Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The New Roman Missal - Introducion

Here's the letter I prepared for my parish bulletin for this Sunday.  It's the first in a series I'll be doing leading up to the implementation of the New Roman Missal in November 2011.

It’s hard to believe that 2011 is already a month old.  January flew by, in spite of the nasty weather that could make the days seem long.  Before too much of the year gets behind us I wanted to take this opportunity to begin talking with you about the changes that will be happening in the Mass once Advent rolls around in November.  Some of you may already be aware that a new translation of the prayers used during the Eucharist have been prepared and will be put into use starting November 27, 2011. Over the next several months I will be dedicating time and space to prepare us for the upcoming changes, and to explain why they are taking place.

After the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960’s, the Mass was permitted to be said in the vernacular, or common language of the people, instead of the traditional Latin.  Translations were prepared for the various language groups around the world, but all were based on the official Latin text.  As with any translation, various approaches can be taken.  Some translators try to be more literal, others try instead to capture the spirit of original.  The English translation made in the 1960’s, and then revised in the early 70’s, used this more dynamic style, looking to capture the spirit of the prayers rather than trying to render a word for word translation.  In the 1990’s the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican office that oversees the liturgical life of the Church, called for a revision of the various translations so that they may be more faithful to the original Latin text.  The new translation, recently approved by Rome, is both more faithful to the original and clearer in showing the Scriptural roots of the prayers. 

The new liturgical book is called The Roman Missal, and it will take the place of the Sacramentary we use now.  There will be small, but important, changes to the prayers the priest says and responses of the people.  The most obvious for us will be that when the priest says “The Lord be with you,” we will respond, “And with your spirit.”  Why this and other changes are being made will be explained in the months ahead. 

Change can be difficult, especially when our life of prayer is involved.  We become use to the words we have always used, and the new prayers can seem strange.  But if we prepare well, learning the new responses, and more importantly, coming to understand what they mean, the transition will be smooth and our liturgical experience even richer than before.  

Next time I’ll use this space to go over some basic terms that are probably familiar to you, like liturgy and Eucharist, but whose meanings may be vague, as well as reviewing the parts of the Mass so that the following reflections will be easier to understand.

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