Although I wasn’t alive when The Second Vatican Council finished in 1965, I have heard from many people who were active Catholics in that time of change within the Catholic Mass. Many whom I have talked to were very confused when the changes in the liturgy began taking place. Some were barely told anything about what was changing or why it was changing and just all of a sudden experienced a different liturgy and really didn’t understand why. Some were happy about the changes and others were not so happy.
First, let me say that the changes we will experience in the liturgy this coming Advent of 2011 when the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal is implemented do not compare to the changes of Vatican II. We are not changing the language spoken at Mass, nor are we changing the structure of the Mass. Yes, some of the words we sing and speak will change, but we are not talking about sweeping changes like the priest facing a different direction. However, it is important to realize that anytime we change something, it is our duty to properly educate the faithful in regards to what is changing and why.
I think you would agree that some who attend our parishes every Sunday are uneducated about why we celebrate the way we do and why it is of such great importance. If our parishioners all truly saw the Mass as transcending time to the Last Supper, we would never observe people showing up late, leaving early, not singing, chewing gum or even texting and…dare I mention, answering a phone call during Mass.
So, the opportunity is here. Let’s take the time to truly educate our communities on the liturgy, the Source and Summit of our faith. Let’s make this a time of great renewal in our churches. It’s really easy to sit back and do nothing and just remain in the day to day, moving from one task to another. Let’s get out of that rut if we find ourselves in it and start visioning for the future. What can you do to help your assemblies to better understand the Mass we celebrate?
If you haven’t started an action plan, now is the time. I would suggest beginning by first educating yourself and some key leadership people in your parishes about the liturgy and what will change. If we don’t understand it then how can we expect our communities to embrace it? I would then suggest presenting to your Liturgical Ministers what the changes are that will be taking place. Maybe you need to bring someone who is an expert in liturgy in to speak to your Ministers. After they are presented to you can begin to further your action plan to the rest of your community. Remember that being positive about the changes will make all the difference. If we take a negative approach to the upcoming Missal and its modifications that it’s likely that our communities will see it in a negative light. If we make it seem like we are going backwards (which we’re not), that is the only thing that many people will see. If we remain positive and reiterate the fact that the words we speak will more clearly define what we believe and teach and will unite us more closely to the rest of our “Universal” Church, then others might embrace the changes in a positive light as well.
We will do our best to try to help you with resources and will continue to post more blogs and resources to try to better help you in your parishes with this important education process. God bless you all in your endeavor to further Liturgical renewal and understanding among all God’s faithful people.
For more information on the Changes to the Roman Missal or to see the full side-by-side comparison of the changes, please go online to the USCCB’s Roman Missal page http://usccb.org/romanmissal