21/08/2012 20:05

New English and Pidgin version of the Mass still unexplained

By Fr. Harry Gahare

Divine Word University

THE new revised English version of the Mass was supposed to be introduced on 27 November 2011, first Sunday of Advent, but after almost one year only few dioceses and parishes have done so.

   Lay people are moving from place to place experiencing old and new responses in the Mass. There should be uniformity; and the reasons behind the changes should be explained. Why is it that now we need to have an English translation closer to the original Latin version? PNG is a nation of differences and that includes religion. It is undoubtable that, despite Christianity, we still have a deep relationship with traditional religion and spirituality. How can we explain the new changes considering the PNG outlook?

   In the Profession of Faith (Creed) we now say, “God from God, Light from light, true God from true God, not made, consubstantial with the Father... The term ‘consubstantial’ needs to be thoroughly explained; or better maintain the previous translation, “One in Being” with the Father.

   The Pidgin revised version, also to be introduced soon, will need explanation as well. Take, for example, a frequently used dialogue during the Mass as it appears in the new English revised version:

Priest: The Lord be with you

Assembly: And with your spirit.

In Pidgin it may go like this:

Priest: Lord i stap wantaim yupela

Assembly: Na wantaim spirit blong yu.

   The meaning of the word ‘spirit’ for a Melanesian would be a kind of celestial or immaterial being, almost a ghost, which is detached from the earthly reality. The human person, however, consists of both body and spirit. There is a need for a philosophical as well as religious explanation to it. 

   How can we have a liturgical celebration in tune with the local culture and at the same time respectful of the original Latin text? There seems to be no direction and no explanation yet from our Bishops’ Conference regarding the new English and Pidgin version of the Mass. And there is no an indication on when all parishes must start with it, thus ensuring a nationwide common policy and practice.