Novus Ordo Revisions: Let’s Go, Already

April 3, 1969 should be recalled as a monumental day in the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century. That was the day Pope Paul VI promulgated his Apostolic Constitution, Misalle Romanum, that gave the Universal Church the so-called Novus Ordo, or the Mass of Paul VI. As part of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul decreed that this new form of the Latin Rite liturgy should take effect on the first Sunday of Advent of 1969. Effectively, about eight months were designated for the transition from various forms of the Sacred Liturgy that had been in place in the wake of the end of the Second Vatican Council.

The period following the eight months of transition saw the implementation of the Novus Ordo Liturgy of Paul VI during Advent of that year. After the period of transition, the use of Latin in the Liturgy became the exception to the norm of using the vernacular language that was peculiar to each country. As a result of such a transposition in the United States, English became the norm and Latin was the exception which was sparingly used by priests for the next 40 years.

However, the initial translations of the Latin provided accurate examples of liturgical use of the English language. There is also a resurgence of the use of Latin with the restoration of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII and the permission to freely celebrate both forms of the ritual in either English or Latin. Quite surprisingly, the bulk of the “revised” translations that have been approved in 2008 are a return to the original translations initiated in 1969.

The implementation of the Novus Ordo of Paul VI literally took place overnight and Catholics were expected to accept the changes immediately, without explanation, education or sacramental preparation. Now some four decades later Catholics are presented with another round of changes in the Liturgy with the translations from the Latin as the core component of the changes.

It seems that the revisions to the text of the Mass from 1969 were in reality quite appropriate for their time and in most examples are being restored to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. However, this round of linguistic changes is taking place in installments of 12 groups and it might take up to two years to implement the first translations in the United States.

It seems incomprehensible that Catholics in the English speaking world need in excess of 120 Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation to implement these simple changes, which are in effect a revision of the revision of the Novus Ordo of Paul VI.

For example, the response to the priestly prayer, “The Lord be with you” is currently rendered, “And also with you.” In the revised revision the people’s response will be, “And with your Spirit” in keeping with a more accurate translation of the Latin, “Et cum spiritu tuo.”

Another change will involve the salutation addressed to God the Father in the Sanctus or Holy, Holy prayer. The current translation is, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Power and Might!” The revised translation will be, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts!”

Additionally there are changes in the Confiteor, with the return of the phrase “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” which restores the original revision. The Gloria will be recited in the manner previously used in the early translations. The Lamb of God returns to “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof” which is reflective of the form used right after the Council. Finally the translation of the priestly prayer “…vere et dignum justum est…” in the preface of the Eucharistic prayer will be more precisely translated.

There is no projected date of implementation for these changes because, according to the USCCB, a period of instruction and education for priests, deacons and laity is required regarding the nature of the textual changes. It is even suggested that it might take two years to realize an implementation of the first round of linguistic changes, while English-speaking Catholics await more approvals and translations from the Holy See. What exactly is there to educate and catechize everyone about? We have been celebrating the Mass of Paul VI for almost 40 years and these are the literal translations of the Latin that we started with!

Catholics need to take charge and begin using the new forms of the prayers immediately so we can get our liturgical lives back on a traditional Catholic track of unity in prayer and worship. It is ridiculous to think that six textual modifications should require catechesis and education that spans a period of two years or more. When Paul VI introduced the revised Order of Mass in 1969, American Catholics were quite literally “hit over the head” with changes that were implemented in the course of a summer season. It is not likely that any prolonged process of linguistic education will more effectively educate English speaking Catholics to a more superlative understanding of the nuances of the Latin roots of the Catholic liturgy.

Let us make the changes and get on with it. Better yet, perhaps we should start as an American Catholic Church implementing the first recommendations of the Second Vatican Council and begin teaching the people how to celebrate the liturgy in both Latin and their vernacular language as part of the historical and cultural heritage of the Roman Catholic Church. From there we might even begin with a primer example of Latin 101 and start proclaiming the Creed according to the precise Latin translation of “Credo!”, that is, “I believe…!” Even a first year, first semester Latin student would recognize the first person singular is the correct translation of the Latin text. Perhaps we need to go back and implement the intended liturgical changes of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council as recommended in Sacrosanctum Concillium and return to the prayerful and holy celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice intended by the Second Vatican Council.

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  • While I share your impatience with the pace of the “Reform of the Reform”, and treasure good liturgy, I do not agree that Catholics should get ahead of their bishops…that’s what got us in this mess to begin with.

    We have to learn, once and for all, that the Holy Mass is not ours to monkey with…the liturgy belongs to the whole Church, and ultimately to Christ. For individual Catholocs to “take it upon themselves” smells like rebellion, and I cannot stomach one more iota of that.

    After 40 years of liturgical shenanigans, I am impatient for restoration…but I have resolved to wait for God’s time, not mine.

  • Trust the Church.

  • jvalera

    One of the attitudes(virtues?) that we ought to have is obedience.
    So we were “damned” when we obeyed the erudite translators. Now we have to immediately obey the corrections! I learned to love the Latin Mass but the people we worked with mostly “unwashed,” unschooled and poor now know what they are praying in public. Majority of the one billion Catholics share this human condition. When all these will be at the gates of paradise, will the test be “Did you say “I believe” or “We believe” as the translation for the Credo.? Many will not have the privilege of having Latin in school. I reluctantly took Latin in a Pre-Med course. As the kids will say today, “it’s cool.

    The translations are indeed ridiculous, but we obeyed in the spirit of making the most important prayer of the people understandable. Too bad for the followers of Cicero who rolled over in their graves because of the imprecise if not impious translations.

    Furthermore, such impatience does not seem consistent with the “patience” of the Catholics , say, of slavery for centuries. Some Popes already wrote of the evils of slavery. Yet Catholic royalty , churchmen and laity continued in the abuse of people. Today we participate in the abuse of the environment. This is the perspective I take in the the abuse in language translations.

    To those who want to go back. Why not pray the Mass like Our Lord did, in Aramaic ? Whether or not the Mass is in Latin or Aramaic, it may not bring back droves of Catholics we lost not because of translations but because many of us failed to be great Christian witnesses. Pardon my impatience with those who are impatient. Pax, Quod significat anglice, “peace.”

  • I look forward to the fixes in the NO and I am disappointed that it is not happening faster (or that the bad translation persisted for so many years). However I would not dare to say “and with your spirit” at Mass, no matter how much that appeals to me. I often pray that in my heart, but I always say what is prescribed.

    If the bad translations are such an issue to anybody, there is the Extraordinary Form. I often attend the EF on Sundays.

  • I think the bishops are being wise to introduce the changes with catechesis slowly. Everyone knows that we have lacked adequate catechesis in the Church for a long time.

    Of course we can also suspect that the Bishops are actually trying to stall and that they don’t want authentic liturgical renewal, but as Christians we are supposed to respect the leaders of the Church and it does not help at all for someone to make those kind of accusations (Note: I am not claiming that Mr. McNichol does this, there are people who do this, though).

  • Warren Jewell

    Well, N.O.S, let me be one you are concerned with –

    I really am tired after these four decades with our American (and other Western culture) ordinaries dragging their feet at all the wrong times – such as in formation of solid catechesis – such as in firmly and righteously correcting straying theologians and academics, and publicly anti-Catholic ‘Catholics’ – such as obedience to Vatican canonical and curial directions of various kinds.

    After these forty years, I could say a Latin Mass almost from memory – even as I take Novus Ordo with aplomb and assistance. It takes months on months for priests to learn to say a few different words in their Masses? And, for the lay folk in the pews to adapt?

    I do hear the dragging sounds of ‘lame’ leaders, once again.

  • Doris Rodriguez

    I totally agree with Mickey Addison! As a Catholic-to-Protestant-to-back-to-Catholic revert … I was one of those 69’ers who got caught up in the post-Vatican II blow-out as an impressionable young 12 year old. I can still remember the disobedience … the arguing … the rebellion … and the lack of cooperation that was so prevalent in the turbulent 70’s … and I can remember thinking: “Wow, even the Church is caught up in this whole “revolution – down with the establishment” mentality!” As a result, I climbed a slippery religious slope for the next thirty-five years thinking I could pick and choose what I wanted to believe. This faulty thinking opened the door to pre-marital sex, contraception, and eventually a soujourn into Protestantism where my sinful nature was more tolerated and “gently” encouraged to change. In 2005, my eyes were opened to the Truth of the Catholic Church and I had to truly take a leap of faith and TRUST that the Church was who it said it was … and I had to learn OBEDIENCE all over again. I think we should use discernment and wisdom at all times, but simply stirring up the pot to stir it up is unnecessary … and troubling to the faithful. Dying to self is the hardest part of being a Catholic Christian – but it is an integral part! God bless!

  • Doris Rodriguez

    By the way, can anyone tell me what “And with your Spirit” means exactly? Is it a litte “s” or a capital “S”?

    Oh, and I am so happy to be going back to “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” which always brought me to serious contemplation and repentance of my sins.

    And I can understand McNichol’s impatience to a degree … because I’m a “just give it to me straight and let’s get it over with” kind of person, too. But then I remember how many people it took to screw in this particular lightbulb and am not surprised at the long, drawn-out process … and I also try to remember that decisions like these are never made lightly and simply leave it to the experts! God bless!

  • Ray II

    This has nothing to do with the article, this is just the first time I have actually been able to log in to the site after months of technical issues. However I still can’t log in to the forums!! This is driving me nuts. Perhaps it is related to the story though, for changing things too quickly might leave some people in the dark. Inform, inform, inform, then change it.

  • mkochan

    Our forum module is broken for most users. We will be replacing it as soon as we can.

  • trainwife1962

    The bishops are responsible for the quagmire of the Church today- they failed in their responsibility to teach the faith. I remember my first NO, and I hated it. It drove me from the Church whrn I reached my 20’s and I didn’t return until I found the Tridentine Rite. Sorry, not knwoing Latin or having taken it in school is just a fabrication of deceit- the misals are in both the vernacular and the Latin, and have been for decades, so the faithful could follow from their pews.

  • Dave

    There are times I gather more moss perusing the comments to a post than I do the actual article. Due to environmental circumstances, I was never caught up in the so-called reformation turmoil, and I’m thankful I wasn’t. Prairiehawk’s subtle reminder is that Jesus gave the keys to the Kingdom to only one disciple of His Church. We would do well to render humble obedience to Paul’s successor.

  • Tina in Ashburn

    Yes, yes, we must be obedient. McNichol is not advocating outright rebellion.
    I get McNichol’s point. And I agree.

    When we went from the old Rites to the Novus Ordo, nobody held our hand, nobody explained anything, the date arrived, and everyone was expected to say/attend the New Mass. It was pretty much overnight in spite of world-wide expression of anguish from clergy and laity.

    So if the whole changing of the Mass and re-writing of baptism, confirmation, ordination, deleting indulgences, removing long-revered saints from the calendar… etc etc could be done so quickly and without training or explanation, why can’t these six new reversions to the original be done immediately?

    Its really nothing. Let’s get it over with. What’s the hold up?

  • Doris Rodriguez

    I think this is where the Catechism, Catholic Exchange, EWTN, Relevant Radio, and other Catholic venues come in to teach, catechize, and educate the masses. And, to be quite honest, each of these venues played an important part in my return to the Catholic Church because they held to the “deposit of faith” and TRUTH … and educated my little pea brain that thought it knew everything! And I have a responsibility to take what I have learned and “spread the Good News” … and help make any liturgical changes more easily understood by our Catholic friends and family! God bless.

  • germainjd

    I somewhat understand the “impatients” of this two year “education” process because the change was made to the laten by John Paul II in the year 2000. It has taken them eight (8) years to translate it back to what we already had once before, and now another two years to “educate”, that is a total of ten years to do what could have been done in about six months. Also John Paul II gave the bishops 5 years to come up with a Vatican approved hymnal, it took them five years before they even got started, and we are still without it. It’s simple to see that we have more than just a few bishops who are stalling the process back to devout and pious practices. We are always expected to be obedient to our bishops, but they have certainly not been so with Rome, though their bad example should not excuse us from patience and obedience.

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    In addition to permitting the celebration of the Tridentine or extraordinary rite, I would hope Pope Benedict would extend the Anglican Use liturgy throughout the English speaking world. It is far and away the most beautiful Catholic liturgy in English we have today. The ICEL translations are certainly a big improvement, but it can’t touch the English of the Anglican Use.

    I well remember the Tridentine liturgy in the days before it was known as the “Tridentine Liturgy”. The rubrics strike me today as they did then when I was an altar boy as rigid, mechanical, repetitive and intended largely as a private devotion of the priest. It is an exercise in quaint archaisms which the late Pope Paul VI was eager to simplify and he did. Let us be grateful for Pope Paul’s actions. Seeing the celebration of the “Liturgy of Pope Gregory the Great” after forty years gave me a new appreciation for the novus ordo and for what the Council intended to reform. The fathers of Vatican II did the right thing. So, what happened after the changes left the Council??

    Looking at the 1962 rite I have to ask myself, do we really need to have priests dressing up as subdeacons to hold a small paten in a humeral veil? To keep moving the missal from one side of the altar to the other? Or to have those ugly altar cards sticking up with piles of candlesticks, flower pots, and reliquaries filled with fabulous fakes cluttering up those wedding cake altars traditionalists think are so “beautiful” ???

    I agree with the French, British,and German bishops. Most of them opposed Pope Benedict’s motu proprio, or certainly seem to have dragged their feet in implementing it. From what I’ve been reading they still are dragging their feet.

    I think it would have been better to start a whole new liturgical movement. With an eye to re-examining possible changes to the reform of the current Pauline rite of 1970. Bringing back the Tridentine Mass in its 1962 form was to have placated the SSPX crowd too, but that certainly appears to have been a complete flop. They are more rebellious, heretical, and demanding than ever before.

    Now the Vatican is upset because the “traditionalists” aren’t satisfied with a quarter of a loaf, but are demanding the extraordinary form gradually replace the Vatican II Mass liturgy. Pope Benedict has let the genii out of the bottle just as the European bishops warned him would happen. His heavy handed act has seriously undermined the principle of colleagiality, and weakened the role of the diocesan bishop as the best judge of current diocesan liturgical needs, requirements, and how to effectively use his personnel–the clergy who must train and prepare to say Mass in the extraordinary form. At a time when such resources are dangerously limited.

    Liturgy, particularly in Europe, is becoming a weapon wielded by far right and neo-fascist groups in the name of traditionalism and a supposed “love for the old Mass”. It is leading to a new heresy that only the Tridentine rite is pastorally effective and even in extreme cases valid!!!
    Some of these groups want to use the Mass of Pius V ,unsullied by the reforms of Pius XII and John XXIII, to implement their twisted plans for the reordering of European culture and life. Jean Marie Le Pen, the French neo Vichyite, is using their cause as his cause. The same is happening to a more limited degree with a number of far right groups in Italy, Switzerland, and Spain.

    The pope has every reason to be concerned. I hope he will reconsider his action and cancel his motu proprio, or sharply revise its provisions.