Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Seeks Feedback on New Missal

Hats off to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for inviting Catholics in the archdiocese to give feedback on the new missal translation in an online survey. One must give his or her zip code and email address to certify being from the diocese.

Let’s hope many more dioceses seek input, and that the results are made public. – awr


  1. This is a good beginning, but it does not go far enough yet.

    Not only should we want to know what people think, but why they think it. The Notre Dame Survey of Parish Life (1981-89) accumulated much valuable raw data, but it was statistical, and never asked people why they thought the way they did. That is where the real interest lies.

    Asking people to briefly share their thoughts will not elicit the information we need. Asking them what it is that makes them put positive, very negative, or whatever, is much more likely to produce a comment of value.

    I would want to expand the Galveston-Houston survey in the following ways:

    (1) Distinguishing between people’s experience of the people’s parts and their experience of the presider’s prayers. [And if the respondent is a clergy person, asking them about these two areas from their particular point of view.]

    (2) Distinguishing between the Order of Mass and the rest of the Missal. The two are very different animals, with different problems.

    (3) As indicated above, asking for a simple explanation of why these various things have been experienced in the way that they have, both by the respondent and by the parish in general.

    (4) Asking for some reactions to the new/revised music being used, rather than a mere indication of what is being used (and a proportion of people will actually not know the name of the setting(s) they have been singing).

    Having said that, I think the questions about prior catechesis and resources are very useful. It would additionally be useful to know

    (a) how catechesis was delivered (e.g. at Mass/on other occasions, parish evenings/small groups, by the priest or deacon/by lay people, etc),


    (b) what leaflets, booklets, cards, DVDs, etc, were used beforehand (the question about resources seems to relate only to what is now being used at Mass).

  2. The “rationabilem acceptabilemque” needs some homework in the Gospel of John (1,1ss; 4,24) and Romans (12, 1.) There is here I believe an echo of the Greek reflecting the faith notion that the meaning of God is given to us in the Word of God (logos). The prayer invokes the Holy Spirit to make the meaning of my life-service-liturgy-prayer through a consecration as the consecration of the bread is acceptable to the Father and as Jesus’ sacrifice is acceptable. The “oblationem” of the “Hanc igitur” is the “oblationem” of the “Quam oblationem”. Thus, the sacrifice (oblationem) of our service (servitutis nostrae) is the my life-prayer-liturgy upon which we invoke the Holy Spirit to make this bread the Body of Christ. St. Augustine puts it better: See/receive what you believe and become what you believe. Further, the comma following “rationabilem” is clearly a mistake… “rationabilem acceptabilemque” should read together like “bacon and eggs” for breakfast. The enclitic “que” is meant to join the two as if one.

  3. I have forwarded the survey link along with a short message to
    our diocesan offices. If people ask for a survey they just might get one
    from their diocese. So ask!

  4. Just to say that David Wood at the Office for Worship in G-H has graciously adjusted the survey in the light of my comments, so please ignore those that no longer apply.

  5. My suggestions for questions are:

    1. In comparison to the Old Missal, the people’s words of the New Missal are:

    2. In comparison to the Old Missal, the Eucharistic Prayers of the New Missal are:

    3. In comparison to the Old Missal, the Priest’s Prayers (Collect, etc.) of the New Missal are:

    4. In comparison to the Sung Settings used with the Old Missal, the Sung Settings used with the New Missal are:

    5. In overall comparison to Masses using the Old Missal, Masses using the New Missal are

    My suggestion for the response alternatives to the above questions:
    Much better
    Slightly better
    About the same:
    Slightly worse
    Much worse
    A mixed bag (elaborate in comments section below)

    Comments areas:

    1. Please give any comments on the above questions: (e.g. #1 Confiteor better, but Creed worse)

    2. What three things would make the liturgy in your parish better?
    (I think this last general comments section will motivate a lot of people to contribute to the survey. It tells them you are interested in them. In fact I might put this question at the top.)

    When rating scales like the following are used, people give the item the benefit of the doubt and are very reluctant to use the bottom half of the scale, and they also have no standard for comparison. If people were using this scale for both Missals they would likely rate them both as positive, even if they liked one more than the other. You probably would not be able to tell the difference.
    Very positive
    Very Negative
    On the other hand if you use the questions above and the New Missal is slighty better on even three out of the five questions but about the same on the other two, you would get a statistically detectable difference. Of course you risk finding out it is worse, or more likely better in some areas but worse in others.

  6. The problem with such type of surveys for the amount of texts as the Missal must be that people like and dislike different parts. Even if we separate the Order of Mass from the Propers, there will be different preferances for different segments of the Order of Mass. How would such surveys accurately capture what people like and don’t like about the texts? It’s like those surveys at bank tellers asking you to rate the service – am I rating how good the teller is, how good the bank is, or how good the waiting time is? I have very different answers for each of those three questions.

    Maybe ICEL could do a naarative capture exercise instead. The stories collected could be more useful than a simple survey for a complicated exercise like this.

    1. Simon,

      The reason that I included a “mixed bag” response and an invitation to elaborate is precisely because of the possibility that it is a mixed bag and it would be helpful to quickly learn that, especially where it is a mixed bag so that something can be done about it..

      I also included the “top three things to improve” because the whole parish environment has to be taken into consideration when evaluating an implementation. Any problems that are there likely existed under the Old Missal, and may or may not be improved by the New Missal.

      It is important to distinguish what professionals call “summative evaluation,” i.e. a well controlled, executed, randomly selected, probably stratified and very expensive study to try to say definitively what works and what does not work in the New Missal from

      “formative evaluation” i.e. inexpensive feedback which tries to identify what seems to going on in the ongoing implementation in order to improve it. Parishes and dioceses can and should do a lot of formative evaluation. They should tailor these to finding out where there are problems, and how they can improve the situation on the ground.

      In the course of these formative evaluations things might be discovered that would contribute toward a summative evaluation, e.g. the collects may be more difficult to understand than the EPs. But there might be ways to solve that without the expense of a summative evaluation.

      Any good formative evaluation of the liturgy is going to find problems. The Vibrant Parish Life study rated the Mass as half way down the list of things being well done. Very few people said that their Mass experience was Negative or Very Negative. What most said is that it was in the positive range but not as positive as the ratings of church buildings, religious education programs, promotion of life, etc.

      Everyone should want to find out how to improve things. Unfortunately when the data comes in, most theories need adjustment.

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