WNYCatholic File - The new Roman Missal will bring a deeper appreciation for the Mass.
The Roman Missal Third Edition, the new ritual text containing prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass, will be used across the United States beginning Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent. The U.S. will be the first country to use the new texts. To prepare parishioners, the Buffalo Diocese has held learning sessions throughout the summer to teach and explain the changes.
The new missal brings changes to the text, but also emphasizes mystagogy or the leading of the faithful into a deeper appreciation of the sacred mysteries of the sacraments.
The Second Vatican Council called for a full conscious active participation in the Mass. The congregation has a role to play at Mass, much like the priests and deacons. Father Czeslaw M. Krysa, director of the diocesan Office of Worship, compares it to a symphony. “The drums, the horns, the strings all come together. The same thing with the priests, the deacons, the choir, the assembly, all participate together so we can experience Jesus Christ,” he said.
Mass is not meant to be just a spoken prayer. The movements and actions of all participants, from the presentation of the Book of the Gospels to the carrying of candles, have an importance. It also helps involve children and people who may not understand the words.
“Catholic prayer is action prayer,” Father Krysa said. “That means carrying a candle for Christ is the light of the world, if you want to look at it that way. It means moving the book from place to place because the book is a symbol of Christ’s presence.”
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, a 2003 document governing the celebration of Mass, details everything from the importance and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration to the arrangements and furnishings of churches to the requisites for the celebration of Mass.
“The bishops want this Roman Missal renewal not to be just a textual thing so we come to understand the text, but come to a deeper knowledge of the symbolic aspect,” said Father Krysa. “I call it action prayer and word prayer. The two come together and Christ becomes present. Just like ‘The Word became flesh.’ That’s the main thrust of the renewal as well; not just the verbal content, but also the symbolic.”
Father Krysa is not sure if people ever really knew or understood that.
“We’re asking, ‘Why do we genuflect, why do we stand, why do we carry a candle, why do we process from one place to another? That movement from one place to another actually is a prayer. I always tell my servers, even if you walk in the sanctuary during Mass, that is a prayer, because people watch you and want to be inspired to pray,” he said.
Pope John Paul II announced a revised version in 2000, that would contain prayers for the observance of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and prayers for various needs and occasions, some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. The English version will also include updated translations of existing prayers, including some of the well-known responses and acclamations of the people. The current version of the Mass was designed in 1965, during the Second Vatican Council, and has been in place since 1969.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI said the most important thing a believer could do was introduce someone to Jesus and tell them of their friendship with Him. He went on to say that we encounter and meet Jesus in these sacramental actions.
Father Krysa points out that every message from God came in the form of an action, from the parting of the Red Sea to the Burning Bush. “That’s how we experience Jesus, when the words become flesh in those various actions,” he said. “I really believe that we need at this particular point to rediscover that ‘event nature’ of the liturgy, that these are actions that reveal Jesus and not just a message of words. The two have to come together. I think we did very will with the word, and now we have to start to discover the actions.”
Seven Catholic publishers have already begun publishing the new text. The U.S. is the first of 11 English-speaking countries to adopt the new translations. There is currently no timetable for the introduction of foreign languages, such as Spanish, Italian and Polish. “Pew cards” featuring the new text will be used in churches to help people become acquainted with the changes.
Resources can be found on the Office of Worship website at www.buffalodiocese.org/Outreach/Worship.aspx.