Religion feature: Local Catholics learning new translation

CNJ Staff Photo: Benna Sayyed Father Carlos Chavez, pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, reads from the new translation of the Roman Missal. He received the new translation a few days ago.

Staff and wire reports

For decades Roman Catholic priests have begun Mass with the words “The Lord be with you.” For decades the people’s response to the priests’ greeting has been “And also with you.”

On Nov. 27, the people’s response will be “And with your spirit,” a reply that derives from the new translation of the Roman Missal intended to enhance parishioners’ worship of God.

The new translation, to be put to use at the end of the month in parishes in English-speaking countries, presents a challenge but also a blessing to Clovis priests.

“We face many challenges in the church, and this is just one of them. We’re just so comfortable with our rubrics, with our Mass proper,” said Father Sotero Sena, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which recently introduced the new translation to his gathering.

“It’s going to be tough to get adjusted to these new prayers, to these new responses, but the change will be good,” he said.

Sena supports the new missal, and according to him, it strives to purify the language by styling it close to the original Latin.

The new translation developed from changes in liturgy that began with the Second Vatican Council, when the liturgical texts were translated into English from Latin and officially used in worship.

After the Catholic Church celebrated Mass in English for 40 years, it discovered areas where the English text could be improved.

Sena believes the last missal introduced in 1972 was quickly and haphazardly put together with little thought to meet a deadline to get a missal on the altar.

In 2001, the Vatican requested a more precise translation to provide Catholics a clearer sense of the richness of Latin text.

Sena does not think the new translation will change worship or the size of the congregation in his church.

“I remember when we went from Latin to English, Latin to Spanish. People enjoyed celebrating and worshiping in their own language. I would like to think of it as the same now, worshiping in our own language, English, but the more purified form of prayer,” Sena said.

“I used to be able to look up at the people while I’m praying. Now I got my face stuck in the book, in the Roman Missal to make sure that I am praying, reciting the prayers the way they ought to be recited. It’s very interesting and exciting,” Sena said.

Sena hopes the new translation will give parishioners the wish to worship as one family and to attend Mass out of desire rather than obligation. He advises people to keep an open mind to the translation and learn.

Father Carlos Chavez, pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, has already implemented the changes in his parish. Chavez supports the translation but said he is having trouble with the new wording.

“I’m so used to the way I said Mass before. I support it wholeheartedly and understand the reasons as to why, but the change is difficult because we are creatures of habit,” Chavez said.

Chavez said in translation words are recited differently and have different meanings, though changes in language may be subtle.

“I think the translation will make things clearer for us. In terms of worship I think it will enhance our faith in the end. If you are clear about what it is you believe then of course it’s going to change the dynamic of your life and your experience and worship,” Chavez said.

He hopes the new translation will enhance people’s faith and provide them a deeper understanding of God.