The congregation at Santa Rosa's St. Eugene's Cathedral at Sunday's evening Mass were greeted with the welcome they've heard every week for decades.
“The Lord be with you,” the Rev. Fergal McGuinness said.
The parishioners' response was a garbled mush.
“Let's try that again,” said McGuinness, associate pastor of the Montgomery Drive church.
Priests across the world Sunday introduced the new English translation. The change is a decades-long effort to bring the Mass language closer to the Latin prayers recited for centuries.
So it was understandable that Sunday's worshippers were confused. Instead of “And also with you,” the new 2012 missals instructed parishioners to say, “And with your spirit.”
“I caught myself saying the old words,” said Katherine Sheldon of Santa Rosa, who has been attending Mass at St. Eugene since 1975. “But the lady next to me did it too.”
The new translation was published in October and sent out to congregations. Priests since have been scrambling to study and memorize the new text.
McGuinness said the new language is in some instances more accurate and uses words and phrases that have deep historical context.
“It will take some time to get used to,” he said. “People can get used to something different.”
Priests recited the Mass in Latin until 1974 after a decision among church leaders at the Second Vatican Council that priests could hold services in local languages.
The goal at the time was to make the church more accessible to a broader range of people.
Priests also were allowed to face the congregation instead of holding Mass with their backs turned.
Translators that worked to create an English-language Mass opted for interpretations aimed at making it easy for people to understand the concepts introduced at Mass.
But liturgical scholars complained that the translation took some phrases too far from the original Latin words.