November 26th, 2011
01:40 PM ET
By Jim Roope, CNN Radio National Correspondent
(CNN)–If you’re Catholic, mass this Sunday will sound different for the first time in nearly half a century.
You’ll hear it in the prayers of both the people and the priests.
“We have come back to a more accurate translation of the Latin from the Roman Missal,” said Fr. Rick Hilgartner, executive director of the Divine Office of Worship for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The language of prayer should be evocative, speaking in terms of imagery and metaphor.”
The changes are enormous, said Fr. Richard Albarano, of St. Francis Xavier Church in Burbank, California, and should help the 280 million English-speaking Catholics grow in their love for the mass. “The mass is the center of our lives,” said Albarano.
Not since the Second Vatican Council in 1965 have such sweeping changes been made.
The Vatican II changes were radical – the priest spoke in English instead of Latin and he faced the people instead of having his back to them. An Old Testament reading was also added to the mass, a surprise to many who thought of the Catholic Church as a New Testament only church.
Other changes, large and small, were designed by Pope John XXIII to get the people (and not just the priest) involved in the mass. But the changes were not communicated in advance. People showed up one Sunday morning, and it was all changed.
“They wondered if they were even in a Catholic church,” said Albarano.
This time, the Catholic Church has been talking about the changes, and communicating them to parishes, since 2000. For the past three months, many parishes have been working to ready their followers for the changes in the wording of the prayers.
That doesn’t mean some won’t be caught by surprise. “It’s going to be like Vatican II all over again,” Albarano said. “I haven’t heard much about catechizing across the Los Angeles Archdiocese at all. We said we were going to do it. I hope we did.”
To hear the complete story, click the audio player.
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