What is the Roman Missal?
The Missal is the book which contains the prayers, rubrics and chants for the celebration of Mass. It is Roman because it is used by the Roman Catholic Church, and not the Eastern Rite Churches. The Missal has been handed down to us from age to age and generation to generation.
St. Paul writes:
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
- 1 Cor. 11: 23
Early on, the Church used various books to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the Mass and the other Sacraments; they were: the Lectionary or book of scripture readings; the Book of the Gospels; and the Sacramentary with the prayers, rubrics, chants and instructions for the priest.
As Missionaries moved out of the Roman Empire to northern Europe, they needed to combine all the various liturgical books. This, along with various liturgical developments, emphasized the need to have one book: the Roman Missal. This was clearly seen as the one book needed for the celebration of Mass by the Council of Trent. At the Second Vatican Council 450 years later, the Church once again developed books to assist in the celebration of the Mass.
Why a new Missal? Why now?
A Third Edition has been in the works for over 25 years. The First English edition from Latin was issued in 1974. The Second was implemented in 1985 and the Third Edition was issued in 2002 in the various vernacular languages. This work was needed to update the many developments that have taken place in the liturgy after the Council. Since 1985, many saints have been canonized and they are now particularly remembered. The Preface, which precedes the Holy, Holy, announces some specific element about the feast of the day. Many new prefaces have been added to broaden our Catholic mindset, in light of the treasury of our liturgical feasts. We also will be praying for various needs and occasions in the prayers of the day that are prayed aloud by the priest.
In addition to our present Easter, Christmas and Pentecost Vigils, others were added for the feasts of Epiphany and the Ascension. Masses devoted to celebrating the Gift of Life, Peace and Justice and the Spread of the Gospel were added for our specific prayer. We will also more noticeably pray for those who are in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. The Church’s prayer is showing us what it is that we believe: “Lex Orandi; Lex Credendi”.
The Church is receiving a New Translation… Not a new Mass. The structure and order of Mass has not been changed.
Am I ready and willing to lovingly WELCOME it?
Why a new translation? Why is this important?
The Church has always taken translation very seriously. In 1963 during the Second Vatican Council, Bishops from English-speaking countries gathered and established the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, known as ICEL. In 1969, the Church issued principles for the translation of Latin into the vernacular; “Comme Le Prevoit”. The principle of “Dynamic Equivalence” was the main rule in this document, meaning the translator was to express the thoughts or concepts rather than the particular words of the original text. In 2001, the Church issued “Liturgiam Authenticam” which established principles that called for “Formal Equivalence” in translation. The texts are translated in such a way that each underlying Latin word has a corresponding equivalent word.
Eucharistic Prayer III
“So that from east to west a perfect offering may be made.”
“So that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name…” - Malachi 1:11
What is the relationship between the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and the liturgical renewal outlined by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy?
It’s important to remember the stated aims for the Council:
To impart an ever-increasing vigor to Christian life & to adapt to our times, with institutions subject to change.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (CSL) laid out General Principles to be used in the reform. The principles called us to experience the holy presence of Christ in the liturgy in the Eucharistic Elements, the Word Proclaimed, and the Assembly along with the Presence of the Celebrant.
The CSL clearly proclaimed that our earthly liturgy is a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy and is the source and summit of the Church’s activity. Here, all are invited to full, conscious and active participation. We are called through the Constitution, and now through our new Missal, to a complete openness to the transforming power of God’s Holy Spirit, transformation into even more perfect members of the Body of Christ. The use of our vernacular is being brought to its highest level and we will worship through a more accurate and abundant use of Scripture. Likewise, our responses and prayers will awaken in us our own statements of faith, as Baptized Catholic Christians.
A Time to Prepare…How?
Click here, to view the changes in the Parts of the People in the Order of Mass in the Roman Missal, Third Edition
You can download the responses for the new Roman Missal:
or visit the following website that shows what we now say and what will be said beginning Nov. 27:
Why not take some time to print out these new words and use one section each day for your personal prayer as found in the new section:
- Greeting to the Gloria
- Gospel to the Creed(s)
- Invitation to Prayer to the Holy, Holy
- Mystery of Faith to the Sign of Peace
- Invitation to Communion to the Concluding Rites
Your own parish may introduce some new words in song for the Holy, Holy, and other settings. If you participate in these new Mass Settings, you will be teaching yourself through music, and encouraging those around you by moving into our new translation. You will note that our Missal invites us to chant some of the prayers and responses, adding more nobility, even when at times it is on one tone alone.
Your weekly parish bulletin will include updated information. Adult Study Sessions may be offered which will be formative to your faith.
What about these new responses?
First we must remember that the responses for the Assembly are few, but are very important:
- The Lord be with you…and with your Spirit…This response is a direct translation from the Latin and is in keeping with all the other vernacular texts for the Mass (Spanish, Italian, French, German, etc.).
- The return to “I believe” from “We believe” echoes the Baptismal Promises we renew each time at Easter. It is a time to individually state what you believe as you gather with the Body of Christ for the Mass.
- In the Creed are Catholic words that disciples need to know such as consubstantial with the Father. Consubstantial is a technological term meaning same substance, yet different; Jesus is truly God.
- Within the Creed we confront the mystery of the nature of God and the Trinity.
- Another theological concept found in the Creed is the phrase was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, which emphasizes the nature of Jesus Christ. God becomes flesh, coming into time and history for the salvation of all.
- A change is found within the Words of the Consecration: “…for the many”. This is not a shift to exclusivity. Jesus Christ’s death is for the whole world as noted in Mt. 26, Mark 14, 1 Cor. 11 and Isaiah 53. It is true that Christ died for all, but not all accepted Christ. The Mass asks us to reflect on our response to the death of Christ in our own lives.
- Memorial Acclamations have changed a bit. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” is not in the new Roman Missal. The purpose of the Acclamation is just that – to acclaim the presence of Christ on the altar. The three acclamations are from the Scriptures, while the “Christ has died” was composed for its ability to be easily sung and not liturgically correct.
- “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This return to the original translation of the Latin alludes to the first English translation. The faith of the Roman Official who only needed to hear Jesus’ word, that same word proclaimed at the beginning of Mass reminds us of its connection the Liturgy of the Eucharist as we prepare to approach the Altar to receive the Word made Flesh.
Will the work of receiving the Roman Missal be completed on Nov. 27th?
- No, it’s just the beginning. The Office of Worship sees the next three years as a time to assist all our parishes in working out the bumps in the implementation of the Roman Missal.
- The Church sees this period as an important time to evangelize not only our active Catholics, but also the many Catholics that no longer participate in Mass.