Welcome expressed for the revised Roman Missal
The diocesan Office of Worship has titled its current series of workshops “Welcoming the Roman Missal.”
That’s exactly what leaders of liturgical ministry hope parishes will do with the changes in the Mass to be implemented beginning the first Sunday of Advent.
“We see this as an opportunity to re-invigorate our own participation in the Mass and still focus on the Eucharist,” said Deacon Chris Morash, director of the diocesan Office of Worship.
The regional workshops are intended not only to familiarize parish staff and lay leaders with revisions in the Mass texts, but also to encourage them to embrace the impending changes as an ideal time to further educate the faithful on the liturgy.
“In the new missal we have a moment of grace as it offers us an occasion for in-depth, new catechesis,” Deacon Morash explained at the July 16 workshop at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Salem.
More than 60 people, representing clergy, staff, volunteer ministers and interested “people in the pews” from 15 parishes, attended.
During the session, Deacon Morash and diocesan liturgy consultants Melanie Coddington and Betsie Pendarvis offered historical perspective and explanation of the changes to some of the words and prayers of the Mass.
They also presented materials, resources and techniques for participants to use in preparing their own parishes for introducing the new missal.
The new English translation of the Mass texts, fundamentally, is intended to bring English-speaking Catholic churches more in line with what the rest of the world’s church is saying in liturgy, Deacon Morash said. It also adds prayers for several hundred saints canonized since the last revision.
The Roman Missal is the book containing the prescribed prayers, chants and instructions for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Originating in Latin, it has been handed down through the generations over the last 1,500 years. The current (second edition) missal’s English translation has been used since 1985.
When a third edition was issued in Latin in 2000, work began on its English translation. The new English translation is what will be implemented at the beginning of Advent in November.
It features a slightly more formal style of language and a grammatical structure that is closer to the Latin text. Many Biblical and poetic images not retained in the previous edition have been restored.
Deacon Morash explained that prayers and readings in Christian worship, previously “improvised,” began to be standardized in the fourth century. The Council of Trent (mid-1500s) called for uniformity in liturgical books using Latin.
The “Roman Ritual” was implemented universally in 1614, and there were no major changes to the liturgy until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
But Vatican II brought sweeping change through its “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” that called for “full, conscious and active participation of the people” with rites “marked by noble simplicity.”
This new model of the church and its worship was reflected in an English translation of “dynamic equivalence” in which translators were free to paraphrase Mass texts to show intended meaning. However, the Biblical origins of the texts often were lost in that translation.
The new missal, using “direct equivalence” translation, makes a more literal conversion of the Latin text to recover the scriptural origin, Deacon Morash pointed out.
The clearer reference to scripture, he said, creates an “ongoing dialogue between lectionary readings and prayers of the Mass.”
He used the example of the people’s response in the Liturgy of the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
In the new missal it becomes: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This more clearly echoes Jesus’ encounter with the centurion in Matthew’s Gospel.
“So in using the words of our ancestors in faith, it is not only linguistically true to the original text but also ‘worthy of the noble realities it signifies,’ ” the deacon said, quoting Pope Paul VI. “We can see it is a means to unite us with the risen Christ.”
The new English translation was preceded by ritual changes recently implemented through the new General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM), so parishes have anticipated this next step.
Worship in Vernacular
“Are we headed back to the Latin Mass? I think not,” said Ms. Coddington, Region 10 Minister of the diocese’s Office of Christian Formation.
“The reality of worship in the vernacular and ‘full, active participation’ is here to stay. It’s not going away,” she said.
The new translation offers a style of language “suitable for ritual,” she pointed out, adding, “The ancient prayers were composed poetically with beauty and elegance. There is wonderful theological language incorporated in these texts and it will require more study and reflection.”
Again she emphasized the importance of catechesis.
“As we continue using the new missal, the catechesis cannot stop,” Ms. Coddington stressed. “We must get in and dig and continue to unfold the meaning in a mystagogical way. We have to pray it.”
Ms. Coddington encouraged openness, understanding and gentle instruction of parishioners during transition.
“We’ve become accustomed to the style of language and words [in the current missal]. They are imprinted on our consciousness,” she said.
She suggested ways to help people be more conscious of new wording, such as by chanting a response rather than recitation.
Ms. Coddington also urged introducing new musical Mass settings (sometimes referred to as “Mass parts” including the Gloria, Sanctus and Amen) gradually and beginning with simple pieces.
“Be mindful of using [familiar] favorites and of providing moments of stability and comfort — this is important in times of change,” she said.
In answer to questions, Ms. Pendarvis, director of worship at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pointed out that the ritual books are yet to be changed.
“All the rites have to be re-done, but you are pretty safe to go with what you have for now,” she said.
Ms. Coddington examined the entire Mass with the group, indicating what will change and what will not change, showing the most notable revisions to be in the acclamations, Eucharistic prayers and communion rite as well as the Gloria and the Creed.
Then she asked rhetorically: “So what’s the point of moving closer to the original Latin translation?
As We Pray, So We Believe, So We Live
She answered in Latin phrases: “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi — as we pray, so we believe, so we live.”
“It is important that what we say hits the mark; it’s important to get it right at the front end,” Ms. Coddington said.
By using the right words in prayer, she said, “we get closer to the heart and mind of God.”
Sally Ann Gill, leader of Adult Formation at St. Jude Church in Radford, said she will use the new missal to focus on the Mass in her parish’s adult faith formation program this year.
“I love Latin and language, but I love liturgy, too,” she said, adding that she taught Latin at Radford University for 30 years. “I like the language used in this translation. I see it as a polishing. It has a more reverent, elevated tone and I don’t think we need everyday language in our Mass.
“We need to think on a higher plane, and language can help you do that. It can give you a deeper experience of Eucharist and that, to me, is the defining mark of Catholicism,” she explained.
Like many at the session, Jeanne Craig was familiar with many of the revisions.
As music minister at Holy Name of Mary Parish in Bedford, she agreed that catechesis with the introduction of the new texts is important.
“It is good that we re-examine what we do at Mass and why,” Ms. Craig explained. “It helps give meaning to our actions.”
Msgr. Joe Lehman, pastor of Our Lady of Nazareth in Roanoke, said the session gave him insight into effective ways to present changes to the parish.
Although he expects it initially to be “awkward, because that’s not the way I talk,” Msgr. Lehman said, “I look forward to it.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for liturgical education — as mystagogy, that is after we begin the change,” he said.
At the end of the session, Ms. Coddington directed participants to new musical settings now available and that are not complex but particularly suited for use in introducing sung parts of the Mass. She also demonstrated effective techniques for teaching the new music and incorporating the new texts.
The workshop was to be presented July 23 at St. Michael’s in Richmond and again on August 13 at Christ the King in Abingdon.
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