This Advent, big changes are coming to the Mass.
Some experts say you aren't ready for them.
Find out the truth (and the experts' real motives)
in Jimmy Akin's newest book.
Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:
If you’re “of a certain age” (as I am), you remember when the language of the Mass changed from Latin to English. At the time, the “experts” told us the change wouldn’t be as hard as some people feared.
You know what? They were right.
Although the Mass had been celebrated in Latin all our lives, most of us knew the English version that appeared on the facing pages of our missals. The new English translation was quite a bit different from that one, but it was still English. Yes, the first few Sundays were awkward, but soon we had everything memorized. Piece of cake.
This time, the “experts” say we’re incompetent.
That was about forty years ago. Starting this Advent, the Mass is undergoing another language change, but this time it’s from English to English—that is, from the somewhat flat and sometimes inaccurate translation we’ve been using to one that’s a bit more stately and a lot more accurate.
And guess what? Now many “experts” are claiming that the transition will be so confusing that either we shouldn’t go to the new version at all or, at the very least, we should delay the changes until everyone has been “properly catechized” (which means: someday in the distant future).
Why this strange attitude? I think it’s because the new translation brings back the “vertical” sense of the Mass—and because it reduces the chances for liturgical abuses.
One of the problems with the translation we’ve been using is that it has emphasized the “horizontal” to the detriment of the “vertical.” Yes, it’s important to keep in mind our relationship to one another, but the key point of the Mass should be our relationship to God, right?
After all, the Mass is the re-presentation (the “presenting again”) of the sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary. This basic fact has been obscured, in the minds of many, by a translation that uses “horizontal” language when “vertical” language would be more accurate or fuzzy language when precise language is needed.
Let me give you my favorite example.
Now you see me. Now you don’t.
For forty years, as we recite the Creed, we’ve been saying that we believe in “all things seen and unseen.” The underlying Latin is “visibilium omnium et invisibilium.” The proper translation of this really is “all things visible and invisible.”
Does it make a difference? It sure does. Here’s how I explain it to audiences when I’m standing on a stage in front of a curtain. I say,
“If I duck behind this curtain, you can’t see me. That means I’m ‘unseen.’ But none of you will think I’ve become ‘invisible. ’” The two words just don’t mean the same thing.
“In the Creed, the phrase ‘all things visible and invisible’ means, for example, that we believe in angels, which are spirits and therefore are invisible. It doesn’t mean we are testifying to our belief in the far side of the Moon, which is ‘unseen’ but is hardly ‘invisible.’”
Words matter—not just because accurate words help us understand our faith accurately but because inaccurate words leave wiggle room for people who want to tinker with the Mass.
So it’s no surprise that 22,000 people—including lots of liturgical “experts”—have signed an online petition protesting the new translation. The petition appears at a web site called, appropriately, whatifwejustsaidwait.org.
These same people can be counted on to undermine the new translation as it is implemented in parishes around the country. Why would they try to do that—and why do they think you and I aren’t ready for a new translation?
Because the new translation undermines their agenda. It works against the liturgical abuses that so many of these people endorse.
But Pope Benedict sees through all this. He knows they’re wrong—and he knows their motives. He envisions the new translation “as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.”
Your essential handbook to the revised Mass
To help cut through the confusion concerning the new translation of the Mass, Catholic Answers is introducing a new book by best-selling author Jimmy Akin. The title is Mass Revision.
In this new book Jimmy guides you step-by-step through the revised Mass, making sure you understand what is changing and what is remaining the same. He explains how the new translation is superior to the existing one and how it brings out better the sense of the official Latin text.
But Mass Revision isn’t just about the changes to the language of the Mass. It’s also about the Church’s rules governing the Mass: How should it (and how shouldn’t it) be celebrated? Who should—and who shouldn’t—serve at Mass? Which liturgical postures are proper, and which aren’t? Which furnishings and vestments are permissible, and which aren’t?
Jimmy’s book also lets you know exactly what counts as a liturgical abuse and what doesn’t—and what you can do when you discover an authentic abuse.
Mass Revision contains lots of bonus material, such as:
- A guide to the Church’s liturgical documents
- A timeline of how the Mass has changed over the last half century
- The Vatican’s norms regarding “inclusive language”
- Guidelines for receiving Communion—who can, who can’t, and how to receive
- Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo on Communion for politicians who support abortion
- The Holy See’s list of liturgical abuses classified by severity
- An index of commonly questioned practices and which are permitted or prohibited
- An extensive glossary that demystifies liturgical terms
Mass Revision will be a one-stop information source about the new translation of the Mass and about what is allowed and what isn’t. It summarizes information found in dozens of official documents, all in one handy volume.
Jimmy’s new book will do immense good for a lot of people.
I’ve been involved in writing and publishing for a long time, so I know that bringing a book to fruition and getting it noticed (and sold!) is no easy thing.
Each year more than 40,000 titles are published in the U.S., and it takes savvy and, alas, cash to get a worthwhile book “noticed” and reviewed and (as I think this one will be) praised, but that’s what needs to be done if Mass Revision is to have the influence I think it ought to have.
In publishing, as in other areas, there’s a “window of opportunity.” And for us that “window” is closing soon, since the new translation will go into effect this Advent—just a short time away. That’s why I wanted to have a large first-run printing and an extensive right-out-of-the-gate marketing campaign.
I want this book to “go viral”—because every Catholic in the pew needs it.
To use a term common on the Internet, I want this book to “go viral,” which means to have publicity about it be self-sustaining so that more and more people can learn about—and learn from—this important book.
I hope you might be one of those willing to help with a gift of $500 or $1,000 or even more. Or maybe you can afford to send us $100 or $200 toward this effort. Whatever you send, you have our thanks.
If you’re able to help us with a donation of at least $40, as a thank-you, we’ll send you in return two things:
- A copy of the book itself, of course, autographed by Jimmy Akin.
- An exclusive audio interview with Jimmy about the changes to the Mass. This interview will not be made available in the future and is available only as a thank-you to those who help with this project.
The value of these two gifts is over $26.
Perhaps you can tell from this letter that I’m excited about this project. I think Jimmy’s new book will do a lot of good for a lot of people—in fact, for everyone who goes to Mass.
Mass Revision not only will clear up confusions that people might have (including confusions they might be given by “experts”), but it will help bring the whole experience of the Mass to a higher, more spiritual, and more fruitful level for everyone who reads it.
Won’t you help us prepare the way for the big changes that are coming this Advent?
Many thanks for your help!
Sincerely in Christ,
President, Catholic Answers