I’ve been thinking about the 1996 movie “Multiplicity” lately. Have you seen it? It may not have made much money and received mediocre reviews, but certain parts of it have stuck with me over the years that has been brought the forefront of my mind with the new translation of the Roman Missal coming soon.
In the movie, Michael Keaton’s character finds a way to make copies of himself so that he can essentially be in two places at one time. The original copies are close to being the real him. Maybe they have certain exaggerated personality aspects, but they pass for him. One day, the copies are curious, so they make a copy of one of themselves. The result is a character (known as “4”) that looks exactly like the original, but was nothing like him in his mannerisms and intelligence level. In the film it is explained that a copy of a copy is never as sharp as the original. The more times you copy a copy, the result gets fuzzier.
With the new translation of thing Roman Missal coming to Catholic Churches near you in just a few short weeks, there will be some changes to the Mass that we’ve all known and loved for so many years. Eventually, it’ll be a reaction to say, “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you.” (So I guess the ol’ “Star Wars” joke will now be, “May the Force be with you” “And with your spirit.”)
There are plenty of people out there who look forward to changes, but there are just as many (if not more) who are resistant to change. I’ve heard plenty of people complaining about the new translation and these upcoming changes. “I just don’t understand why it has to change.” I can understand those sentiments. I really can.
It is much easier to grasp when you look at it from a broader angle. God has guided the Catholic Church for 2000 years. When it has started down the wrong path, He gently re-centered it. There’s no way that we have made it through that amount of time as unified as we are without the hand of God being present. I see the new translation as His way of re-centering us. It is supposed to be a much closer translation of the original Latin. He doesn’t want us making copies of copies for centuries on end. Just as Michael Keaton’s character 4 was far from perfect, we don’t want the Mass to be anything but perfect.
We may stumble over our words with this new translation. We may have to follow along more at first than we are used to. It’ll be different, but we’ll get used to it! In six months, I bet it’ll
be old hat.