Perhaps you’ve read about the third edition of the Roman Missal in the pages of America, on our Web site, or on the U.S.C.C.B. site, but those interested in learning more about the new translation soon will be able to read about the changes on the Missal’s upcoming official Facebook fan page. The Rev. Richard Hilgartner of the U.S.C.C.B. told attendees of the Catholic Media Conference in New Orleans Wednesday that the fan page will serve as a place for both conversation and support. “There will be some dialogue,” he said. “It’ll be where people can ask questions and people who support the roman missal can rally around that. ”W hile a text has been approved for use in the United States starting the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, copies of the text have not yet been made available. “I’d hoped by this workshop that we’d have it,” he said.
But for those who aren't fans, Facebook or otherwise, of the changes, Father Hilgartner suggested a closer look at the final text when it is released. When asked for his opinion of the “What if We Just Said ‘Wait’?” petition, Father Hilgartner acknowledged as legitimate the desire expressed by the signers to have a liturgy that improves the prayer lives of the faithful and their understanding of the faith, but he objected to the argument that the new translation would do the opposite. “We’re at a crossroads when we come to the issue of the Roman Missal...," he said. "Some people think this [change] will have a negative effect, not a positive effect,” he said. “But some of what is in that campaign is based on what people don’t really know yet. I think that for a lot of people they signed something based on what they had heard, but it was an incomplete picture. I wouldn’t be going around the country if I didn’t believe in [the new translation]. On the one hand it’s going to be challenging, it’s going to take some catechesis and some work, but I think the liturgy will be celebrated well. It’s the responsibilities of the bishops to get people on board.”
He acknowledged that there has been some anxiety among both priests and laypeople, but said that, on one hand, the concern means that people have connected with the current translation. “It’s a good problem we have that we don’t want to let go of the familiar, because it helps us pray so well. People know the text; they know the sound and the feel.”
Father Hilgartner said that the success of the new translation lies heavily on pastors' implementation of the changes. “For the priest, the way he does the liturgy has an impact on how the liturgy is celebrated,” he said. “We experience it more profoundly when it’s done well.” He said that pastors must “zealously strive to achieve” the full and active participation of the people when the new text is implemented next year.
But some pastors have expressed concern that they are not up for the task of helping parishioners to make the transition. He told the story of a U.S.C.C.B. colleague who had an elderly priest tell him, “I don’t think I can do this.” The colleague’s reply: “If you can’t do this then maybe this is your body telling you it’s time to retire.” Father Hilgartner concluded, “This is what it takes to be a pastor sometimes, doing these big things that are bigger than any one of us.”
Composers already are at work rewriting music to fit the words of the new translation, and Father Hilgartner said the use of new music may help make the transition easier. “Especially regarding chant, there will be a really deliberate encouragement about singing the Mass, not just to learn the new Mass, but because singing is a legitimate way of praying the Mass, he said. “We’re updating out national repertoire. What we need in the national repertoire is to recognize that chant is part of our tradition. There will be chant settings in English so that they can be part of the Mass, so that with limited resources we’ve got a common repertoire. That really will help in the implementation process.”