New Liturgy=Babel in the Pews

Four weeks into using the new translation of the Catholic liturgy, we can be sure of one thing: Every time the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” 50 percent of the congregation will say, “And also with you,” the old response, and 50 percent will say, “And with your spirit,” the new response. Both groups will say it loudly and confidently, but some will follow it up with a quiet curse. Dang, screwed it up again. We have been saying the same words for 40 years. It’s going to take a while to change things.

Meanwhile, we cling to our cheat sheets. Last week, when I left the keyboard to sing in the choir, I looked down and noticed Julian, our young guitar player, with the old version of the Creed in front of him. I could see his expression becoming more and more confused as his words didn’t match ours. The new Creed even starts on a different word, “I” instead of “We.” Yesterday, we had a visiting singer who didn’t seem to know about the cheat sheets either. Confusion on his face, too.

It’s tricky for this old piano player, too. I’m used to certain cues. When Father mentions the angels singing praise, my fingers hit the keys to play the “Holy, Holy.” “When he says, “Through him and with him . . . ” I’m set to play the “Amen.” With the changes, I’m thinking: “Now?” The end of the Mass is still a muddle. Nobody is sure when to say, “Amen,” “Thanks Be to God” or “Coffee and donuts are being served in the hall.”

We’ll get it. Just not this year. I can’t wait to see the confused looks next weekend when all those folks who only show up at Christmas discover that things have changed.

Meanwhile, the good thing is that it makes us pay attention and think about what we’re saying and why we’re saying it.

So, the Lord be with you. And with your spirit.

Merry Christmas to you all. Even if you don’t believe Jesus is God, He was pretty cool, so celebrate.