by Susan Leem, associate producer
A parishioner’s view of a Catholic Mass from the rear pew. (photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
For many Roman Catholics, the liturgy of each Sunday’s Mass is immutable. Last week, on the first Sunday of Advent, that idea was put to the test when the highly scripted and well-memorized ritual underwent some significant changes. The last modification to the Roman missal was made nearly four decades ago during the Second Vatican Council, one being that Mass was translated into the vernacular English from the Latin.
The greeting “The Lord be with you” is now acknowledged with “And with your spirit” rather than “And also with you.” The Vatican argues that it more accurately reflects the Latin text of the Mass (“et cum spiritu tuo”) and better acknowledges one’s humanity. Some new non-colloquial vocabulary that students may soon see on the SAT makes its way into the Nicene Creed: "consubstantial with the Father" replaces “one Being with the Father.” Another change is uttered before the sacrament of communion. It comes directly from the Gospel of Matthew, and places God in one’s home. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof” replaces “Lord I am not worthy to receive you.”
For many, the most recent transition attempts a closer and more faithful English translation of the Latin. Some tongues were tied, but most received the changes without much fanfare. Church officials say it will help Catholics come to a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist and the role of Mass for their faith. For all you Roman Catholics who are celebrating Mass on this second Sunday of Advent, we’d like to hear about your experience.
How did your family or parish prepare for the change in Mass before Sunday? In what ways do the updates to the liturgy enhance or detract from your experience of the ritual of Mass? Is this new translation more authentic or meaningful to you? Or do you long for the familiar?
Oh, you’ve asked a question that warms my heart!
The choral music comes from an album titled Missa Luba, performed by the Muungano National Choir of Kenya. We played two tracks in our show with Wangari Maathai from that recording: the first song is the fourth section an African Mass — sung in Latin — titled “Sanctus” and the second, the African folk song “Kaunga Yachee.” (Did you know that you can listen to a streaming version of all tracks from our show’s playlist?)
The original version by Guido Haazen, a Belgian Franciscan priest, was composed for a Congolese boys choir. The liner notes of the Muungano choir’s album provide this helpful description:
“Missa Luba was written before the Second Vatican Council when Latin was still the official language of the Roman Rite in Africa. This setting combines the ancient Latin text with modified African rhythms and polyphony in a manner that seems to bring out the best in both.
The rhythms and polyphony of the African settings are directly accessible to all ages. Students can see how Latin was used in this adaptation of a musical form from Africa. The tempo has been reduced so that the typical African sounds become more like that of Roman chant. The examples of African music which follow can be used to compare and contrast with those of Missa Luba. One can note the difference in using indigenous languages when it comes to indigenous music.
Sadly, earlier this summer, Boniface Mghanga, the founder and leader of the Kenyan choir, died in a car accident at the age of 56.
~answered by Trent Gilliss, senior editor