By Barb Arland-Fye, Celine Klosterman and Anne Marie Amacher
Even some Catholics holding pew cards with word changes in bold-face type instinctively responded “And also with you” instead of “And with your spirit” during Mass the first weekend in Advent. After more than a generation of reciting the same responses and prayers, some of the faithful say the new changes in the Roman Missal don’t roll easily off their tongues. As one priest quipped, we’ll get there by Easter.
Some Catholics say they preferred the responses and prayers they’ve been saying for decades. Others think some new wording sounds awkward; still others appreciate the changes for more accurately reflecting the original Latin text. Whatever their opinion, Catholics realize they need to adapt. Priests may face a longer learning curve because the word changes in the prayers they say are more extensive.
As Father Joe Wolf, pastor of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire observed: “This is going to take some getting used to. Like wearing a new pair of shoes, only time will tell how well they’ll come to fit. On Sunday afternoon, my feet were sore.”
More than a few parishioners shared an experience similar to one described by Father Joseph Sia, parochial vicar at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine and St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction.
“At the beginning of my homily at the Vigil Mass for the First Sunday of Advent, I had witnessed two exchanges of ‘The Lord be with you’ with the congregation — and at that point, I thought I was hearing half responding ‘And with your spirit’ and half ‘And also with you.’ Knowing the congregation was to respond ‘And with your spirit’ three more times, he thought it would be helpful to give people an image to remember those words:
“When I am at Mass, I am acting as a man ordained in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, having received the Holy Spirit on the day of my ordination that gave me an indelible character as a priest. So when they see me in church during Mass, they are not to greet me as when they see me in the local supermarket or restaurant; rather, they are to greet me as the one who has received the Spirit as a priest and is now presiding over the liturgy of the sacrament of the holy Eucharist. My hope is that this visual image can help the congregation understand why their response is ‘And with your spirit.’” (For more information on the new response, see an explanation on the Diocese of Davenport website at: http://www.davenportdiocese.org/lit/liturgylibrary/RM3/lit0NewMissalSeriesCombined.pdf — page 9.)
During the Sunday morning Mass, Fr. Sia said he stopped one time to correct the congregation. “It was at the dialogue before the Preface. At the last exchange, ‘Let us give thanks to the Lord our God’ — a good number of the congregation responded, ‘It is right to give him thanks and praise.’ I paused and said, ‘Now this is important’ and I repeated the words, ‘Let us give thanks to the Lord our God’ and they responded loud and clear, ‘It is right and just,’ which gave me the encouragement to proclaim equally loud and clear ‘It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give you thanks…’”
Msgr. John Hyland, vicar general for the Diocese of Davenport, said the Mass he presided at for the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport went very well. “They have been practicing with the sung parts of the Mass. It will take some time to memorize the new words, but it will happen. I tried to connect the new beginning of Advent and Liturgical Year and Cycle B with beginning to pray the words of the new Roman Missal.”
Judy Duncan, director of Music Ministries at St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville, described her parish’s experience: “It definitely kept us on our toes. I was three for four on ‘and with your spirit!’ … But I think people get tripped up on ‘consubstantial.’” St. Thomas More began using the new music in October. “I knew the new text was coming up, and if we had to give parishioners both changes at the same time, it would be too much.”
Parishioner Cynthia Gillham of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City said: “Our parish did a very good job with all of the Mass changes. They forced everyone to pick up a book!” But some people sounded hesitant while praying the Our Father for fear they might say something wrong. “Everyone got the ‘and with your spirit’ response by the fourth and final time. The music is harder at this point, but it will come.”
“So far, so good,” said Father Hai Dinh, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. “We need a little more time to learn the responses, but it will become habit.
“At Sacred Heart we are very excited to learn something new. This is the start of the new Church year, the start of the new Missal. And Bishop (Martin) Amos celebrated Mass here too.” Recuperating from knee replacement surgery, the bishop said he wanted to celebrate Mass at the cathedral — the mother church of the diocese — to mark two beginnings: Advent and implementation of the new Missal.
Anne Sexton, a Sacred Heart parishioner for 60 years, appreciated what seemed to her like familiar prayers. Fellow parishioner Barb Metz expressed concerns about the wording in the Penitential Act in which the congregation recites: “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault …”
“To me it seemed a little excessive,” Metz said. “It made me uncomfortable.”
Longtime Sacred Heart parishioner Dorothy Edelen said of the new Missal, “It’s beautiful, but I got lost … I had to touch someone next to me and say, ‘What page are we on?’”
Father Ed O’Melia, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Davenport, said, “It seemed to go well. I was like a newly ordained — my head in the book and keeping it on the altar longer than I usually do. I think it went well.”