Preparing to launch: the new Roman Missal

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new_missal_cover_image_Page_2By Connie Berry
Sun editor

For those who think the English translation of the new Roman Missal, set to debut at the beginning of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011, is simply a backward move toward “the old days,” they might be surprised to note that there are at least 35 key dates in the evolution of the liturgy.

“Liturgy is always evolving,” said Father Joseph Scardella, director of the diocesan Office of Ministerial Formation & Liturgy and RCIA, “and it will continue to evolve. These changes really reflect a deeper theology and more closely translate the Latin.”

The Last Supper is, of course, the original liturgy. A span of 100 years, from 350 to 450, meant the change of vernacular from Greek to Latin. St. Francis ordered his friars to adopt the Missale Plenum in 1223. The First Vatican Council met in 1864 and the Second Vatican Council met in 1962. All of these events, among many others, necessitated change in the liturgy.

Come November, some of the wording will be obvious and other changes more subtle. They impact both what the celebrant and what the congregation prays. The preface dialogue currently has the priest saying, “The Lord be with you.” The people respond, “And also with you.” On Nov. 27 the congregation will begin to respond, “And with your spirit.”

A more subtle example is found in the institution narrative of the consecration when the priest says currently, “Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.” The new Roman Missal will require him to say, “Take this, all of you, and
eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.”

When the congregation recites the sanctus, only the beginning will be affected. Now they recite, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might…” The new missal will read, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts…”

The invitation to Communion will also be revised. Currently the priest says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper,” and the people reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

The revised translation offers the priest saying to the congregation, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” And the people will say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This change more closely follows the story of the centurion in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 8:8) and the Latin.

The changes came after years of study and review. Pope John Paul II actually began the latest process in 2000, the Year of Jubilee. The International Committee on English in the Liturgy,  the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments were responsible for the revisions. The Vox Clara Committee, made up of international membership, advised the Vatican on English translations. The Latin version of the third edition of the Roman Missal was published in 2002. The U.S. bishops sent the first draft of the new missal back to the committee with 4,000 changes, Father Scardella explained.

The changes, however minor in some cases, will make a difference for those in the pews and those at the altar, and also children participating in the liturgy for the first time. Deacons, religious educators, people in the pews, music ministers – every Catholic will be impacted by the new Roman Missal.

The diocese has begun a series of regional workshops to educate people on the newest edition. The first event was held at St. Joseph ‘s Parish Center in Oswego last week. There were workshops for priests, deacons, catechists, musicians, Catholic school teachers and liturgical ministers, but the workshops are open to all. Deacon Joseph Celentano presented the workshop for catechists and he said he felt the changes were well-received.

“Once they understood the reasons and the theology behind the changes they left with very positive feelings about it,” Deacon Celentano said. “For me, after doing the research for my presentation, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the Mass and how accurate it is now.”

Father Scardella said he hopes when the people take note of the new words, they will also reflect and draw inspiration on the meaning of the Mass.

Deacon Frank Forish from St. Stephen’s Church in Phoenix said that pastors and parish leaders will have to present the changes with enthusiasm to the people in the pews.

“I was born in 1937 and I’m not looking to go back to a full Latin Mass,” Deacon Forish said, “but by raising the bar a little, it will elevate the Mass to where it should be.”

There are several changes within the body of the Mass, but some of the most notable changes are in the new translation of the Creed, the prayer that most clearly states what Catholics believe. The first change is immediate. Instead of reciting, “We believe in one God…” the people will say, “I believe in one God…” This makes the profession of faith more personal, Father Scardella said.

The Creed now continues, “…maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.” It will read, “…maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” According to Father Scardella, this more precise version covers a more spiritual translation including parts of creation that are not visible to human beings, such as angels and saints in heaven.

Another portion of the Creed now reads, “…God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.” It will soon read, “…God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…”

Father Scardella admits “consubstantial” is a significant revision of “one in being.“ But he said it more accurately describes the relationship of God and Jesus. “Consubstantial means they are the same substance,” he said. “It is more clear than ‘one in being.’”

The upcoming weeks and months will be a time of teaching and learning for people in the English-speaking church. All members will be in the process together, making even these changes a truly universal process.

One of the new options at dismissal of the Mass may hold the key, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

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