At a recent Roman Missal workshop I attended, several people asked about some of the language we will be using when we adopt the new Missal this coming November of 2011. Some in attendance said that the language was foreign to them and that the words we will be saying are not the words we use when speaking to someone at the grocery store. The presenter responded by quickly saying, “yes, but Father doesn’t dress like that at the grocery store either!”
It’s true, this new language we will use at Mass is somewhat foreign to us, but it will cause us to develop a “Liturgical Language” that we will reserve solely for the celebration of the Mass. Although we may not know the meaning of the word consubstantial, or for that matter, maybe never heard it before, we can begin to ask the question why it’s changing from “one in being” and understand the deeper meaning. We don’t normally analyze the words we use in everyday language this much, but hopefully we will begin to see the greater importance of what we say and believe to be true. This new Liturgical Language will also connect the words that we pray at the Mass more closely to Sacred Scripture. For instance, when we begin to say “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,” we are reminded of the Centurion servant who spoke these very words to Christ himself, reminding us that it is the same human flesh of Christ that we encounter in the Eucharist at the holy Mass.
At first, this new language of sorts may seem awkward to some, but I think over time it will become as natural as the prayers we pray today. Many may wonder why there needs to be any changes at all and it is really up to us to help our assemblies understand the reasons for the changes and the importance of them. Hopefully these changes will cause us to think a little more about what we pray and why we pray them. It may also help us to realize the importance of the words we sing to express our praise of our God and make us think a little more about the texts we choose, making sure that they don’t contradict what we believe as Catholics and that they truly represent Catholic Theology.
Our young people may struggle more with the changes in the Liturgy than some older adults who may actually remember some of these responses from before the Second Vatican Council when they were closer to the meaning in Latin. Talk to your teens about the changes and help them to better understand the meaning of the words we pray together. Don’t underestimate their power to comprehend the meanings of these words and don’t doubt that they will embrace the changes. As we come closer to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, let us all pray that we will better understand what we believe and embrace the Liturgy with more passion and zeal than ever.