Archive for November, 2011

When I tackled the ramifications of the new Roman Missal translation, I pondered what it would mean for ex-Catholics or “fallaway Catholics.”
Of course, there has been a split amongst Catholics who do attend church about the translations, which were implemented last week after months of preparations. It took a gigantic amount of effort and the kinks are still being worked out. If the people who have been hearing this for a while think it’s tough, just imagine those people who are returning will think.
A co-worker of mine said they wouldn’t notice a difference because they’ve been away for so long. I beg to differ. People raised in the church don’t forget what it’s like. It’s embedded in your psyche. I don’t have anything to back this up, but I’d imagine many former Catholics who go to other church services notice what’s not like their Catholic Mass experience, no matter how many times they attend.
So, when the Catholic Mass is different, what happens next?
Let’s talk numbers — wait, wait, don’t click away yet, this will get interesting.
America ranks in the top five countries in terms of number of Catholics. One in three Americans were raised Catholic. According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of people raised in the Catholic Church are no longer part of the faith. When people say Hispanics are the future of the Catholic Church in America, they’re not kidding.
Forty-six percent of foreign-born Americans are Catholics. According to a 2008 Pew study, “Latinos, who already account for roughly one-in-three adult Catholics overall, may account for an even larger share of U.S. Catholics in the future. For while Latinos represent roughly one-in-eight U.S. Catholics age 70 and older (12%), they account for nearly half of all Catholics ages 18-29 (45%).”
Spanish Masses in the U.S. were unaffected by the Roman Missal translation for English speakers.
I’m not breaking new ground here, but the Catholic Church has a lot of work cut out for it in America.
Think about it: The Catholic Church has to stop people from leaving the church, retain what it currently has amidst a big shift in Roman Missal translation, attempt to bring new people to the church while integrating vital Hispanics into parish life. It’ll be a challenge to integrate many Hispanics in English-speaking Masses implementing the new translation too.
So, all of this brings me to #occupychurch. The hashtag is gaining steam on Twitter among youth ministers and ministry leaders. Of course, it’s a clever play on the Occupy Wall Street crowd, a would-be revolution, and its prevalence on social networks.
Can an #occupychurch movement really start? How does a 2000-year-old institution with unchanging truths convince people its counter-cultural enough to create a faith revolution?
As an observer and reporter, I’m watching this with interest to see if something tangible manifests itself without being ironic. How do you push past the hashtag and into the real world given all the challenges facing the American Catholic Church right now?
Is it possible for American Catholics to #occupychurch once again?

In this week’s Catholic Review, you’ll see a brief item about Calvert Hall’s annual Thanksgiving food drive, which collected 13,000 pounds of food for a series of local outreaches. The classes from the all-boys Towson high school even turned it into a contest to see who could collect the most cans.

Campus minister Marc Parisi was kind enough to forward some thoughts from the students at Calvert Hall on this effort. The photo was taken by Evan Zimmer, an intern here at The Catholic Review and a member of the class of 2013 at Calvert Hall.

“I really appreciated our theme this year, ‘A place at the table’ because
it made me think not only of myself but the needs of everyone in our
community.”~ Junior John Maenner

“The best thing about our annual food drive is knowing that all our
efforts are going towards making someone else’s thanksgiving a whole lot
better.” – Senior Nate Swartz

“Boxing all the food was a job I really enjoyed! I know it’s cheesy, but
it’s a great feeling to know that we are able to do something for others
who are less fortunate.” – Junior Jimmy Grem

“This year’s food drive was about giving back to our greater community.
The desire to bring in as much as we could to help others fueled great
participation from students and faculty.” Senior Dan Binette

That’s what a German man is alleging in charges filed in his home country after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit there earlier this year.
The man alleges that the pontiff was captured via media several times not wearing a seatbelt. I don’t know why, but I never thought the Popemobile had the need for seatbelts. Of course, this eyewitness video from World Youth Day in Madrid is inconclusive as to whether the Pope is indeed strapped in to his seat.

One of the really interesting conversations I had during the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis was with Father Michael DeAscanis, pastor of St. Agnes parish in Catsonsville and St. William of York in West Baltimore.
We talked for a story I did on the transition to the new translation of the Roman Missal, but got to delve into some big issues of Mass and Catholicism. Ordained in 2004, Father DeAscanis received his Civil Engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University before pursuing the life of the clergy.
He had some interesting thoughts about the changes, which were just implemented this week, and how ready young people were for it.
“I think young people are just always experiencing Mass in new ways and new forms, so this will be one more fresh experience for them,” Father DeAscanis said. “The challenge for priests is to have humility to what the church has given and pray it just as the apostles accepted what Jesus gave them. I think it’s a challenge for priests and adults in humility to accept it and pray it.”
At St. William of York, the daily Thursday Mass is celebrated in traditional Latin in an effort to educate young Catholics about the church’s roots.
“We double our morning Mass attendance,” Father DeAscanis said. “People come from a distance. The more we understand the Traditional Mass, the more we understand the Mass we pray today. We need to understand the roots, the origin of the prayers we pray today.”
If you’re studying the Traditional Mass or just delving into the new order of Mass because of these news translations, it deepens your appreciation of the prayer.”
St. William of York admits he was largely unfamiliar with the Traditional Mass, saying, “you can’t take anything for granted. The prayers are very intentional. You focus on what you’re saying in the readings, whereas in our common daily prayers you might get sloppy and go through the motions. There’s no going through the motions with the Traditional Mass when you’re not familiar with it.”

Father Matt Buening looked out on his congregation Nov. 27 as he was concluding Mass at St. Paul’s in Ellicott City and offered something he has done throughout his young priesthood.
“The Lord be with you,” he said.
What came next probably happened all across the country this weekend.
One half responded “And also with you,” while the other said, “And with your spirit.”
Father Buening smiled and offered, “Pretty good.”
It wasn’t the first time the congregation relied on what it had done for decades. Earlier in the Mass, Father Buening offered “The Lord be with you.”
The congregation responded with “And also with you.”
Father Buening looked at them and said, “One more time.”
The parish giggled a bit and said, “And also with your spirit.”
Father Buening again asked, “One more time.”
Finally, they said, “And with your spirit.”
English-speaking parishes all across the country started the new translation (third edition) of the Roman Missal this weekend during Masses. And there were “a few slip-ups” at some parishes as one Catholic Review tweet put it.
People in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who knew all of the previous responses and the Mass spent the weekend looking at pamphlet guides. The Masses lacked the sure-footedness of previous ones, as people read, rather than recited, much of their responses.
More than anything, the biggest changes happened for the priests, who prepared for the consecration in a whole new, and almost unrecognizable, way.
I think one of my biggest adjustments to the new translation will be the wordiness of it all. That’s saying something considering I’m a writer. Journalists are often told to “dumb it down” for their audience so the reader will understand the story better. The Catholic English Mass is going in the opposite direction, using wordy prose that is more faithful to the original Latin text that guided the Catholic Church for much of its 2000 years.
As a retired altar boy, I spent a lot of time looking down, rather than up, this weekend. I no longer know the Mass like the back of my hand.
I knew what I said before, I meant it and it was true.
It’s not my job to judge the decisions of Catholic leaders who know more theologically than I do. Their goal is to make the worship experience deeper and fuller. For me, there wasn’t anything deeper and fuller than the Mass as I knew it.
It might not have been close enough to the Latin for some, but, for me, Mass wasn’t about chasing a language. It was about celebrating Christ’s sacrifice and his real presence in the Eucharist. It might not have been perfect for some, but it was perfect for me and I suspect for a lot of people.
To be honest, I do worry about the large number of ex-Catholics who might entertain returning to the Holy Church one day. Fall-away Catholics make up one of the most significant portions of faiths in the country. If they return, will they recognize the Mass and will it bring them the comfort they’re seeking?
The page in the Missal has been turned. It’s my job as a Catholic newspaper reporter to turn with it. I can’t educate people in the paper if I don’t go deeper in my own Catholicism and explore what’s being said at Mass all over again. The reality is, this is going to be the Mass of my children. They won’t know anything different until it’s possibly changed down the road… and then they’ll be the ones talking about how they feel like a stranger in a familiar pew.
One of the unfortunate side effects of this change has been the online battle between those who dispute the change and those who embrace it. I’ve seen some resort to calling those faithful to the former translation “protestants.” A love of the Mass is a love of the Mass. It’s not protestant to think the Mass, as it was, was beautiful and true. A person has the right to miss that translation as much as some miss the Latin Mass proper.
We all have the same goal in the Catholic faith. As English-speakers, we’re just saying it differently now and that’s no small thing.

Although he admitted that he often has trouble speaking English, Colombian-born Bishop Luis Zarama, an auxiliary of Atlanta won over the crowd of 23,000 teens at NCYC in mid-November with his keynote talk one night.
Hear him talk to young people now, encouraging them to not only text their friends, but text God as well.

One of the amazing side benefits of being a reporter is that you record history when you don’t even know history is happening before your eyes.

Tom Booth, composer of “Mass of Life” arrangements, led worship with that music for the last time this past weekend during NCYC’s final Mass. Earlier today, I reported that Booth was considering adapting those pieces for the new translation of the Roman Missal.

But, you don’t have to say goodbye forever. Here, you can listen to Tom lead NCYC through the “Mass of Life” music of “Holy” and “Amen” for the final time. You can also download them by clicking the arrow on the player. Enjoy this moment of American Catholic music history on the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians.