By Richard Hilgartner - The Priest - 12/1/2010
The Roman Missal, Third Edition, will be implemented in the Dioceses of the United States of America on the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011. To prepare for that day, the whole year of 2011 (a 12-month plan) will be dedicated to preparation, catechesis, and conversation about the Mass and the new texts. The hope of the bishops of the United States, and of the English-speaking world, is that all — priests and people — will be ready to pray with new words, mindful that we are celebrating the same Mass, encountering and receiving the same Lord, but with a new appreciation for, and a deeper understanding of, what it is we do when we celebrate the Mass.
During the past eight months, the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship (together with the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions) has facilitated training workshops for priests and diocesan leaders across the United States. I offer here some observations based on the experience of those presentations and conversations with participants.
As we prepare for the implementation of the new Missal, there will undoubtedly be questions. There will be a time of some uneasiness for many — priests and people — because change does not come easily for any of us. Unfamiliar texts will be uncomfortable at first because they are unfamiliar. The same could be said of the introduction of the Sacramentary in 1971 and the years following. The fact that so many are reluctant to let go of the familiar says, I believe, that we have come a long way and have found at least some success in fostering the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the faithful in the Liturgy. We should be cautious about tampering with success, but we also have an opportunity before us to build on that success and take it to the next level.
The catechetical process will necessarily begin with answering the most basic question on many people’s minds: “Why?” What has brought us to this moment that will bring about the most significant change in the liturgical life of the Church since the implementation of the new Order of Mass in the early 1970s? The answer is two-fold. First, we have a new English-language Roman Missal because we have a new Latin Missale Romanum, the universal text or “typical edition,” which is translated into vernacular languages for use in local churches. Second, the way liturgical texts are translated has evolved since the time when the first edition of the Sacramentary was produced and published in 1974, and the result is a new translation of existing texts that in some cases is quite different.
The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia (“third typical edition”) contains only a few slight alterations of existing texts, but many new elements will be welcome additions when the new translation is introduced. Proper prayers for observances of saints recently added to the liturgical calendar account for the largest amount of new material. Prayers for saints such as St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and, in the dioceses of the United States, St. Katharine Drexel will now be found in the Proper of Saints. Several new Prefaces, including a second Preface for Martyrs, have been added. In the dioceses of the United States, the Mass “For Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life” has been included, to be used on January 22 (the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) and on other appropriate occasions. The new Missal includes additional proper inserts for Eucharistic Prayers II and III to be used in various Ritual Masses. None of these additions would be available for use if not for the introduction of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.
Much has been said in a variety of forums about the changes to current liturgical texts which are the result of the gradual shift in the principles for translation. It is an oversimplification to state that Liturgiam Authenticam, the Vatican instruction on the use of vernacular languages in the Liturgy (issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2001) simply reversed course regarding the way translators approach their work.
It is true that the guiding principle articulated in 1969 in Comme le Prévoit was one of “dynamic equivalence,” which allows for the expression of the essence of meaning without necessarily rendering an exact word-for-word translation. By the 1980s, however, scholars were already expressing concern about translations. On examination of later texts such as the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions (approved in 1995), one immediately notices a different style of English grammar and sentence structure that more closely resembles the Latin text.
Liturgiam Authenticam’s call for a more “formal equivalency” in translation is essentially embracing the Ressourcement of the Liturgical Movement — a return to biblical and patristic sources. Even a preliminary read of the texts of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will immediately bring to light direct quotes from Scripture, especially the Psalms, as well as other patristic sources. The language of the Scriptures and the Early Church is part of our heritage, and we should not dismiss it hastily simply because it is unfamiliar.
The bishops of the United States have formulated a plan for catechesis in dioceses and parishes, and, along with various publishers of liturgical and instructional materials, are offering a wide variety of resources for use in personal study, small groups, classrooms, and parish-wide catechetical efforts. The plan has two goals: to educate and train parish leaders to implement a parish-wide program of liturgical formation and catechesis on the newly translated texts (the changes that have been made), and to help the faithful participate more fully, consciously, and actively in the Mass with a “fresh catechesis.”
We have before us an unprecedented opportunity to teach about the Liturgy by taking advantage of every opportunity in every segment of parish life. Resources are available for use in schools and religious education programs, for small and large group adult faith formation programs, in the bulletin, in the pulpit, online and in the home. We must keep before us the admonition of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium):
Implementation is not just about new texts, new prayers, new rules. It is about our ongoing growth in faith, and the ongoing deepening of our understanding of what we are called to be. Some have raised questions about the process of preparing and approving the translation, and others have critiqued the text itself. Still others question the timing of the introduction of the Missal because of other, more pressing needs facing the Church. I have found, however, that the vast majority of those I have met during the workshops around the country are receptive to the new translation and look forward to furthering the renewal of the celebration of the Liturgy in their parishes as the new text is introduced.
There are, indeed, many issues, challenges, and concerns facing the Church. I can think of no better way to strengthen our resolve and our commitment to facing them than to renew our celebration of the Liturgy, in which we encounter the Risen Lord (as did the disciples on the road to Emmaus) and are strengthened by His grace.
Another new feature of the Latin text of the Missal, added in 2008, was the introduction of two new formulae for the dismissal at the end of the Mass. These were added by Pope Benedict XVI, in response to observations and discussions at the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, to express the relationship between the Eucharist and the Christian life. “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” and “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” clearly articulate that the Eucharist sends us forth for a purpose and strengthens us to live effectively as members of Christ’s Body.
The ancient axiom, Lex ordandi, lex credendi, will ring strong and true in the use of the Roman Missal, Third Edition: what we pray is what we believe. The words of our worship will articulate our faith in a more pointed way. New words and phrases will grab us, and we will listen more attentively. There may be words or expressions that are unfamiliar at first, but hearing them will hopefully lead to reflecting on them, and reflecting on them will lead us to live them — lex vivendi — more fully.
Let us pray that this may be a time to deepen and nurture our faith and celebrate the gift of the presence of Emmanuel, God-with-us. TP
FATHER HILGARTNER is Associate Director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.