HuffPost: New Mass as New Coke

Jeff DeGraff  in the Huffington Post: “The New Mass as the New Coke.”

I can’t tell whether the new translation first struck him at Christmas Mass (the fifth Sunday of its use) so I’m not assuming that’s the case.

More importantly, I can’t tell whether DeGraff’s views are mostly just his, or his is a representative voice-from-the pews. No doubt we’ll gradually find out in coming months.



  1. I liked the article, perhaps because I read it as literature, i.e. a literary rather than a sociological, or journalistic, or theological way of communicating to Catholics and non-Catholics how he feels about the New Mass. I am sure that people who want sociology or journalism or theology will probably find this article inadequate.

    I like the analogy of New Coke, i.e. changing something that I like and that I am comfortable with in the hope that I will like the new improved version.

    I think my reaction so far fits into his story.

    When they sing “The Lord be with you,” I sing “And with your spirit.” When they say the “Lord be with you” I either keep silent or say “and also with you” with the many people who still say that. Generally I don’t bother to find the new prayers, I keep silent and let other people respond.

    I now sing the Creed in Latin mentally; I always wanted to sing it anyhow. The parish that sings the new version of the EPs; I sing along with them mentally, maybe I will eventually learn them. The other parishes; I open my Gregorian Missal and sing the old English EP mentally.

    Yes I like the analogy. When the only thing available is the New Coke, sure I will be sociable and drink it. But when there is a choice, and actually there is still a lot of choice, I drink the old Coke.

    1. Yeah, I read the article only because I wanted to see if it was about the new translation rather than the Novus Ordo itself, since the New Coke comparison is so common in traditionalist circles – I wonder if the author realized that.

  2. “Pope John XXIII believed in his people. He convened the Second Vatican Council with representatives from all over the world and all points of view to give the church back to its laity.”

    Really? Any evidence to back up this claim Professor DeGraff?

    “I never liked New Coke, so I didn’t buy it. I just kept drinking the regular brew.”

    How did he do that when the ‘regular brew’ was removed from the market and was unavailable in the United States. Is Prof DeGraff one of those guys who blew his life savings purchasing a lifetime supply of “old coke” in May of 1985?

    1. But enough people protested that the original brew was brought back as “Coke Classic.” And “new Coke” eventually faded away — unmourned and un-missed.

      1. But enough people protested that the original brew was brought back as “Coke Classic.” And “new Coke” eventually faded away — unmourned and un-missed.

        Unfortunately, Ann, the church doesn’t care whether people like the new mass. They’d rather have a smaller group that prefers the new missal, rather than a larger group that is happier with the previous one.

      2. We actually don’t know yet if the size of the group that is happier with the previous one is larger than than the size of the group that prefers the new missal, and that entirely misses the group that has no strong preference. People, being people, will tend towards confirmation bias.

      3. The only way to find out whether there are any preferences for the New and Old Missals is to allow both to be used for a sufficient period of time in a fairly large number of places.

        My guess is that there would be a fairly large preference for the Old Mass for the same reason that people preferred the Old Coke. We tend to like the familiar and are hesitant about the unfamiliar across a wide range of things. I suspect that about a third would not care either way.

        I don’t think the familiarity advantage would disappear in a year or two, but would likely disappear in a decade or two since people would inevitably get more familiar with the New Missal even if they initially tried to avoid it.

        The Old Missal might have another advantage, namely a simpler language. Again people tend to like things on the simple side rather than the complex side. If this advantage exists, it might not disappear with time.

        Anyway we will never know because no one on any side of this would ever put it to the real world test. Everyone wants to retain their own view. Don’t confuse me with the facts.

  3. I’ve been struggling to put this into words, and this article finally clarified my thinking. For me, the actual Mystery of the Mass is too deep to be confined into such precise definitions as “consubstantial” or “transubstantiation”. It doesn’t need the false cloak of self important words such as “oblation” or “ineffable”. The simple words we have been using are sufficient to ponder in our hearts. And, understanding that for offering it in Latin itself or complicating it with such things as the cappa magna seem to be a proud intrusion. The words we were given aren’t important enough, aren’t sacred enough. We have to show God how it’s done by adopting the mode of a European court.
    This is not to say that we need to exclude all ritual, whitewash our building and discard our music. But even as we offer beauty to God, we should admit that it is also there for us; to help us become aware of the Mystery among us. When the liturgy becomes intrusive and distracting, when it leads us to a false image of God, we are on the wrong path.

  4. The comparison to New Coke was clever. I think he has put his finger on how a lot of people feel. (Note 11K facebook “likes.”) “Funny thing is that when you trust your people they have a tendency to return the favor.” Amen to that.

    What I found really funny, though, was that instead of “tenets of the faith,” he accidentally wrote “tenants” of the faith. (“It belongs to the faithful who are capable of interpreting the tenants of their faith for themselves.”) This is one of those errors that makes an unintended hit. Tenants! Landlords of the faith, take note.

  5. It is strange that 90% of discussion of the new texts deals with topics like “familiarity” or local items of vocabulary. Very few seem to be able to judge the quality of the language. This means that the welling discontent is liable to remain muddled, inarticulate, moody — another night battle.

  6. I think it’s a pity that ‘oblation’ isn’t as common as it used to be. It comes from the same Latin words as ‘offering’ (‘ob-ferre’ – ‘to carry towards’) but uses the past, instead of the present, tense. An offering stops being an offering as soon as it’s been accepted, because you’re not offering it any more, so it becomes an ‘offered’. Which is exactly what ‘oblation’ means. I know it’s unfamiliar and probably over-precise, but I like it!
    Furthermore, when the priest says “accept this oblation” he is emphasising that it is not specifically his offering; he is merely passing on what has already been offered by God’s ‘whole family.’

    1. And, of course, contra Mr. DeGraff, Shakespeare did say “oblation.”


      Were ‘t aught to me I bore the canopy,
      With my extern the outward honouring,
      Or laid great bases for eternity,
      Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
      Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
      Lose all, and more, by paying too much rent,
      For compound sweet forgoing simple savour,
      Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
      No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
      And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
      Which is not mix’d with seconds, knows no art,
      But mutual render, only me for thee.
      Hence, thou suborn’d informer! a true soul
      When most impeach’d stands least in thy control.

    2. The liturgy cannot be made to carry a freight of such super-subtle and highly doubtful semantic nuances. There is no “noble simplicity” in that.

  7. I’ve been in our Church for almost 50 years now (I’m 72) and have struggled and juggled with the local church-provided seasonal missal and hymnal and new Mass, over-sized prompter card for these several weeks. I’m done. Many around me at Mass are simply attending Mass now and not participating in it, and I am going to join them. On top of all of the word changes, we are now using the Mass of Resurrection for the music, so all of us are challenged to go along to get along. It’s very quiet around me and I guess some will drop out completely. I’m there for the Eucharist and the rest I will accept in solitude.

    1. That’s true for many. People are going, sitting, and leaving, but their spiritual growth has been stopped, simply to indulge the desires of the conservative hierarchy for a liturgy more to their liking.

      I wonder what God is thinking about all this.

    2. I can honestly say that the new translation has brought a new depth of prayer to my parish. Yesterday the woman beside me carefully prepared herself with the cue card and began the new version of the Nicene Creed, only to realize several sentences in that everyone else was saying the Apostle’s Creed. She paused and then uttered a very fervent “Oh, Jesus!”

  8. This article reminds me of a night in 1985 when Ted Koppel devoted an entire NIGHTLINE program to “The Cola Wars.” I remember drifting off to sleep that night thinking, “If this is the most important news story in the world, things are gonna be all right.”

  9. I’m a newcomer to this blog, and accidently found it whilst trying to get some idea about what other Catholics feel about the New Mass. The various threads on this topic have gven me much insight into this, so thank you for that.
    I’m English, and the ‘Corrected Translation’ (as our priest calls it) was introduced in our parish a few weeks prior to Advent. After it’s first ‘outing,’ I remember thinking how cumbersome the language all seemed. A few more weeks, and I was yearning for a return to the former translation. I just couldn’t connect with the new words. Instead of thinking about the wonders of God’s work, I was thinking ‘Did the person who wrote this actually speak English at all?’
    After a week or so of defiantly muttering the old prayers under my breath, I simply chose to do what many have alluded to and remain silent during the responses. However, after experiencing a series of uplifting Sung Massess for Christams and Mary, Mother of God, I had something of a reawakening. I came to the conclusion that The New Mass was here to stay, and it was in my interest to give it a chance. I was going to attend the Mass for the Epiphany (Sunday’s Mass in England) and partake in the responses juoyfully and vigorously. And do you know what…?
    I still don’t like the new translation! The Gloria, my biggest gripe, is just an utter mess- it just has no flow anymore, and doesn’t scan as well when sung. The Creed has had the compact and eloquent “seen and unseen” excised in favour of the unwieldy “visible and invisible.” And don’t get me started on “Consubstantial with the Father!” I felt so sad seeing the elderly celebrant trying (and failing!) to get his tongue around the complex latinisms in the Eucharistic Prayer.
    I know the new form has it’s fans, but surely mystique and ceremonials are what Extraordionary Form is for? For an English Mass, is it too much to ask that the languague be that of the Enlish people? Leave the translating to God.

    1. It was assumed by both supporters and opponents that if the new translation survived the first few weeks, the battle would be over. Instead, we find many becoming more and more irritated each Sunday!

  10. “For an English Mass, is it too much to ask that the languague be that of the Enlish people? Leave the translating to God.” “Did the person who wrote this actually speak English at all?”

    It all boils down to this: is this a translation at all? Do they even want it in English?

    My other comment: this seems to be turning out to be a battle in a “civil war.” A struggle between two factions, one of which can issue documents. If so it is very short-sighted on the part of the authorities. Their job is not to finally defeat the “other guys.” And visa versa. Winning this battle is not important enough to undermine the mission of the Church in the 21st Century. How does this present the Gospel to one non-believer? How are they edified by comlaints about ’40 years of suffering’ and a counter-revolution to redress that?

  11. re: Ross Goulding on January 9, 2012 – 1:33 pm

    Ross, I don’t intend to belittle your situation. I respect what you have to say. Two of your observations are especially pertinent.

    I felt so sad seeing the elderly celebrant trying (and failing!) to get his tongue around the complex latinisms in the Eucharistic Prayer.

    I have noted that priests who say the EF frequently have very little difficulty praying the new translation clearly. If a priest has not said Mass in Latin for a long time, this translation might be difficult to say. The subordination of clauses in the new translation closely follows the Latin (when the Latin is translated correctly). The prayers are not very accommodating to the intonation and pause of English. If read according to English rhetorical patterns, the prayers do indeed come out sounding like a garbled mess.

    I know the new form has it’s fans, but surely mystique and ceremonials are what Extraordionary Form is for? For an English Mass, is it too much to ask that the languague be that of the Enlish people? Leave the translating to God.

    The rhetorical style required for this new translation is derived from a foreign, even alien, language. As much as I truly disliked and still dislike the Sacramentary, the prayers easily fit English speech patterns. It isn’t “too much to ask that the languague (sic) be that of the Enlish (sic) people”. The laity who wish to worship in the vernacular should not be impeded. This translation is often an impediment to the desire to worship in contemporary English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *