Preparation over, Mass speaks to us anew

After months of preparation for the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, Catholics in the pew finally will hear and recite new English translations of Mass prayers and responses on the First Sunday of Advent Nov. 26-27.

But as might be the case with political elections – when people don’t really pay close attention until a few days before the polls open – it might not be surprising if even faithful church-goers will need some time to adjust to the new wording of prayers they have used for decades.

Year focused on Eucharist

That’s why Archbishop Gregory Aymond decided to launch “A Year of Renewal: Offering a Worthy Sacrifice of Praise,” an effort that will focus not just on the new translation of the Roman Missal but also will offer extensive educational opportunities for Catholics to study, discuss and learn more about the Eucharist as the “source and summit of the Christian life.”

On Dec. 3, Archbishop Aymond will publish in the Clarion Herald a pastoral letter on the Mass, “Do This in Memory of Me,” explaining the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and Catholics’ obligation to bring the presence of Christ to the world.

During the coming year, the archdiocese will offer catechetical programs to provide opportunities for Catholics “to nurture a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Mass.”

Commissioning Mass Dec. 3

Also on Dec. 3, at 10 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church in Metairie, Archbishop Aymond will be the principal celebrant of a Mass to begin the Year of Renewal. Pastors, deacons and representatives of all parish liturgical ministries have been invited to attend.

“The archbishop will give a special commissioning to all the liturgical ministers who are present at that Mass for their ministry during the year,” said Msgr. Ken Hedrick, director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.

Pastors have been asked to use the same commissioning that weekend with the liturgical ministers of their own parish who cannot attend the archdiocesan Mass on Dec. 3.

The archdiocese has provided pastors with a 10-week series of bulletin inserts on the Mass, compiled by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, scheduled to run from Dec. 11 through Feb. 12, 2012.

Parish discussion groups

During Lent 2012, parishes have been asked to host a four-week series of discussion groups for adults and CYO groups using “The Mass Explained,” a short book on the Mass by Msgr. James Moroney. Parishes can obtain discounted, bulk copies of the book through the Office of Worship, which also will provide additional discussion questions.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if all parishes and schools did this so that it is not just hit or miss?” Archbishop Aymond said. “This is an opportunity for a true renewal in the archdiocese. If the statistics are correct, between 30 and 35 percent of Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This can help answer those questions.”

During the Easter season – probably in late April or early May 2012 – Msgr. Moroney will offer a one-day workshop on the Mass at two separate locations in the archdiocese.

From July 29 through Aug. 26, 2012, the Gospel reading will be the “Bread of Life” discourse from St. John’s Gospel, and all deacons and priests will be asked to preach on the Mass during those five weeks.

Next August, Archbishop Aymond will hold a convocation for priests on the “Art of Presiding,” directed by Jesuit Father Dennis Smolarski, author of the book, “How Not to Say Mass: A Guidebook For All Concerned About Authentic Worship.”

Seminarians Tim Hedrick and Ian Bozant already have begun a question-and-answer column in the Clarion Herald on different aspects of the Mass.

The Office of Worship also will offer mornings and evening of reflection for liturgical ministers and will work with various archdiocesan offices to sponsor multicultural Masses. It is also hoping to schedule a preaching workshop for priests and deacons through the Loyola Institute for Ministry.

The Office of Eucharistic Renewal will offer sessions on the Mass to students in Catholic schools. The archdiocese also would like to help restart a local chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and an initial meeting has been set for Dec. 1.

Betty-Ann Hickey, assistant director of the Office of Worship, said the catechetical program will “take advantage of the opportunity presented by the implementation of the Roman Missal.”

“It’s good for people to be able to come to appreciate the Mass in a new way, because we’re looking at it through a new lens,” Hickey said. “In the Mass, we meet Christ in an intimate way, and Christ conforms us to himself. It is how we become what we are meant to be. In order to have full, active and conscious participation, we need to be aware of what’s happening and what our role is. I hope this Year of Renewal will help provide that.”

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org

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