Roman Missal


The Roman MissalThird Edition, the ritual text containing prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass, has been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. First use of the new text of the new Roman Missal will be on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.

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What – Why – When: The English Translation of the Roman Missal

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What is happening regarding a new English translation of the Mass?

The English translation of the Mass is being revised so that the unique style of the Latin text is reflected in the English. Some elements of this style include:

  • Conciseness in addressing God
  • Noble tone
  • Concrete images
  • Repetition
  • Rhythmic highlighting of significant words

The revised translation incorporates a heightened style of speech and grammar and includes more direct biblical references that are lost or more subtle in the current translation, for example:

  • Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…
  • From the rising of the sun to its setting…

This new English translation of the Mass will affect both the words of the celebrant and the faithful and will be used in all English-speaking countries, emphasizing the unity of the Church throughout the world. The translations of the other rites of the Church, such as the sacraments, will also be revised. The first of these new completed translations is the Rite of Ordination, which we have been using here in the diocese for the last several ordinations.

Music publishers have already been working with the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL, the worldwide-Church’s group leading the English translation process) to revise well-known musical settings of the Mass, such as the “Mass of Creation” and the “Mass of Glory,” and to invite composers to create new settings using the revised translations. Also, missalette publishers are preparing to have aids available for the assembly once the translations are finally confirmed by the Vatican.

Why are these changes being made to the English translation of the Mass?

Some history:

  • 1969: Latin text of the Mass promulgated by Vatican.
  • 1970: Vatican confirms the first English translation of the Order of Mass for use in the US.
  • 1974: Vatican confirms the first English translation of the Sacramentary for use in the US.
  • 1975: A new Latin text of the Mass is promulgated by the Vatican. This includes new prayers and rubrics.
  • 1985: US Bishops revise the English Sacramentary, including prayers of new saints.
  • 2000: A third update to the Latin text is issued by the Vatican.
  • 2001: Vatican issues Liturgiam Authenticam to assist with the translation from Latin to vernacular.
  • 2008: Vatican confirms the new English translation of the Order of Mass for use in all English-speaking countries.

Because this new English translation will be used throughout the world, the Vatican called for a closer reflection of the Latin style of ritual prayer. Seven significant characteristics of the Latin prayers are:

  1. Stronger emphasis on the eschatological aspects of our faith in the prayer. That means that the prayers make the heavenly kingdom not only our goal in faith but also in syntax. In other words: The way we pray turns our focus to the kingdom.
  2. Stronger and more detailed references to biblical images.
  3. Stronger references to the writings of the Church fathers.
  4. Broader use of the rich vocabulary of the Roman Rite to enrich our liturgical language.
  5. More concrete images and anthropomorphic expressions, e.g., “in your pity give ear to our prayers.”
  6. Exactness in vocabulary in order to heighten the catechetical and formational aspect of public prayer.
  7. Concise and noble tone to make the speech we use in prayer different from our everyday speech.

When will this happen, and what catechetical resources will be made available to help prepare for when it does happen?

On April 30, 2010, The Vatican gave its approval, or recognitio, to the compete translation proposed by the US Bishops. Over the next several months, this final approved text underwent several edits by the Vatican, including minor changes in punctuation and capitalization, but also incorporating many of the suggestions from the English-speaking Bishops’ conferences. On August 20, 2010, the United States Bishops announced they have received the final Order of Mass (the parts that remain the same each week). We are still waiting to receive the final texts of the edited propers, estimated to be complete by the end of October. The US Bishops have set a date for all dioceses in the U.S. to begin using the new translation: First Sunday of Advent 2011 (November 27, 2011). The new translation may not be used before then. Liturgical book publishers have already been working on finalizing publication of new ritual books, and US Bishops will continue to provide catechetical resources on their Web site  for this final preparation period.

The US Bishops’ Web site is already an excellent resource to help our communities prepare and understand what is happening. The people’s parts and the priest’s parts along with the entire Order of Mass (PDF) is available there for study, with side by side comparisons between the current and the new translations. There is also a section in Spanish to assist communities with Spanish-speakers who attend English Masses.

The Diocese has begun a concerted effort this year for priests, deacons, and liturgical coordinators to assist them in understanding what is happening and why. More importantly, we will take this unique opportunity to help communities improve their Sunday liturgy by focusing not just on the new texts but on the entire liturgical “language” of music, art, ritual gesture, and flow. This will also incorporate a strengthened catechesis on the Mass for both adults and children.

Because the parish liturgical leadership is so vital to the way we celebrate Mass, our preparation will focus first on them. These formational efforts will include major presentations by national leaders in the liturgy, formation days and workshops to study and practice the text, and workshops on liturgical principles for clergy, liturgical, musical, and catechetical coordinators. Then we will offer more resources for parish liturgical ministers to help them improve their skills and understanding of their role in the Mass.