August 26, 2011


Changes in the Mass are coming

Do you know that, in 13 weeks, all Roman Catholic parishes in the United States will change some of the wording in the prayers at Mass?

We ask that question because a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate discovered that three out of four adult Catholics in the United States do not know that.

Those people questioned were asked if they had heard “that parishes in the United States will soon be implementing changes in the words and prayers at Mass at the direction of the Vatican.” A whopping 77 percent said “no.”

Even of those people who attend Mass weekly or more, only 57 percent said that they were aware that changes are coming. They will begin the weekend of Nov. 26-27 for the First Sunday of Advent.

That was a national poll. We would like to think that more of us in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are aware of the coming changes. If not, that would be especially frustrating for the archdiocesan Office of Worship, and Father Patrick Beidelman, archdiocesan director of liturgy, in particular, who has given numerous talks and presentations about the coming changes.

Charles Gardner, executive director of the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, has conducted workshops for pastoral musicians in the archdiocese to help them prepare for the implementation of the new Mass translations as they affect the music. As we reported in our Aug. 12 issue, additional workshops are scheduled between Sept. 12 and Sept. 20.

Why is this being done? It goes back to the year 2000 when Pope John Paul II announced the revision of the Missale Romanum, the Roman Missal. Since then, the missal has been translated into other languages, including English, and it took this long to get the translation approved, first by the American bishops and then by the Holy See.

The new missal contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the eucharistic prayers, additional votive Masses, and some updated minor instructions for the priest in his celebration of the Mass.

The English translation also includes the updating of prayers, including some of the well-known responses and acclamations of the people to make them correspond to the Latin.

As the easiest example, the Latin says, “Dominus vobiscum” (“the Lord be with you”) to which the people reply, “Et cum spiritu tuo.” Beginning in Advent, we will translate that as, “And with your spirit,” instead of, “And also with you,” as we have been doing.

Other than that, most people will see changes mainly in the Gloria, the Credo, the acclamation after the consecration—we will no longer say, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”—and before Communion, when we will say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

We don’t expect parishes to have trouble implementing the changes. It will be far easier than it was in the 1960s when significant changes were made, including moving the altar so the priest would face the people and saying the prayers in English instead of Latin. Older people, those who went to Mass before the 1960s, may recognize some of the changes.

We strongly suggest that, while parishes are preparing parishioners for the changes, they use the opportunity to catechize them about what is happening during the Mass. There is a great need for Catholics to recover the reverence we once had for the Mass, which the Second Vatican Council called “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

Catholics must regain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the profound miracle that we witness at every Mass—bread and wine become the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus. When we receive Communion, we receive God himself, in the form of bread and wine, into our bodies, as we hope someday to become part of his divinity.

We can easily become too familiar with the Mass. As we make the changes that are coming, let us hope we can also grow in our devotion to the Eucharist.

—John F. Fink

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