Will Catholic Mass changes cause mass confusion?

Marvin Joseph THE WASHINGTON POST   Valerie Grays right receives Communion from the Rev. William Norvel at Saint Francis Xavier … Continued

Marvin Joseph



Valerie Grays right receives Communion from the Rev. William Norvel at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Baltimore on Sept. 18.


The Catholic Church, its religious authorities often remind its followers, is intentionally slow to change, if it ever changes at all. The ritual of Communion, where the priest consecrates the bread and wine for distribution to the faithful, for example, has been observed in similar fashion for thousands of years.

But this weekend, millions of English-speaking Catholics will experience some of the most profound change in their lifetime when the words of the Catholic liturgy are phased out in favor of a new translation.

As Michelle Boorstein reported this month, a summer survey showed that most Catholics were then unaware of the upcoming changes. In recent weeks, say church officials, priests and parishes have been preparing Catholics through instruction at religious services, direct mailings and communication campaigns.

The overhaul has been in the works for a decade, and “is aimed at unifying the more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide with a translation that is as close as possible to the original Latin version.” In some cases, the new language will more literally reflect the Scripture passages on which liturgical prayers were based.

One example of that shift is in a line familiar to Catholics at the height of the Mass, just before Communion. “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed,” Catholics have said for decades. This weekend, those words change to, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This new translation borrows from a story in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus entered a man’s home and healed his servant.

If you’re attending Mass this weekend, here’s what you need to know:

– The new Mass will first be celebrated at the Saturday vigil, to be followed by Masses on Sunday and thereafter.

– Priests are unlikely to interrupt the Mass with instructions, but instead will encourage congregants before the service begins to follow along to printed materials containing the new text.

– Some familiar Mass songs will change to accommodate the new translations.

– If you’re interested in the reasoning behind any specific word choice, you can read the commentary from the bishops’ conference at their Web site. Click on the ‘commentary’ links below the Mass part.

You can see some of the new language in the graphic below.

Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/The Washington Post

You can read the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ explainer on which familiar sections of the Mass are changing, below.

Elizabeth Tenety
Written by

  • lufrank1

    Hey! I’m an Agnostic — BUT it’s not right for anyone who isn’t a Roman Catholic to comment on what is THEIR business Only!

  • hanley12

    Mass was fine today, as usual.

    The response changes for the people are not extensive and the revised text for the priest offers new insights into the sacrament.

  • dclc

    I’m old enough to remember the Tridentine (Latin) mass, on which the new translation is based. The translation is more literal, but also more clunky, than the translation it’s replacing. But if older is better, will we also go back to married priests and female deacons?

  • elizdelphi

    As a Catholic I appreciate the civility of this comment. Thanks to those non Catholics who are dismayed by the mocking and scornful comments. They know not what they are doing.

    But, non Catholics are free to comment. We do understand the Mass as being for everyone, as Jesus suffered and died for love of all of us. Jesus was mocked and scorned. His reply was gentleness and forgiveness, because he loved them.

    I just got home from Mass with the new translation. Before Mass, Father gave an excellent introduction and went through it twice having us practice. It was moving having the new language which is closer to the Latin text of the Mass, closer the Bible, and more sacral and profound. I felt joy! Just being able to speak of our sin and contrition in a more frank way was incredibly refreshing and helped dispose me in openness and desire for God’s mercy which He gives overflowingly. That’s so basic to my Christian faith.

  • OlderandWiser1

    “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Apparently Catholics are not important enough for their Church to consider. Top- down directives as always! And you wonder why fewer people attend Mass these days?

  • calebgosa

    Catholics have been changing their tactics for 2,000 years and they can NEVER get it right. They think that it is right this time but they thought it was right the other hundred times, also.

    Why don’t they STOP HUNGER and take ALL of the gold in the Vatican basement and give it to the farmers so they can buy equipment to raise food to feed the 42,000 children that are dying every single day from HUNGER and CONTAMINATED WATER?

    Why build CRAFTED TEMPLES when God said He does not live/dwell in temples crafted by hands of man in Acts 7:47-48 and 17:24. All they do is LIE and convince their members that God inspired those verses ‘OUT OF CONTEXT’ and they should listen to them but not God. They will weave God’s inspired words into the most beautiful tapestry of practiced LIES saying what they want you to believe but not what God says EXACTLY the way He means it. He means what He says EXACTLY the way He says it. The ones that Christ told His TRUE disciple to HATE in Luke 14:26 is one of the main causes of the HYPOCRITE RELIGIONS that Jesus mentions in Matthew 15:7-9 and they will weave that verse into a LIE, also.

    What a bunch of retards that believe their religion is right but the other 14,999 are wrong and none of the religions believe God is right but they LIE and say they are, but the other 14,999 are NOT RIGHT.

    70,000 RELIGIONS have disappeared but a new one crops up every 2 years or so and 1 or 2 will disappear except the ones that know how to take your money from the POOR and SUFFERING but Christ says they give a STRAINED OUT GNAT’S amount to the poor and the retards believe them. Jesus calls all of them ‘ROBBER’S DENS’.

    They are going to try this new tactic for a while. if it does not help them to get some more of your money, they will try another tactic. They want more stolen money to pile up into the Vatican basement so the poor and suffering can continue to die of starvation.

    The farmers have been waiting for the money for about 2,000 years. When Christ returns, He

  • JanetinNewEngland

    Since the tweets are little more than nonsense words and repetitions, could you please put them AFTER the other comments, or at least EDIT them?

  • louisewilson1

    The Creator must now wish he had kept the dinosaurs alive. He designed it to be so simple for us. “Love each other and you will find Me”. How could that go so wrong? Guess that is simple too. That feeling of godlike infallibility. In the soul of man there is the undeniable desire for this all to end. The hunger is everywhere National Geographic has documented man’s existence. We can see it in their rituals. 30+ years of study in theology, history, ancient history and languages has shown me the possibility and probability that it will happen. And that it must. All religions have their answer as to how. I am Christian. I tend to bend in one direction. But I keep my disciplines in a mode of dialogue at all times. Not conclusive interpretation. I have seen a football game where in the last 10 seconds of the game there is an interception. The opposing team has plenty of time to make it to their red zone and win by a FG. Never, ever bet on the last play of a game. Who would have bet on those dinosaurs dying out.

  • judithod

    The Church is apparently in love with semantics and decided that it needed to try to upstage Vatican II. Actually, the changes will cause people to think about what they’re saying for a time instead of merely tossing off what they’ve memorized.

  • elizdelphi

    Vatican II directed that the vernacular could be used more at Mass (while also saying “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that pertain to them”) but it was not Vatican II that created the new Latin text of the Mass, or then translated it into various languages. That was done later by committees formed for those purposes. Being people of their times, the committee for English in the liturgy opted for a paraphrase which inevitably reflected some of their own thinking, and sometimes frankly rewrote the prayers, rather than sticking closely to what the prayers really say. More recently the Vatican issued guidelines that paraphrase translations are not adequate and there must be a closer translation of the word meanings. This set into motion the new translation which is more of a real translation of what the Latin normative text of the Mass says.

    Slowing down and thinking about what we’re praying is definitely a good thing. Our priest said today something similar to what you said about that.

  • milwolfe

    Some of the wording goes back to the way it used to be which I guess is fine. But why did they make it harder in some cases such as the Creed : “consubstantial with” and “was incarnate” are not good changes. (I will look them up before next Sunday but we shouldn’t have to look them up to understand the service.

  • elizdelphi

    In both these instances the reason for the language is to restore theological accuracy, and it’s actually good if it leads people to want to know exactly what the meaning of this is. Until today, “consubstantialem Patri” in the Creed was “one in being with the Father” which does not express the belief of the Church with the necessary precision.

    My pastor made a point of explaining (among other things) the theology of “consubstantial with the Father” before Mass. He said this means Christ is of the same substance as the Father, what they ARE is the same, there is only one God, the only difference between them is they are different persons. And he said (he is allowed to say this because it’s a university campus) go read Augustine’s “De Trinitate” for a more complete explanation. The Trinity is a profound mystery of faith and saying that God is love is another way of saying God is a Trinity, as the priest pointed out on another occasion. Of course one can also look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church or other sources, if the worst thing the new translation does is lead you and me to look into Trinitarian theology more carefully, I’d say it’s a huge win.

  • alientech

    This seems to be English issue as these words were being said in other languages for a long time.

  • fmehm

    The changes did what they were intended to do. They distracted Catholics and “jounalists” alike from the scandalous insensitivity of The Church toward the poor victims of pedophile priests! Shame on us all!!

  • acx1

    Found new Mass more serious, sacred, beautiful.
    People seemed more careful and attentive.

  • burlough

    “Some fools in the desert, with nothing else to do
    so scared of the lightening they didn’t know if they were coming or going
    so they invented me, and they invented you
    and these other fools keep it all going.”

    Randy Newman, Faust, Devil singing to God


    I no longer believe that a man made from dust took a nap while a bone was taken from his side (presumably his kidneys not sold on the black market), made into a woman, who ran into a talking snake who knew about a magic apple …

    Good Pope Benedict: Anti-abortion, -Anti gay, Anti-aircraft.

  • ccnl1

    Putting the final kibosh on Christianity, the RCC and its Masses:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    Some added references concerning the historic Jesus:

    o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
    2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
    – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–
    3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
    – “an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth”
    4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–”The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of

  • ptoby24

    Finally the conservative side of the church has prevailed.
    The recent word changes is the closest English translation to the Latin mass.
    As an ex-Latin scholar,retired,i applaud the change.

    I also notice all the catholic bashes are out in force

  • Denise Kruse

    I do wish people didn’t say grie-VEE-ous instead of grievous. newMass

  • Sally Ortiz

    “And with your Spirit” instead of “and also with you” newmass

  • Victor Ciesielski

    Can u believe there is no more Lamb of God?? @Goad84 I might just break out and do a solo. newmass

  • Mara Mulroy

    Dear catholic church, my grandma can barely remember her own name. Stop changing the mass. Thanks. newmass

  • Mike Kerrigan

    I do not like the newmass, tailor made for a monk accustomed to chanting maybe ; felt excluded.

  • Jesus’ Disciple

    “@AmericanPapist: can I just say how thrilled I am over the new translation of the Mass? (RT if you’re happy too!) newmass newtranslation

  • Jeffrey Pinyan

    I am speaking about the newtranslation of the Mass tonight at Gregory the Great in Hamilton, NJ at 7:30pm newmass catholic