Sunday’s liturgy was beautiful as our church welcomed catechumens and candidates who are moving toward full communion with the Catholic Church. As a sponsor, I had the awesome privilege of sitting in front with my person. As I knelt during the Eucharistic prayer, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the liturgy, of common prayer among the People of God, and of Christ’s presence in and among us.
And then I realized that this would be the last time I celebrated Mass this way. My parish community and every Roman Catholic Church in the English-speaking world will begin to use a revised translation of the Mass at the next Sunday liturgy which coincides with Advent and the new Church year.
Although I’ve experienced the English translation of the Mass my whole life, using the vernacular (the language of the people instead of Latin) is a relatively new experience — as in only about 40 years old. Since then, scholars have learned much about the experience of the celebrating the Mass in English as well about translations from the original Latin.
“This new translation will employ the best of what we have learned about translation and liturgical language in two generations of celebrating the Liturgy in the vernacular. It will provide an opportunity to reflect ever more deeply on the eucharistic celebration that lies at the heart of the Church’s life.
In accord with the rules for translation established by the Holy See, the revised translation follows the style of the original Latin texts more closely, including concrete images, repetition, parallelisms, and rhythm. The English used in the Mass texts is more formal and dignified in style. Where possible, the texts follow the language of Scripture and include many poetic images. In addition, the third edition contains prayers for the celebration of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (or instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. (source: Ten Questions on the Roman Missal by the USCCB)
Like many Catholics, I am not sure what to expect from this third translation of the Roman Missal. I am looking forward to the emphasis on the language of Scripture and use of poetic images. While I like the familiar languages and images of the current translation, I am excited by a renewal of intentionality at Mass because we will each have a heightened awareness of what we are saying and doing as we learn how to pray in a new way together. At the same time, I am disappointed that a more rigorous formality has been introduced and that there is still pieces of language that are exclusive of women (“for us men and for our salvation”) and images of God that are overwhelmingly masculine. If indeed we are moving closer to Scripture then we in fact should be including along with Father and King the many different images of God including that of Mother, Lion, Lover, Baker Woman, Sower, and many more. I hope and pray that parish leaders will carefully implement Roman Missal 3.0 and at the same time be sensitive to necessary adaptations.
For now and for this week, however, I will cherish my last Mass with the current Roman Missal. Roman Missal 2.0, you’ve been my constant companion. I have celebrated with you, cried with you, and witnessed some of the most beautiful landmarks of my Catholic life with you. You were there when my siblings married their spouses, my nephews were baptized, and my parents renewed their vows. You were there when my friends became Catholic or were ordained or got married or when we celebrated their Mass of Resurrection. You were there when my IHM sisters celebrated Jubilee and when I professed my vows as an IHM Sister. I am grateful for you, Mass 2.0. Goodbye.