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Embracing change: Revisions to the music and language of Mass subtle but extensive

Published: Sunday, Sept. 25 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Because many passages of the Mass are set to music, new music options have been prepared that accommodate the new language.

"Parishes can choose the music that they prefer with the new language," Dillon said. "But they will have to make changes to the music they've become comfortable with. It won't fit with the words anymore."

Priests all over the English-speaking world have been preparing for the changes. In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, a number of workshops have been held to help priests be better prepared to help their respective congregations make the adjustment. Even the Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, has been participating in the training.

Bishop Wester told Intermountain Catholic that the changes are challenging to priests, "particularly those who have been saying this Mass, like me, for over 35 years." But as a result of the training, he said, "I'm starting to get more comfortable with the third edition. I feel more confidence in helping others learn it as well."

As the priests become more comfortable with the new language of the Roman Missal, they are working to help members of their congregations become more comfortable as well. Dillon said her parish talks about the new Missal for 10 minutes before services, and has also scheduled workshops during the week. Msgr. Servatius said discussions on the new Missal are being held in women's meetings and in their religious education program for children. He will also be holding special sessions, night and morning, during the week in late October or early November.

"It's going to be a learning process for all of us," Msgr. Servatius said. "I think we will draw closer to each other as we work together to prepare for this transition."

Dillon said that all of the parishes in the Diocese will have copies of the Missal available in church pews, as well as Pew Cards to help people with the new language while it is still new to them.

"For many people, it's been a long time since they looked at a Pew Card," Dillon said. "But this will help them until they are as comfortable with the new language as they are with the old."

Meanwhile, she said, she is looking forward to Advent Sunday, when English-speaking parishes will celebrate their first Mass with the new Missal.

"I'm sure there will be a great feeling of excitement and energy that Sunday," she said. "This will be new. People will be charged up for church!"

Msgr. Servatius, on the other hand, is hoping for a little less excitement. "My goal for that first Sunday," he said, "is a smooth transition. I just want everything to go smoothly."

Which sounds about right for a priest who likes to "go with the flow."

email: jwalker@desnews.com