Last night at Mass, I led the choir at Sacred Heart Church in new songs for a new Mass. For over 40 years, we Catholics have been saying the same words every Sunday. The priest said, “The Lord be with you” and we answered “And also with you.”
But now, the words have changed. We are to respond “And with your spirit.”
That is only one of many changes. The words of the Gloria, the Creed, and the Communion prayers are all different. The meaning is the same, but all over the English-speaking world, Catholics are saying different words this weekend. It’s the biggest change since the post-Vatican II overhaul in the 1960s.
Prior to Vatican II, the Mass was said in Latin, and the priest did most of the talking. The New Mass was spoken in the language of the people, and they played a much larger role, with spoken and sung responses. They held hands during the Lord’s Prayer and offered each other a sign of peace. Older people who were used to the way Mass had always been said had a hard time adjusting, and some dropped out of the church. My parents were among them.
This time, the changes are not quite as drastic, but they are profound. The church fathers have written a new translation from Latin into English which we began using this first weekend of Advent.
After Thanksgiving Mass on Thursday, parishioners took the old books out of the pews and replaced them with new ones. In the choir room, we took all the old service music out of the binders and files. Entire collections of service music are no longer allowed to be sung. We moved mountains of paper. Out with the old, in with the new.
Last night, I felt honored to be able to lead the choir for the debut of the new 2012 Mass. Some of the words are the same, but enough have changed that suddenly we have to pay attention and listen to what we’re saying. We all made mistakes. Many of the responses came out as a mix of old and new. The old words are so engrained in our minds. But I’m glad I was there.
The only “disaster” of the Saturday vigil Mass had nothing to do with the new liturgy. For some unknown reason, the ushers started taking a second collection after Communion. We didn’t have one planned. As the baskets were being passed, Father Brian stared out at the pews. “I don’t believe we have a second collection.” But it was too late. People had already put money in the baskets. Rather than take it back, they opted to give it to the local food pantry.
At the end of Mass, Fr. Brian raised his hands and said, “The Lord be with you.” Some of us, armed with cheat sheets, responded, “And with your spirit.” Others answered, as always, “And also with you.” It’s going to take a while, but the new Mass has begun.