Catholics celebrate new Mass, return to "traditional roots"

Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:52am EST
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By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Catholics across the United States celebrated a new translation of Mass on Sunday that church leaders said would provide a deeper understanding of the faith, but which critics complained was unnecessary and confusing.

A third edition of the Roman Missal, which priests use to celebrate Mass, was born out of a directive in 2000 by Pope John Paul II to revise the text, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Its launch in the nation's 17,000 parishes coincided with the First Sunday of Advent, or the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

"Now is the time to seize the opportunity given to us for all Catholics in the United States to deepen, nurture, and celebrate our faith through the renewal of our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy," a statement on the conference website read.

The launch marks an overall shift closer to the original Latin text of the modern Roman Missal, ordered by Pope Paul VI in 1970 to bring consistency to the centuries-old celebration of Mass. It was revised in a second edition in 1975.

The new Mass has drawn criticism by some who call it an unnecessary nod to conservatives in the church and a slap at what some describe as the more progressive nature of many English-speaking parishes.

But Catholic leaders and some parishioners said the move would push parishioners and priests to become present to the meaning of a faith they've been practicing - and may know by rote - through two generations of the same wording.

"When things change, it makes you think," said Sister Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the Washington, D.C.-based conference. "So the prayers that had become very rote are suddenly changed, and it makes you get beyond the rote meaning or response. It makes you think about what you're saying."   Continued...

<p>Members of the clergy hold a cross as Pope Benedict XVI conducts a Eucharist service in the southwest German town of Freiburg, September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>