New Roman Missal, new prayers, one month away

Archbishop Gregory M Aymond    The implementation date of the new Roman Missal, which includes the prayers said at Mass, is Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent. That’s right around the corner.
    It is indeed. We’ve been talking about the new Missal for about five years, and now we’re looking at it being used within a month.
    Is the archdiocese ready?
    I think so. What I’ve heard so far from several parishes that have introduced the new music for the Gloria and the Holy, Holy, Holy, is that the new words within those musical prayers have been accepted rather smoothly. I do think, though, that when we end up implementing the entire Missal on the first Sunday of Advent, all of us – priests, deacons and people in the pews – will have to use cards as a worship aid. Although the wording is not significantly different, some of the people’s responses are different. I think we’ll get used to that quickly, and in four to six months we’ll say it wasn’t that bad. I think what might be the most challenging change will be the response to “The Lord be with you,” which instead of “And also with you” now will be, “And with your Spirit.”
    Why did the church make that change?
    First of all, the translation goes back to the original Latin. That Latin phrase has been translated “And with your Spirit” in all languages except for English. The idea is we are not just saying, “God is with you as God is with me.” We are saying, in the very core of who you are, God resides. That’s very different from saying, “May God be with you.” God is at the very core of who you are and who I am. May God live there. I suspect it will take some time to get comfortable with that change, and there will probably be some laughter about it in the beginning of Mass as we strive to make the adaptation.
    Since many Catholics do not attend Mass every Sunday, will those worship aids be even more important?
    Some people might not be there until Christmas. That’s why I think the cards or missalettes will be so helpful. The cards I’ve seen have the new wording in bold type. Actually, if you look at the changes in the people’s responses, they aren’t too numerous or significant. They are much more numerous for priests in the new eucharistic prayers and the prefaces. That will take some getting used to.
    Are you going to be holding additional workshops around the archdiocese for different liturgical ministers?
    Yes. Right now, I see this process of familiarization coming in two parts. We’ll adjust to the new wording fairly quickly, within the next couple of months. In the archdiocese, we’ve decided to inaugurate a Year of Renewal for the Mass. This is not just about the changing words. This will be a perfect opportunity to ask basic questions about the Mass: What is the Mass? How is it related to the Last Supper and the death and resurrection of Christ? What is the Real Presence of Christ? What is our obligation to attend Sunday Mass? How can we more fully participate in the Mass? What are the privileges and responsibilities of the people who share in the ministry of the Mass in the various liturgical roles? This is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to and understanding of the Mass. It’s also a chance for us to raise the bar in terms of training lectors, music directors, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, ushers and servers.
    As the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, which oversaw the development of the new Roman Missal, have you had to answer specific questions from around the country?
    I’ve gotten some questions, and we’re working on a couple of those through the USCCB Worship office because I think there’s been some misunderstanding on the reasons for the changes. There’s also been some misunderstanding as to whether or not other rubrics of the Mass are changing. For example, a question has come up about whether or not Communion should not be given under both kinds – that is, as the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. The new missal does not address that. It leaves that up to the bishop to give permission for Communion under both kinds in his own diocese or archdiocese. I believe that the pastor in his parish is best suited to make that decision. I wholeheartedly support any parish that wishes to receive Communion under both species, as long as the people have the proper education and as long as the Eucharist is not in any way mishandled or desecrated. I know some parishes prefer to offer Communion under both kinds and others don’t. I believe that’s up to the priest at the local level, but I do encourage priests to consider it.
    Haven’t there been a couple of bishops who have said that in their dioceses they will have Communion offered only under one kind – that is, the Eucharist?
    That’s what I’m working on right now.
    How do you think the changes will be accepted?
    Most often we say change is good as long as it doesn’t affect me. I think we need to accept this as a change but not to draw it out of proportion. This is not a monumental change. After Vatican II when the liturgical changes occurred, there was very little preparation. This time we’ve done a lot of preparation and education, so I think we’re in a much better stance now. In our archdiocese, the Year of Renewal will allow us to have articles in the Clarion Herald explaining each part of the Mass. We’ll also offer workshops because there is a lot of misunderstanding about some of the liturgical rubrics. This will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn more about and cherish the sacred beauty of the Mass.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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