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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Big changes are coming to the texts we use at Mass. Here are five ways to be ready and prayerful

The Roman Missal — which contains the prayers we use at Mass — has been retranslated.


The new translation has been approved by Rome, and we will start using it a year from now, on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011

How should we prepare for the new texts?

1. Stay calm and prayerful and patient. You may hear a lot of people trumpeting the new texts, and a lot of others decrying them. Try not to get sucked into pitched battles over language. No text, no translation is perfect, and we won’t know if these texts help us pray well or not until we’ve been using them for many years.

2. Get to know the changes. The bishops have set up a website (usccb.org/romanmissal) showing samples of the new texts. Speak them out loud. Start to work on praying them. Listen to Bishop Serratelli’s (chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship) video introduction on the site, and read some of the explanations and background the bishops provide. If your parish makes any resources available about the new translation, read them and ask questions.

3. Realize that the introduction of new texts is going to be awkward. It will take time before these new words are second nature to us.

4. Recognize you might not like everything in the new language. Let your bishop know how you feel, but please, when they are implemented in our parish liturgies, let’s do our very best to pray these texts. In the Mass our own feelings and needs must take second place to the needs of the community — the community’s need to have all our voices joined in prayer. It is, perhaps, one of the ways we enter into the Paschal Mystery, dying to our own feelings and opinions in order to serve others. We may end up unhappy with some line we’re given to pray, but at Mass, as long as we consider ourselves part of the Body of Christ, we need to do our best to strengthen the unity of the assembly, not divide it. In the end, the quality of the liturgy is not judged by the words we speak or the songs we sing, but by how deeply we are challenged to enter into the Paschal Mystery, to be more fully what we are and are becoming: Christ — living his life in the events of our own.

5. Move more deeply into the Mass. In his video introduction on the USCCB website, Bishop Serratelli says these new texts are “a great opportunity … not only to learn about the changes … but also to deepen our own understanding of the liturgy itself.” Amen! We can never exhaust the meaning of the Eucharist or the challenge it brings to our lives. Anything that prompts us to move more deeply into the eucharistic liturgy is an opportunity not to be wasted.

We’ll be hearing more and more about these new texts as we move through the next year.