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Apr 20

Written by: Todd Williamson
4/20/2010 8:17 AM  RssIcon

As we await recognitio (approval) from Rome for the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, priests and parish leadership are asking, “What can we do now, in order to get ready?”

There are two things that I am continually encouraging parishes to do that could be foundational for the reception and implementation of the Roman Missal in their parishes. I offer them here for your consideration.

First, go to the USCCB Web site and download a copy of the Order of Mass for the revised Roman Missal. These are the approved texts that will form the basis of the ordinary parts of the Mass--i.e., all the parts of the Mass that stay the same from celebration to celebration: the Introductory Rites (including the Penitential Act), the Liturgy of the Word, and almost all of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, including the four main Eucharistic Prayers used on most Sundays.

If you  click under “Resources" at this site, you will see links to the already approved Order of Mass. I encourage you to download the file that is marked “Complete Text (Scripturally Annotated).” This version of the Order of Mass includes footnotes that make explicit the scriptural references that are at the base of many of the parts of the Mass that seem most changed (for example, the response of “And with your spirit,” to the priest’s greeting of “The Lord be with you.”)

One of the characteristics most often heard as being a benefit of the translation of the revised Missal is that the scriptural references are more clearly evident. This scripturally annotated version of the Order of Mass helps to point out the specific scriptural references and allusions. If this is, indeed, one of the benefits of this translation, then I think it’s important for us to be able to see exactly what those references are.

I encourage you to look at the Order of Mass, and then to refer to those particular sections of scripture which are cited as the bases for this specific translation. Doing so may help to put into perspective this element of the translation.

Secondly, and I cannot encourage you strongly enough on this point: once you’ve had a chance to read and reference the Order of Mass, try it out! What I mean by this is:

• Gather a group of people from your parish--it could be the community of people who gather regularly for daily Mass; it could be the Scripture Study Group; it could be the Wednesday Adoration Society; it could be the Monday Morning Mothers’ Club.
• Give them copies of the Order of Mass and, literally, “read through it” with them. If the pastor or associate priest is available, have him read the priest’s part. If he/they are not available, then have the deacon, pastoral associate or pastoral minister read the part of the priest-celebrant. Have the rest of the group respond at the appropriate places for the congregation.
• Stop at the natural breaks of the liturgy. That is, stop after you’ve read through

  • The Introductory Rites (pages 1 – 6 of the Order of Mass--this includes the greeting, the various options for the Penitential Act, and the Gloria)
  • The Liturgy of the Word (pages 6 – 10 of the Order of Mass--this includes the Nicene and the Apostles’ Creed)
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist (pages 11 – 46 of the Order of Mass--this includes the preparation of the gifts, the Eucharist Prayers [NOTE: Choose only one of the four Eucharistic Prayers to read through], and the Communion Rite)
  • The Concluding Rites (pages 47 – 48 of the Order of Mass)

• After each of the sections, discuss what you’ve heard. Use the following questions as discussion starters:

  • What sounded the same from what you know of the Mass now? What sounded different?
  • Were there any words or phrases that particularly struck you? What caught your attention?
  • How would you characterize the “tone” or the “style” of the texts you heard? What observations, questions, or responses does this “tone” or “style” raise for you?
  • Refer to the scriptural references that are cited for the various texts that may have caught your attention. Read the references from the bible. Do these citations add any insight to the particular text of the Mass that caught your attention?
  • What is your overall “sense” of this translation of the revised Missal?
  • Where are there any challenges for you in this translation? What were they, and why are they challenging for you?
  • What will it take for you to get comfortable in proclaiming these texts from Sunday to Sunday once the translation is approved and you begin to use it in your parish?
  • What would help you and the rest of your parish to get to a point of “being comfortable” with these texts?

Fr. Paul Turner, a frequent author for Liturgy Training Publications, did a similar exercise with people from his parish. (His experience is presented in a recent article he wrote for The Tablet, February 6, 2010).

I think that such exercises would be most beneficial to a parish community. If you were to try this approach, I would be very interested in your responses--how did it go? What were the key issues raised? What was the most helpful for your group? Please let me know.

On another note: This last week, I attended the first of twenty-two workshops being held around the country, sponsored by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW) of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC). These workshops are focused on assisting priests and parish leadership for dioceses and archdioceses in regard to the reception and implementation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.

I hope to offer some thoughts and reflections on this gathering in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


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