This is a big day here at my blog! Mandi from The Catholic Newlywed has written MY FIRST GUEST POST to help everyone prepare for the changes to the 3rd edition of the New Roman Missal that we will start using this Sunday November, 27, 2011.
Catholics are notorious for resisting change. Greater society looks at this aversion to change as proof that the Catholic Church is outdated, rigid, and obsolete, especially since she refuses to modify her stance on issues such as birth control, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and female clergy. But for many Catholics, it is this steadfast stance that attracts us most to the Church. While many other religions and Christian denominations seem to constantly change their beliefs and morality with the surrounding culture, the Church has remained dedicated to the original teachings of Christ which, although they should be studied in order to be applied to modern circumstances, should never waver from His original intention. There is great beauty in being part of an unwavering tradition, as well as confidence that we are adhering to God’s will.
However, sometimes the outward manifestations of unchanging beliefs can (and should) change. Yet many Catholics are resistant to these changes too. Because of this, I am a bit worried about how the new English translation of the Roman Missal will be embraced. Of course, most of the grumbling will simply be due to inconvenience – instead of reciting the prayers we know by heart, we will have to read and stumble through them for quite some time before they become second nature. But is that such a bad thing? I see it as a blessing. When was the last time you attended Mass and really thought about the words you were reciting? When was the last time you were truly engaged? I know that too many times, due to tiredness or just plain laziness, I mumble out the correct responses at the correct time while my brain (and heart and soul) are somewhere else. Soon we will be forced to be attentive to the words we are saying; don’t squander that opportunity to enter more fully into the Mass.
Whether you are reticent about the upcoming Missal changes or you fully support them, they will soon be enacted and you should be taking steps to prepare for them. In fact, preparation and familiarity may be all you need in order to become more comfortable with the new language of the Mass. The new Missal is not in fact changing the Mass, it is simply introducing a new translation that seeks to be more faithful to the original Latin. If you have ever studied a foreign language, I’m sure you understand the difficulties of language translation. Often literal translation doesn’t embody the underlying meaning of the text, and much thought must be given to choosing words that convey both the proper denotation and connotation. Therefore, even though many of the changes from the old Missal to the new seem superficial, the subtle differences in language do in fact represent important distinctions. I encourage you to read the new Mass parts prior to their debut at the beginning of Advent and take time to contemplate the meaning of the new language. This Annotated Order of the Mass, found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Roman Missal website, is fantastic because the footnotes quote the Biblical passages from which many of the Mass parts are based. The USCCB website is also a great resource for other wonderful articles and explanations of the new texts. Have a blessed Advent!