New Catholic Mass Prayers Enrich, Confuse

Catholics must memorize new prayers

By Julie Tam
|  Sunday, Nov 27, 2011  |  Updated 5:44 PM CDT
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Starting Sunday, Catholics around the world are reciting from a new Roman Missal.

Julie Tam, NBC 5 News

Starting Sunday, Catholics around the world are reciting from a new Roman Missal.

Sunday marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Catholic church. Worshipers around the world are saying prayers that are different from the ones they've recited for more than four decades.

Generations of Catholics have been saying the same prayers at Mass that they've memorized since childhood. But on this first Sunday of Advent, leading up to Christmas, they're reading from cards to learn a new set of words from the Roman Missal.

In the "Congregational Responses for Mass," the words in bold show the changes to the text. For example, "We believe in one God" has changed to "I believe in one God," Catholic leaders say to make the statement more personal.

"But if you say it wrong, I haven't seen lightning yet, so you're safe," said Father Stephen Bierschenk from the pulpit of St. Monica Catholic Church in Dallas. His congregation responded with laughter.

The new language is more formal and poetic, which is difficult for some people, but Fr. Bierschenk says it's good for worship.

"We're not just talking to each other across coffee or something. We're actually speaking to God," he said.

Now English speakers worldwide are finally saying the same words translated from Latin. Previously, people in the U.S., Australia, and England all said different words.

Members of Catholic churches everywhere have to think harder about what they're saying, not just repeat familiar words.

"It was confusing. It's like going to school all over again," said long-time parishioner Mary Arriaga.

"It's a little harder because I'm learning, but once I get used to it, I bet it's going to be pretty easy," said Kyle Blessing, a 10-year-old church goer.

"They are beautiful," said parishioner John Campbell of the new words. "I have to say it is a little unsettling to hear different things being said."

"I really like them. I think they really hit you spiritually because it really helps with the meaning of the Mass," said Nic Ready, 14.

And that's the idea behind the history-making changes.

More: Pew Cards with the New Translation of the Roman Missal

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