In 2000, the late Pope John Paul II approved a Third Edition of the Roman Missal. Following two years of work, the Vatican Office of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments completed the revision. The Missal is the book of the Mass which contains all the prayers for the liturgical year.
International committees working under the authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops completed an English translation of the revised Roman Missal which was approved by the Catholic Bishops in 2006 and confirmed by the Holy See in 2010.
The designation of the Missal as the Third Edition should indicate how seldom change has occurred. In the early centuries of the Church there were no books or written collection of prayers and scripture. The Mass was celebrated under multiple rites.
Pope Leo the Great assembled the first sacramentary in 450AD. The sacramentary grew as local Christian communities added prayers dear to their worship. By the 5th century the Roman rite of the Mass became the norm in the Western World. The first written book, Missale Romanum was issued in 1497, shortly after the invention of the printing press.
The Council of Trent was convened in 1545 to address the abuses and disputes which divided the Church. The Reformation of the early 16th century compelled the Pope and leaders of the Church to review the grave abuses and excesses and reaffirm authentic Church doctrine. The Council endured for almost 20 years and pronounced Church teaching on dogma, doctrine and reform. One of the decrees deriving from the Council of Trent appealed to the Pope for a universal liturgy for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope Pius V completed the Roman Missal in Latin in 1570. This translation remained in effect with occasional revisions until Vatican II in 1962.
The Council, convened by Pope John XXIII, now Blessed Pope John XXIII, brought sweeping changes to the Roman Catholic Church. One of the results of the Council was a new Roman Missal issued in 1966 in English with a revision in 1979 that has been in use until the present day.
The Third Roman Missal will take effect on the first week of Advent, November 26-27 throughout the English speaking world. Advent signals the beginning of the liturgical year when the Church remembers the coming of Christ and His Mission on earth, recognizes His presence with us now and looks to His coming again at the end of time. The Missalette used by the congregation at Mass with the revised prayers and language of the Third Roman Missal is ready to be placed in the pews in all the churches along with cue cards for the faithful to follow.
The translation of the prayers of the Mass will change only slightly, 19%, for the congregation. The priests will have a 97% difference in the translation of the text they proclaim during the Mass. We will discover a more formal and poetic translation, one which conforms to the revised Missale Romanum, the Roman Missal. The revised English translation will reflect “traditional theological vocabulary, that communicates important concepts of faith.”
The Catholic Church held instructional sessions for clergy and parish leadership in all the dioceses of the English speaking world. Father Tim Navin, pastor of San Marco Catholic Church, Father Gordon Zanetti, Parochial Vicar and Hilda Brosky, Liturgist, participated in training offered by the Diocese of Venice. The entire parish family was invited to a recent information session here at San Marco about the changes in liturgy.
We heard commentary and watched video presentations which assured us that the order and central theme of the Mass, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, will not change. The revision is intended to promote active participation of the faithful in the liturgy. Father Tim Navin remarked, “we are looking forward to the new translation being implemented here at San Marco. The translation we have been using has been very good. The new language will be even more dearly loved by our people because it is more scripturally correct and reflects more accurately Roman tradition.”
Hilda Brosky commented “the Mass is the single most important worship we do as Catholics. This is where we draw our identity as Catholics. We place everything we have experienced on the altar and we take away all that we need to fulfill our mission to go out and be an example of Christ in the world.”
The language of Scripture and other ancient sources, such as the writing of the Church Fathers, will be expressed with the full dignity, beauty and doctrinal expression as the writers intended. The images of Scripture will be more perfectly preserved.
Hilda described a simple change which more truly reflects the words of Scripture. “Part of the invitation to Communion includes the words of the centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant.
The present text is ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.’ The new text is a more literal translation of the scriptural reading in Luke 7:6. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’ The change is simple, yet powerful. We are inviting Christ into the temple of our bodies and we are not worthy. How wonderful to invite Him under our roof humbly and confidently.”
“In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.” Patience will lead the faithful to that deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich language of the Third Roman Missal. With His saving grace may we be drawn into closer relationship with God and with one another.