I just left the 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Mark's Church in Hyattsville, Md. This is a wonderfully diverse congregation that reflects my neighborhood: African-American, white, Latino, Indian and south Asian. In fact, this parish offers two Masses in Spanish each weekend. There were about 200 in attendance at this Mass.
Before I entered, one parishioner, Geneva, told me that the Mass changes had been announced the previous Sunday, but no one "practiced" them. "They are not large changes," she said. "They won't make much difference."
At the beginning of Mass, a lay leader announced the changes again and referred everyone to a "prayer card" in the seats. She knew that the changes would be confusing for many. "We may be speaking in tongues for a couple of weeks," she said, "and that's OK."
"Speak in tongues" they did. Old and new responses were often blended. Just before Communion, the prayer was totally garbled.
In his homily, the deacon announced that he was "excited" about the changes. The reason? They would force people away from ingrained habits and make them think about what they are saying.