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How Can I Follow Along With Mass in a Different Language?


A listener named Jim calls into the show and asks, “How do I follow along at Mass in a different language?” He explains that he is currently living in St. Croix to help with hurricane relief, and Mass is celebrated in Spanish. He has a hard time following along with the Mass, and it bothers him that he doesn’t leave church with a message.

Father Dave responds, “I’ll offer a slight correction. Even though you don’t understand the language, you do know with your head and your heart what just transpired. You know that Christ became present on the altar and that you received Him into your very self … I’m guessing that with all this travel and recovery efforts that you’ve been doing, that there are many aspects of your life that are different, like not having your favorite foods. So, there are many modes where you are like, ‘I’ll make do this way.’ The reason why I say that about Mass is the fact that likely until you get back to somewhere where you’ll be able to experience the Mass in the language that you understand, you’ll probably have to approach it differently.

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“You’ll probably have to do more homework than you would if you could actually understand it,” Father Dave says. “I think you can sympathize with people who grew up before Vatican II when that was everyone’s experience. What you are experiencing now was basically everyone’s experience everywhere, because Mass was in Latin and hardly anybody understood it. Out of repetition, they would get to know certain phrases. … One thing I would suggest is before you get to Mass, read over the readings to prepare yourself … maybe even bring them with you. And I would say the same thing for the homily because you’re looking for an inspirational message. There is a host of things available, like Bishop Robert Barron. Every single week he podcasts and puts his homilies up on YouTube, and it would be the same readings.

“One of the things I would affirm, one of the wonderful things about our Catholic Church, is that even if Mass is in a different language, you know that the readings are universally the same,” Father Dave explains. “So, even as busy of you are, it may take a little bit of homework to get something inspirational out of the Mass. But remember, it’s nice to have great music and a homily, but really, we are there for the Eucharist. That’s really what it is all about.” (Original Air 4-25-18)

Photo Credit: Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, Germany, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich elevate the Eucharist during Mass in the cathedral in Fulda, Germany, Sept. 23, 2014. (CNS photo/Jorg Loeffke, KNA)