Teaching the New Missal

Catechesis has started for the forthcoming translation of the Roman Missal.

RICHBORO, Pa. — Instead of saying “Good morning,” Father Joseph McLaughlin greets his secretary with a bright “Peace be with you.” There’s been a change recently in the way Jeanne Flower responds.

“And with your spirit,” she says.

It used to be: “And also with you,” just as at Mass.

But she now replies with the revised version, which American Catholics will begin using liturgically sometime in the near future.

That is one of the changes approved by Rome, reflecting the Vatican’s desire for translations more faithful to the Latin original.

Realizing that it is important to catechize his parishioners regarding the changes, Father McLaughlin, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Richboro, Pa., put a link on the parish’s web page to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship’s website. He also excerpted the changes in parts of the Mass in his parish’s newsletter.

“You have an opportunity for it to sink in, to give them some of the explanations,” said Father McLaughlin.

Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, said he is encouraging priests and lay people to become familiarized with the texts of the Roman Missal that have been approved already.

His office recently suggested, in its bulletin, that parishes and dioceses begin to catechize people on the coming changes. He suggested several ways to do so:

Pastors can take several snippets of text about the changes at a time to place in their bulletins. They can also excerpt reasons why there is a new translation from the U.S. bishop’s website, USCCB.org (first, choose “Church Life & Ministries,” then “Liturgy,” followed by “Roman Missal Formation”).

Msgr. Sherman also hoped that priests would look over the revised order of the Mass and practice reading out loud. The cadence is different, as are some of the words, he said.

“When this missal finally appears in the parish and people have cards in their hands with the (revised) responses in front of them, our hope is that it won’t be the first time they have seen this,” he said.

There are other ways to get the word out.

For instance, in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., the Office of Divine Worship plans to have Msgr. Sherman speak at a workshop for clergy, deacons and lay leaders in March 2010, said Father David Baranowski, the office’s director.

‘Prepare Hearts and Souls’

Other plans include organizing small group discussions and releasing catechetical materials from groups such as the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions to people serving in the Church, such as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and parish liturgy committees, Father Baranowski said.

“If done right, (the new translations) can have a positive effect on the life of the Church here in the United States,” he said. “If we fumble the ball, this can say to lots of people, ‘The Church is always changing, but so what.’ I think this has the possibility for helping people understand the Eucharist better and appreciating it better and hopefully be able to pray better.”

Father Baranowski wants to emphasize to people that the words are not the only thing that will change.

“This is not just a change of texts, but a change of hearts,” he said. “Ask people to be more committed to the celebration of the Eucharist now that we can look at the (revised) texts, and we have the leisure to do that in advance of their actual usage.”

The people who went to church after the changes of the Second Vatican Council did not have time to prepare, said Benedictine Sister Sharon Marie Stola, director of the Divine Worship Office for the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.

“We don’t want to lose this opportunity” to evangelize, she said, and that opportunity is for people to “concentrate on the Eucharist and a deeper understanding of the Eucharist.”

Msgr. Sherman said there will be people who resist the changes, but he added that “there is no translation in the world that is perfect.” It is important for the faithful to be open to “the movement of the Spirit,” he said.

“Now is the time to begin to prepare our hearts and souls to open up our minds and our hearts to the richness that can be found there if people would give it a chance,” he said.

Making the Effort

One such person who is open to that is Tracy Cefaratti, a parishioner in Hinsdale, Ill. She said she has not heard of any of the new revisions, but she will make an effort to understand it.

“I’m at the place in my faith where I’m always trying to get the most out of Mass, so I would want to understand it,” she said.

She said catechizing people early enough so that they understand the changes is vital.

“I think if people understood the changes and it’s explained to them, they’ll embrace it better than if they are told to do it this different way and they don’t know why,” she said.

Even if she does not agree with some of the changes, she said she will still make the effort to understand why a part of the text was changed.

Said Cefaratti, “I will just trust.”

Carlos Briceno writes

from Naperville, Illinois.

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