Vatican II marked major changes in how the Mass was celebrated. Since then, however, additional minor changes have been made. Most recently, in 2000 Pope John Paul II announced a new version of the Roman Missal, the book that details the language for celebration of the Mass.
Such changes are not adopted instantly. First they must be translated into the many, many languages across the world.
For those of us in English-speaking countries, there is an organization named ICEL – the International Commission on English in the Liturgy - which takes on the task of the English translation. Eleven bishops’ conferences are represented on ICEL. Besides the US, they include Australia, Canada, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, The Philippines, Scotland, and South Africa.
Anyone who has traveled to other countries can begin to guess at the difficulty this entails. I remember attending an international meeting in Europe and hearing an English translation where they referred to a torch. This didn’t make sense given the context. When those of us from the US asked what they meant, we were told, “In your country, you call it a flashlight.” Such minor differences appear trivial. But when the language pertains to prayer and how we interact with God at liturgy, the language takes on another deeper level of importance.
Because of the complexities involved, it has taken nine years to work on the English translation for the new Roman Missal. The US bishops will be voting on the final version this coming November. If approved, you will soon be seeing the changes on Sundays.
The US bishops have set up a website to help parishioners become familiar with the changes. Some changes appear to be stylistic. Others more obviously present the fuller meaning of the original text. For example, currently when Mass begins and the presider says, “The Lord be with you.” We respond, “And also with you.” The new Roman Missal changes our response to, “And with your spirit.” If you have participated in a Mass in Spanish, you will recognize that these are the exact words that are already used in the Spanish Mass.
Other changes are not as clear. For example, in the Nicene Creed at Mass we currently say, “… Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.” The revision proposes changing the last part to, “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.” Although theologically correct, the word “consubstantial” is not one that will have instant meaning for most Catholics.
If you would like more of a preview, visit the USCCB site and learn about the changes that are coming.