After many, many years of wrangling, the story of which will be familiar to readers of America, the new English-language translation of the Roman Missal has finally been approved. This marks the first significant change in the English-language Mass since the Second Vatican Council. CNS has the story below, which confirms its introduction into the church during Advent of 2011. From that date the text--which still need to be published and distributed--will be the approved Mass used in English-speaking countries around the world. (One aside: Cardinal George may be inadvertently contradicting the Vatican when he says that "From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used." In fact the reintroduced Latin translation is allowed under the pope's motu proprioSummorum Pontificum. Undoubtedly, Cardinal George means the no other "English edition.") Also, some excellent sources have told me that there was some last minute "tweaking" going on in Rome, at least partially in response to some American complaints, about the proposed translations, as detailed in Fr. Michael Ryan's article "What if We Said Wait?"
The U.S. bishops are, as the CNS story details, about to embark on a comprehensive catechetical program to introduce the new translation to the faithful, a sine qua non for the church, particularly when it comes to something as essential to our faith as the Mass. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, from the USCCB, has a fine blogpost about the need for catechesis on the new translations here. "The church has 16 months to get priests and people in the United States ready to pray reverently, intelligently and together at Mass," she writes. And the bishops have already set up a very helpful website here. Sister Mary Ann calls the overall project an "educational journey." And a needed one at that: the last thing that anyone wants is for Catholics to be clueless about the words that they say during the Mass, which Vatican II called the "source" and "summit" of Catholic worship.
On the other hand, there are, as the bishops know, a number of challenges facing anyone embarking on the catechesis of Catholic adults. First, limited time for adult Catholics means that evening or weekend classes are tough sells for busy parishioners, especially parents. Second, while the idea of a captive audience on Sundays is irresistible, there is only so much that you can do in a homily. And besides, many priests bristle at the idea of preaching on anything other than the Scripture readings. Third, parish bulletins, a good place to offer guidance, are often not read, much less studied. And so on. Thus, despite the bishops' best efforts and sincere desire for education, there may still be plenty of surprised--and even shocked--Catholics on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. For some pre-catechesis, Anthony Ruff, OSB, analyzes some of the changes, line by line, over at PrayTell.
What will be the reaction of Ameican Catholics--beyond surprise? Some may be pleased by the closer adherence to the Latin text, and the slightly more "elevated" language, which mirrors their desire to approach God during the Mass with language that bespeaks greater "reverence." Others may find some of the new translations and phrases unwieldy and even clunky, wondering whether a literal translation ended up producing sentences that an English-speaker would never think of writing, much less speaking. (This was the essence of most of the objections to the early versions of the text.) Others may simply miss the "old" Mass for both its simplicity and familiarity. Others may be frustrated at something reliable changing in the midst of so much turmoil in the church. As one person said to me recently, with all the troubles in the church these days (read: sexual abuse crisis) there was one thing that you could rely on not to change: the Mass. So the reactions may range from delight to anger.
But one thing is certain: at least initially, both priests and parishioners will find themselves far more focused on the page than at any time since the late 1960s--when the English Mass was first introduced--as they try to follow unfamiliar wordings of familiar phrases. Get ready for a lot more flipping through missalettes and a lot more priests with their eyes glued to the Missal.
Here's the CNS story in full.
Use of new Roman Missal to begin in US at Advent 2011
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics in the United States will begin using the long-awaited English translation of the Roman Missal on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said Aug. 20. The cardinal's announcement as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops marks the formal beginning of a more than 15-month period of education and training leading to the first use of the "third typical edition" of the Roman Missal at English-language Masses in the United States on Nov. 27, 2011.
The missal, announced by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and first published in Latin in 2002, has undergone a lengthy and rigorous translation process through the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, followed by sometimes heated discussions over particular wording at USCCB general assemblies during much of the past decade. The USCCB said April 30 that the Vatican has given its "recognitio," or confirmation, of the new English translation of the missal, but final editing by Vatican officials was continuing at that time.
In a decree of proclamation sent to the U.S. bishops Aug. 20, Cardinal George said, "The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America."He added that the U.S. Catholic Church "can now move forward and continue with our important catechetical efforts as we prepare the text for publication."
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, expressed gratitude about the final Vatican approval. "I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the sacred liturgy in our parishes," he said.
The changes to be implemented in late 2011 include new responses by the people in about a dozen sections of the Mass, although changes in the words used by the celebrant are much more extensive. At several points during the Mass, for example, when the celebrant says, "The Lord be with you," the people will respond, in a more faithful translation of the original Latin, "And with your spirit."
The current response, "And also with you," was "not meant as 'you too' or something like 'back at you,'" Father Richard Hilgartner, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship, told Catholic News Service. Rather it is "an invocation to the priest as he celebrates the Mass, a reminder that he is not acting on his own, but in the person of Christ" -- a distinction that the new language will highlight, he said.
"The order and structure of the Mass will not change at all," he added, but Catholics will see some new texts for prayers, new observances for saints added to the church calendar in recent decades and such additions as a Mass in thanksgiving for the gift of human life and an extended vigil for Pentecost, similar to the Easter Vigil.
Since mid-April, Msgr. Anthony Sherman, director of the USCCB divine worship secretariat, and Father Hilgartner have been conducting workshops around the country for priests and diocesan leaders on implementation of the new missal. The workshops will continue into November. Msgr. Sherman said participants often tell him that they had seen introducing the new missal as "an absolutely impossible task" before the workshop but said afterward, "I think I can actually do this," especially because of the wealth of resource materials that will be available to them.
The USCCB has prepared a parish implementation guide that includes a detailed timeline, bulletin inserts, suggestions for homilies and adult education classes on the liturgy and a wide variety of other resources. Audio, visual and print resources for priests, liturgical musicians and laypeople also are available now or in the works. Sister Janet Baxendale, a Sister of Charity of New York who teaches liturgy at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y., and its Institute of Religious Studies, is a consultant to the bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. She said the new translation has been needed for a long time.
When the Second Vatican Council endorsed a new missal and permitted Catholics around the world to begin celebrating Mass in their local languages, the translation work that followed "was at its best a rush job," she said. The Vatican's translation principles at the time also favored "a looser construction, with the thought that in this way it could be adapted to various people more readily," she added. "As time went on, it became evident that ... in many instances, the richness and power of the Latin text didn't really come through," Sister Janet said. "This was true of all the translations, not just the English." The new translation offers "more poetic texts, more beautiful texts," she said.
Father Hilgartner said Pope Benedict XVI has placed his own personal stamp on the liturgical changes by adding two new options for the dismissal prayer at the end of Mass, emphasizing the "connection between the Mass and living the Christian life."
In place of the current "The Mass is ended, go in peace," celebrants will be able to choose from four options, including the pope's suggestions -- "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord" and "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."
There has been a lot of enthusiasm at the workshops for those added texts -- "an audible kind of 'oooh,'" Father Hilgartner said. "There's a reaction of some awe and enthusiasm for just these two phrases, and I think that's worth getting excited about."
James Martin, SJ