Changes to the Mass per the Roman Missal

September 7, 2011 under Syllabus 2011-2012


Have you been “going through the motions” at Mass by repeating prayers and responses that you know by heart and have become automatic? Well, the Mass is changing. Why, and what are the changes? What is the Roman Missal? When will the changes take place? How will I know the new words to say during Mass and how does this “new translation” affect us? This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to experience the Mass in a much deeper way.


· Understand the background for the changes, what they are, and how they can help us get a deeper meaning out of Mass.

· Learn how the Mass now more closely follows the readings in the bible.

· Embrace this as an opportunity to teach our children what the Mass is all about:

Bible Readings

1. 2 Timothy 4:22

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with all of you.

2. Philippians 4:23

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

3. Isaiah 6:3

One cried out to the other: “Holy, holy, holy* is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!”

4. Isaiah 53:11-12

Because of his anguish he shall see the light; because of his knowledge he shall be content; My servant, the just one, shall justify the many, their iniquity he shall bear.

Therefore I will give him his portion among the many, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death, was counted among the transgressors, Bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

5. Matthew 8:8

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:”

6. Luke 7:6-7

And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 167

“I believe” (Apostles’ Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. “We believe” (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. “I believe” is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both “I believe” and “We believe”.

2. Paragraph 1345

As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.

When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.

Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.

When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.

Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.

He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.

When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: ‘Amen.’

When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.

Small Group Questions

1. Where can I find out more about these changes?

2. How can I use this as an opportunity to enhance my experience in Mass?

3. In what ways can I teach my children about the meaning of these changes?

Recommended Resources

  1. -various resources for the Roman Missal from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
  2. – series of three videos on the changes.
  3. – contains power point presentation, internet links, print and other resources.
  4. – Bulletin Inserts
  5. – Catholic Telegraph article on the changes
  6. – answers to frequently asked questions


1. Commit to spending time this week (30 minutes) this week to learn more about these changes.

2. Spend a few minutes before or after church talking with your kids about the Mass, its new prayers and responses.


John Tekulve and Michael Copfer

Included Resources

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati website has a wealth of resources and links

Booklet – “A Guide to The New Translation of The Mass” by Dr. Edward Sri, Ascension Press

CD – A Walk Through The New Mass Translation, Dr. Edward Sri, Lighthouse Catholic Media

The essence and structure of the Mass is not changing but many of the prayers and responses to liturgy have been newly translated to English from the Latin text. The Mass was originally celebrated in Latin but this changed with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s when prayers and liturgy were translated into the vernacular (common) language of different countries. The official Latin text is contained in a book called the Roman Missal. This is what was translated. It was done quickly using a general meaning of the text rather than providing a more close word for word translation. The paraphrasing resulted in the loss of spiritual meanings and theoretical concepts that were not always as clear as they could be. In 2001, the Vatican called for a more precise translation which will be effective November 27th 2011, which is the first Sunday of Advent, and the beginning of the Church’s new liturgical year.

Overall, the new language more fully conveys rich biblical images and allusions. The revised translation as a whole uses a more heightened style of English in order to express greater reverence and humility when praying to God in Mass. The style emphasizes God’s goodness, power and glory so we understand that we are encountering the presence of him in the sacred liturgy of the Mass.

Some of the changes are as follows:

Priest’s Greeting: “The Lord be with you”. Our response will now be “And with your spirit”

Readings above: 2 Timothy 4:22 and Philippians 4:23.

The new translation better reflects the Latin text of the biblical language. The old translation of this greeting gave the impression that our response was intended to be a personal greeting or reciprocal goodwill. There is much more to this response. When a man is ordained a priest, the Holy Spirit comes upon him in a unique way, enabling him to perform the sacred rites of the Mass and consecrate the Eucharist. By responding “And with your spirit” we acknowledge the Holy Spirit is working through the priest during the sacred liturgy. We are experiencing Jesus who is the head of the community gathered for Mass and it is his Spirit who is the primary actor in the liturgy, regardless of who the priest may be.

Nicene Creed: “We believe” is now “I believe”.

The new translation unites us with the rest of the Catholic world in using the singular. After Vatican II, English was the only Western Language that translated the opening Latin word of the Creed (Credo) with the plural. The singular “I” makes the Creed more personal and challenges each individual to interiorize the faith. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “I believe” expresses “the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer (no.167).

This is what we do when we renew our baptismal promises during the Easter season or when we attend a baptism. The priest asks if we believe in the various statements of faith in the Creed: “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty…..?” Do you believe in the Holy Spirit…..? Each individual answers saying “I do”. It is fitting that we will regularly make a similar personal act of faith by using the singular “I believe” whenever the Creed is recited in the Mass.

The Sanctus:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of power and might” is now “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”

Reading above: Isaiah 6:3.

The opening line of the Sanctus is taken from the angels’ worship of God in heaven. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah was given a vision of the angels praising God, crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3). The word “hosts” here refers to the army of angels in heaven. When we recite “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts” in the Mass, therefore, we are joining the angels in heaven, and echoing their very words of worship.

This new translation more clearly underscores the infinite breadth of God’s power. All things in heaven and on earth are under his dominion—including the angels.

Words of Institution

“For all” is now “For many”.

Reading above: Isaiah 53:11-12.

The previous translation referred to Jesus’ blood having redemptive value “for all”. The new translation replaces this with “for many”. This revision remains closer to Jesus’ actual words in the Gospel (Matthew 26:28) and is also more harmonious with the Latin text.

Some have raised concerns that the words “for many” limits the universal scope of Jesus’s saving mission and that he did not die for everyone—-that he offered his blood on Calvary not “for all” but for a select group of people, “for many”.

The new translation points to the reality that while Jesus died for all, not everyone chooses to accept this gift. Each individual must choose to welcome the gift of salvation and live according to that grace, so that they may be among “the many”.

Jesus’s language at the Last Supper about his blood being poured out “for many” recalls that there are the three times “the many” is mentioned in Isaiah 53:11-12. In this prophecy, Isaiah foretold that God would one day send his servant who would make himself “an offering for sin” bearing the sin of “many” and making “many” righteous.

Ecci Angus Dei

“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” is now “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof”.

Readings above: Matthew 8:8 and Luke 7:6-7

These new words reflect the humility and trust of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant who is at his house, paralyzed and in distress. As a Gentile, outside of God’s covenant, and a Roman officer in charge of soldiers who were oppressing God’s people, this centurion humbly acknowledges, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof”. He expresses a great faith that surpassed many others in the gospels and amazes even Jesus himself: he believes Jesus can heal from afar, simply by speaking his word. “But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed”. Jesus praises the man for his faith.

At this moment in mass, like the centurion, we recognize our unworthiness to have Jesus come sacramentally under the “roof” of our souls in Holy Communion. But just at the centurion believed Jesus was able to heal his servant, we also trust that Jesus can heal us when we receive the Eucharist.

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