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SALT LAKE CITY -- For the first time in 40 years, Catholics will soon speak and sing different words at mass.
The Most Rev. John C. Wester is among the more than 1,500 Catholic priests, teachers and parish representatives from throughout the U.S. and Canada who are participating in the 49th Annual Southwest Liturgical Conference in Salt Lake City this week.
This year they are preparing for what's called the new Roman Missal, revised wording of the mass -- the first in decades.
How could I celebrate it more deeply and enthusiastically? How can I allow the liturgy to have an effect on my life better? It's a time to ask all those questions. So I think it's going to be very exciting.
–The Most Rev. John C. Wester
"When the priest says, 'The Lord be with you,' we currently respond, 'and also with you,'" said Timothy Johnston, director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. "But the new translation we're getting, which will start in November, is the priest will say, ‘the Lord be with you' and the assembly will respond, 'and with your Spirit' which is based in the scriptures, in the writings of St. Paul."
This brings a better translation to the original Latin Mass and will unify English-speaking Catholics. Bishop Wester hopes this will cause Utah Catholics to be more reflective about Mass.
"How could I celebrate it more deeply and enthusiastically? How can I allow the liturgy to have an effect on my life better? It's a time to ask all those questions. So I think it's going to be very exciting," he said.
Whether changes in the music or the text of the mass, those at the conference know they now have responsibilities.
"People in the pews aren't familiar with what's going on or don't realize or maybe just see it as an irritant," said Boston College faculty member Jane Regan. "I think part of the job of all of the people here will be to bring it home to their parishes, home to their diocese and really bring some life into it."
The reason for the change in late November is Advent -- the four weeks before Christmas. Catholic leaders believe parishioners will have time to learn it in time for the celebratory mass.