The New Mass Translation? The Marines In WWII Had That.

Well, it’s pretty close, from what I can tell. And it makes a handy little pocket guide for the changes coming upon us when the New Translation kicks in this first Sunday of Advent. I didn’t have to invent the Flux Capacitor to find out about it either.

Caveat emptor: the language is more along the lines of what is found in the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible. There are Thee’s, Thy’s, and Thou’s, rather than the more modern version that is on the handy cards you’ll probably be consulting in your parish pews.

But everything else is a close enough match that you might just want to buy this neat little prayer book anyway. You don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy it either. True story time. Marine Corps General Holland M. Smith, known as “Howlin’ Mad” Smith by the troops, utilized this very prayer book. How do I know? Look at what I found on page 321 of a book written by Charles Lee Lewis, published in 1950 entitled, Famous American Marines, An Account of the Corps: The Exploits of Officers and Men on Land, By Air and Sea from the Decks of the Bonhomme Richard to the summit of Mount Suribachi.

General Smith, who had not slept the previous night, spent another sleepless night reading his Bible. Though a Methodist, he also read a Catholic Prayer Book and My Daily Readings from the New Testament and the Daily Mass Book which had been distributed by the Chaplain’s Aid Association.

Going in harm’s way has an effect like that on some of us. As an added bonus, this little pocket sized marvel also includes daily prayers, night prayers, litanies, prayers before and after Communion, a Rule of Life for Soldiers, prayers for Confession, etc. etc.

I bought my copy about a year ago and only recently dusted it off. I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost every change to the Mass coming this Sunday is already right here. Put together by a Paulist priest named Fr. John J. Burke, he seems to have followed the direct translation route rather than the dynamic equivalent method that was rolled out in the USA after Vatican II. Bravo Zulu!

I believe in the Nicene Creed instead of “We”? Yep, right there on page 16.
And with thy spirit instead of “And also with you?” Yep, on page 17 and page 25.
Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word and my soul shall be healed? Right there on page 27.

In fact, this would also be a very handy guide for use in following the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, as both the Latin and English translations of the Liturgy are presented side by side. That way, see, Joe Six-Pack, USMC could, and can still, follow along.

Do you know what it doesn’t have? Any references to American exceptionalism whatsoever. Instead, it includes prayers for enemies, prayers for authorities, a prayer for purity, and a prayer for victory. There are also prayers for before action, and for after. Prayers for the dead, and prayers for Holy Communion.

In fact, I don’t think there is anything lacking throughout its 65 pages. It is a testament to the attention to detail of Fr. Burke that I would wager that this prayer book could not really be improved upon. Not if you want one that slips readily into your back pocket, which this one does easily. Something else to be thankful for is that Roman Catholic Books, out of Ft Collins, CO has put it back into print.

Toward the very end of this little jewel is an essay by Fr. Burke entitled A Short Way to Truth. Here it is in it’s entirety,

What is your most important business in this life? — It is to save your soul. “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul,” says our Blessed Saviour (Mark viii. 36).

What must you do to save your soul? — You must follow the religion taught by Christ. “Go ye into the whole world,” He said to His Apostles, “and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned” (Mark xvi. 15, 16).

How many religions did Christ teach? — Most certainly only one, for this plain reason, that He cannot contradict Himself. As St. Paul tells you, there is “one Lord” and “one Faith” (Ephes. iv. 5).

What, therefore, is to be thought of the many religions in this country? — As our Saviour taught but one religion, it must follow that all these religions are false except one , wherever that is. Hence St. Paul says, in his epistle to the Galatians (i. 8): “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you other than that which we have preached, let him be anathema.”

Is it not very uncharitable to say that all religions are false except one? — It is not more uncharitable than to point out the right road to one when he is on a journey, and to tell him all other roads will lead him astray.

But are you not safe in following the religion in which you were born? — From what you have been reading, it is as clear as noonday that you are not safe in following the religion in which you were born, unless it be the one true religion which Christ taught.

But how are you to find out the true religion? — You must truly and heartily repent of all the sins you have committed; you must have no other wish than to learn the will of God and to do it; you must be resolved that neither persecutions nor losses, nor worldly interest, nor anything else whatsoever, shall prevent you from doing the will of God, when you know what that will is; and you must often pray that He will teach you His holy will, saying: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts ix. 6). If you will follow this advice, you may be sure that God will hear your prayer and lead you into the right way (Luke xi. 13; Matt. vii. 7,8).

You should also look about you, and inquire which is the one true religion. You will soon find, in the New Testament, that Christ established a Church upon earth; that He built it upon a rock, and declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. xvi. 18); you will find that He gave His Church authority to teach His religion and commanded all to hear and obey it (Matt. xviii. 17; Luke x. 16; Acts ix. 6, 7; x. 5,6), that this Church cannot teach error , being “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. iii. 15), and that by following what it teaches you will be freed from all doubt and perplexity about the way to heaven, and will no longer be tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Ephes. iv. 11-15). You will find, in short, that you will be as sure of learning the religion of Christ from this Church as if you heard Him speaking to you Himself: “He that heareth you, heareth Me” (Luke x. 16).

A further examination will make clear to you that this Church is no other than that which you often truly say was the first and will be the last and which all Christians say they believe when they repeat the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” Yes, this is the Church which Christ built on a rock, which has stood for nineteen hundred years, and has triumphed over all the persecutions raised against it; this is the Church from which all other churches have separated, whilst it has always remained the same as our Saviour established it. Death! Judgment! Heaven! Hell! Eternity!

After reading that, Father Burke recommends praying a Hail Mary and a Prayer For All In Trouble,

Most Blessed Virgin, in your life of glory, remember the sorrows of earth.

Look with kindness on those who suffer, who struggle against difficulties, who drink unceasingly the bitterness of this life.

Have pity on those who love each other and are separated.

Have pity on the lonely heart.

Have pity on the weakness of our faith.

Have pity on the objects of our affection.

Have pity on those who weep, those who pray, those who fear…Obtain for all, hope and peace.


How can you get a copy? T’would be a great instrument in the hands of anyone serving in the Armed Forces, and anyone else for that matter. Do what I did and contact this website, that’s how. A great stocking stuffer idea, for sure.

Semper Fidelis

Update: Fr. Tim Finigan of  the hermenuetic of continuity has footage of a Mass aboard ship before the landing on Iwo Jima.

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