LETTER: Make the Mass accessible

Travis Heine’s recent column argued that the upcoming changes to the Roman Catholic mass are for the better.

I’m not so sure — as a Roman Catholic, I think the changes sound pretty horrid.

The author says some of the current phrases used are opaque — well, I don’t know how you hope to fix this supposed problem by throwing the word “consubstantial” into the mix. I, and I think most others, can understand what “one in being” means — consubstantial, not so much. Sure, we can learn it, but it does take away from the community, conversational feel of mass — and the sense that mass is a celebration, not a solemn intoning of choice Biblical phrases.

And I don’t know how our Church of the not-so-great-attendance-rates is ever going to attract more congregants by reverting back to ever narrower versions of mass. The purpose of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which gave us today’s mass was to make the mass more accessible and open — this seems like a step backward.

Colin Ross

Nov. 10

The writer is a senior in Berkeley College and a staff columnist for the News.


  • RexMottram08

    Colin Ross,

    I know it’s hard for you to believe, but there were once Catholics who actually KNEW their Faith. Consubstantial is much more accurate philosophically than “one in being.” The new translation has more to do with metaphysics than Latin linguistics.

    • Spacebar

      I grew up attending mass, went to Catholic elementary school, and continue to participate actively in my faith. But even I learned the word “consubstantial” in my AP European History class.

      I understand the importance of translations being accurate, but translators, especially religious ones, have an obligation to make their translations accessible, too.

      • RexMottram08

        What is this “accessible” garbage?

        All these lovely little coddled American Catholics who have never been to an Eastern Catholic liturgy. Mystery matters, fellas. Mass isn’t color by numbers.

  • River_Tam

    You want conversational, go be a Protestant.

  • croncor

    Truth, wisdom, and beauty attract congregants. If you think you’re going to get people interested in religion by making religion a low-brow cheer fest, you’re dead wrong. The mass isn’t a pep-rally, it’s a participation in the sacrifical offering of the King of Kings, who died for our sake. I bet if you thought more about how you’re receiving the Lord of Glory from Fr. Bob on Sundays, you would see the value of a little more reverence in liturgical language. Consider that the Eucharist is a sign by which we’re enabled to draw closer to Christ’s crucifixion, a commitment to lay down our lives (in a very real way) for the Gospel. It’s serious business.

    As for “consubstantial”, the Holy Trinity is one of those things that Catholics like to call a “mystery”. If the average person used to think that they knew what “one in being” meant, they were wrong, and we should be glad that they’ll now realize it. As Augustine said, “If you understand it, it’s not the Trinity.”

    • Spacebar

      I just don’t agree with the mentality that mass isn’t “serious” enough or “religious” enough unless half the participants don’t understand what’s happening. I’ve seen absolutely inspiring documents written in very basic English for missionary work, and they manage to attract people despite their simplicity. There’s a big difference between making Mass easily comprehensible and turning it into a “low-brow cheer fest.”

      And I’m pretty sure that the “mystery” of consubstantiation isn’t carried by the words used to describe it. It’s a mysterious concept, not a mysterious turn of phrase. Surrounding it with difficult language just distracts people from considering the concept itself– they only see a complicated word, and the underlying mystery is lost.