Sunday, November 28, 2011 will mark a new beginning in the liturgical life of the Church. On this the First Sunday of Advent in 2011 the Third Edition of the Roman Missal will make its debut in the United States. Whereas the rubrics of the Mass and its structure, as we know it today, are not changing, many of the prayers, responses, and dialogues will be noticeably different. For example, when the priest greets the people, “The Lord be with you.” the response will be “And with your spirit.” (The theology behind this will be addressed in a future article) Another noticeable change will be the Preface dialogue:
Priest: The Lord be with you.
Assembly: And with your spirit.
Priest: “Lift up your hearts”
Assembly: We lift them up to the Lord.”
Priest: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
Assembly: “It is right and just.”
In 1970, the English translation of the Order of Mass and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal was confirmed by the Holy See. The complete Sacramentary was confirmed in 1975. In 1985, the Mass underwent some minor changes and this 2nd edition has since been in use.
The purpose of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal is to be more faithful to the translation of the Latin. For centuries, the Mass was prayed exclusively in Latin. After the reforms of Vatican II, translators were under tremendous pressure to quickly prepare an English translation. During this process, the translators worked under a principle called “dynamic equivalence” which means that rather than translating the Latin exactly word for word, they translated it according to the overall meaning of what was written. In a way, the translators often paraphrased the Latin into English. In some cases, the paraphrases are not entirely accurate or in the correct context.
Occasionally, between now and Advent 2011, you will be receiving more information about the new translation. There will be additional bulletin articles and direct mailings. There will also be opportunities to attend presentations, workshops, seminars, or classes, that either I or the diocese will hold. It will be challenging at first, because we will need to pray a little differently and pay attention to what we are praying and saying. We will need to refer to worship aids or missalettes, even for those parts which we currently know by heart, while we adjust. In time, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am confident that we will embrace the Mass with a renewed vigor.
This is an exciting time for the Church. The new translation is meant to provide a more reverent way of praying the Mass. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. Everything we do flows from it and back to it. The Liturgy is the wellspring of worship and it is within the Liturgy that we celebrate the Eucharist; it is the most perfect prayer we can pray. It is essential that we pray the Mass as well as we can.