The new Roman Missal - Catholic Courier

The new Roman Missal

On the first Sunday of Advent 2011, Catholics in the United States will begin following the new translation of the Roman Missal. The Roman Missal is the ritual text that has all of the prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass. As someone who was not around for the change in the Mass from Latin to English, I find this whole process fascinating. The translation itself has been underway for years and the changes will impact some parts of the Mass dramatically, both for the presider and the assembly. (For examples of text changes, visit the U.S. bishops’ website.) I was particularly struck by the changes in the Gloria and the Creed.

So often I feel these two prayers are recited in Mass without much thought. Most of us know both prayers by heart and speak them without much feeling or consideration of what we are actually professing. It’s a bit like driving my car down a stretch of road on autopilot, barely registering that I am driving a two-ton piece of metal. But sometimes, even driving on autopilot, I can be startled by something new. A vivid sunset or a tree set aflame by autumn leaves can pull me out of my fog and shed new light on the well-traveled road.

This new missal translation offers the same possibility for us at Mass. Next year we will all need some time to acclimate to the new phrases and responses. But I think that making the change together will help startle us out of our liturgical autopilot and reflect on what we are actually praying and professing.

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