Maria Holland

Cantonese Mass

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm

On the first Sunday of Advent this year (the end of November), American Catholics started using a new translation of the Mass.  The changes are relatively small, but when they’re changes to something you know as well as the Mass, they throw people off.

So here I am, two years after mastering the Mass in Chinese, and I found myself again clinging to a sheet of paper, reading along with responses that need to be memorized, silently chastising myself when I respond the old way and rejoicing when I nail the new translation.

Brings back some strong memories.  I remember how, with each passing week, I knew more and more of the words.  At first I had the pronunciation written in, then just the characters, then I stopped needing a booklet at all.  And I remember how proud I was when I first successfully said the “望上主从你的手中…” part by myself.

Although I’m pretty good now, the first few weeks were harder (just like in China).  I think part of me wondered if the Chinese Mass would be easier for me to participate in than the new English translation . . . and I had heard of a Chinese church in the city (San Francisco) so I decided to check it out.

In a situation a little bit too reminiscent of my Chinese [mis]adventures for my comfort, the Mass ended up to be in Cantonese instead of Mandarin.  That’s kind of a big deal, as one is a dialect I speak and the other is not.  It ended up being more like my very first weeks in Xiamen, when all I understood was the homonyms for Jesus, Mary, Amen, and alleluia.

On the plus side, I’ve now been to Mass in 10 languages (English, Spanish, Latin, Italian, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Min, Korean, and Khmer)?

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