One of the really interesting conversations I had during the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis was with Father Michael DeAscanis, pastor of St. Agnes parish in Catsonsville and St. William of York in West Baltimore.
We talked for a story I did on the transition to the new translation of the Roman Missal, but got to delve into some big issues of Mass and Catholicism. Ordained in 2004, Father DeAscanis received his Civil Engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University before pursuing the life of the clergy.
He had some interesting thoughts about the changes, which were just implemented this week, and how ready young people were for it.
"I think young people are just always experiencing Mass in new ways and new forms, so this will be one more fresh experience for them," Father DeAscanis said. "The challenge for priests is to have humility to what the church has given and pray it just as the apostles accepted what Jesus gave them. I think it's a challenge for priests and adults in humility to accept it and pray it."
At St. William of York, the daily Thursday Mass is celebrated in traditional Latin in an effort to educate young Catholics about the church's roots.
"We double our morning Mass attendance," Father DeAscanis said. "People come from a distance. The more we understand the Traditional Mass, the more we understand the Mass we pray today. We need to understand the roots, the origin of the prayers we pray today."
If you're studying the Traditional Mass or just delving into the new order of Mass because of these news translations, it deepens your appreciation of the prayer."
St. William of York admits he was largely unfamiliar with the Traditional Mass, saying, "you can't take anything for granted. The prayers are very intentional. You focus on what you're saying in the readings, whereas in our common daily prayers you might get sloppy and go through the motions. There's no going through the motions with the Traditional Mass when you're not familiar with it."
November 28, 2011 01:02
By Matt Palmer
Father Matt Buening looked out on his congregation Nov. 27 as he was concluding Mass at St. Paul's in Ellicott City and offered something he has done throughout his young priesthood.
"The Lord be with you," he said.
What came next probably happened all across the country this weekend.
One half responded "And also with you," while the other said, "And with your spirit."
Father Buening smiled and offered, "Pretty good."
It wasn't the first time the congregation relied on what it had done for decades. Earlier in the Mass, Father Buening offered "The Lord be with you."
The congregation responded with "And also with you."
Father Buening looked at them and said, "One more time."
The parish giggled a bit and said, "And also with your spirit."
Father Buening again asked, "One more time."
Finally, they said, "And with your spirit."
English-speaking parishes all across the country started the new translation (third edition) of the Roman Missal this weekend during Masses. And there were "a few slip-ups" at some parishes as one Catholic Review tweet put it.
People in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who knew all of the previous responses and the Mass spent the weekend looking at pamphlet guides. The Masses lacked the sure-footedness of previous ones, as people read, rather than recited, much of their responses.
More than anything, the biggest changes happened for the priests, who prepared for the consecration in a whole new, and almost unrecognizable, way.
I think one of my biggest adjustments to the new translation will be the wordiness of it all. That's saying something considering I'm a writer. Journalists are often told to "dumb it down" for their audience so the reader will understand the story better. The Catholic English Mass is going in the opposite direction, using wordy prose that is more faithful to the original Latin text that guided the Catholic Church for much of its 2000 years.
As a retired altar boy, I spent a lot of time looking down, rather than up, this weekend. I no longer know the Mass like the back of my hand.
I knew what I said before, I meant it and it was true.
It's not my job to judge the decisions of Catholic leaders who know more theologically than I do. Their goal is to make the worship experience deeper and fuller. For me, there wasn't anything deeper and fuller than the Mass as I knew it.
It might not have been close enough to the Latin for some, but, for me, Mass wasn't about chasing a language. It was about celebrating Christ's sacrifice and his real presence in the Eucharist. It might not have been perfect for some, but it was perfect for me and I suspect for a lot of people.
To be honest, I do worry about the large number of ex-Catholics who might entertain returning to the Holy Church one day. Fall-away Catholics make up one of the most significant portions of faiths in the country. If they return, will they recognize the Mass and will it bring them the comfort they're seeking?
The page in the Missal has been turned. It's my job as a Catholic newspaper reporter to turn with it. I can't educate people in the paper if I don't go deeper in my own Catholicism and explore what's being said at Mass all over again. The reality is, this is going to be the Mass of my children. They won't know anything different until it's possibly changed down the road… and then they'll be the ones talking about how they feel like a stranger in a familiar pew.
One of the unfortunate side effects of this change has been the online battle between those who dispute the change and those who embrace it. I've seen some resort to calling those faithful to the former translation "protestants." A love of the Mass is a love of the Mass. It's not protestant to think the Mass, as it was, was beautiful and true. A person has the right to miss that translation as much as some miss the Latin Mass proper.
We all have the same goal in the Catholic faith. As English-speakers, we're just saying it differently now and that's no small thing.
November 27, 2011 03:25
By Matt Palmer
One of the great joys of covering the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) was meeting Tom Booth, the musician and composer who led worship during the conference's final Mass. Tom wrote the "Mass of Life," which was used for the final time in its current incarnation during the NCYC's closing Mass. The new Missal translation means changes for music as well.
After the NCYC Mass, he told me, “I wrote it 20 years ago and it’s been published and sung for years. I kind of waved goodbye to it when we sang the ‘Amen.’ I blew it a kiss.”
During the last day, my post about Tom Booth has become one of the most viewed blogs in the year-long history of The Welcome Matt. What I've come to realize is that people across the country love Tom Booth and cherish his contributions to their Mass experience.
So, it'll make everyone feel good to see that Tom contributed a comment to my blog earlier today responding to a fan of his work.
In his post, Tom said: " I am now thinking that, with the help of others, I should adapt the Mass of Life setting to the new Roman Missal. Not sure why I was resistant to that idea before. I have a couple of friends that have already been working on it and I have just not been sure. Anyway, an adaptation wouldn’t hurt. There are just SOOOOO many new settings out there. I didn’t want to add to the cacophony that these past two years have been with publishing and new mass settings."
That's good news to hear for Catholics, music fans and, well, everyone.
November 22, 2011 11:43
By Matt Palmer
In the Catholic music world, Tom Booth is a modern legend and he has served as a mentor to several major stars, including Matt Maher. In the early 1990s, Booth wrote Mass settings and ritual music. Those arrangements, the "Mass of Life," have been used across the country since 1993.
Now that the new translation of the Roman Missal is being implemented next weekend, that means Booth's long-used music is being shelved.
I'm working on a story for The Catholic Review and Scott Miller, director of the Division of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, took me to Booth following the National Catholic Youth Conference finale Mass Nov. 19. Scott told him what I was working on and Booth smiled. Most kids didn't realize they were participating in the swan song of "Mass of Life."
Listen to him prepare the youths here.
Booth was still emotional. He just helped guide the worship of nearly 25,000 people inside Lucas Oil Stadium with the settings that would be retired that night.
"I wrote it 20 years ago and it's been published and sung for years," Booth told me after the Mass. "I kind of waved goodbye to it when we sang the 'Amen.' I blew it a kiss."
At that moment, Booth grabbed his sheet music, signed it and gave it to me.
I asked: "It was that emotional, huh?"
Booth shook his head and offered, "I don't want to think about it."
What's happening in America next weekend is a huge deal. Many adjustments will have to be made. While we welcome what's coming, let's cherish what has been so important in attracting millions to the faith during the last few decades.
I know I won't forget Tom Booth anytime soon.
UPDATE: Tom Booth is considering adapting his "Mass Of Life" for the new translation.
November 20, 2011 10:37
By Matt Palmer