Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Changes in the Mass

There was a recent article in the Poughkeepsie Journal concerning some changes in the English language version of the Roman Catholic liturgy for the Mass (worship service). For the tradition-bound Roman Catholic Church, this is major, since change doesn’t come easily.

The last major change resulted from Vatican II in the 1960s when the Mass moved from mostly Latin to the language of the people. At that time, some lamented the loss of the Latin Mass as if that were the sacred language of Jesus and the prophets (Jesus spoke Aramaic, the prophets spoke Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek). In my opinion, moving to the language of the people was a tremendous step towards making the Mass more “user-friendly” and meaningful to the people.

While traditions are nice, they can’t become dominating. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for placing their traditions ahead of the Law of Moses in Mark 7:8: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (NIV) Some Christians have followed in the footsteps of the Pharisees, becoming hypocritical, legalistic, and placing too much emphasis on tradition. Speaking of himself, Jesus said in John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) Yet Christians put themselves into bondage to traditions and rules when we are supposed to be free from all that. In addition, traditions can become a god to us if we place too much emphasis on them.

While the wording of the new liturgy could be better, I applaud the Catholic Church for attempting to make the Mass a more meaningful spiritual experience for the congregation. Now if we could only get them to sing more.

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