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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mass - Advent 2011 - The Roman Missal Third Edition Part 1

The Mass
Advent 2011
Roman Missal Third Edition

This year on the first Sunday of Advent, parishioners will notice changes in the words used during Mass. The fundamental nature of the Mass is not changing, but the way in which it will be celebrated in word will be noticeably different. The goal of this five part commentary is to look more deeply into, and to understand more fully these “changes” in the Mass.

Part one will give a short background on why these changes are being made and introduce our new response to, “The Lord be with you.” Part two will cover the Penitential Rite, part three the Gloria, part four the Creed and part five some of the changes to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

A Little Background

For centuries before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Roman rite of the Mass was said in Latin. On the first Sunday of Advent in 1964, a year after the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was enacted by Pope Paul VI, a series of changes were made to the Mass, and the “New Mass” was introduced into US parishes. The changes were quite dramatic, instead of having his back to the people, the priest faced the people. The Mass was not just being “said,” but now it was “celebrated,” and not all in Latin, but with parts in the vernacular.

Five years later in 1969/70, the First Edition of the Roman Missal was hurriedly published in English using a method called “dynamic equivalence,” meaning that a more easily understood English translation was given priority over a word for word translation of the Latin. For example, when the Mass was said in Latin the priest greeted the parishioners with Dóminus vobíscum (The Lord be with you.) To which the people responded, Et cum spiritu tuo (And with your spirit.)

The First Edition using the dynamic equivalence formula, translated “And with your spirit,” to “And also with you,” the rote response Catholic’s rattle off every week at Mass without a thought to the meaning or significance of the words.

In 1975, five years after the First Edition, the Second Edition of the Roman Missal in English was issued, though more complete than the first edition, it was clear that there was still room for improvement.

In 2001, twenty-six years after the Second Edition, the Vatican called for a more precise translation that was closer to the Latin text. No longer was the method of "dynamic equivalence" to be used, but guidelines were issued to use "Liturgiam Authenticam" to prepare the Third Edition. This next edition of the Roman Missal English translation would be more faithful to the Latin which would make the English version more similar to the Spanish, French and German version. The new translation was called by Liturgiam Authenticam, to be “without omissions or additions in terms of their content, without paraphrases or glosses.” (Liturgiam Authenticam, #20)

In two weeks, on the first Sunday of Advent, 46 years after the Second Vatican Council, and 10 years after a more authentic translation was called for, the Third Edition of the Roman Missal will finally be introduced. Our new response to, “The Lord be with you”, will be “And with your spirit.” Though it is true Catholic’s don’t take well to change, rest assured, the Mass is not “changing”, we will still be worshiping God as perfectly as possible, but the gap that once separated the Latin from the English will be bridged.

The Greeting

Dóminus vobíscum
The Lord be with you
Et cum spiritu tuo
And with your spirit

The greeting of the celebrant, “The Lord be with you,” is rooted in Hebrew history and Holy Scripture. These words were heard by Jewish men and women when they were asked by God to do something very difficult, something that they were not capable of doing solely on their own.

For example, in the Old Testament God calls Moses, a shepherd, to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses not feeling in any way equipped for this task asks God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” God simply responds, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:11-12) In the New Testament, the Virgin Mary is chosen by God to be His Mother. But He does not leave her alone in this task as the angel Gabriel announces, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

Each one of us, due to our Baptism in Christ, has been given a calling, a purpose, a particular mission that we are to fulfill for God. This mission may not be of the caliber of Moses or Our Blessed Mother, but it has great importance in God’s plan. We are not equipped to fulfill God’s plan for our life on our own, but “for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) As the priest greets us at the beginning of Mass with “The Lord be with you,” he reminds us that we are not alone. God will keep us faithful to the mission He has given us and see us through any trials along the way for as Our Lord said to Saint Paul, “My grace is sufficient for your, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Our response to the priest’s greeting will be, “And with your spirit,” which is more clearly an accurate authentic translation of the Latin Et cum spiritu tuo. It also more closely represents the language of Saint Paul when he closes his letters to the Galatians and Philippians with “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23)

With the response “and with your spirit,” we also acknowledge the Holy Spirits unique role in the life of our priest. When a man is ordained a priest, he receives a sacred character to act in the person of Christ (persona Christi). By virtue of his ordination and the power of the Holy Spirit, the priest will act as the one priest, Christ, during the confection of the Eucharist, and change bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. As we respond “and with your spirit,” this and three other times during the liturgy, we acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s activity through the priest during the sacred liturgy.

Next Part Two the Penitential Rite 
The Last Supper - Juan de Juanes
Baptism of Our Lord - Rogier van der Weyden

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