NCR Today

New missal not the end-all, be-all in Denver

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I went to Mass on Nov. 28 at a parish in suburban Denver, which by local standards would be considered a fairly meat-and-potatoes place -- neither liberal nor conservative, basically nonaligned when it comes to most matters of church politics.

There, the introduction of the new missal on Sunday amounted to a non-event. People followed along and said their parts, without any ferment. There was some chuckling over stumbles at unfamiliar parts, but in general, there was neither overt resistance nor palpable enthusiasm -- simply people trying to adjust.

Chatting briefly with Mass-goers afterwards, I heard several versions of what I would label the "common sense" perspective on liturgical matters. In different ways, most people -- whatever they thought of the new language -- said that the things that really matter in shaping the quality of their liturgical experience boil down to three points: How good the preaching is, how good the music is and how welcoming the community seems.

Review of new missal mixed in St. Louis parishes

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My best friend in kindergarten was named Grail and her older sister was named Chalice. My own mother, Genevieve, was quite clear that I had been named for the Blessed Virgin and her mother, Ann. It seems to me that the bishops are reaching back to that narrow period of piety in the 1940s and '50s in their effort to reinvigorate the faithful.

I interviewed Dominican and Loretto sisters who attend Mass at a retirement community. The sacristan there is worried that the older priests who celebrate Mass will have trouble carrying the new book, sent to all the churches and chapels from the chancery.

The review was mixed. One sister said, "I like very much the words at the consecration and at the end. It is very prayerful."

Another said, "I kind of like it. There are not that many changes. So far I don't mind."

And, "It worked of us. It's not a necessity."

A couple said, "I come out with the wrong words," "It's not that much of a change for me." "I still get lost." "It's too soon to have an opinion." "Sometimes I turn these things off." "The priest's diligence in using the right phrases made me more diligent."

New missal translation subtly moves church away from Vatican II

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Like my fellow bloggers, I also paid particular attention to the new changes in the liturgy at this Sunday's Mass.

Before Mass started, a woman who works in the parish explained that today, the first Sunday in Advent, we would commence these new changes. We were all provided not only with the new missals but also with prayer cards to make sure we became aware of the new word changes in our responses as well as those of the priest.

However, she did point out that there was a typo in one of the responses and brought our attention to it. This makes me wonder if similar mistakes might have occurred in other parishes throughout the country.

I noticed that some people in the pews prior to Mass examined the prayer card while others seemed lackadaisical about it. After the Mass began, only once did the priest, who was reading his homily, refer to the changes, and this was only in passing.

During the Mass, I found myself fumbling with the prayer card to see what the new responses were. I found this distracting, and possibly others did too.

A new song for the Arab Spring

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A new flower blossoms in the Arab Spring and involves the legendary music producer, Quincy Jones, who has collaborated with Emirati social entrepreneur Badr Jafar, to jointly produce the Arabic charity single entitled "TOMORROW/BOKRA." The song involves 24 leading Arab artists from 16 nations across the Middle East and North Africa singing with one voice for a better tomorrow.

CNN, the global media partner to this initiative, offered this report:

"A charity single made by legendary music producer Quincy Jones featuring some of the Arab world's top recording artists has become an internet hit. The official video for "Tomorrow/Bokra," (Bokra is the Arabic word for tomorrow) has been watched more than two million times on YouTube since it was released earlier this month. The album released last week. "People gave their soul to this project," said Jones. "This is not about records and money. This is about the young kids."

The proceeds will go to fund musical, artistic and cultural projects for children in the Middle East.

Morning Briefing

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China to ordain Vatican-approved bishop, but the Vatican and the Chinese government-controlled Catholic church are fighting over the guest list.

Opinion: Key Task for Catholic Higher Ed , Catholic colleges and universities in the United States over the past 20 years have adopted new mission statements and added personnel and programs designed to reemphasize the religious dimensions of the Catholic college experience.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua -- Pa. cardinal testifies in rape, endangerment case

Should philanthropies operate like businesses?

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One of the main goals of NCR's Mission Management column created by our dear friend Joe Feuerherd, publisher and editor-in-chief of the National Catholic Reporter from 2008 until his death earlier this year, is to highlight best practices and ideas that, when well-executed, change peoples' lives. Since 2009, as the lead writer for this column and with the considerable help of NCR colleagues, friends and readers, I have been able to scour the country and identify good examples of mission management in action.

One of the perennial tension points in the not-for-profit space continues to be the issue of how much a charity, including parishes and dioceses, should be run like a business and whether a business model is, in fact, an applicable model for charities. Much has been written on this topic by academics, philanthropists, business executives and charity managers.

Detroit priest offers insight to new missal

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As a priest in a small city of Detroit parish, I was offered a unique experience of the new translation of the Mass. For the past few months, we had tried to prepare our congregation for the transition in two ways: 1) We have been incorporating the sung responses [i.e. Gloria, Sanctus] in a new musical setting over the course of the last month; 2) Over the past few weeks, we have been practicing congregational responses such as the creed and preface at announcement time with participation aids in the pews.

The reality of the first weekend

I called attention to the cards in the pews as we began Mass this weekend. The upshot was that there was a lot more reading on everyone's part and a lot less focus on the meaning of the words. It was, in my opinion, a much more left-brain experience than I am used to at Mass. For me as a presider, this was particularly frustrating, since the words for almost every prayer the presider prays is now changed.

California cathedral meets new missal with indifference

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At the cathedral of the San Jose, Calif., diocese Sunday, the first use of the new translation of the Roman Missal was met with a mix of indifference and creative interpretation.

While the domed ceiling of the mission-style Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph echoed with a mix of "And with your spirit" and "Also with you" responses from the congregation at several points, many of the other changes went off smoothly, with many parishioners bowing their heads to read from an instruction pamphlet.

Yet in one noted change, the cathedral's pastor told parishioners after his homily that while they'd be saying the Nicene Creed this week, they might not in the future.

Instead, Msgr. J. Patrick Browne said he'd rather use the Apostle's Creed, which is "shorter and easier to understand."

Joking after the recitation of the creed, Browne said that next week "there will be a test on the meaning of the work consubstantial."

After Mass, one parishioner said she thought the new prayers would lead to a deeper appreciation for the Mass.

New Jersey parishioners take new missal in stride

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"Good morning. Hmm, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say this with the new Roman Missal. I feel edgy, like I've never done this before and it's my first Mass," quipped the priest, who had certainly celebrated at least his silver jubilee, at the beginning greeting of liturgy using the new Roman Missal in a New Jersey suburb in the Diocese of Camden. "I think I already made one mistake, but that's OK, we'll get through this together."

Prior to Mass, the music director had gone over a few responses, though it was obvious the community had been preparing along the way. With humor and encouragement, he said several times: "The Lord be with you," attempting to reprogram the previously normal response into "And with your spirit."

With grace and good humor, community members laughed and practiced. During the liturgy it was apparent longtime practices are hard to break, yet the community created powerful liturgy evidenced in its gestures, prayers, proclamations and music.

Washington parish meets new missal with confusion, resignation

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Foreheads wrinkled in confusion, giggles, sighs, smiles and occasional eye-rolling were the order of the day as parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish in LaConner, Wash., fumbled with the ubiquitous "cue cards" and goldenrod music scores employed to coach them through the first Sunday Mass of Advent 2011 -- an initiation to the revised Roman Missal translation.

Acknowledged as a "destination parish" -- defined more by joy than geography -- Sacred Heart draws parishioners from at least a half-dozen towns in Washington's Skagit Valley. It has no resident pastor.

New parishioner Jeff Scott, who coaches basketball at nearby Mt. Vernon High School and works at Washington Bulb Company, said of the new Mass rite, "There's nothing wrong with change and it will take a while to learn, but I welcome change. It's no big deal."

LaConner resident Tracy Hancock, 37, was perplexed about the revised translation. "I was telling my mom who was sitting next to me, 'Is this just change for change's sake?' I guess I just don't understand the whole rationale behind the changes."

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