The challenges and changes of the new Roman Missal

TAYLORS—Most Catholics by now have heard about upcoming changes to the text of the English translation of the Roman Missal, set to begin on the first Sunday of Advent 2011.

The challenge for everyone, from parish priests and religious education directors to the people in the pews, is to learn what changed and why they were made.

Father Dennis D. McManus led a workshop about it on Dec. 4 at Prince of Peace Church in Taylors.

Father McManus is assistant to the Archbishop of New York and a consultant to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

A priest of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Ala., he served as a visiting professor at Georgetown University for 13 years and from 2007-09 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

He also served as associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Liturgy.

In an interview with The Miscellany, Father McManus discussed the changes, their history and the spiritual concepts behind them.

He said the new missal will be most challenging for priests, because the most significant changes are in the prayers they say while celebrating the Mass, including Eucharistic prayers and ones used for specific holy days.

Lay people will notice significant differences in many of their responses during Mass, but the actual order of the Mass and their role in it will not change, the priest said.

Here are some of the most noticeable changes and additions, according to the Order of the Mass as it appears on the bishop’s site,

During the Penitential Act, people will strike their breast and say “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” This was common practice before the Second Vatican Council, and has been reintroduced.

During the Gloria: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, and we glorify you …” The Sanctus will begin “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.”

When reciting the Nicene Creed, the people will now say, “I believe in one God” instead of “we,” and the use of “we” will follow throughout.

In the Creed, “begotten, not made, one in being with the Father” is now “consubstantial with the Father.”

When the priest says, “The Lord be with you” during the Eucharistic prayer, the people will now say “and with your spirit.”

During the Communion Rite, the response “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” has been changed to “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Father Dennis D. McManusMany people mistakenly believe Pope Benedict XVI initiated the changes in the missal, when actually his predecessor started the process, Father McManus said.

Pope John Paul II was concerned that the new translation that emerged after Vatican II simplified too many concepts of the Gospel message, and left out sections from the original Latin that referred directly to language and events in the Bible.

“He wanted the whole context of the liturgy and the Gospel available to everybody … he wanted more poetry and beautiful language that would lift people up, and he wanted to bring the Biblical stuff forward,” Father McManus said. “He felt that whenever a prayer echoes the Bible, people should be able to recognize it.”

Pope Benedict XVI is simply continuing the process, he said, because the great focus of his papacy is to transform the church from within, and one of the best ways to do that is to transform the liturgy so that people “can have a fuller degree of participation in the mystery of the Eucharist.”

Another big misconception is that changes to the missal are part of a larger effort to undo the work of the Second Vatican Council.

“People think this new translation is an attempt to reverse the reforms, to frustrate the wonderful work of the reform of the liturgy,” he said.

The real goal of the changes, instead, is to help make the Mass a deeper reflection of the mysteries and beauty of the Catholic faith, and to reinforce the full truth of the Gospel message, he said.

The new translation is full of language drawn directly from Scripture, Father McManus said. As an example, the new response “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” echoes the words of the Roman centurion when he asks Jesus to heal his servant (Mt 8:8).

Other changes, such as changing the language of the Nicene Creed from “We” to “I,” are designed to help Catholics realize their personal accountability for living according to the Gospel and church teaching.

“I would ask lay people to realize the changes that are going to be asked of you are not that many in number, and what they are intended to do is help you to pray better,” Father McManus said. “These won’t get in the way of prayer, they’ll help deepen your prayer. These changes are meant to give a better, clearer, and deeper expression of what we believe.”