As I eavesdrop on the “ecclesial grapevine” I hear talk about the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. People speak of, “CHANGES”!!! as if something awful is coming down the church aisle. There are also many who look forward to the new missal as an opportunity for some welcome revitalization and deeper participation in our liturgical life.
With the Third Edition of the Roman Missal coming into use on November 27, 2011 many fear that they will have to re-learn the Mass. Let me assure all who think this that you need not be so concerned. You do not need to re-learn the Mass. But, in my opinion, you will receive a refreshing new understanding of the Mass through a refined translation that better presents the truths that we celebrate at every liturgy.
The Second Vatican Council with its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy did bring about significant changes in the way that we celebrate the Mass. Among the most notable changes were these: the Mass could now be celebrated in the vernacular language of the people rather than in Latin which was foreign to most people, the orientation of the altar and the priest were changed so that the people of the assembly could have a greater sense of being gathered around the altar of the Lord, lay people were now able to serve as ministers of the Word and ministers of Communion, people could now receive the Body of Christ in the hand and they could also receive the Blood of Christ. In addition to these changes there were changes in the Order of Mass. That was a time of Change!!.
With the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and the English translation for use in the United States, there are no significant changes as seen after Vatican II. There are no major changes in the Latin text. What we will experience is an English translation of the text that is in better keeping with its scriptural and patristic sources of our liturgical prayer. The English language translation that we will use does not change things but it does prompt our prayer to be more meaningful and more beautiful. We will be able to appreciate a closer relationship between the scriptures proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word and the prayers prayed during the Liturgy. The revised texts will invite us to a deeper participation in our liturgical prayer. We will refresh our sharing in the liturgical legacy handed down to us from the days of the early Church. This is in keeping with two themes of Pope John XXIII when he announced his plans for the second Vatican Council: “Let a little light in” and “Aggiornamento” (bring to date).
One of our own diocesan priests once said of the post-Vatican II liturgy, “We turned altars around but we did not turn hearts around.” With this new translation of our Roman Missal, and the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the theology and meaning of our liturgical prayer, I hope that many among us will feel their hearts turn toward deeper, more meaningful prayer in union with Christ and his Church.
Karen L. Podd is chair of the Buffalo Diocesan Liturgical Commission (BDLC)