Although they made the inevitable “rookie” mistakes, the congregation of young adults comported themselves well at a Sept. 27 “Teaching Mass” introducing them to the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
At the unique Liturgy, held in the chapel of the Cenacle Retreat House, the celebrant, Archbishop Alfred Hughes, stopped the Mass’ progression three times to remind worshipers of the reasons for each prayer, and to acquaint them with textual revisions that go into effect the first weekend of Advent.
“I hope that this will be helpful – it will be different from what you normally experience, but that is what a Teaching Mass is all about,” said Archbishop Hughes, instructing his young-adult congregants to take out “cheat sheets” listing the old and new versions of the Mass’ main prayers.
“What is at the heart of the Liturgy remains,” he said. “But some of the externals in the way we celebrate the Liturgy were changed.”
One of the textual revisions hit congregants right off the bat: The response to the introductory greeting, “The Lord Be with You,” is no longer, “And also with you;” the new response is, “And with your spirit.”
“By offering that response, you are reminding the celebrant that he stands there not as a man, but as someone who has been given the Holy Spirit in orders, enabling him to celebrate the Mass in the name of Christ,” Archbishop Hughes explained. “And it’s a reminder to (the priest) not to draw attention to himself, but to Christ.”
Before celebrating each of the three major parts of the Mass – the Introductory Rites; the Liturgy of the Word; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist – Archbishop Hughes provided his congregation with an analysis of each prayer and pointed out revisions, the latter printed in boldface in the accompanying Mass guide.
For example, in the revised version of the Penitential Act, worshipers will confess that they have “greatly” sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” – employing words that were left out of the old translation.
“But they’re very important words expressing repentance, penitence, conversion of heart, and so they’re restored,” Archbishop Hughes said. “They’re sacral words that remind us that when we come into the holy of holies, we want to come penitent and open to God’s redemptive grace.”
While the Teaching Mass fell on a weekday and consequently did not include the “Gloria,” Archbishop Hughes explained the significant language changes in this prayer, which praises the three persons of the Holy Trinity. In the section of the “Gloria” that addresses God the Father, a series of restored Latin phrases build to a crescendo: “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.”
When the “Gloria” turns its attention to God the Son, the new translation contains a subtle but important addition.
“We used to (refer to Jesus as) ‘only Son of the Father.’ Well, the only problem is, that all of us, by baptism, are sons and daughters of God the Father,” Archbishop Hughes said. To remedy this, the new missal refers to Jesus as the “Only Begotten Son.”
“We are sons and daughters by adoption,” Archbishop Hughes said. “Christ we’re proclaiming as Son of God by nature.”
Liturgy of the Word
Moving on to the Liturgy of the Word, the archbishop explained some Mass elements that were more or less known by the young Catholics, depending on how thorough their religious instruction was.
The archbishop reminded them that the Second Vatican Council established a three-year cycle of readings for Sunday Masses and a two-year cycle for weekday Masses to expose the faithful “to every book of sacred Scripture” over time. Also, far from being random intercessions, the Prayers of the Faithful, he noted, are arranged in a set pattern each week so the church can pray for a list of petitions ranging from local challenges, to the marginalized to the dead.
One of the more noticeable revisions in the Liturgy of the Word is the shift from the plural “We believe,” to the singular, more personal “I believe” in the Profession of Faith, or Nicene Creed.
“Unfortunately, all too often, the proclamation of the Creed becomes rote,” Archbishop Hughes said. “But notice on the Easter vigil and on Easter Sunday, instead of (praying the Creed), the Church invites everyone to renew their baptismal promises (using the singular ‘I’). You’re proclaiming the fundamental, core truths of the Christian faith.”
Another Creed revision casts God the Father as the maker of “all things visible and invisible,” rather than of “all that is seen and unseen.”
“This is pointing out the difference between the material world that’s visible – even though I might not see it all right now – and the invisible world,” the archbishop said. “That’s what we’re proclaiming God to be creator of.”
Some Catholics initially may find one Creed revision to be a tongue twister: Christ is no longer described as “one in Being with the Father;” he is instead “consubstantial with the Father.”
“We share existence with the Father, but Christ alone is of the same substance of the Father,” Archbishop Hughes said. “It’s important doctrinally to preserve that in our Creed.”
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Before progressing to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Archbishop Hughes offered a poignant explanation of the Presentation of the Gifts and those gifts’ ultimate transformation into the Body and Blood of Christ.
“Wheat is a gift from God. Making it into bread – the baking – is the work of human beings,” he pointed out. “This is symbolic of what we want to bring in communion and in union with the Lord Jesus – our lives that are gifts from God, and yet we have shaped them in the way we live them. We bring them both (to God).”
He urged his young listeners to become more aware of the celebratory intent of acclamations clustered around Eucharistic Prayer. The Preface Acclamation – “Holy, Holy, Holy” – invites us “to enter into that liturgy which is not only happening here but in heaven!” Archbishop Hughes said. “When we proclaim, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts,’ we should do that with enthusiasm. We’re moving into the most sacred part of the liturgy.”
Likewise, the Great Amen is intended to indicate our “resounding desire to be ever more deeply united with the mystery that has just been celebrated in sacrament,” he said.
“You’re saying ‘yes’ to what has been expressed in the Eucharistic Prayer,” Archbishop Hughes said. “We’re begging that we, too, like the bread and the wine transformed into the body and blood of Christ, may become one body, one spirit in Christ. That’s what we’re saying ‘Amen’ to.”
Saying he was “very impressed and happy” with the new translation,” UNO geography major Jared Zeringue, 22, said his favorite revision comes into play when the priest invites congregants to let Christ take over their hearts through the reception of holy Communion.
The traditional response – “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed” – has been revised as to more faithfully echo the words used by the Roman Centurion who begged Christ to heal his servant: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
“It’s straight out the Bible. I enjoyed that,” Zeringue said, noting that the word “roof” gives the response an even richer meaning. “It made me think of my heart as a home.”
The Teaching Mass was co-sponsored by the Office of Young Adult Ministry and the Cenacle Retreat House. For more information on young adult activities, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Donze can be reached at email@example.com.