By Father David Toups - The Priest, 7/1/2011
The countdown is on as we approach Advent 2011 and the launch of the new translation of the Roman Missal. All of us (priest and faithful) will be significantly affected by this moment. We as shepherds must be very mindful of the needs of the faithful and of how our approach to this moment affects them.
So the first of two principles I propose is to remind us that our attitude makes all the difference. If we are negative about the changes, our people also will be negative. If we are positive, the odds are much higher that this transition will be well received.
Brothers, we must let go of any of our own baggage and move forward for the good of all. The new translation, as we all know is closer to the Latin original (our tradition) and, likewise, it is more faithful to the scriptural roots — highlight the positive. Our people need us to be positive.
The second principle I propose is the ancient liturgical rule of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi — as we pray so we believe. This leads us to the Lex Vivendi. The prayers of the Eucharistic Liturgy are meant to lead us into a deeper relationship with God and affect the way we live in the world.
We are called to embrace these texts and pray that this be a moment of grace for the Church that will help us learn how to pray the prayers of the Rite again. Let us conquer falling into any temptation of being rote. This present moment is an opportunity for us to learn how to pray anew and be ever more receptive to God’s grace.
The outline that follows is the way in which my Tampa parish will implement the new translation. It is not an officially sanctioned plan by the USCCB, nor is it perfect. The point of this article is to encourage every parish simply to formulate a plan that will work for you and your people.
The first quarter of this year was a time of planting seeds. The two priests of the parish have been to two diocesan workshops to ensure that we are well prepared. Likewise, all in the parish or school who have anything to do with liturgy or catechesis went to one of the training sessions — this way all of us are “singing off the same song sheet,” as we coordinate our education of the parish and school. During this time, as occasions presented themselves (at the Parish Pastoral Council, RCIA, Youth Groups, Choir gatherings, Bible studies, prayer groups, and even in passing references in homilies and bulletin articles), subtle hints were dropped that “changes are forthcoming.”
It is also important to be listening to the new musical settings to discern what music will fit the personality of the parish. Early dialogue with the parish music director will payoff in the long run and will hopefully avoid the panic of last minute planning — team work is so important.
It is not too early to begin regularly reading the text of the Order of the Mass. Remember offering “dry Masses” before we were ordained? I suggest that with some regularity we sit at our desks and simply learn to pray through the new flow and cadence of the translation of the Order of the Mass (available at www.usccb.org/romanmissal). The more we can “own it,” the better we will be able to pray it and thus lead our people into a more profound liturgical experience.
The Parish Liturgy Committee should be engaged throughout the coming months as a resource to assist the pastor in education and implementation. The monthly meeting should continue to review your timeline and ensure you are doing what is needed.
To begin moving the transition to more immediate preparation, we will have the first bulletin insert about the changes published in late spring (I am going to use the one from Catholic Update at www.AmericanCatholic.org). Don’t forget to budget for these kinds of resources; the Missal itself will not be inexpensive.
Our timeline will certainly shrink quickly — no pressure, right?! My plan is to make specific announcements at all of the Masses every other week, giving a two-minute catechesis on the various changes.
This means we must do our homework and come up with a plan of how and when to cover what material. I would encourage us to even think of incorporating some of the changes into our homilies so that even in our preaching we are laying the necessary groundwork.
The use of PowerPoint may also be effective if your church architecture lends itself to this possibility. These biweekly teachings can further be emphasized by bulletin articles and inserts. The USCCB resource, Parish Guide for Implementing the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has a number of good inserts to use during this time. These inserts are available free of charge on the USCCB Roman Missal website. The PDF format can easily be downloaded and printed for use in the parish bulletin or as a handout.
Likewise, this would be a good time to plan a couple of sessions for parish adult education in order to give a little more history and an in-depth discussion about the new translation and to allow a forum for questions and concerns. Remember, this is an historic moment for us in the English-speaking world. It is important to reverence the faith of our people and their need to talk things through.
Once November arrives, the parish should begin to hear the new musical settings before Mass so that their ears (and hearts) begin to become attuned to the changes. As we enter into Advent on the 26th of November, we should feel at least somewhat comfortable as a community with the new translation. The Order of the Mass will be in place with the new missalettes. But I think “pew cards” will also be helpful for the faithful in the coming months (these are available from a number of the publishers).
Change takes time. Even though the above implementation plan has been executed, I have a feeling that it will take a long time till “and also with you” isn’t heard somewhere in the worshiping community. Let us be patient with ourselves and, more importantly, with our people.
Just when we feel we are making strides, Christmas will arrive with a new Gloria for all and a whole new Mass for the hundreds who are not regulars (I affectionately call them “Creasters”). It would be a good idea before all of the Christmas (and then Easter) Masses to give a brief introduction so that those who may already feel out of place don’t wonder if they haven’t completely entered the “Twilight Zone.”
As good shepherds, we are called to lead the sheep entrusted to our care through this year of transition. Let’s not wait to implement “the perfect plan,” but rather do our best to move forward with a plan that will work for each of us and for our parish families.
Our attitude and planning can and will make all the difference “for our good and the good of all His Holy Church” (See! — another teaching moment!). TP
FATHER TOUPS is the pastor of Christ the King Parish in Tampa, Fla. He has previously served as a Seminary Formator and Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, and is the author of Reclaiming our Priestly Character (The Institute for Priestly Formation, revised 2010).
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