Learning the nuts and bolts of the new Missal

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  • November 16, 2011

MISSISSAUGA, ONT. - Teaching children about the new Roman Missal means not only educating them about changes to prayers and gestures, but also about a “liturgical renewal” in the Church, say authors of a new children’s book.

Bernadette Gasslein and Sharon McKeever co-authored The Mass: Step by Step. Starting Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent, Canadians will begin to use the new Missal which introduces changes to the prayers and gestures of priests and the congregation.

McKeever said the Missal invites Catholics to rediscover the “key mysteries” of the Mass, such as Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and belonging to the Body of Christ in the world.

“The central mystery in the Mass is the Trinity,” she said.

The new Missal also refocuses attention to Catholics’ baptismal calling, she said.

“In baptism, Christ becomes our second skin,” said Gasslein.

It will also present a new perspective on participation during Mass. “It’s not about numbers,” Gasslein explained, adding that participation does not necessarily mean having many people volunteer during the Mass.

“We participate in words and actions at the deepest level.”

It also invites the congregation to an interior participation during the Mass, Gasslein said, where those in the pews “praise God, respond to God’s love” through the actions and rituals of the liturgy and “offer our gifts and ourselves to Christ” to reflect the notion of sacrifice.

As for the nuts and bolts of the Missal, there will be revisions to the prayers and congregation responses that reflect the new key principles such as “formal equivalence” where words mimic the “most exact meaning” of the original Latin prayers, Gasslein said. Other principles include ensuring the language is understandable and retains biblical words.

Gasslein noted that students would also need to know about new gestures such as bowing before receiving Christ in the Eucharist as a gesture of reverence and that there will be moments of silence during the Mass.

On the music for the new Missal, there will be changes to the “Holy, Holy, Holy,” memorial acclamation and the Great Amen.

During a recent workshop with teachers, McKeever offered some tips on teaching about the Missal. She suggested activities that are age-specific such as games, response cards and a chart of the old and new prayers “to increase the comfort level” of students. Other activities could include incorporating the new prayers into the daily class prayer and teaching the school choir the new songs to lead their peers in learning the new songs.

“Our goal as teachers is to help students participate in Mass,” McKeever said.

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