their faith, changing what they know about the Mass may alienate them instead, she said.

“I feel that the interest in Catholicism is waning and that more young people are becoming distant from the Church,” said Ceolin. “These changes probably won’t help that situation, as it would make those Catholics who don’t attend Mass as frequently less familiar with what is going on.”

Instead, she said it is more important to look at the bigger picture. “At the end of the day, God’s message is the same, no matter the wording.”

(Keating, 23, is an English literature and German culture student at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld.)

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