West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Who Moved My Catholic Cheese?

Community, Christmas, Religion

I’ve been Catholic for about 51 years, although, I sometimes refer to myself as “half-Catholic” because my mom was the only Catholic parent in our house. Regardless, I’ve had many years and many weekly, and sometimes daily, masses to have the prayers of the Catholic liturgy burned into my brain.

This weekend will be the 4th that Catholics around the United States will experience the “new mass.” In case you hadn’t heard, the Catholic Church has re-translated some of the text in the mass thereby throwing many of us into a bit of a religious tailspin.

When this change was first announced, I will admit, I was angry. My opinion was that the Catholic Church has FAR bigger issues than the accuracy of our liturgical language. I’d prefer that challenges such as bringing young people back to the church, priest shortages and giving women more leadership roles in the church are more pressing than the words we speak during the mass. I still believe those things are important, but I’m a little less worked up about the “new mass” than I was before.

The first weekend that the “new mass” was introduced, I went to my church, Christ King in Wauwatosa, and stood with everyone else, “cheat cards” in hand. Fr. Johnny Burns, the associate pastor, was kind enough to “cue” us throughout the mass when something new was spoken. Along the way, there were a few giggles here and there, but together we worked through it. Here’s what I discovered: For the first time, in a LONG time, I wasn’t just mindlessly reciting the prayers. I was reading them and thinking about what they meant. I realized that I hadn’t done that in a very long time. We Catholics love our traditions and the prayers that we speak during mass, for me, had become so ingrained that I’m pretty sure that most weeks I was doing more muttering than praying.

The second weekend of the “new mass,” my husband and I were in Nashville. The church that we attended there, ironically, Christ THE King, was experiencing the same changes we had here in Wauwatosa. There were fewer verbal cues but still we had the same “cheat cards” and stumbled through the newness together as we did the week before.

No doubt about it, the new mass still feels, for me, awkward. I still have NO idea what “consubstantial” REALLY means and I’m almost always the person saying, incorrectly, “and also with you,” instead of “and with your spirit.”

But what I’ve realized is that the new mass is a change and sometimes change is hard and a little unsettling, but sometimes it’s also good. As Spencer Johnson M.D. wrote in the 1998 book on change, Who Moved My Cheese: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Honestly, I was afraid of this change and found it might not be the worst thing in the world.

This weekend, with Christmas falling on Sunday, there will be a WHOLE bunch more people experiencing the new mass for the first time. No doubt opinions will be rampant. I can’t wait to hear what my kids think about it. That will certainly make for interesting Christmas dinner conversation!

I’ll leave you with this video of Stephen Colbert’s take on the new mass. As always, he’s got a unique perspective that made me chuckle. Hopefully it won’t offend anyone too much.

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Yahweh or No Way - Altered Catholic Mass, Papal Seat Belt & Offensive Vodka Ad
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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