May 27, 2012

Catholic congregations adjusting to new missal wording

PLATTSBURGH — May the lord be with you.

And also with you.

Oops. We mean, "And with your spirit."

That is a common mistake that has been happening in Catholic churches around the North Country over the past six months as Catholics adjust to the new Roman Missal wording.

But things are getting better.

"It's like breaking in a new pair of shoes," said the Rev. John Yonkovig, pastor of St. Agnes in Lake Placid.

"The old shoes are comfortable and broken in, and it takes awhile to break in a new pair, and I think that is where we still are at; the breaking in stage."

The changes were instituted by the church last November as a way to make the readings of Mass clearer and closer to the meaning of the original Latin language that the Mass was written in.

The new missal is the result of about 20 years of work and study by clergy scholars.

"They wanted to make it as close to the Latin language as possible, based on scholarly language, not common language," Yonkovig said.

Parishioners were given the changes in special pamphlets known as pew cards six months ago and were encouraged to adjust.

The first few weeks it was 50-50 in terms of how many people would remember to say the new words and those who, by habit, rattled off the old text. Priests would often exaggerate the new words in an attempt to remind their flocks.

As the weeks have rolled by, more and more Mass celebrants are getting the hang of it, but some strange faces are still being made in church.

"I think those who struggle the most are some of the elderly people who have said those same words for so long," said the Rev. Scott Seymour, pastor of St. Alexander's in Morrisonville.

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