New liturgy almost ready

  • September 12, 2008

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s bishops plan to use the introduction of the new liturgy as a teaching opportunity to renew appreciation of the Eucharist.

“There is always an opportunity for catechesis to build on the Eucharistic Congress and the Synod of the Eucharist when we implement the missal,” said Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.

When Toronto priests meet in October for their annual study days, they will hear several presentations on the translation of the new English missal that is expected to be completed by 2010.

“The new translation is on its way, so we want to prepare the priests for that,” Collins said.

The Toronto priests will not be the only ones to get some advance preparation. Work is underway at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat in Ottawa to prepare catechetical resources and workshops for both the parish and the diocesan level, said national liturgy office director Fr. Bill Burke.

Some minor change is coming

Canadian Catholic News

Most of the changes in the new Mass translation involve the priest’s prayers. Here are some of the changes that will affect the congregation:

After the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the new response will be “And with your spirit,” instead of “And also with you.”

The present, “I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do” in the first penitential rite will be replaced with “I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, (and after striking their breast, they say:)   …through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

The Gloria’s structure changes to more closely reflect the Latin original, for example:

  • “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on Earth” will change to “Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace to people of good will.”
  • “Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory,” will change to “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.”
  • The Nicene Creed will begin with “I believe” instead of the present “We believe.”
  • The Sanctus will begin: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts,” replacing the present “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
  • After the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” the response will be “It is right and just.” rather than “It is right to give Him thanks and praise

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted a PDF version of the new Mass liturgy translation at

“We want to use this opportunity with the introduction of the new missal to do some solid catechesis on the meaning, structure and centrality of the Eucharist in our lives,” said Burke.

In July, Catholics around the world got a glimpse of what the new Mass will look like when the Vatican gave recognitio or final approval to the ordinary or constant parts of the Mass.

Collins said the new translation is “more accurate” and closer to the Latin Missale Romanum and “reflects more accurately the biblical symbolism.” He described the present translation as “a bit flat” and not as rich in meaning and beauty. The new liturgy will be “like going to 3-D.”

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, who is a member of Vox Clara, a committee of Scripture scholars that provides a second look to the translation being done by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), said that the universal church “will rejoice” over the changes.

The Vox Clara Commission offers suggestions on nuance to the Congregation for Divine Worship that is in charge of the missal. Committee members are “not watchdogs,” he said, noting ICEL is “doing excellent translations.”

Though the people in the pews will have some changes to get used to, the new liturgy will be hardest for priests, Prendergast said.

“We’ll get over it,” he said, noting older priests faced a similar task after the Second Vatican Council. “I think we’ll adjust pretty quickly.”

St. George’s and Labrador City-Schefferville Bishop Douglas Crosby, the Canadian representative on ICEL, said the Vatican’s recognitio of the ordinary parts of the Mass surprised him since he had expected approval only after all 12 segments of the missal had been translated.

“It’s a very complicated process,” he said. “It’s been done very carefully and there have been many moments of consultation throughout.”

The Canadian bishops had voted on the Mass segment in 2006, he said, noting the recognitio is “a sign, certainly that the Vatican is approving the work that is being done.”

There are 11 English-speaking bishops’ conferences that are involved in the process of commenting on and approving the translation. But the bishop said he expected there might be some adaptations so Canada can give precedence to saints that are important here but not elsewhere.

The preliminary translations of each section go out to the bishops under a green cover. Their comments and suggestions are sent to their respective bishops’ conferences. At the bishops’ conference, Burke receives all the feedback and collates it. The bishops’ advice goes back to ICEL, which corrects or modifies the translation and returns the section to the bishops under a gray cover. The “Gray Books” need a two-thirds majority to pass, Burke said.  Recently, the U.S. Conference of Bishops failed to give the required majority to a 700-page translation of the proper prayers (the prayers that change according to the season or saint’s day) for Sundays and feast days.

The Canadian bishops are examining this and other sections for mail-in balloting, Burke said.

Meanwhile Burke is working with a group of 18 people across the country from various backgrounds — liturgists, adult education specialists, catechists, priests and academics — to begin work on resources for the parish and diocesan level that will include workshops for both priests and laity, pamphlets and bulletin materials.

The approved Mass liturgy that includes the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei, has gone out to musicians who will work on composing settings for these prayers, Burke said.

ICEL holds a meeting in Vancouver the week preceding the CCCB plenary Sept. 22-26. Crosby said he will report on the latest developments on the missal translation at the bishops’ annual gathering.

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