WASHINGTON — The year 2010 saw Vatican approval of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
2011 will be the year people in the pews finally start hearing it — and praying it.
The missal is scheduled to enter use on Nov. 27, the First Sunday of Advent. Dioceses across the country are already putting programs and timelines in place to prepare for the change.
The new translation is the result of years of work in response to the Vatican’s call for a more faithful rendering of the original Latin. It is also expected to more fully convey the sacredness of the texts of the Mass.
Father Richard Hilgartner, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, explained that one major improvement in the new texts is greater care in respecting the biblical and patristic sources which often underlie liturgical prayers and upon which Vatican II placed great emphasis. He called the new translation “memorable, evocative and biblical.”
For example, “And also with you” becomes “And with your spirit”; “peace to his people on earth” becomes “on earth peace to people of good will,” and “the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father” becomes “the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.”
How are dioceses preparing for the new missal?
According to Father Bob Webster, the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., where he heads the Office of Liturgy, is about a third of the way into the implementation. Beginning last summer, Father Webster introduced portions of new changes to priests in convocations, then followed up in November with workshops for priests, deacons, catechists, liturgical leaders and anyone else who wanted to attend. About 600 came.
“It was important to get us all on the same page,” he said, especially noting the emphasis on the liturgical history and theology that went along with the changes or preceded the changes.
Father Webster said they’re looking at the language, structure and sources of the prayers, all with the goal of helping the priests “to pray better and to understand the historical roots and origins of the prayers.”
In Orlando, overall reactions to all steps have been very positive, Father Webster said.
Diocese-wide in-pew catechesis begins in February in four blocks using three methods: pulpit announcements, short homiletic-type video presentations in place of the homily or before or after Mass, and materials posted on the diocesan and parish websites.
Eliot Kapitan, director of the Office for Worship and the Catechumenate in the Springfield, Ill., Diocese, said that four events for priests were launched in February 2010: Two included diocesan parish-life coordinators. At a two-day gathering in October, priests and coordinators heard a presentation by Father Paul Turner, a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
In January 2010 the office started a monthly newsletter for general readership called “We Give You Thanks and Praise.” Kapitan’s office is also using it for basic liturgical catechesis: “We need to help the people understand why we do what we do, and not just on what we say,” he said.
His office will regularly provide bulletin announcements and short articles through next fall and will also offer an extensive website with a 15-month calendar of scheduled events.
By midyear, there will be events to help choir and music directors, catechists, directors of religious education and school principals to learn how to prepare others, such as their faculty, staff and students. For instance, age-appropriate activities books will help them prepare children in the diocese.
In the Archdiocese of Denver, the Office of Liturgy is facilitating the material going to the parishes. Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, who chairs the committee for the implementation for the new translation, said it is much more than simply implementing the new texts. He pointed out that his committee is going to use implementation time to assist pastors and all those involved in the liturgy to bring about a renewed Eucharistic catechesis.
“We want to see this also as an opportunity for everyone to deepen and renew their love of the liturgy and their understanding of the true spirit of the liturgy,” he explained. “We’re taking our cue from Pope Benedict XVI’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy.”
“The new text in and of itself carries within it a renewal of the liturgy,” he added. “We have a new, more accurate translation of the Latin. A more elevated translation linguistically will help us to have a … true liturgical renewal.”
Bishop Conley also spoke extensively on this in a talk on the feast of St. Cecilia (see his addresses in the “Bishop Conley” section at ArchDen.org).
For the implementation and catechesis, the archdiocese’s Denver Catholic Register will run a series of articles, and the liturgy office will distribute material such as bulletin inserts, announcements and a list of books people can use to deepen their understanding of the liturgy.
Making Up for the 1960s
In the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., Msgr. Andrew Varga is not only a member of the implementation committee, but also a current and longtime member of the board of directors of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. He said the Church has a chance now to thoroughly explain why the changes are being made, something that “fell into a secondary spot” when the Mass of Paul VI (the Novus Ordo) was implemented in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“So, what’s being hoped for in the interim,” he said, “is that we tackle the catechetical component we didn’t do in the 1960s — what it means to live as a Eucharistic people, to participate in Jesus’ sacrifice and to appreciate fully what it means to be part of a priestly people by virtue of our baptism.”
Along with this focus, the implementation started in the diocese with a series of informational meetings with priests and deacons. Msgr. Varga and committee member Msgr. Alan Detscher will be returning to each of the five vicariates twice from January through June “to talk about the language, where the changes come from, what the changes are trying to accomplish,” Msgr. Varga said. A schedule for meetings is in the works to equip school teachers, catechists and others responsible for passing on the faith so they can give accurate and substantive answers to the questions people have.
“We want to equip the key people to be the teachers in their own venues,” Msgr. Varga said.
Bridgeport Bishop William Lori noted that this year is “a wonderful opportunity for all of us to rediscover the meaning of the liturgy.”
“In the coming months, there will be many efforts to catechize regarding the liturgy,” he said, “and I will do my part by using my column in the Fairfield County Catholic diocesan newspaper in the year ahead to describe the parts of the Mass and their meaning.”
In the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., the Office of Worship is focusing on bringing people further along in their understanding of the Mass, according to Judy Bullock, its director. The office’s timeline for the full implementation includes articles in the archdiocesan paper on various topics of the liturgy called “Conversations with the Archbishop,” with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who also serves as vice president of the USCCB.
Beginning this summer, the office will make available for parishes a five-minute video catechesis on the liturgy and the new missal.
Music at Mass
Bullock’s office is already having sessions with all of the musicians in the diocese to recommend new musical settings for Mass. She believes it will be a significantly easier transition to the revised missal using a new setting at the start, even though the present Mass settings will be revised and available for future use.
“By choosing a new musical setting,” she said, “the success for implementation for using the new texts will be much better.” Revised current settings can be added later.
Bishop Conley believes the musical component is going to be extremely important. “Again, it’s an opportunity to renew our music and make it better.”
Of the many new Mass settings being composed, the Mass of Renewal by William Gokelman and David Kauffman (MassofRenewal.com) won first place in the “New Mass Setting” competition sponsored by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
Last August in Atlanta, addressing the Southeastern Liturgical Music Symposium, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy Secretariat, spoke about the importance and reasons for singing the Mass.
“Maybe the greatest challenge that lies before us,” he said, “is the invitation once again to sing the Mass rather than merely to sing at Mass.”
It is another component in the implementation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.
Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.