This interview concludes a series of articles which address the third edition of the Roman Missal.  This new translation of the Mass will be implemented in the United States on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.  In the following interview, Fr. Jim Gallagher, CSC, director of the Office of Vocations and priest-in-residence in Zahm Hall, shares his insights on the changes.

What do postulants [candidates in a religious order] think about the new translation?

I have not talked with many about this specific topic, so I cannot give a complete sense of what they think. Yet I do know that two of the candidates are taking the new translation as an opportunity to teach an adult formation class at Holy Cross Parish. They are working through a book that delves into what happens at the Mass while at the same time looking at the new translations. In general though, my sense is that many of them are taking this as an opportunity to look at the Mass, to reflect on what happens at Mass, and to consider how this translation might call us to be more attentive to what we participate in.

Do you think it will affect interest in the priesthood?

I imagine that it will affect it in some ways in that anything that draws somebody’s attention to the Eucharist can cause them to think a little bit more about the mysteries that we celebrate. It gets them thinking a little bit more about the beauty of the Sacrament and what it provides for us, and may inspire them to think about whether or not they’re called to the priesthood and to be able to celebrate the Sacrament. I don’t know that it would necessarily send droves of seminarians into the seminary, but I imagine it’s going to have some of the guys thinking about the Eucharist in a new way, which then might inspire them in their own thoughts on vocation.

How do you think Notre Dame students will react?

I imagine it’s going to be mixed. Even though students enjoy new and different things, there are some things you don’t want changing. You want the Mass to be the Mass; you know what you know and you know what you’re comfortable with and so it may take a little while for people to get comfortable with this. Right off the bat the general reaction may be, “Why are we changing?” Some of the phrases are a little awkward, so some of the students may be wondering why we’re changing it to something that is so out of the norm: “And with your spirit” is not something that we normally say.

But at the same time I think it becomes an opportunity for the presiders, the rectors, some of the campus ministers to challenge the students to think about what we’re doing and why we’re making these changes. So I think there will be a good bit of questioning.  Yet at the same time students shift and adjust fairly easily, so I think that the adjustment will be pretty quick and smooth.  The challenge is for the campus ministers and the priests on campus to spend time with this new translation and help the community understand where these new translations are coming from and what they mean.

As director of vocations, do you have any unique perspective on the new translation?

I’m not sure that my perspective on this comes from my role as a director of vocations, I think it comes more from being a priest, and even a young priest.   I realize that some of the Mass parts that I have learned by heart, I now need to spend more time with. This becomes an opportunity for me as a priest to slow down and think about what it is that I’m saying in the prayers that I’m praying.

There is also the realization that many people do not understand the richness of the Mass.  Many know what they’re supposed to say when they’re supposed to say it, what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.  Yet the Mass is a real treasure trove of graces; the levels of mystery and meaning are manifold and deep.  So it is an opportunity for us to open up that treasure trove a little bit more for the Church, to get people thinking about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what some of the connections are to the Scripture, to the broader Church, and to the history. So I think about this a little less as a vocations director and more as a priest, as a celebrant of the Sacrament. It is an opportunity for all of us, priests and faithful, to dive into the Sacrament and seek to open up a little bit more the treasure trove.

And finally, do you have any plans for putting the new missal into effect?

I do. We are really going to start taking a look at things after fall break. I live in Zahm Hall, and so that is where I will help to bring it into effect. We will start to use some of the sung parts after fall break once the choir feels comfortable and up to it. At that time I will also start to talk more about the changes as well. The diocese has provided bulletin inserts for each week from early October through sometime in December.  Since we do not have a bulletin in Zahm, I will be emailing them out once a week so that those who are interested can read them. Then, sometime after fall break, I will have a teaching Mass in the dorm to walk slowly through the Mass and the new translation to give the men of the dorm an opportunity to think about what it is that we are doing in the Mass.

Mary Frances Brennan