• The New Translation of the Holy Mass Series can be found here in its entirety.
    November 28th to March 6th.


    Posted on March 22, 2011, to:

  • By Brian MacMichael

    Final reflection
    Over the last few months, we have studied the upcoming new English translation of the Roman Missal, which we shall begin using on the First Sunday of Advent — Nov. 27, 2011.

    Much still needs to be done as we ready ourselves for the implementation, and there will also surely be a little sadness as we bid farewell to the Mass translation we have become accustomed to over the last 40 years. However, despite some opposition and criticisms we may encounter, it is important to keep in mind that the process by which we have received the new Missal has been very methodical and comprehensive. There is never such a thing as a perfect translation, for each language has its own unique character. But many experts and Church leaders have worked diligently over the last decade to ensure we receive the most suitable and accurate translation of all the prayers as possible.

    In a very real way, this new Missal should help foster the full, active and conscious participation of the faithful — especially with respect to renewed interior participation at Mass. The rituals and actions of the Mass are not changing; rather, we are receiving richer translations of the original Latin words of the Mass. The new words will require priests and laity alike to be even more attentive to the deep meaning of the prayers.

    As we have seen, the new translation will reveal the Scriptural origins of the Mass more powerfully. And although some of the prayers may be longer or more complex than those we use right now, they would not be terribly different in length or style from many sentences among the Pauline readings that we currently hear in the Lectionary.

    The new texts also demonstrate the evolution of the Church’s understanding of how to use the vernacular most effectively in prayer. In fact, many aspects are a recovery of the devotional language that is familiar from private prayer books. It is an effort to cultivate a “sacred vernacular” — an elevated style of speech that illustrates the significance of the occasion, and helps us enter a context of divine worship. As Pope Paul VI urged in 1969, the language used in the sacred liturgy “should always be worthy of the noble realities it signifies, set apart from the everyday speech of the street and the marketplace.”

    These elements of the new translation are integral to prayer and worship in the Roman Rite, which in turn are key to our identity as Roman Catholics. It is this need to maintain a distinctive Catholic identity that makes the new Missal so important. Through it, we will achieve greater unity with Mass translations in other languages. But perhaps more significantly, our new translation of the Mass will help us to set ourselves apart from the culture at large.

    It will require us to exercise patience and discipline as we engage the new texts for the first time. It will necessitate deeper study of the faith by presenting the splendor of truth with greater precision. Even if there are difficult words or prayers, their meanings can be taught — and the opportunity to catechize on the depth and mystery found in the words of the Mass can have great evangelizing potential.

    What better way to advance the New Evangelization than through the Holy Mass itself? The sacred liturgy is meant to transform and mold us, not vice versa! If we are uneasy with the Church’s prayer, perhaps we should strive to understand and enter more fully into that life of prayer.

    Particularly as young people today find themselves having to combat radical secularism at every turn, it is of tremendous benefit to worship in a manner that is meant to radiate reverence, truth and beauty unambiguously and abundantly. A renewed expression of the immensity of what happens at the sacred liturgy is essential — this will inspire more seekers of truth to recognize their home in Christ’s Church. And ultimately, I believe such beauty in the Mass will lead to an increase in vocations to the holy priesthood. We should therefore approach the new translation with joy, supporting our priests wholeheartedly as they strive to implement the texts.

    We began our reflection in Advent, a season of preparation. So it is appropriate that we conclude at the beginning of Lent, another time of heightened preparation and prayer. May we use this season, and all the days until the implementation of the new Missal, to prepare ourselves for a fruitful encounter with the divine Word of God, Jesus Christ, in the words of every Mass. As the new Collect Prayer for Mass on the First Sunday of Lent will say in 2012, may we “grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.”

    Posted on March 8, 2011, to:

  • The Concluding Rites

    By Brian MacMichael

    The Communion Rite, which we examined last week, ends with the Prayer after Communion — the prayer said by the priest after a period of meditative silence following Holy Communion. Like the Collect Prayer at the beginning of the liturgy, the Prayer after Communion is a part of the Proper of the Mass, changing from day to day.

    After we have stood and the priest has recited or sung the Prayer after Communion, we arrive at the Concluding Rites. For the final time during the Mass, the priest begins with “The Lord be with you,” and we respond, “And with your spirit.”

    Then comes the final blessing (sometimes preceded by a prayer or threefold solemn blessing on special occasions, or by the pontifical blessing if a bishop is celebrant): “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” While the wording for the final blessing is not changing, it should be noted that the priest does not bestow the blessing by saying, “in the name of the Father…” Rather, by virtue of his ordination, the priest simply invokes the Holy Trinity, and God grants the blessing through His ordained minister. After all, it would not make sense for God to bless us in His own name.

    Following our response of “Amen” to the final blessing, Mass is concluded with the dismissal, said by the priest (or a deacon, if one is present). With the new Missal, our three current dismissal formulas will be replaced by these four:

    • Go forth, the Mass is ended.
    • Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
    • Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.
    • Go in peace.

    The first corresponds to the actual Latin dismissal, which is familiar to many: “Ite, missa est.” In fact, this is where the word “Mass” comes from — “missa est” — which at its most fundamental level means “it is sent” or “it is the dismissal.” More than a mere declaration that it is time to leave, this has the function of emphasizing our Christian call to “mission” (a word with the same Latin origins).

    Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this in “Sacramentum Caritatis,” the document he released after the Bishops’ Synod on the Holy Eucharist. Our participation in the Eucharistic liturgy should translate into a life in imitation of Christ, such that from the sacred liturgy springs forth the “missionary nature of the Church.” He wrote that it would be helpful to “provide new texts” for the prayer final blessing “in order to make this connection clear.”

    Therefore, the Holy Father himself selected the three other beautiful dismissal formulas we see above, and they were added to the Latin text of the Missal.

    Our response at the dismissal remains the same: “Thanks be to God.” What else can we do except give thanks to God? He has provided us with an inestimable gift in the Holy Mass, and a means by which He draws us and the entire world into closer communion with Him.

    So ends our exploration of the newly translated Order of Mass. There is much more that could be said, but for the moment, let us consider one clear consequence of the new translation: Our priests will have to adapt to far more textual changes than we laity in the pews. Aside from all the prayers in the Order of Mass (including the entirety of the Eucharistic Prayers and a number of priestly prayers we have not examined in detail, some of which are prayed quietly), priests must prepare to offer new prayers from the Proper of the Mass every day.

    It will be fascinating to listen attentively to the new translations of these proper prayers, which promise a depth and richness that may not have always been apparent in our current translation. This richness will help priests pray for us with even greater focus and intensity, but priests will also need our prayers, encouragement and understanding as they strive to adjust to the new words of our beloved Mass.

    Next week, we will have some closing thoughts on the benefits of the new translation. But to finish this week’s article, we include both the current and anticipated future versions of the Collect for this Sunday, the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

    Father, your love never fails.
    Hear our call.
    Keep us from danger
    and provide for all our needs.

    O God, whose providence never fails in its design,
    humbly we implore you
    to banish all that would harm us
    and to grant all that works for our good.

    Posted on March 2, 2011, to:

  • The Communion Rite

    By Brian MacMichael

    This week, we review the Communion Rite as it appears in the new Roman Missal. Following the people’s “Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, we begin the Communion Rite with the recitation or singing of the Our Father.

    Most will be pleased to hear that the text of the Lord’s Prayer itself (as well as our familiar English chant setting) will remain unchanged. Not only is the prayer a sufficient translation of the Latin “Pater noster,” but the devotional language of the Our Father (complete with phrases like “Who art in heaven” and “hallowed be Thy name”) has also become a deeply ingrained and rich part of our vernacular prayer. Every English-speaking Christian knows this prayer, and it is used a great deal outside of the Holy Mass.

    However, the priest’s words before, during, and after the Our Father will feature some changes. For instance, the current translation offers three options for the priest’s introduction to the Our Father, but the new translation will match the single Latin line in saying, “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say …” To address our almighty, transcendent Creator as “Father” is actually an incredible thing, for it affirms a tender and personal aspect to our relationship with Him. And we do this at the direction of His Son — this is why we “dare to” use the name, “Father.”

    After the sign of peace (which should always be shared in a dignified fashion, for it is Christ’s peace — not our own — that we impart here), we sing the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) as the priest breaks the sacred host. The Agnus Dei text remains unchanged as well, though it is always good to recall its origin in the words of John the Baptist, as he heralds Christ’s arrival at the River Jordan: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” — Jn 1:29.

    That passage from the Gospel of John is also embedded in the subsequent line spoken by the priest, while he holds the host over the chalice. Here is the new text, with changes in bold:

    Behold the Lamb of God,
    behold him who takes away the sins of
    the world.
    Blessed are those called to the supper
    of the Lamb.

    The new translation recovers the word, “behold,” which also evokes the words of Pilate to the crowd in presenting the scourged Jesus: “Behold, the man” (“Ecce homo” — Jn 19:5). The Holy Eucharist is a re-presentation of that same sacrificial Victim, and our partaking in it is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb. — Rev 19:9.
    Then come the words we pray in response, before the distribution of Holy Communion begins:

    Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul shall be healed.

    The replacement of our current, relatively terse “not worthy to receive you” with the bolded line is a significant change. The new line comes directly from the Gospels, particularly Matthew 8:8, in which the faith-filled centurion begs Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” It is therefore a Biblical text that conveys humanity’s unworthiness on account of sin, and our need for sincere humility before receiving the Holy Eucharist.

    Nonetheless, speaking of “my roof” may seem strange before Holy Communion, since Christ is coming to us in the form of food — not literally entering into our houses. Certainly the clear association with Matthew Chapter 8 has a figurative intent, but it may also be helpful to recall that St. Paul says, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.” — 1 Cor 6:19.

    We are therefore to make our bodies into fitting homes for God’s grace to dwell within our souls. The Eucharist is true food that provides spiritual nourishment, which is why we will refer more specifically to “my soul” in the last line. But this sacramental strength for our souls in turn informs both our mental and physical deeds (recall the Confiteor also incorporated both types of action), such that the totality of our bodies, souls, and lives may become suitable instruments of the Lord.

    For the distribution and reception of Holy Communion, the words shall all remain the same: “The Body (or “Blood”) of Christ” with a response of “Amen.”

    Next week, we will complete our look at the Order of Mass.

    Posted on March 2, 2011, to:

  • By Brian MacMichael

    Eucharistic Prayer, Part 2
    We continue our overview of the new translations in the Eucharistic Prayer by looking at the revised texts for the words of consecration, also known as the words of institution. At every Mass, the priest repeats these words by which Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, and by which the bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ for us today.

    The following are the words of consecration over the bread and wine, with changes in bold.

    Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
    for this is my Body,
    which will be given up for you.

    Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
    for this is the chalice of my Blood,
    the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
    which will be poured out for you and for many
    for the forgiveness of sins.
    Do this in memory of me.

    The changes at the consecration of the bread are minor, but there are a few changes in the text for the consecration of the wine that are worth explaining. First is the replacement of “cup” with “chalice.” Both refer to vessels from which we drink, and both terms appear in the Bible. However, “chalice” implies a special kind of cup — one that is precious and set aside for a noble purpose (in this case, the “new and eternal covenant”). This is part of the dignified language brought out by the new translation: just as we do not refer to the altar of sacrifice as merely a “table,” so saying “chalice” at this moment emphasizes that the Blood of Christ is no ordinary drink. Such language can help foster greater reverence at the Holy Mass.

    A significant change is the revision of the current phrase, “shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven,” to “poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The imagery of Blood being “poured out” is more vivid than “shed” — it portrays His Blood as true drink (Jn 6:55) and accentuates that Jesus entirely emptied Himself (Phil 2:7) out of love for us.

    However, the most noticeable revision in those same lines is the replacement of “for all” with “for many.” At the most basic level, “for many” is a faithful translation of the original Latin phrase, “pro multis.” Moreover, Isaiah 53:12 prophesied that the Messiah would take away “the sins of many,” and Christ Himself also said His Blood would be shed for “many” (Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24). This does not mean that Christ did not die for the sake of all humanity, for that is indisputable from Scripture. Rather, it upholds the reality that each individual must also accept and abide in the grace won by Christ in order to attain eternal life. The recovery of the wording, “for many,” affirms that salvation is not completely automatic.

    Nonetheless, it should not be interpreted as overly restrictive, either. The fact that Jesus was addressing only the Apostles in the Upper Room while saying, “for you and for many,” implies far-reaching inclusion — that many more besides the Twelve would benefit from this new covenant.

    So, the revised translation of “pro multis” is important, but may require some of the most careful catechesis, due to potential misunderstandings.

    Then, after the consecration, the priest will simply announce, “The mystery of faith” (“Mysterium fidei”) — a declarative statement about the Eucharist now present. Venerable Pope John Paul II reflected on these words in his encyclical, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” writing that the very thought of the mysterious gift of the Holy Eucharist should fill us with “profound amazement and gratitude.”
    In response, the people shall make one of these acclamations:

    We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
    and profess your Resurrection
    until you come again.

    When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,
    we proclaim your Death, O Lord,
    until you come again.

    Save us, Savior of the world,
    for by your Cross and Resurrection
    you have set us free.

    All three are rooted in Scripture (1 Cor 11:26, Jn 4:42). But what is conspicuously absent is the popular current acclamation, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” This line, although powerful, is not found in the Latin. In addition, it does not directly address Christ made present in the Blessed Sacrament, nor does it speak of our relationship with Him, as the others do.

    Posted on February 15, 2011, to: