Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
November 16th, 2011

Top Five Mass Changes

The new translation of the Mass is coming to a parish near you. Here are the changes you need to know about.


If you’re headed to Mass during the upcoming Advent and Christmas seasons, you’re going to notice some changes. Starting November 27 the Roman Catholic Church will be using a new set of instructions for celebrating Mass — all part of the newly revised Roman Missal (the 3rd Edition, in fact!). This new translation contains revised prayers for both the priest and the assembly. Don’t worry, not all the prayers are changing, but there are some significant changes you should know about.

#1: “And with your Spirit!”

At the beginning of Mass, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross and greets the people by saying, “The Lord be with you.” In the new translation, the assembly will respond back to the priest, “And with your Spirit!” This response is a literal translation from the Latin phrase, “Et cum spiritu tuo.” Have you ever celebrated the Mass in another language? If so, then this change might not be a big deal because most languages already use a literal translation of the Latin phrase (for example, in Spanish the phrase is translated “Y con tu espiritu”). One reason for this textual revision is because this response is more than just a greeting. This response is also a spiritual exchange between the priest and the assembly, explains Joe Paprocki of Loyola Press. The priest extends a greeting of the Lord’s presence and the assembly grants a similar greeting inviting God to be with the presider as we worship together. Of all the liturgical changes, this one may be the easiest to remember, because we say it four times throughout the Mass: at the beginning of Mass, before the Gospel, before the Eucharistic Prayer, and at the end of Mass. For more information, visit Fr. Dylan James’ blog on the new translation.

#2: The Gloria

Liturgical composers have been hard at work revising their old Mass settings and composing new ones for use with the revised Missal. One big undertaking for composers was the Gloria, the prayer of praise we sing as part of the Gathering Rite. There are many minor textual changes to this prayer. Here are two: At the beginning of the prayer, we will now sing, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will!” (Luke 2:14). This particular revision is an example of how the new translation relies heavily on scripture. The second change occurs later in the Gloria when we sing together, “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory!” This five-fold invocation of praise poetically expresses the majesty and glory of God.

Listen to the new musical Mass Settings of the Gloria:

#3: “We to I”

In the early Church, when people entered into the Body of Christ through the sacrament of Baptism, they made an expression of faith, a credo (which in English means I Believe). This expression of faith was a series of questions that the person seeking entrance into the Church had to answer, “I do.” Today, as we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, parents (of children) and adults (who enter through the process of RCIA) are asked that same set questions and they respond in the same way: “I do.” Every Easter, we, as the Body of Christ renew our Baptismal Promises by responding, “I do.” And finally, every Sunday, we make this same profession of faith but in a different way. Most often, we profess the Nicene Creed (although some communities choose to profess the Apostles’ Creed). Currently, we begin the Nicene Creed by saying, “We believe” (and we repeat the same phrase throughout the creed). In the new translation, we will proclaim, “I Believe.” As you can see, this small change harkens back to when the person entering the Church says, “I do” in the Credo formula. So the change from “we” to “I” is more consistent with how we have professed our faith throughout history.

#4: “Consubstantial”

Consubstantial?” That sounds like a great Scrabble word! This new way of saying “one in being with the Father” in the Nicene Creed means that Jesus is really divine. Yes, that’s right; Jesus was actually, fully, and wholly divine. Thus, when we say “consubstantial” we are expressing one of the most beautiful mysteries of our faith, that Jesus is God. For those of us who have not had classes in philosophy or Christology, this new term may seem difficult to understand (and even to say!). However, just remember that “consubstantial” is a literal translation from the Latin “Consubstantialem,” which means Jesus is indeed, “one in being with the Father.” Want to impress your friends with your new philosophical language? Here’s a link to more history on the evolution of the term consubstantial.

#5: The centurion’s faith and our response

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” (Matthew 8:5-8, 10)

This is another great example of how the new translation uses scripture to enhance our liturgy. In this Gospel story, the centurion begs Jesus to cure his servant by only saying the “word.” We, as the People of God, are called to model his faith. As the priest calls us to communion he beckons us, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” and we respond, with words that are similar to the centurion’s words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” As we come to the Eucharistic table, may we approach with the humble faith of the centurion and carry this humility with us through our everyday life.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about why we have this new translation of the Mass and how it’s different from the previous edition, check out resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Loyola Press, Liturgy Training Publications, and the Busted Halo Question Box. Also, seek out your parish priest or Liturgy and Worship Committee who will be able to help answer any questions.

And remember, we are not just saying this new translation; we are praying this new translation! Blessings on your Advent and our transition into the new Roman Missal!

The Author : Julianne Wallace
Julianne E. Wallace is the associate director of faith formation, worship, and ministry at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. She earned an M.T.S in Word and Worship from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. and a B.A. in Music Performance from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Julianne is passionate about sharing the joy of liturgy with others and helping everyone to worship well.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Frannie schAfer

    1). God is Being. What is the substance of God?
    2). I’m broken in more tha my soul. I’m believing for unlimited healing.
    3). The change fr joyful hope to blessed hope creates a profound theological change in our relationship to the mercy of God.

  • Steve

    The new missal is an assault on the English-speaking ear. Literal translation is the hobgoblin of some small thinking. Anyone who knows languages knows that literal translation loses the original meaning as often as it gives it. We need to go back to square one and start over.

  • danielle

    i concur with danielle’s observations even with all the aids and the projections the people said the old responses. the priest even slipped into the old responses in the eucharistic prayer which i have to say is brutal for a priest who’s first lanugage is not English. the priest had to take some breaks and collect himself but overall did a good job.

  • Alison

    We could always take the School House Rock approach to learning:

    One in Being is now consubstantial
    It’s not one in Being, it’s now consubstantial
    Been a long time gone since consubstantial
    Now it’s such a delight, let’s not get uptight

    … Everyone one now says consubstantial
    It’s a really big word this consubstantial
    So if you’ve a problem with consubstantial
    It’s time to change your heart

    Even “blessed are you” was once said “blest art thou”
    Why they changed it I can’t say
    People just liked it better that way

    So let’s go back to ole’ consubstantial
    Yes, let’s start saying this new consubstantial
    Been a long time gone since consubstantial
    So why did “one in Being” get the works?
    That’s one of our church’s many quirks.

    Consubstantial (consubstantial)
    Consubstantial (consubstantial)

    Even “blessed are you” was once said “blest art thou”
    Why they changed it I can’t say
    People just liked it better that way

    One in Being is now consubstantial
    It’s not one in Being, it’s now consubstantial
    Been a long time gone since consubstantial
    So why did “one in Being” get the works?
    That’s one of our church’s many quirks.

    So let’s go back to ole’ consubstantial
    We’re all goin’ start saying consubstantial
    Been a long time gone since consubstantial
    So why did “one in Being” get the works?
    That’s one of our church’s many quirks.


  • danielle

    when i went to mass sunday, even with plenty of aids and the changes highlighted on the projector people still said the old responses.

  • Barbara

    Actually, I am a “go with the flow” type of person so I will adapt to the changes. However, the one I like the best is #3, “We to I.” How much easier is it in our daily lives to say “we” instead of “I?” Isn’t “We love you” a lot easier to say than “I love you.” “We’ll miss you” is easier than “I’ll miss you,” and We’re sorry is much easier to say than “I am sorry.” You probably all do this all the time and don’t even realize it. Yes, I like “I believe in God!”

  • Jill Creane

    We have been using most of these changes in South Africa for several years already and believe me, once you have accepted the changes and ‘go with the flow’ you’ll be amazed to discover that they do nothing to alter the meaning and the spiritual consolation embodied in the Mass.

  • Roaming Catholic

    First of all, more literal does not mean more faithful. A good translation should convey the same MEANING to speakers of the target language that it had for speakers of the source language. Different languages have different syntax and idioms, and copying these directly can obscure the meaning. Therefore a more faithful translation will sometimes be a less literal one. If whoever produced this ridiculous text had consulted any actual linguists, they would know that.

    I am a bit mollified to see that finally someone else is talking about #3. That, to my mind, is the single worst change. Liturgy is plural (catholic!) by nature, and we should be saying the creed as a body, not as a bunch of individuals who happen to be in the same place. And to go from “you” to “your spirit” and “I” to “my soul” feels disembodied. Most of the other changes I think I can learn to live with, but these feel like a loss of catholicity and incarnation, and I can’t imagine how I can ever go to Mass without grieving over that.

  • Kate

    It seems to me that most of these changes are really a return to the way Mass was said several decades ago. I remember saying these same phrases. I am happy to return to what I feel is a more literal translation of the Latin. It’s like going home.

  • Ed Thompson

    When Our Lord was on earth with His people, they asked him to “teach us how to pray.” He gave us the ‘Our Father’, not some arcane and unintelligible prayer only the temple priests would understand. It was a prayer of praise, reverence, hope, petition and forgiveness of sin. It was a prayer that all the people grasped immediately. My guess is that the people will reject this new attempt to control and dominate. My prayer is that our struggling church will come to its senses before the people leave en masse.

  • kellyd

    I tend to agree with Andy, I liked saying that, it made me feel good to say it. I will miss it!

  • Steve

    Joe, your comments don’t match the facts. The national bishops conference approved of these changes in a vote. Also, I can’t figure out for the life of me how this affects women differently than men.

  • Gina Santonas

    I do not understand how this is going to make the church stronger. One of the joys of mass is the comfort in routine. Now they expect us to change words that we have known since birth with no real seasons. If we want to get back to the original versions then we should speak aramaic. There is so much the church needs to ACTUALLY work on that I feel this is a waste of money and time.

  • Steve

    Michael, are you serious? It is sad that such a minor thing would cause you to lose your faith. I will say a prayer for you.

    How is this a step backwards, by the way? To me, it seems like the Church is finally getting around to fixing the rushed translations into the vernacular that we’re implement in the very short time after Vatican II.

  • Joe O’Donnell

    I’m so sorry that the the Church is inflicting these changes upon those wonderful faithful who attend the Eucharist. The changes are artificial, and have become simply a show of power over and through the American (and other English speaking nations) hierarchy that Rome is still in charge — of everything. I believe the changes also reduce women once again to a lesser role in the Church. I wish the people in the Vatican basements would read the scriptures!

  • Michael Austin

    I’m not going along with it; it’s a step backwards as far as ecumenism is concerned.
    I’ll check out the Episcopal or Lutheran Church.

  • Don Campbell

    Is saying “and with your spirit” an improvement over responding to the priest’s greeting that the Lord is also with him? Is consubstantial more meaningful to the person in the pew than “one in being with the Father? Regarding the change in expressing our faith as we pray the creed using I instead of we as being more consistent with what we’ve done since time immemorial, I would also note that the way we understand an express our faith today may differ in some ways from how it was understood and expressed in early centuries. There is such a thing as the development of doctrine. Is entering “under my roof – a roof is always associated with a building – a clearer and better expression than saying “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you?” How much input did the U.S. Bishops have re these changes or ??? Let me end by saying that I will implement all the changes when I celebrate Mass every day! As time goes on I will likely come to understand and appreciate them. I also appreciate Julianne Wallace’s synopsis and I thank her.

  • andy

    great piece. the only change mentioned here that really bothers me is #5. the new language is so clunky and i will miss being able to say, “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” that was the best of phrases and now it is gone. :(

  • Jason Smith

    Julianne–Great summary! Thanks!

  • Tom

    I eagerly await the new, more faithful translations!

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