What was wrong with the original?

It’s been more than a year now, and I still can’t get it right. And I’m not a stupid woman. I actually credit myself with a modicum of intelligence. So why, oh why, can’t I get the new responses into my head?

Up until November 2011 (for practically my entire adult life to date, give or take a year or so), whenever anyone said ‘The Lord be with you’, my rote response was ‘And also with you’. In Hungary, this isn’t a problem. I don’t go to mass in English, so for one hour on a Sunday evening, I’ve very little to say for myself. Surprise, surprise, I hear some of you think. But when I’m in Ireland, I go to mass, in English. And it’s so annoying not to know the words after all the years I’ve invested in Roman Catholicism.

massAs I miss my cue, speak out of turn, and say the wrong words, I can feel the eyes turning towards me, wondering how long it’s been since my last confession. Troubled by this, I finally took the time to see why the words were changed in the first place, when what has been embedded in our collective Catholic memory seemed to be working just fine.

vatican2_500_363_242I’m too young to remember Vatican II  when the Roman Catholic church moved from the Latin mass to the spoken language of each parish.  Apparently though, the English translation strayed a little too far from the original and ten years ago, Pope John Paul II ordered revisions to better synchronise the two versions. It took a while, but now they’re in and accepted.

Interestingly, whenever I went to mass in a foreign language, the Confiteor included the three-time beating of the breast in the traditional Latin fashion of mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa and this was missing from the pre-November 2011 English version. But it’s there now…and sounds most peculiar as ‘through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievious fault‘.

It’s odd to think that the English version of the liturgy was the one out of step with the masses (ahem) for all this time. It doesn’t make much difference to me, though. I’ve missed the learning period and don’t go often enough in English to reprogramme my brain. Perhaps this is a symptom of a greater issue – I’m still reeling at the Pope’s retirement. I didn’t think that was allowed…

8 replies
  1. Bernard Adams
    Bernard Adams says:

    Oh Mary, you know not what you miss! I am old enough to remember the Church of England deciding to bin that monument of our language, the Book of Common Prayer (not to mention the King James Bible) in favour of a variety of committee-invented pick-‘n-mixes. ‘Never mind the quality, feel the width’ was the order of the day. One thing that poor Benedict XVI did right in my view was to encourage the use of Latin, and not just in liturgy. O tempora, o mores . . .

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  2. Caroline Mercer
    Caroline Mercer says:

    Just sorry that the words, in whatever language appear to be so important; it’s not the word’s, the rituals, the vestments or any other part of the paraphernalia that are at the heart of the Christian belief system. Love your neighbour as yourself, treat others as you wish to be treated, respect the planet on which we live and through these and all other’s, love God, who is in everyone and everything.
    I think it’s good that the Pope has resigned, it would also be good in my mind, if it set a precedent. Not a hope one suspects on that or, that the replacement will be other than one who follows the same reactionary path, fails to address the cogent issues.
    Great shame that “Christianity” became the official religion of the Roman Empire, as one historian once remarked, it has left Roman Catholicism, as a fossilized remnant of that empire. A harsh assessment but ???
    I have to admit that I do like the King James Bible and the book of common Prayer. Also I can get quite emotional about Evensong in an English Cathedral. That’s not a service of great every day relevance, more a beautiful performance. What’s wrong with a performance, nothing really, so long as it’s recognised as just that, and that comes back to the relevance or otherwise, of regularly repeated word’s and choreographed rituals.
    Sorry Mary, not with you on this one.
    Hope you are feeling better. C

    Reply
  3. Milutin
    Milutin says:

    I was always thinking that the Serbian Orthodox Church was mistaken to hold services in Old-Slavic, the language that nobody understands any more (most probably the priests themselves too). They changed recently and use actual Serbian language. I can’t tell the effect, but people at least understand better what priests are saying,

    Reply
  4. Caroline Mercer
    Caroline Mercer says:

    Mary, dear Mary; it doesn’t matter, or rather, it’s a great sadness that your assessment of not knowing all the words, is that you don’t fit in. Did Jesus fit in? or do you think that where it matters, your value is somehow reduced because you can’t remember a few word’s. If that were truly the case, then religion is the “Hum Bug”, that some folk think it is. You know, untold millions who preceded you knew, and millions now and after you, also know and will know, that it’s NOT Hum Bug. Elements of your expressions of “belief”, may not be universally shared, but the core of loving and caring is. So please don’t feel in any way diminished because of a few word’s. Truth is anyway, no one will have noticed, and if they did TOUGH !!!!!!!
    C.

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