Revised Missal represents an opportunity to renew faith

The liturgical celebrations of the Advent and Christmas seasons in 2011 will have a different sound, as the new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal begins being used in U.S. parishes.

For Father Paul Turner, those changes represent an opportunity for all Catholics — clergy, catechetical leaders, liturgical musicians and the laity in the pews — to learn more about the Mass and “what the Mass expects of us.”

“This” — the Mass — “is the center of our lives,” he said.

Learning about the changes in the new Roman Missal can lead to a renewed commitment to the faith, and to tell people about that faith,” he said.

Father Turner, who serves as a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, has been giving seminars throughout the United States and in other English-speaking countries on implementation of the newly-translated texts of the Roman Missal.

The transition to the new translation took up most of the past decade and has not been without its rough patches, with some bishops, priests and laypeople criticizing changes in wording meant to bring the translation more closely into alignment with the Latin original.

But Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., who, as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship for the past three years, shepherded the missal through its final approval by the Vatican in 2010, said just before stepping down as chairman that catechetical preparation to implement the new translation was proceeding in U.S. parishes “with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both clergy and laity.”

Announced by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and first published in Latin in 2002, the missal is the book of prayers used in the worship in the Latin-rite church. It underwent a lengthy and rigorous translation process through the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, followed by sometimes heated discussions over particular wording at USCCB meetings until it received final approval from the U.S. bishops in November 2009.

The revised Missal represents significant changes in how the Mass sounds. There will be only minor changes to some of the words said by the people, but there are major changes to the texts said by the priests.

Father Turner noted that the changes were necessary for two reasons. One, the content of the Missal has been expanded. Among other things, the third edition contains prayers for the celebration of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics for the celebration of the Mass.

Two, the new English edition is a translation of the Latin edition promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2002. The new translation adheres more exactly to the Latin.

Father Turner noted that there is a direct relationship between the content of prayers and the substance of faith.

“The words express what we believe,” he said. “They challenge us to live a good life and to proclaim the Gospel to others.”

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