Today I would like feature our guest music ministry blogger Steve Raml. Steve is the Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Thomas More in Glendale, AZ. I asked Steve to talk about the changes brought about through the new General Instructions of the Roman Missal. – Craig Colson
On November 27, 2011, we will begin using a new translation of the Roman Missal, which will change the words we use to pray the Mass. That date will be the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new Church year, so it was chosen as a good day to make these text changes.
Let me stress a key point right up front: the words we use in the Mass are changing, the structure of the Mass is not.
When we begin using this new translation, the phrases in our dialogues with the priest and deacon will be different. The words to some of our sung responses, like the “Gloria” and “Holy Holy” are changing. We will use new vocabulary when proclaiming the Creed. We will hear the priest proclaim prayers in a new way.
But the format of the Mass will stay the same. We will still gather from our various walks of life into one body. We will still hear our Lectors proclaim the Scriptures. We will still have strong preaching that connect those Scriptures to our lives. We will still sing good music. We will still share the Body and Blood of Christ and still have active lay ministries like Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. We will still be blest and dismissed, sent into the world to proclaim the Good News, glorifying God with our lives.
The only thing that is changing is the translation of the words we use to do all this. Still, this is a big change.
As human beings, we are resistant to change. We try to avoid changes to those things or values we hold dear, and the words we use would certainly fall into that category. Yet, we all have experienced change in our lives. Whether it is a new home, a new job, having children, seeing them move out, or retiring, we know change happens. Sometimes it is a change that we don’t initiate, like unemployment or a death in our family.
We deal with change by looking at those things in our lives that stay constant: a spouse, family, friends, maybe even a favorite teddy bear. As we begin to deal with the text changes to our Mass, let us take comfort in those things that are remaining constant: the format of the Mass, and our faith.
Why the Changes?
The first question that comes up with any change is a simple one: why? I propose a two-fold answer: there are reasons for the change, and there are results that may come about because of the change. I’ll start with a look at the reasons, because they are simpler to state:
- We have a new edition of the Roman Missal, promulgated (issued) by the Vatican in 2000. It has taken ten years to translate this Missal from Latin, the Church’s official language, into English. What many don’t realize is that most of the words we are using at Mass today are from 1973, and are a translation of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969.Four years (1969-1973) is a very fast time to translate all the prayers for all the Masses of the year, plus Masses for weddings, funerals and other significant celebrations. The Church always intended to revise this Missal, to take a new look at the words we use and evaluate if those are the right words to express our belief.This new edition of the Missal also contains new content, including Masses for recently canonized Saints, and new prayers and blessings. Among those blessings are daily blessings for Lent, which recovers a tradition lost for over 1200 years!
- The rules the Church uses for translation have changed. The Mass texts we use now were translated under a concept called “Dynamic Equivalence”, in which the meaning of a word is conveyed, not necessarily the word itself. The new translation employs the concept of “Formal Equivalence” where the words are more closely translated to the original Latin word. This does not mean we are going to a “Latin Mass”, but the English words we use will more closely follow the Mass as prayed in Latin.
The Results of Change
So, what results might we see as we begin using this new translation?
- Renewed Emphasis on Scripture – Many of the phrases we will say, sing and hear proclaimed at Mass come from Scripture, but our current translation may not fully capture the Scriptural allusion. For example, just after we sing the Lamb of God, the priest says “This is the Lamb of God…” but John 1: 29 actually says “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” There are hundreds of such examples in the new texts.
- Theological Precision – We will hear language that more precisely speaks our Catholic theology. Right now in the Eucharistic Prayer, we hear the priest say of the Body of Christ: “Take this, all of you and eat it.” The new text says “Take this, all of you and eat OF it.” This more clearly states our belief that we share the Body of Christ during Communion.
- Liturgical Language - Just like the medical field uses different terminology in the hospital and the legal profession speaks differently in the courtroom than on the street, we will have words and phrases used only during Mass, creating which I call a Liturgical Language.
- Unity & Consistency – We will soon use the same translation as every other English speaking country, and by more closely following the Latin text, we will have a closer unity with all languages of the world.
To see the full side by side comparison of the changes, please go online to the USCCB’s Roman Missal pages: http://usccb.org/romanmissal/samples-people.shtml