The new translation of the Roman Missal offers unprecedented chances for Catholics to learn more about the faith, unlock its mysteries and share its message with the unchurched and those who have fallen away.
Four prominent experts on liturgy took part in a teleconference about the new missal on Dec. 6. They said that while there is some confusion and dissent from laity and clergy, the reaction has been mostly positive.
The panelists were: Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; Father Dan Barron, a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and director of spiritual formation at San Diego’s John Paul the Great Catholic University; Edward Sri, chancellor and professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute; and Matt Maher, an award-winning Catholic recording artist.
Having to learn new responses and prayers actually helps people focus more on what they are saying instead of simply reciting from memory, they said.
“What this translation provides us is a time to reflect on what actually is happening on the altar, what great mystery is unfolding on the altar as the priests celebrate,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “…Almost as a side effect of the new translation, all of a sudden we are forced as we are saying the prayers to stop and go very slowly and very reverently so that the mystery now becomes even more accentuated.”
The missal’s more faithful adherence to the original Latin texts of the Mass helps connect people in the pews today to thousands of years of church history, Sri said.
“Sometimes the rich spirituality, the theological insight and especially the biblical language was not as clear in the previous translation,” he said.
The new missal also offers a great chance for more people to share the faith as part of the “new evangelization” movement.
“The introduction of this new translation is tailor-made to helping people get a deeper grasp of their faith so that confi dent in that faith, they begin to share it,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
Father Barron said this is an opportunity for priests to become more fully aware of the true mystery of the Mass. The new responses also are prompting more extensive discussion of the Mass among young people, he added.
“I have been amazed that 18- and 19-year-old students are talking to one another about the liturgy,” he said. “I do not know what brilliant youth minister in the world could actually get young people talking about the Mass the way the bishops and our Holy Father have invited us into this moment, and it is working. People are deeply drawn into the spirit and reverence of what is happening at the Mass.”
Maher said the new translation offers a key opportunity to reach out to all ages who are searching for something deeper in a secular society often devoid of any mystery or hint of the divine.
“The church always has the wisdom to reaffi rm what is true and important, and to simply engage in the language of the soul at a time where body and soul have been separated so much I think is a beautiful statement,” he said.
“I appreciate that the missal as it is now is more accurate and more reverent,” 83-year-old Silvio Puglielli of Myrtle Beach told The Miscellany in an interview.
“The new changes have definitely been a challenge, but the end result is it’s taken me to a point of where I’m thinking more of what I’m doing in Mass,” said David Mullaney, 48, of Columbia.