Monday, October 24, 2011

Coming Soon to Your Parish

The New Roman Missal
Second Article in a Series

About one week ago each of the sisters in our contemplative community was given a CD recording of the new adaptation of The Heritage Mass musical setting for the parts of the Mass often sung by the congregation. The melodies we have been singing for over 30 years are very familiar to all church-going American Catholics. But the changes in wording of these prayers in the New Roman Missal, which goes into use on the First Sunday of Advent, require some tweaking of the original music. Old habits are hard to break. We had a week to listen to the music privately and attune our ears and vocal chords to the differences. Today we had our first practice session with a music teacher. We did well, I must say, even though we do not all read music! We even got to listen to the new Mass music by Dan Shutte. Now we have another CD to listen to so that it will become familiar before our next practice.

My last post introduced the topic of the New Roman Missal for use at Mass and presented some of the historical background. Here I would like to present some additional information and some thoughts to ponder. Most of the material is taken from talks given by Monsignor Richard E. Groncki, SJ and Sister Sandy DeMasi, SSJ from the Liturgy Office of the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey. They spoke at a recent meeting of the Metropolitan Association of Contemplative Communities.

Picking up on the translation history in my last post, it is necessary to say that there has been a history of effort toward liturgical renewal in the Church all through the 20th century and now into the 21st. There was a movement for renewal and liturgical adaptations made in each pontificate of the period. This began with the reforms of Pius X (1903-1914) which promoted the reception of First Eucharist at a younger age for children. Another reform with which some of us are familiar is the abolition of the all-night fast before receiving Holy Communion. And most memorable is the great shift into the vernacular which took place in the 1970s. It is a mistake therefore to think that the way things are now is how they always have been. One can imagine a cry from some quarters about allowing seven-year-olds to received Communion or about the sacrilege of ending the overnight fast. We can go back even further to a long period in the history of Church when receiving Communion daily or even weekly was not permitted. Saints we revere had to get special permission to do so.

What we will experience this Advent season will be another change in the continuum of constant change in our world, or families, our lives, and our Church. But we resist change with all our might. It makes us very uncomfortable and we find it arduous.

The text of the Mass that we are now using was approved in 1975 to take the place of the first English translation of 1970. Both of these translations were created as dynamic equivalency translations. Since this was the first time we would hear the words for the truths of our faith in English, it was thought that although literal translation was important it was also necessary that the words made sense. Thus attention was given to the catechetical dimension – the ability of the text to be a teacher of the faith.

The type of translation called for in the 3rd typical edition of the Roman Missal in English to go into use on November 27, 2011 is referred to as formal equivalency translation. This translation sought word for word equivalency in meaning and an effort to retain the syntax (sentence structure) of the original Latin. It is marked by great deference to God, a high level of theology, adherence to scriptural references and less allowance for the celebrant to make on the spot changes.

Next time, we can consider the challenge presented in this change. We can consider how we might view this great shift in the liturgical setting as a challenge in our faith development. But more to the point, how we might use it as a vehicle for deepening our relationship with the One we come to meet with our brothers and sisters gathering for worship. Can we find the invitation here?

1 comment:

Marsha B West said...

Wonderful explanation of the changes coming, Sr. Hildegard. OK if I point others to your website who are curious about all this?